What is Halal and why is #BoycottHalal trending on Social Media ?

By Mul Shankar

In a yet another shocking act of Muslim appeasement by the Indian state, a man in Chennai was recently arrested for posting an advertisement on WhatsApp about his Jain Bakery declaring that all items at his Jain Bakery were Pure Vegetarian, made only by Jains and not Muslims. In a disproportionate show of power, police booked the owner under unrelated sections like 153 (provocation to cause riot), 153A, 505 (inciting commission of an offence against another community) and 295A (insult a class of people) IPC.

Many reports compared the Jain Bakery advertisement with prominent display of the word Halal on many Muslim shops and advertisements and asked why Muslim use of the word Halal  is not similarly punishable under the same sections of the IPC? Stirred into action by this incident, prominent advocate and activist Ishkaran Singh Bhandari  launched an effort to create a “Dharmik Certified” label. Bhandari is well known for his action against large American fast-food chain McDonald’s for forcing Halal meat on unsuspecting customers in stealth.

While many articles on Halal were published in recent times, there is still a lot of confusion about what Halal is, what Halal certification is, and why its spread in India and around the world is being seen by many as Islamification in stealth. This article provides comprehensive information about Islamization through Halal in an easy to read FAQ format.

What is Halal?

Halal is an Arabic word meaning “permissible”. It is now used in the context of food consumable as per Islamic rules for Muslims. As per Quran, it is a sin for Muslims to consume pork, meat of dead animals, blood, alcohol beverages, and food offered to Gods other than Allah.

The strict adherence to Quranic recommendation of non-consumption of blood led Muslims to practice a particularly painful method of slaughtering animals for meat called Dabhihah (ritual slaughter). Slaughter according to this method involves cutting the animal’s wind pipe, jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides, leaving the spinal cord intact, so that the animals are bled out fully while conscious before the head is cut off. Muslims who insist on Halal meat are basically insisting that the animals they eat are bled out and slaughtered in this fashion.

Non-Muslim meat eaters around the world practice instantaneous killing of animals (called Jhatka in India) where the animal’s head is cut in a single swift stroke.

Is Halal only about meat?

Even though, in the context of food, the word was primarily used for meat, starting 1990s Halal standards bodies have started applying the term to a large number of product categories including processed food, beverages, medicine, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and skin care products, and so on. The ostensible logic being — non-acceptance of products which have alcohol or pork extracts which are haram for Muslims.

In the last 5-10 years, Muslim bodies have started consumerizing the usage of the term to all products, and even to buildings and public spaces like restaurants, apartment complexes, resorts, spas and so on. The intent is to designate these spaces as being amenable to Islamification – that is, spaces where rules which Muslims impose as being necessary for Muslim consumers to extend their patronage and approval, are willingly followed by the service providers and product manufacturers. Threat of collective Muslim boycott if not followed, is something that goes unsaid.

What is Halal certification?

The concept of Halal Certification is a modern creation from 1960s by fundamentalist Muslims living in Western countries. It was initially designed primarily to mark packaged meat as originating from animals slaughtered as per the Halal method. Such pre-packaged food was kept segregated from other food in the stores so that such Muslims could easily pick such food for purchase.

Even though the certification started out as a means for marking meat from animals slaughtered in halal fashion, it soon was applied to assert other aspects about the food products in general (mentioned above) – for non-use of alcohol, absence of pig extracts or bones, and so on.

Muslims carefully avoid mentioning the fact that Halal certification was first devised in the United States in mid 1960s when Muslims copied the Jewish practice of Kosher packing and certification. Halal certification is a Islamist concept created to help those to help those Muslims living in non-Muslim countries preserve what they believed to be important to hang on to their Islamic identity. Halal certification then quickly spread to Europe and other countries like Malaysia, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia.

What is problematic about Halal certification today?

In 1990s, Muslims started forming standardization bodies like World Halal Council (formed in Indonesia) which started creating arbitrary rules on what is halal and what is not, creating a pressure group of fundamentalist Muslim consumers who would demand adherence to processes that benefit Muslims as a group.

Today Halal certification has grown into something that has nothing do with medieval Quranic recommendations on food anymore – it has become a process of separatist assertion of fundamentalist Islamic religious identity of Muslims living in a non-Muslim country. It is also cleverly used to exclude non-Muslims from economic activities that are touched by Halal certification through arbitrary creation of rules that help the Muslim brotherhood.

Can you provide some concrete examples of modern Halal rules?

Halal rules today include the following: (1) Slaughtering must be done by a sane adult Muslim. Animals slaughtered by a Non-Muslim will not be Halal, (2) The supervisors should be Muslims who understand the rules and conditions of slaughtering in Islam, (3) Where mechanical slaughtering is used, the process of slaughtering should be controlled by an adequate number of Muslims, (4) At the time of slaughter, the Tasmiya and Takbir must be pronounced by Muslims, (5) Slaughterhouse must be completely halal and no mixing should be done –non-halal animals should not be slaughtered and all slaughter of all animals shall be as per halal procedures only which otherwise will lead to contamination, (6) The storage place cooler or freezer should be inspected by the Muslim inspector and approved for storage of Halal meats, (7) There should be an on-site Muslim inspection at the beginning of each production shift to check ingredients, cleanliness and packaging. Whenever a non-Halal product is run between Halal productions, a Muslim inspector must inspect again all the ingredients, cleanliness and packaging.

These rules are now being extended to manufacturers of all products, and not just slaughter houses.

Do you notice how the whole process is rigged to eliminate non-Muslims from the economic activity and provide employment and control to Muslims?

Isn’t this destroying livelihoods of non-Muslim slaughterers? Why have Muslim Halal bodies created such rules which exclude non-Muslims?

Of course, it does. In India, livelihood of many Dalits has been destroyed because of these predatory and exclusionist practices by fundamentalist Muslim groups.

Muslims are taught deep disgust for mushirks, kafirs or Hindus at homes and schools. For instance, see what USCIRF says about what Muslim children are taught in Pakistan schools – “Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful, and to whom religious minorities should be subservient.”

In Kashmir, or even in Delhi at JNU or Jamia Milia, Muslims who protest against the government always demand “Azaadi” – that is, freedom from being under the rule of lowly kafirs and mushirks which should not be tolerated by Muslims, according to them. For them, even destroying public property around them that could affect their own livelihood is okay because such public property is seen as belonging to the lowly kafirs and mushirks. For them, rule of the Muslim majority is what one should strive for because that is the ideal way to live while on Earth (when not yet in Jannat).

But are non-Muslim owned businesses accepting all these loaded rules?

Yes. Under the threat of Muslim boycott of their products and services, most businesses, from MNCs to small local businesses, are succumbing to the process of Halal certification. They are making changes to their factories and processing lines to adhere to the arbitrary Halal body rules, employing Muslims, paying for Halal certification by Muslims, and so on.

For instance, well known Ayurveda manufacturer Patanjali Ayurved Limited has recently obtained Halal certification for several of its plants. Here is a news report about how the Muslim Halal agency is denying that they certified any Cow Urine based product at the Patanjali Ayurved plant. So now to get Halal certification Patanjali doesn’t manufacture any cow urine based products at that plant. More importantly, how does Cow Urine become haram? Where is it mentioned in Quran that Cow urine is haram?

Even MNC restaurant chains have started changing the menus to adhere to Islamic rules. For instance, Domino’s Pizza doesn’t serve Pepperoni pizza anymore. Most MNCs have succumbed to Halal and have followed suit.

What is worst it that most of these businesses convert to Halal in stealth so that they can serve Halal to all their customers, both Muslim and non-Muslim. All airlines, even Indian Airlines, and even government canteens have become Halal in stealth now.

Why are businesses converting to Halal in stealth?

So that Hindus, Sikhs and other non-Muslims do not protest. It is a religious requirement for Sikhs to consume only Jhatka meat. Most Hindus also consume only Jhatka meat. But many of these restaurants serve Halal meat without informing their customers.

If they inform their customers in advance, then they will be forced to carry multiple stocks for customer groups belonging to different religions. This is logistically difficult to maintain and can cost them a lot more money. Halal Certification agencies also make it difficult for them by creating arbitrary rules about what can be stored with Halal food and what cannot citing contamination. Note how the whole concept of contamination is absent in Quran and is arbitrarily created to ensure that Islamification is always exclusive and complete.

Businesses get away doing this in stealth as they are confident of inability of Hindus and Sikhs to create an organized protest against this imposition of Halal Islamification on them. Most Hindus and Sikhs have become deracinated and hardly have any pride in their religious and cultural identity of their own left. They believe they are being tolerant while just being lazy ostriches which bury their heads in the sand.

Shouldn’t these businesses serve both Muslims and non-Muslims?

Yes. Ideally, that is what would be expected, that grocery stores maintain separate aisles or shelves where they store and display Halal certified food. While there could be total Halal stores in Muslim ghettos, in predominantly non-Muslim areas where Muslims are usually less than 5% of the population, stores can maintain separate shelves. But none of the stores do that in India. In countries like US, all stores maintain separate shelves for Kosher food. Not in India.

Similarly, restaurants should ideally have separate menus for Muslims demanding Halal. But because Muslims intentionally create rules of contamination and exclusion, restaurants are forced to either become completely Halal or not at all. Halal restaurants cannot serve any Pork dishes and cannot serve alcohol.

Does Halal certification cost a lot of money?

Yes it does. For instance, the following are the costs for Halal certification by Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, a certification agency based out of New Delhi.

Registration Fee is Rs. 20,000 one time plus Rs. 500 per product, auditor Allowance of Rs. 1,000 (per man day), audit expenses as per actuals, Halal Logo printing is Rs. 20,000 per year, renewal fee is Rs 15,000 and Rs 500 per product.  Consignment Certification Charges– Rs. 500 Per Certificate per product.

One can imagine what the costs could be for a large company with multiple plants, multiple warehouses and large number of daily consignments.

Shouldn’t Muslims bear all these costs of certification and changes to plant processes and storage plans?

Yes. But sadly that’s not what happens. When the stocks are separately maintained and priced, it is possible to setup a higher price for the Halal certified products so that Muslims who are demanding these specially packaged and certified products can pay extra. But that is not how it happens today. As businesses do all this in stealth and do not follow any sort of segregation of products, Hindus and other non-Muslims share the costs with Muslims for what Muslims demand.

Why do some people call this Dhimmitude?

In today’s world of vote bank democracies, political parties (and thus the state) are quick to take action against Hindus and other non-Muslims to appease Muslims who vote as a group, virtually creating a situation of living in an Islamic state for these Hindus. Just as the Jain Bakery owner was arrested in Chennai on absurd charges.

Non-Muslims who lived in an Islamic state had to pay what was called “Jizya” to the Islamic rulers for being non-Hindus, and were called Dhimmis. If we consider the additional price non-Muslims pay for Halal certified products as Jizya, the word Dhimmi would describe the condition of Hindus today perfectly. Using the terms Dhimmi or Dhimmitude is not derogatory or Islamophobic.

Why do Muslims do this? Why isn’t anyone talking about this?

The same reason why Muslims build mosques in areas where there are hardly any Muslims and blare Azaan five times a day with high powered loud-speakers starting at 4:30 AM in the morning, despite Supreme Court orders banning this. Why Hindu children going to schools in Muslim areas are made to fast during Ramzaan. Why India was partitioned in 1905 and 1947. And why Kashmiri Hindus were driven out of their ancestral land once they were numerically overpowered.

Rise in fundamentalist Islam around the world is seeing a rise in demand for strict adherence by Muslims to rules in medieval books like Quran for dietary practices, clothing, female genital mutilation and other such practices. But what is amazing is how further rules are created by artificially setup bodies like World Halal Council (in case of Halal), or other local bodies in case of other aspects. While countries like Saudi Arabia which were earlier known for their strict adherence to barbaric Sharia laws are adopting more liberal attitudes, Muslims in Asia are treading the path of fundamentalism in an attempt to even outdo even Saudi Arabia. Halal certification is a tool of assertion of separatist Islamic identity in the hands of such groups.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a well-known writer and author of the influential book The Black Swan, calls this phenomenon “dictatorship of the minority”. In his essay, “The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority“, he gives the example of how a small group of Muslims in vastly Christian Egypt reduced Christians to a minority there based on their intolerance and small rate of “interfaith marriages.” Or, what we call it in India, Love Jihad.

Thus, when Hindus eat both Halal and non-Halal, but Muslims insist on only Halal meat in an intransigent manner, soon all Hindus will be eating only Halal. The concept of Halal works only when the other party is okay with eating Halal food, but those insisting on Halal do not reciprocate. Acceptance of Halal always comes with submission of one’s own identity to that of Islam.

It is considered “Islamophobic” to talk about these things. Roger Scruton, a philosopher from United Kingdom, once said — “The word Islamophobia has been invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue”. He was sacked by the British government for saying this.

What are non-Muslims in other affected countries doing?

The protests in Europe were massive. Councils in UK banned Halal meat supply to schools. There was a huge uproar about eateries secretly serving Halal food — the Pizza Express furore in Britain. Strong protest against Subway for removing ham and bacon from its menu in 200 stores. Later it was discovered that many fast food chains like KFC and Nandos were secretly Halal. These stores were all forced to offer Halal foods only in a labeled fashion and not to all customers.

Belgium banned Halal slaughter to ensure animal welfare. Australia has seen massive violent protests against Halal foods. Same in Canada, and in Norway. Iceland, Sweden, Lithuania, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, and Poland have all banned Halal slaughter. Italy is on the way to a ban. Netherlands banned Halal slaughter but later overturned the ban. This paper discusses the status in all European countries. There are claims and protests from Australia that Halal certification funds may be used for Islamic extremism and even terrorism.

The residue of Islamic imperialism makes protests in India subdued compared to Christian Europe. In recent times there were a couple of protests in India — Hindus and Sikhs protested Halal-only status of Air India. Many Hindus protested against Indigo on twitter recently. Ishkaran Singh Bhandari has launched an attack against McDonald’s for their stealth Halal.

Shouldn’t it be okay for Muslims to demand and get Halal based on their beliefs and practices?

Yes. Only if it is not done in an exclusionary fashion. Only when non-Halal choice is not eliminated. Only when Halal is not rubbed onto non-Muslims in stealth by businesses. Only when Muslims pay extra for their choice and not all.

It is also in doubt if this whole Halal certification is based on Quran in the first place. A study of history of Halal certification provides a good mechanism to deconstruct Halal. Such an exercise exposes the arbitrariness of the whole system, and the motivation behind creation of such an exclusionary system. A good example of the arbitrariness of the rules is how Muslim bodies in Britain have accepted slaughter of stunned animals as Halal despite clear Quranic statements that the animal should be conscious when killed.

Of interest should be the book “The Halal Market or The Invention of a Tradition” by French anthropologist Florence Bergeaud-Blackler. The halal food industry is a product of the “random convergence of neo-fundamentalism and neo-liberalism” during the early 1980s, Bergeaud-Blackler explains. She warns against what she calls “umnique” halal (a term derived from the Arabic word for community, ummah), or halal food that is made for Muslims, by Muslims. Until 2005, non-Muslims were free to make halal products as long as they respected international norms and rules. Since then, the Gulf States and Turkey, accusing the West of seizing control of halal production standards, have launched a sort of “techno-religious one-upmanship”. “They believe they should be in control of halal production standards, from how it is financed to how it is consumed, thereby ushering in a global Islamic economy that includes all Muslim countries, as well as [immigrant Muslim communities],” she says.

One can also read this interview on her ideas at this Academia article “The global halal market — Interview with Florence Bergeaud-Blackler” or this article “Europe: Big Business Colludes with Islamism” by Yves Mamou, for more details.

What would you suggest as the Agenda for a #BoycottHalal movement?

The following should be the agenda:

  1. Create widespread awareness about the exclusionary practices of Halal certification and Halal in stealth
  2. Demand choice of non-Halal products and services from businesses which get Halal certification. If no such choice is provided, boycott all such businesses and products.
  3. Approach courts and governments to make it illegal for businesses to eliminate offering choice of non-Halal when they get Halal certification. Courts should deem any Halal rules which prevent offering of non-Halal as illegal.
  4. Demand segregation of labelled Halal and Non-Halal products at all stores so that it is easy to pick and choose what one wants. All businesses should charge higher price for Halal products and services.
  5. Restore livelihoods of Dalit workers in slaughterhouses
  6. Promote awareness of Jhatka and demand Jhatka meat as a choice at all restaurants and eateries
  7. Explore animals rights issues in Halal slaughter and consider ban on Halal slaughter in India.

Source : IndiaFacts

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