Sizzling Sex and Bacon 4

But Ms. Best was horrified that my original instructions had been ignored and she had tried to say something before, but I had managed to hold my own. My co-workers sat quietly with their eyes peeled on me and the waitress, as if we were a soap opera. The waitress started to say something, and Ms. Best burst out, “Just leave that plate here with me, and go to the kitchen and get plain pancakes!” The waitress started up again but before she could get past, “But ,” Ms. Best ordered, “Just do it! Now!”
A silence came over the table. I don’t think any of us had seen Ms. Best that angry before. I remembered my manners and said, “Thank you.” I was surprised at how dramatic the event had become. Ms. Best replied by saying how ridiculous it was that the waitress didn’t understand my initial request, that my needs as a customer were ignored, and that the waitress must have a problem with people who follow dietary restrictions or have a hearing problem or something. As the rest of the group envisioned the waitress’s tip diminishing, I suddenly realized what I had been taking for granted: I had always accepted being mistreated at restaurants because of my special request of no bacon. It took Ms. Best, a non-Muslim, to make me realize that I deserved to have my religious beliefs respected.
Ms. Best calmed down, after complaining that we shouldn’t be charged for my dish due to the server’s mishandling, and we all ate well. But after that lunch, I knew that I would never order at restaurants apologetically again. I am a Muslim after all, and there is nothing wrong with my requesting no pork. That’s what being an American is all about—being able to say, I don’t want to do this because it compromises my religious beliefs. Who would have thought empowerment could come from ordering lunch at a breakfast-theme restaurant?
I admit that, in today’s world, especially in first-world coun¬tries, there is no good reason not to eat pork. According to histor¬ical sources, Muhammad instructed his followers not to eat pork because pork was often cooked improperly, and many died from consequent bacterial complications. Today, we rarely encounter that problem, but practically all Muslims continue to follow the restriction on pork. When I tell my server at a restaurant that I can’t eat pork, I’m sometimes tempted to say I’m allergic to it, and sometimes I do. Servers instantly understand and become vigi¬lant. It’s unfortunate that we can’t understand religious beliefs in the same way. While there is no scientific reason not to eat pork, other than to cut down on fatty foods and calories, observing the restriction keeps me close to the Prophet Muhammad and reminds me that I am a Muslim. It is a tradition that ties me to the Muslims of the world and the Muslims of past history.
That may seem silly, that I feel a cultural and historical bond when I refrain from eating pork. But all cultures have their ways of remembering their past and bringing the community together. Suppose the U.S. Congress were to create a commission whose sole task was to issue laws that would make Americans’ lives easier. Sounds good, right? And one of the laws they issue is a ban of the observance of Thanksgiving. In the opinion of the commission’s chairman, “Thanksgiving compels Americans to spend more money and effort on food, food preparation, and travel in order to commemorate an event that by most historical accounts did not happen.”
Wait a second though! As an American, I love Thanksgiving. It is a day set aside to be thankful for our blessings, as free persons living in the United States, and to honor the pioneering spirit of the Pilgrims, whether they actually had a Thanksgiving dinner or not, and the American spirit of cooperation, as perceived to have occurred between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. It may seem silly to a person from France or Syria, and I wouldn’t expect them to celebrate Thanksgiving, but I do expect them to accept it and even try to understand it a little. I feel the same way about eating halal. I don’t expect every American to give up pork, but I do expect them to respect my beliefs.

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