Let me announce to Christians who showed their ignorance the other time asking for Sallah meat during the last Sallah. This one is the meat Sallah while the last one was the fasting Sallah. Ok? I corrected people then and I hope they won’t make the mistake again. So let’s talk about Sallah meat now.
With that out of the way, let’s proceed to the topic of this exegesis. Will Nigerian Christians eat Sallah meat? Note that my question is “will” NOT “should”. Let me attempt to answer.
Firstly, you need to know that just like anything religion, nothing is cast in stone. Even though a book (Bible, Quran, etc) is written to get things cast in stone, the problem still persists as followers still manage to find different interpretations to the same book. That’s why some Christians will find the Bible supporting eating Sallah meat and others will find the same Bible opposing it. We never know which is correct, do we?
Christians who won’t eat Sallah meat
These ones derive their inspiration from a couple of Bible verses. My favourite is:
Acts 15:28-29 (KJV)
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols…from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
In Christianity, Allah is regarded as an idol and thus the Sallah meat is technically meat offered to an idol. This group of Christians won’t eat Sallah meat. In fact, I know folks who will collect the meat and secretly throw it in the dustbin.
Where will you find such Christians? You will find them in conservative, fundamentalist denominations like Deeper Life church, Jehovah Witness, Christ Apostolic Church, The Apostolic Faith, Mountain of Fire, some sections of the Redeemed Church, etc. In fact, you can find someone who belongs to this group in just about any church. It depends on the person’s individual tendency to be conservative.
Christians who will eat Sallah meat
Such Christians derive their inspiration from many passages. The following is an example:
1 Corinthians 8:4, 8-9, 13 (KJV)
4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your’s become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
In this passage, it is more about not offending someone else or their faith. Once this is sorted out, then a Christian can eat Sallah meat.
Mark 7:15 (RSV)
There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.”
This means eating food sacrificed to idols can’t defile a Christian. Thus a Christian may eat Sallah meat.
This group of Christians have many other Bible passages they use to justify their decision to eat Sallah meat. Such believers can be found in less conservative, more liberal settings like the Anglican Church and Catholic Church. However once again, the dynamics of beliefs in Nigeria makes it possible to find individuals who might feel differently from what is expected from their denomination.
Note that like the other group, these Christians also consider Allah to be an idol and the meat as something offered to an idol. They, unlike the other group, just have a couple of ways of excusing eating it. All Christians consider Allah to be an idol.
So we get 3 indications of which Christians will eat Sallah meat. One is their doctrinal background. Just like in anything, members of any single religion can’t agree on any topic and Christianity is not left out. In the last few days, the trending topic has been if it is right for a Christian musician to feature a secular artiste in a song. This is due to Tasha Cobbs featuring Nicki Minaj in a worship song that was released few days ago. While she herself has defended her action and gotten lots of support globally, she has been bitterly criticized by fellow Christians from America to Nigeria.
Please bear in mind that both sides of the argument equally rely on the same Bible for validation and are both equally convinced that their own interpretation of the Bible is the correct one. Once again, we never know which is correct. That brings us to the second point which is individuality. Regardless of the doctrine of their denomination, personal attributes still determine which any individual will follow. And that comes to the issue of the Sallah meat.
In times past, most Nigerian Christians would readily eat Sallah meat without feeling any negativity. This can be explained by the paucity of the prosperity/faith movement in Christendom in the country. Those churches with their brand of fundamentalist doctrines were in the tiny minority and most Nigerian Christians just went about being good citizens without dabbling much into doctrinal controversies. But as the conditions in the nation started becoming harsher, the prosperity movement started growing rapidly and they have about taken over now. No wonder doctrinal crises have taken over.
Meanwhile if I were to advise you, please collect the meat and eat it. In this harsh economy, I don’t understand the common sense behind rejecting free meat. If I were a pastor (which I am not sadly), I would advise my church members to gather as much Sallah meat as possible, even enough to last them a long time after the festival. With malnutrition ravaging the country due to the soaring food prices, rejecting free sources of dietary protein because an ancient book appears to say so is not wise at all.
So to answer the question: will Nigerian Christians eat Sallah meat? Yes, they will. Those who are not shackled by doctrines and self-guilt will. And those who consider the economics behind their decision will eat it.
Let us encourage our Muslim brothers and sisters who have defied the economy to provide this meat. All we can do to encourage them and show that we care is to eat their meat. After publishing this article, I’ll be planning on how to devour Sallah meat and even stash some up for myself. I encourage you to be like me.