In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved Lord
This was published on the Chicago Tribune’s religion blog, The Seeker.
Initially, I was very disappointed in Whole Foods for apparently “caving” to the screams of a small number of bloggers and choosing not to “promote” Ramadan. Yet, neither Whole Foods, nor any other corporation needs to “promote” Ramadan. Ramadan is not a product in need of a nationwide marketing campaign.
In an e-mail, Whole Foods had this to say:
“There has been a little controversy surrounding the introduction of our Halal certified “Saffron Road” frozen products. While there has been some positive response from our Muslim customers there have been some negative comments from some other customers. While we want to continue with the program, it is probably best that we don’t specifically call out or “promote” Ramadan…we should not highlight Ramadan in signage in our stores as that could be considered “Celebrating or promoting” Ramadan.
It later reversed course, insisting that it will continue the Halal marketing campaign:
Kate here from Whole Foods. To set the record straight, Whole Foods Market is NOT cancelling our current halal promotion, which is centered around the timeframe of Ramadan. We invite shoppers seeking out not just halal certified products, but products that also meet our high quality standards to try Saffron Road and other regional offerings in our stores.
We never sent a communication from our headquarters requesting stores take down signs at all. We have 12 different operating regions and your reacted by sending out directions to promote Halal and not specifically Ramadan after some online negative comments and after viewing signage made by one individual at a store that didn’t point to these products.
We’re excited to be offering high quality halal products for our shoppers and we stand behind them and our promotion of them, just like we do with other seasonal and holiday products.
Nevertheless, they still will not “promote” Ramadan.
Ramadan is the most important spiritual month for Muslims the entire world over, during which the faithful attempt to improve their lives through fasting, meditation, prayer, and charity. Through abstaining from food and drink during the long, hot summer days of August, spending hours in prayer and the reading of scripture, and giving in charity to those who are less fortunate, Muslims all across our country are highlighting what Ramadan is all about.
Placing or taking down signage that says “Ramadan” in some Whole Foods store somewhere will neither enhance nor diminish the importance of the month. Ramadan – as with Passover, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Easter – lives in the hearts and lives of the Muslims, Jews, and Christians who celebrate and honor those times of the year.
Whole Foods can breathe a sigh of relief.