Monday, May 23, 2011

Halal X Haraam

If you ever visit a Muslim country you will notice a couple of words often pop up: halal and haraam. These two little words are actually of huge importance as they basically guide the actions and behaviors of Muslims and differentiate between what is and isn’t permitted by Islamic faith. 
HALAL = lawful, permitted, acceptable
HARAAM = unlawful, prohibited, forbidden

Some examples of what is considered to be haraam?
Well, regarding behaviors, one should not commit adultery, use profane language, mistreat children, make use of intoxicants, obtain wealth by stealing, cheating or corruption, and much more.
When it comes to foods and drinks, Muslims should not drink alcohol and eat pork, carnivorous animals, birds of prey or animals that have been improperly slaughtered. They can’t even eat products that have been contaminated with such foods or items.
Most restaurants here in the UAE are halal, which means the bacon, sausages, pepperoni and other items in the menu are made from halal meets and not pork. Even American fast food joints, like McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut, for example, were forced to adjust in order to serve their local customers.
I presume it is normal and expected of international organizations and expatriates, who decided to set base in the UAE, to become accustomed to the local traditions.
On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder how much the UAE also had to adapt in order to become one of the most flexible and tolerant countries in the Arab world and ensure its plans for development run smoothly.
I can only imagine how hard it must be for locals to preserve and promote religion, culture and tradition, especially among the younger crowds, when they are surrounded by so much influence from the Western world.
The way I see it, the UAE will soon have to go back to its roots and massively invest in projects that will help promote its culture and heritage, not only to the people abroad or the expatriates out here, but to its own people.

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