For thousands of years, India has housed a civilisation that has historically been tolerant and inclusive, ‘Independent’ India has been under the grip of a westernized idea of ‘Secularism’. Successive governments have bent over backwards to cater to the whims and fancies of the minority communities to ensure that they vote favorably in the elections. This twisted ‘secularism’ has resulted in much suffering for the Hindu majority of the nation. While the Constitution calls for equality for all, Hindu temples have been taken over by the governments zealously while liberally funding Hajj and Jerusalem ‘pilgrimages’. Despite this, the common Hindu suffers silently and continues to dutifully pay his taxes hoping that some day the conditions will change, which unfortunately has not happened till date.
Then there are those who are consumed with the idea of ‘ruling’ over India; when some demand of theirs gets approved by the Government, they are ready with the next set of demands. One such demand was setting up a Sharia compliant Islamic banking system, which the current government, under Hon’ble Shri. Narendra Modi, refused to accede to. Setting up a Bank requires approval from the government, but what about consumer products? A person has the Constitutionally given right to demand for products that are in line with his religious beliefs. Muslims have started exercising this right by demanding that every product that they use is compliant with the tenets of Islam i.e. Halal. This has led to the ubiquitous need for the products to be ‘Halal Certified’. So now, the Islamic Economic system (Halalonomics) has crept into our Secular system. Surprisingly, Halal compliance is mandatory even for government run companies like the Indian Railways and Air India. Just because Muslims (who make up 15% of the country’s population) want to consume only Halal meat, their practices are being forced upon the rest 85%. Now the Halal certification is no longer limited to meats, but touches every sphere of our daily lives – from meats to packages foods, from housing projects to hospitals, from medicines to beauty products; even malls are not exempt! Anyone who wishes to export their products to Islamic countries has to be Halal Certified. To give you an idea of the immense scale of Halalonomics – standing at 2 trillion dollars it competes with the Indian GDP! No wonder the entire world is under the Halal certification stranglehold.
A parallel economy always has some effect on the functioning of a country. (It could be the Hawala system to funnel money to and from India or virtual currency like Bitcoin). Here, a parallel economic system entrenched in religion is taking shape; which will certainly have an impact on the ‘secular’ fabric of India. So it is imperative that we give serious thought to the long term (negative and devastating) effects that this system will have on the tradesmen as well as the nation at large. I hope this article will serve as a primer to this thought process and inspire you to act now to secure the future of India !
– Shri. Ramesh Shinde (National Spokesperson, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti)
1. What is Halal ?
Halal is a pre-Islamic Arabic word that means ‘that which is permissible’. The opposite word is Haram ‘that which is forbidden’. With the advent of Islam, Halal came to denote all that was permissible under the tenets of Islam and those that did not conform to the tenets of Islam were termed as Haram. Today, the words are widely used in conjunction with food and drink.
Islamic rules (from the Sharia) can be categorised under one of the five decisions (al-aḥkām al-khamsa) – mandatory (fard), recommended (mustaḥabb), neutral (mubaḥ), reprehensible (makruh), and forbidden (haram). There is considerable difference of opinion amongst Islamic scholars whether the term ‘Halal’ encompasses the first 4 of the 5 decisions.
The term Halal is usually referenced to the way animals are slaughtered for consumption. The Halal way of slaughter (dabihah) mandates that
a. The butcher should follow tenets of Islam (he should be Muslim)
b. The animal that has been chosen to be slaughtered should be disease free and healthy
c. The animal should have been bred in a free atmosphere
d. During the slaughter the butcher should invoke the name of Allah with ‘Bismillah, Allahu Akbar’.
e. While not mandatory, the animal should be placed in such as way that it faces the Kaaba in Mecca (Qibla – the direction that Muslims face while praying)
f. A sharp knife should be used to swiftly slice through the animal’s wind pipe, jugular veins and carotid arteries and the blood allowed to drain out.
g. While most societies advocate stunning or rendering the animal unconscious before slaughtering it (to reduce pain and shock), Halal bodies usually dissuade such humane measures.
While western countries find these practices inhuman; Islam declares that only meat obtained in this fashion is permissible for consumption and holy. So, even in non-Islamic countries almost 70 to 80% of meat production adheres to the Halal way. Some aquatic forms are also Halal. Currently the emphasis is on laying down simpler rules to classify items as Halal or Haram.
2. Items that are considered as Halal
a. Milk (from Cows, Goats, Sheep, Camels)
c. Fish with scales
d. Plants that do not have any intoxicating effects
e. Fresh as well as dried fruits
f. Dry fruits / nuts like cashews and almonds
g. Grains like wheat and rice
3. Items that are classified has Haram
a. Pigs, wild boar and other animals related to these species, as well as animal byproducts obtained from these animals (like gelatin)
b. Carnivorous animals and birds of prey, as well as those animals that have sharp clawed feet and pointed canines, for example – lions, tigers, monkeys, snakes, vultures, eagles etc.
c. Those whose killing is forbidden in Islam, for example – ants, honeybees, woodpeckers etc.
d. Animals that live both on land and in water, for example – crocodiles, frogs etc.
e. Domestic animals like donkeys and mules
f. Animals that have been killed by strangulation or by injury to the head, as well as animals that died naturally (and their byproducts)
g. Human or animal blood, urine, faeces
h. Plants or plant material with intoxicating or poisonous effects
i. Alcoholic spirits or any product with alcohol in it, for example – sausages
j. All poisonous and intoxicating liquids and their products
k. Meat of animals slaughtered without uttering Bismillah (animals slaughtered in non-Islamic methods)
This list would have given you a fair idea of what is Halal and what is Haram according to Islam. Muslims insist on consuming only Halal products since these guidelines are mandated by the Quran, and not adhering to them is considered as sin and one has to undergo untold misery in the afterlife for the sin of consuming anything that is haram. The inclusion of even a single facet that is haram in the processing of any halal product renders the end product haram (unfit for consumption by a Muslim). This is the reason that every country has seen a rise in the production and supply of Halal meat. In fact, India is not an Islamic country, but meat exported from India is Halal certified! There are cases where Muslims have sued large multinational companies and won crores in damages for being served non-Halal foodstuff (thereby ‘polluting’ them). This is another reason why the Halal certification issue has gained ground.
4. Islamic Banking and Halalonomics
One will find it hard to distinguish between Islamic Banking and Halalonomics. Both are entrenched in Islamic values. Halal products are flooding the market with backing of the Islamic economy. Sharia forbids riba (charging interest on a sum of money), as such the Islamic Banking system has evolved to be Sharia compliant. For example, Malaysia is a world leader in Islamic Banking and Finance and the Halal industry. In 1983, the first Islamic Bank (the Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad) was established in Malaysia through the introduction of the Islamic Banking Act. Since the functioning of Islamic Banks is governed by religious laws, they are not recognised by a number of non-Islamic nations, including India. In 2006, the Halal Industry Development Corporation was established in Malaysia (though halal products have been 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 a focus on ‘Halal Economy’. This summit pledged to bolster acceptance of Halal products worldwide through greater cooperation between the Halal industry and the Islamic banking and Finance sectors. Also, to promote investments in the Halal industry, index series like the SAMI (Socially Acceptable Market Investments) Halal Food Indexes (a stock market index listing Sharia compliant companies) are gaining popularity. It is worth noting that these efforts have gathered tremendous support as well as momentum over the years.
5. The religious foundations of Halalonomics
While the Quran does not have any instructions or guidance on Halal Economics, it does allude to ‘what is halal’ and ‘what is haram’. 56 Ayats in the Quran mention the word Halal while 21 find some mention in relation to food. The word Halal is also mentioned in the Hadiths (considered as the direct and indirect teachings of prophet Muhammad). These include the sin incurred on consuming food that is haram and the punishment that one has to undergo for it. These form the basis for Halal economy as well as the guidance by Islamic scholars to Muslims world over on this subject.
6. 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 taking shape, a greater emphasis was placed on growing the Islamic economic sector by utilising this Halal Economy. In the words of Rafe Haneef, CEO of HSBC Amanah Malaysia – “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.” What this translates into is utilising the profits from the halal products to fund more production and distribution of other halal products, as well as providing financial assistance to the halal industry. All this happens exclusively through the Islamic Banking and Finance system. With this, a complete control is gained over the entire chain from production to consumer, world over ! There is sufficient evidence that this works, one among them being the astronomical increase in the market share of Islamic banking assets from 6.9% in 2000 to 22% in 2011 in Malaysia alone. This growth has placed the Halal Industry at the forefront of the fastest growing industries. Clearly, the Halal Industry (built on the backbone of Islamic principles) and the Islamic Banking and Financial services (built on the halal industry) are now going from strength to strength.
7. Casting aside age old laws in favour of an all encompassing Halal economy !
The idea of halal economy has grown from its somewhat humble beginnings pertaining to only meat. This has pushed the need to tweak rules to suit different needs. So depending on the prevalent conditions, something that may have been considered as haram a few years ago has become halal now.
A parallel can be drawn from another Islamic practice – the call to prayer or Azaan. Azaan is considered a sacred call to the faithful and the use of loudspeakers to sound the azaan was considered as haram. But with the realisation that the loudspeaker can be a powerful tool in the spread of Islam, not only was it accepted, it became indispensable. In fact, every mosque has a set of loudspeakers which threaten social peace every single day. Similarly the push to strengthen the Islamic economy has facilitated the tweaking of old laws to widen the scope of the halal industry. A prime example would be the cosmetics industry. A few years ago usage of any cosmetic product was considered haram; but now even halal cosmetics are available. The ever widening scope of the halal industry will be evident with the following examples –
a. Meat to Vegetarian products : Even the famed all vegetarian Haldiram’s namkeens (snacks) are now halal certified. Dry fruits, sweets, chocolates are also included.
b. Foodstuff to Cosmetics : Grains, oil, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, kajal (eye liners), nail polish, lipstick and other cosmetics are now under the ambit of ‘Halal’ certification.
c. Medicines : Unani, Ayurvedic medicines, honey are now halal certified.
d. Multinational food chains : McDonald’s burgers, Domino’s pizza, food available in almost all airports is now Halal certified.
e. Halal apartment complexes : Kochi (Kerala) is now home to the country’s first halal certified apartment complex built as per sharia regulations. The complex has 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 ‘modern’ amenities.
f. Halal hospitals : Global Health City (Chennai, Tamil Nadu) is a halal certified hospital. They claim to meet international standards of hygiene and dietary regulations as per the tenets of Islam. This halal certification helps the hospital cater to the demands of patients from over 50 Islamic countries and gives hospital tourism a boost.
g. Halal dating websites : There are numerous websites for singles to meet up and befriend each other. Now there are halal certified dating websites that do this in a sharia compliant way, ‘Mingle’ being one among them.
8. Halal certification fees in Dar al-harb nations
The halal economy tries to impose a wholly Islamic system in the production-to-consumer chain, but it is not easy to compete with the existing giants in the industry. For example it would take an inordinate amount of time and energy to produce and market halal products that would meet or surpass the existing products by leading brands like McDonald’s, Domino’s, Taj Caterers, Haldiram’s, Bikano, Vadilal Ice creams, Kelloggs, Daawat Basmati, Fortune Oil, Amrutanjan, VICCO etc. It is also not possible for these companies to employ only Muslim employees when operating in non Islamic countries (Da al-harb). So they have been given some special ‘concessions’. They are ‘allowed’ to pay a hefty fee to obtain a (renewable) halal certification. This fee is used to strengthen the Islamic finance system. Earlier, non Muslim subjects under Islamic rule were forced to pay a ‘protective’ Jizya tax (to be exempt from conversion). Similarly companies today are being ‘asked’ to pay up large sums of money as ‘halal certification fees’ if they want their products to be certified for use by Muslims.
9. Global Islamic Ummah and the Halal Economy
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation 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 to obtain Halal certification from competent certifying authorities, for products that they wish to export to Islamic countries. So now, every exporter has to pay up to obtain this certification.
Halal certifications are now advertised as a window of opportunity to businesses to-
a. Cater to a potential consumer base of 2 Billion Muslims across the world
b. Provide an ease of conducting business in the Islamic world
c. Make their products instantly acceptable to any Muslim across the world
d. Widen their business prospects. For example, the Indian Halal Certification board is affiliated to the Shariat boards of 120 countries and 140 Islamic organizations which means that this certificate can be used to carry out business there too.
e. Reap profits that are far greater than the amount being paid as fees for the halal certification.
f. Continue catering to the non-Muslim consumers as usual.
10. The Halal Certification Process
If a product industry wants to be certified by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), then it has to stringently adhere to certain rules and regulations; but if an industry (for example a restaurant) wants to be halal certified then the Halal certifying authority pays more attention to religious aspects rather than the functioning – whether the meat or other products being used there are halal certified or not. The audit methodology used by the Halal certifying body usually involves
a. Neither is nor consist of or contains any part or matter of an animal that a Muslim is prohibited by Shariah to consume or that has not been slaughtered in accordance with Shariah.
b. Does not contain anything which is considered to be impure according to Shariah.
c. Has not been prepared, processed or manufactured using an instrument that was not free from anything impure according to 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 that is considered to be impure according to Shariah.
The certifying body then conducts regular as well surprise inspections to ensure that the above are adhered to.
Going through these conditions, it is apparent that no special skill is involved here. For example any regular restaurant may be adhering to these conditions (albeit unintentionally); but by creating a framework to address even simple issues, the halal economy is being expanded.
11. Halal Certifying Bodies of India
There are many non Governmental organizations that issue Halal certificates. Prominent ones include,
a. Halal Indian Pvt. Ltd
b. Halal Certification Services India Pvt. Ltd
c. Jamiat Ulema-e-hind Halal Trust
d. Jamiat Ulema-e-Maharashtra
e. Halal Council of India
f. Global Islamic Sharia Services
12. Government agencies of a secular government make a religiously mandated halal certificate mandatory !
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 also made it mandatory that animals are slaughtered in the halal manner under the observation of auditors from Islamic organizations. This is in contravention to the ‘Secularism’ enshrined in the Constitution. Of the total meat exported from India, 46% (about 6 lakh tons) is exported to Vietnam alone (a non Islamic country). This brings up the question whether a Halal certificate is required to export there. But due to this pro Islamic stance of the government the 23,646 Crore meat industry is directly supplementing the Halal economy. ‘What is someone does not want to consume halal meat, does he have no freedom to choose?’ – is something to ponder over.
13. Hindu majority to compelled consume halal meat by government run institutions !
The pseudo-seculars are always reminding all and sundry about the freedom enshrined in the constitution; but in this ‘secular’ country, government run institutions like the ITDC (India Tourism Development Corporation), Air India, railway catering services, all of them award contracts only to those who serve halal meat. The Indian parliament which is the most sacred space of the Indian democracy is served by the railway catering services. Even there, the Hindu majority does not have the freedom to choose what kind fo meat they want to consume.
Hindus should question these policies of the Government run institutions. Also, Hindus should compel these institutions to make available food that is religiously acceptable, and until then their products should be boycotted.
14. Livelihood of poor Hindu butchers ruined !
Every person in Hindu dharma had the freedom to pursue a career in according to their vocation and skill. Similarly, the Hindu butcher community has been earning a livelihood by selling meat. But now with government run institutions and even private businesses demanding that only halal meat be supplied, Hindu butchers (whose products are haram) are going out of business, while Muslim butchers are benefitted. Pork is prohibited by Islam, so barring pork every other kind of meat business is being taken over by the minority Muslim community. The government’s ill-advised policies about insisting on Halal meat have ensured that the 23,646 Crore yearly meat export and the 40,000 Crore domestic mat consumption industry is slipping into the hands of the minority Muslims. This has destroyed the livelihood of the poor and backward Hindu butchers!
15. Businesses being taken over by the minority community in the name of Halal economy !
One should understand that certifying a restaurant as halal compliant and certifying a product as halal are two different issues. For example for meat to be certified as halal, only the source and processing of the meat needs to be shariah compliant. However if a restaurant has to be halal certified the restaurant cannot serve alcohol (or anything with spirits or derived products). Not only should the meat being used there be halal certified, even other items like oil, spices, food colouring, rice, grains, everything should be halal certified. So this halal certification has paved the way for the minority muslim community to take over not only the meat industry but other businesses too.
16. The world’s fasted growing economy – halal economy !
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 (and of course the fees are also levied individually). The certificate is valid only for a year and the renewal costs another Rs.15,000. This is for one product, now think about the multitude of products that the Indian industry produces for local consumption as well as export, this will give you an idea of the scale of the halal economy. This is just about India! When the entire world is taken into account, it is no wonder that the halal economy is the fastest growing economy today, projected to touch a staggering 3 Trillion US Dollars by 2023 !
Jhatka certificates for Hindus, in lieu of Halal certificates !
While halal meat is considered as permissible for the muslims, it is prohibited to the Hindus and Sikhs. The Jhatka procedure (a single swift blow to separate the animal’s head from the body) is considered as permissible to the Hindus and Sikhs, as this induces the least amount of pain to the animal. Guru Gobind Singh (the revered Tenth Guru of the Sikhs) has permitted the Khalsas to consume meat obtained by the Jhatka method, while expressly forbidding the consumption of ‘Halal or Kutha’ meat. So if the meat eating Hindus start demanding jhatka meat instead of halal meat, then the poor Hindu butchers will be able to find work, and this will also ensure that the money does not fund the halal economy. This is the least we can do to ensure that we do not incur the sin of degrading our religion.
A Delhi based organization has started issuing Jhatka certificates now.
Dictatorship of the small minorities !
Essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb has termed this is the ‘dictatorship of the small minorities’. His book ‘Skin in the Game’, there is a chapter that Taleb has titled ‘The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority’. Here, he describes how an intolerant minority population can force the majority population to submit to their demands. While a meat eating Hindu may not care if the meat he is consuming is halal or not, a muslim person will not compromise on this aspect and insist that he be served only halal meat to cater to his religious beliefs. Now scale this demand in relation to the entire minority community and slowly but surely the unprotesting Hindu is also forced to consume only halal meat. Even though the muslims are in minority, the Hindu majority has to accede to their religious demands and even follow them. This is another face of Islamization. It is this complacency that reduced the Egyptian Coptic Christians from a majority to a minuscule minority today.
What is the need for a separate and private Halal certification body when India has a food safety authority ?
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 are entrusted with the task of certifying food safety and practices. They have stringent standards that need to be upheld to be certified; standards which are not limited to just the product but include the place of production, fire safety and even waste management. These certificates also come with a fee. So while the secular government has provisions and necessary bodies to audit and attest food standards, how were Islamic private bodies granted permission to issue halal certifications? These private bodies do not follow any of the government regulations, but stick to religious guidelines to issue certificates. So doesn’t the government think that the ‘fee’ that they collect to issue ‘certificates’ illegal?
Halal Economy used to help terror accused ?
The Halal economy is growing at a frantic pace and it all handled through Islamic private bodies. The government has absolutely no control over these bodies. This raises a serious question about how these funds are utilised. Australian politician George Christensen (National Party of Australia) has claimed that the money generated from the halal economy may be used to push for Sharia law in Australia and fund Islamic extremism. He has also expressed his apprehension that these funds may be utilised to support terrorism.
In India, Jamiat Ulema-e-hind halal trust is one of the major Halal certifying bodies. The Jamiat ulema-e-hind was established in 1919 to protest against the British occupation of India. This organization, along with the INC, played a role in the freedom movement. However the topic of partition split the organization into two; and the Jamiat ulema-e-islam faction supported a separate nation for the muslims and shifted to Pakistan. Today the Jamiat ulema-e-hind is a powerful entity in religious as well as political circles. During the recent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (2019), the Bengal state president of the JuH Siddiqullah Chowdhury had threatened that the ‘Home Minister Amit Shah will not be allowed to step out of the Kolkata airport’. This organization had also declared that it will fight in favour of those accused of murdering Hindu leader Kamlesh Tiwari of Uttar Pradesh. In the past the JuH has also provided legal support to the muslim accused in several acts of terrorism including the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 Malegaon blasts, German Bakery blast (Pune), the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, the serial blasts of Zaveri Bazaar in Mumbai, Delhi’s Jama Masjid blast and the Karnavati (Ahmedabad) bomb blast among others. The Jamiat is fighting cases on behalf of about 700 such accused. It remains to be seen if the funds required to do this are being provided by the Hindus by way of the Halal certification fees.
Zomato’s biased secularism !
Some time ago, during the month of Shravan, one Shri. Shukla (of Jabalpur) had ordered food via the Zomato app. When he realised that the person ferrying his order is a Muslim, he asked that the rider be changed and when that was not possible, he cancelled the order (as the order was vegetarian and he was observing a vrat) and did not ask that he be refunded. However, the secular gang were up in arms against his act, even Zomato made snide remarks about the incident. In another incident, one Wajid had ordered some non-vegetarian food via Zomato, but when he could not ascertain if it was Halal certified, he cancelled it and informed Zomato about it. Zomato cancelled the order, refunded his money, and then made changes in its app to show which restaurants were Halal certified. Zomato bent over backwards to please the customers from the minority muslim community, but denied the right to the Hindu majority to obtain food as per their religious inclinations, furthermore, the Islamic halal way was forced upon them. This entire episode shows that the Muslims will be ensured employment and also a lions share of the business, while Hindus have to shut down businesses. Unfortunately the Hindu majority’s slave mindset does not make it seem out of the ordinary. Unless the Hindus break the shackles of this slave mindset, we are looking at the next level of a Halal based economy!