The Halal Economy
by Ramesh Shinde on 25 Jun 2020 14 Comments

For thousands of years, India has been home to a civilisation that has historically been tolerant and inclusive; independent India is gripped by the westernized idea of Secularism. Successive governments have bent over backwards to cater to the whims and fancies of minority communities for votes during elections. This twisted secularism has caused much suffering to the Hindu majority. While the Constitution speaks of equality for all, Hindu temples have been taken over by governments while liberally funding Hajj and Jerusalem pilgrimages.

 

A new issue that has cropped up in recent years is the demand that every product used by Muslims would be sharia-compliant, or Halal. Previously, this issue applied only to the consumption of meat. But in recent years, all kinds of products need to be Halal Certified. Halal compliance is mandatory even for government run companies like Indian Railways and Air India. And Halal certification has extended to packaged foods, housing projects, hospitals, medicines, beauty products. Anyone wishing to export their products to Islamic countries has to be Halal Certified. Halalonomics has become a US$ 2 trillion dollar industry. This merits deeper investigation.

 

Concept of Halal

 

Halal is a pre-Islamic Arabic word that means that which is permissible. The opposite word is Haram, that which is forbidden. Under Islam, Halal came to denote all that was permissible under the tenets of Islam. Today, it is widely used in conjunction with food and drink.

 

Islamic rules (Sharia) fall under one of the five decisions (al-a?kam al-khamsa): mandatory (fard), recommended (musta?abb), neutral (muba?), reprehensible (makruh), and forbidden (haram). There is difference of opinion amongst Islamic scholars whether the term ‘halal’ falls in the first 4 of the 5 decisions.

 

Halal usually refers to the way animals are slaughtered (dabihah) for consumption. This mandates that

-        The butcher should follow tenets of Islam

-        The animal chosen for slaughter should be disease-free and healthy

-        The animal should have been bred in a free atmosphere

-        During slaughter the butcher should invoke the name of Allah with appropriate words

-        Ideally, the animal should be placed so as to face Mecca

-        A sharp knife should be used to swiftly slice the animals wind pipe, jugular vein and carotid artery and the blood allowed to drain out

The modern advocacy of stunning or rendering the animal unconscious before slaughter is dissuaded.

 

Items classified as Halal include milk (from cows, goats, sheep, camels); honey; fish with scales; plants that do not have intoxicating effects; fresh fruits; dry fruits / nuts like cashews and almonds; grains like wheat and rice.

 

Items classified as Haram include:

-        Pigs, wild boar and animals related to these species, and byproducts obtained from these animals (gelatin)

-        Carnivorous animals and birds of prey, animals with sharp clawed feet and pointed canines (lions, tigers, monkeys, snakes, vultures, eagles etc.)

-        Those whose killing is forbidden in Islam (ants, honeybees, woodpeckers etc.)

-        Animals that live on land and in water (crocodiles, frogs etc.)

-        Domestic animals like donkeys and mules

-        Animals killed by strangulation or injury to the head, and animals that died naturally (and their byproducts)

-        Human or animal blood, urine, faeces

-        Plants or plant material with intoxicating or poisonous effects

-        Alcoholic spirits or any product with alcohol in it (sausages)

-        All poisonous and intoxicating liquids and their products

-        Meat of animals slaughtered by non-Islamic methods

 

Muslims are becoming insistent on consuming only Halal products as not adhering to Islamic guidelines is considered as sin. The inclusion of even a single facet that is haram in the processing of any halal product renders the end product unfit for consumption by a Muslim. Hence every country has seen a rise in the production and supply of Halal meat. India is not an Islamic country, but meat exported from India is Halal certified! In certain cases, Muslims sued large multinational companies and won crores in damages for being served non-Halal foods, thereby pollutingthem. This is why the Halal certification issue has gained ground.

 

Banking and Halalonomics

 

Islamic Banking is entrenched in Islamic values. Sharia forbids riba (charging interest on a sum of money) so Islamic Banking has evolved to be Sharia compliant. Malaysia is a world leader in Islamic Banking and Finance and the Halal industry. In 1983, the first Islamic Bank (Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad) was established in Malaysia through the Islamic Banking Act. As the functioning of Islamic Banks is governed by religious laws, they are not recognised by many non-Islamic nations, including India.

 

In 2006, the Halal Industry Development Corporation was established in Malaysia (though halal products were in use even prior to this) to promote the Halal industry. In 2013, Kuala Lumpur hosted the World Halal Research and World Halal Forum Summit, with focus on Halal Economy. This summit pledged to bolster acceptance of Halal products worldwide through greater cooperation between the Halal industry and Islamic banking and Finance sectors. To promote investments in the Halal industry, index series like SAMI (Socially Acceptable Market Investments), Halal Food Indexes (a stock market index listing Sharia compliant companies), are gaining popularity.

 

Religious foundations of Halalonomics

 

While the Quran does not have any instructions or guidance on Halal Economics, it alludes to what is halaland what is haram. 56 Ayats mention the word Halal while 21 find some mention in relation to food. The word Halal is also mentioned in the Hadiths (considered the direct teachings of Prophet Muhammad). These include the sin incurred on consuming food that is haram and the punishment one has to undergo for it. These form the basis for Halal economy as well as guidance by Islamic scholars to Muslims on this subject.

 

Halal – gaining a stronghold over world economy

 

The halal Industry governs all aspects from the farm to the consumer, which includes the production and distribution lines. As the halal economy was taking shape, great emphasis was placed on promoting the Islamic economic sector by utilising the Halal Economy. Rafe Haneef, CEO of HSBC Amanah Malaysia, said, If we are going to move towards a Halal economy, we have to take a holistic approach; the whole cycle, the whole chain has to be Halal from the production to the financing”.

 

This means utilising the profits from halal products to fund more production and distribution of other halal products, and providing financial assistance to the halal industry. This happens exclusively through Islamic Banking and Finance system, and complete control is gained over the entire chain from production to consumer, world over. This has resulted in an astronomical increase in the market share of Islamic banking assets from 6.9 per cent in 2000 to 22 per cent in 2011 in Malaysia alone. Clearly, the Halal Industry and Islamic Banking and Financial services (built on the halal industry) are going from strength to strength.

 

Casting aside age-old laws in favour of Halal economy

 

The idea of halal economy has grown from its humble beginnings pertaining to only meat. This has pushed the need to tweak rules to suit different needs, so depending on prevalent conditions, something considered haram a few years ago has become halal now. For instance, the use of loudspeakers to sound the azaan (call to prayer) was considered haram. But with the realization that the loudspeaker can be a powerful tool in the spread of Islam, it became indispensable.

 

Similarly, the push to strengthen the Islamic economy has led to the tweaking of old laws to widen the scope of the halal industry. A prime example is the cosmetics industry. A few years ago, usage of any cosmetic product was considered haram, but now halal cosmetics are available. From meat to vegetarian products, even famed vegetarian namkeens (snacks) are halal certified. Dry fruits, sweets, chocolates are included. Grains, oil, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, kajal (eyeliners), nail polish, lipstick and other cosmetics get halal certification. Halal dating websites help singles to meet and befriend each other in a sharia compliant way.

 

Medicines: Unani, Ayurvedic medicines, honey are halal certified. Multinational food chains and food available in almost all airports is Halal certified. Kochi, Kerala, is now home to the countrys first halal certified apartment complex built as per sharia regulations, with separate swimming pools for men and women, separate prayer halls, washrooms that face away from Mecca, clocks that alert you to namaz timings, facility to broadcast the namaz into every house among other modernamenities.

 

Global Health City, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, is a halal certified hospital. It claims to meet international standards of hygiene and dietary regulations as per the tenets of Islam. This helps the hospital cater to patients from over 50 Islamic countries.

 

Halal certification fees

 

The halal economy tries to impose a wholly Islamic system in the production-to-consumer chain, but it is not easy to compete with existing giants in the industry. It would take an inordinate amount of time and energy to produce and market halal products that would meet or surpass existing products by leading brands. Nor is it possible for these companies to employ only Muslim employees when operating in non-Islamic countries. So they have been given some special concessions’, namely, to pay a hefty fee to obtain a (renewable) halal certification, so that their products are certified for use by Muslims.

 

Global Ummah and Halal Economy

 

The Organization of Islamic Conference is a collective of Islamic nations that caters to the needs to Muslims world over. It is an Ummah (community) sans borders. It has made non- Islamic nations like India, Nepal, China, obtain Halal certification from competent certifying authorities for products they wish to export to Islamic countries.

 

Halal Certification Process

 

If a restaurant wants to be halal certified, the Halal certifying authority pays more attention to religious aspects. The audit methodology used by the Halal certifying body usually involves (a) the product does not consist of or contain any part or matter of an animal that a Muslim is prohibited to consume or that has not been slaughtered in accordance with Shariah. (b) Does not contain anything considered impure according to Shariah. (c) Has not been prepared, processed or manufactured using an instrument with impurity per Shariah; and (d) Has not in the course of preparation, processing or storage been in contact with or close proximity to any food that fails to satisfy conditions (a) (b) or (c) or anything considered impure according to Shariah. The certifying body conducts regular as well as surprise inspections to ensure that the above are adhered to.

 

Halal Certifying Bodies of India

 

There are many non-governmental organizations that issue Halal certificates, namely, Halal Indian Pvt. Ltd., Halal Certification Services India Pvt. Ltd., Jamiat Ulema-e-hind Halal Trust, Jamiat Ulema-e-Maharashtra, Halal Council of India and Global Islamic Sharia Services.

 

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, has in its guidelines made it mandatory for importers and exporters of red meat to have halal certification. It has made it mandatory that animals are slaughtered per halal under the observation of auditors from Islamic bodies. This contravenes the Secularismenshrined in the Constitution. Of the total meat exported from India, 46 per cent (about 6 lakh tons) is exported to Vietnam alone (a non-Islamic country). Why would a Halal certificate be required to export there? But due to the pro-Islamic stance of the government, the Rs. 23,646 crore meat industry is directly supplementing the Halal economy. What choices are there for those who do not want to consume halal meat?

 

Hindus compelled to consume halal meat

 

Government-run institutions like India Tourism Development Corporation, Air India, railway catering services, award contracts only to those who serve halal meat. The Indian parliament is served by the railway catering services. Hindus should demand that these institutions offer food that is religiously acceptable to them.

 

Livelihood of Hindu butchers ruined

 

The Hindu butcher community has been earning a livelihood by selling meat. But with government-run institutions and even private businesses demanding only halal meat, Hindu butchers are going out of business. Pork is prohibited by Islam, so barring pork every other kind of meat business is being taken over by the Muslim community. The domestic meat industry is worth Rs 40,000 crore. Thousands of poor Hindu butchers have been ruined.

 

Fee

 

Currently, a fee of about Rs. 20,000 on average is levied to certify a product as halal compliant; with GST levied separately. Every product has to be certified individually. The certificate is valid only for a year and renewal costs another Rs.15,000. Count the multitude of products that Indian industry produces for local consumption and export, and this will give an idea of the scale of the halal economy. This is just in India. When one considers the entire world, one can see how the halal economy is set to touch US$ 3 trillion by 2023.

 

Jhatka certificates

 

Halal meat is prohibited to Hindus and Sikhs. The Jhatka procedure, a single swift blow to separate the animals head from the body, is considered permissible to Hindus and Sikhs, as this causes the least amount of pain to the animal. Guru Gobind Singh permitted the Khalsas to consume meat obtained by Jhatka method, while expressly forbidding consumption of Halal meat. If meat-eating Hindus demand jhatka meat, Hindu butchers will be able to sustain themselves. A Delhi based organization has started issuing Jhatka certificates.

 

FSSAI

 

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India; Maharashtra has the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), as do other states. These bodies certify food safety and practices, for which the manufactures pay a fee. So how are private bodies allowed to issue halal certifications, that too, for a fee?

 

Sources:

-        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272727883_Integrating_Islamic_Financing_and_Halal_Industry_A_Survey_on_Current_Practices_of_the_Selected_Malaysian_Authority_Bodies 

-        https://books.google.co.in/books?id=eI6MDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA68&lpg=PA68&dq=IBF+malaysia+1983&source=bl&ots=DCjf7nsE4D&sig=ACfU3U1YfjRqMbcr2GhdLlGLeDv8QvVxaQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjuiI3flK7nAhXMdCsKHVssBRoQ6AEwDHoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=IBF%20malaysia%201983&f=false 

-        http://www.fao.org/3/Y2770E/y2770e08.htm

-        http://www.hdcglobal.com/publisher/gw_halal_agencies

-        http://sami.idealratings.com

-        http://www.halalguider.com/page.phpsluge=QuranAhadith%20about%20Food 

-        https://www.crescentrating.com/magazine/travel-news-at-crescentrating/1324/the-6th-world-halal-forum-sets-the-ball-rolling-for-fundamental-change-within-the-global-halal-industry.html

-        https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2011/12/30/islamic-banking-finance-on-a-roll

-        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organisation_of_Islamic_Cooperation

-        https://medium.com/incerto/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dictatorship-of-the-small-minority-3f1f83ce4e15

 

(The author is president, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti)

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