Religious Respect – A Misunderstood Concept

Last week the Muslim part of the world entered Ramadan, that time of the year when Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke – and probably some other things as well *hint hint* – while the sun is up. Ramadan usually causes Muslims in Northern Sweden, above the polar circle, considerable problems. The sun doesn’t set there this time of the year. They certainly have problems South of the polar circle as well.

Having Muslims in the “diaspora”, so to speak, have forced some Islamic thinkers to come up with schemes so that Muslims in, for instance, Northern Sweden don’t have to starve or thirst to death in order to prove to whomever cares that they are good Muslims. I think that they have come up with some concoction or other to overcome this little issue. Like assuming they’re actually living close to Mecca or something like that.

Living in a Lutheran protestant country, only you won’t be able to tell if you come here, sure! Christians has had(!) fasting, too. Cut from wikipedia:

“Lutheranism

As explained above, the Lutheran Churches encourage individual fasting.[45] Certain modern Lutheran communities also advocate fasting during designated times such as Lent.[46] It is also considered to be an appropriate physical preparation for partaking of the Eucharist, but fasting is not necessary for receiving the sacrament. Martin Luther wrote in his Small CatechismFasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training, but a person who has faith in these words, ‘given for you’ and ‘shed for you for the forgiveness of sin’ is really worthy and well prepared.”.[47]

But there is more to Ramadan than just the problems Muslims have. Last week, the Mirror (UK) published a story about a school boy being denied drink because that would be unfair to Muslim class mates. Unfair?

“An angry mother has accused a primary school of denying her child water on one of the hottest days of the year for fear of upsetting Muslim pupils observing Ramadan.”

The fact that Saudi Arabia has declared that, from now on, no one in the country, even westerners living in their “reservations”, are allowed to eat and drink during Ramadan out of respect is one thing. What the Saudis do in their own country is really up to them. If you don’t like it, move, change job or take vacation and go back home.

I really had no idea that parents of pupils in at least one elementary schools in the UK would suddenly find the whole she-bang almost on Saudi territory. Only I shouldn’t be too hard on one (only one, I fervently hope!) UK elementary school.

Similar follies happen in Sweden as well. Besides, small children don’t have to participate in the abstention. They’re free to eat and drink during Ramadan so that school was even more off the chart than you may think reading the article in the Mirror.

What seems to be spreading not only in Sweden but also in Denmark, and, I’m sure, in other European countries as well, is how halal meat is sort of snuck in through the back door. Very quietly, too. The school boards don’t take out ads in the papers, but they do answer direct questions. Might be an idea to check the school(s) you send your kids to!

I can understand that Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork. Fine! I can also understand that both Muslims and Jews prefer/only eat halal/kosher. Fine! When meat is served, make sure that there is some halal/kosher meat for those who want it. What is happening now is that more and more schools are moving over to only halal butchered meat and this happens out of  respect for Muslims.

The assumption is made that some/all Muslims will take exception to the fact that they or their offspring will have to eat their halal meat sitting side by side with a non-Muslim eating pork or non-halal meat. Now, what does that say about respect? How much respect do these schools have for non-Muslims who may object to the procedure of halal slaughter? And, should any Muslim complain, what about that Muslim’s respect for the non-Muslim part of the world he/she lives in?

Some may wonder what is halal/kosher? We usually associate that with how animals are slaughtered. Normally, the animal is either killed directly or at least stunned before the blood is drained. Halal, in it’s more extreme form, just like Kosher, means that the animal must be unconscious when its throat is slit.

Here in Sweden, the rule is that the animal must be stunned by electricity or bolt gun first and that means that Kosher slaughter is forbidden since Kosher (according to what I know) does not allow for the animal to be unconscious. Many Muslims accept that animals are stunned immediately before being slaughtered.

This video (you need an account with Google/Youtube to be able to see it) starts with a normal, by our non-religious standards, slaughter just so you will have something to compare it with… Take heed, though! Below video isn’t for those faint of heart!

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