I asked in writing about a previous story on this settlement: “‘There was no evidence that the chain set out to deceive customers.’ So why the $700,000 payout?” This story makes the answer clear: it is a form of tribute, of jizya. Now a Muslim attorney in Dearborn is angry that the payout is mostly going to various Muslim groups, not to those who were “injured” by eating “false halal” chicken sandwiches. The attorney for the Muslim who filed the complaint explains that there is no way to tell who ate the forbidden sandwiches, the money is going to various community charities.
That’s reasonable enough, but it raises the larger question of just what this money is for. McDonald’s, by giving money to the Huda Clinic and the Arab American National Museum (and a hefty amount to the attorneys), is showing its contrition and good will, its determination not to let this offense happen again, its anxiousness to appease its Muslim clientele. Given that there was no intent to deceive, this is not a good precedent, as it will just lead to more demands for further accommodation. Moreover, as David Wood points out, it demonstrates the inequality of treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims in Dearborn, where Christians are arrested just for answering Muslim questions about Christianity, and no one is paying them $700,000 for their hurt feelings.
Then there is the $20,000 to Ahmed Ahmed. What will the money do? He has eaten forbidden chicken, and thereby transgressed Allah’s law. Will the $20,000 he receives relieve his anxiety over the possibility that he could be consigned to an eternity of drinking molten lead in hellfire (Qur’an 18:29) for this? Will Allah be more likely to forgive him because he finagled the kuffar out of $20,000 for a chicken sandwich?
The theological questions multiply.
An update on this story, and a Jizya Alert from Dearborn: “DEARBORN: Group wants share of settlement money over McDonald’s non-halal chicken,” by Joe Slezak for the Press & Guide, January 24 (thanks to Lookmann):
DEARBORN “” An attorney in the city is upset that those who ate chicken that was labeled as halal, but really wasn’t, won’t be sharing in the $700,000 awarded in a lawsuit.
McDonald’s and Finley”s Management Co. agreed Jan. 18 to pay the money over the non-halal chicken, which was served at the McDonald’s at 13158 Ford Road.
Ahmed Ahmed of Dearborn Heights filed the lawsuit in September 2011 after finding that the chicken wasn’t halal, which means that it didn’t meet Islamic requirements for preparing food.
Ahmed is expected to get $20,000, the Huda Clinic in Detroit is expected to get about $275,000, about $150,000 is expected to go to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn and about $230,000 is expected to go to attorneys. The exact amounts will be determined at a hearing.
Attorney Majed Moughni, who runs the Facebook site Dearborn Area Community Members, has started a campaign to have the money paid to those who ate the “haram” chicken, not those he said were not “injured.” He’s asking those who did to “like” the entry and leave contact information for themselves and others who ate the meat.
As of late Thursday afternoon, the campaign had nearly 700 “likes,” nearly 600 comments and 60 “shares.”
Moughni said in an email that the community is “showing its outrage over the sale of false halal chicken sandwiches.”
For food to meet the halal standard of preparation, God’s name must be invoked before an animal providing meat for consumption is slaughtered. Islam forbids the consumption of pork.
Two of the four McDonald’s in the city advertise that they sell halal Chicken McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches, meaning that they have to get the meat from an approved halal provider. The other restaurant, at 14860 Michigan Ave., was not involved in the suit.
Ahmed’s attorney, Kassem Dakhlallah, told The Associated Press that there was no evidence of problems in production, but the Ford Road location sold non-halal chicken when it ran out of halal. Ahmed and Dakhlallah investigated the matter and sent a letter to McDonald’s Corp. and Finley”s Management Co., the franchisee, but didn’t get a response, so they filed a lawsuit as part of a class action in November 2011.
Dakhlallah told The AP that since it would be impossible to determine who ate haram chicken at the restaurant, both sides agreed to give money to community-based charities.