Monday, April 22, 2024

Hijab to Halal: Why Karnataka’s BJP govt is in thick of it

It is Hosathodaku, or Varshadodaku, in certain parts of Karnataka today — the after-Ugadi feast that has hit headlines this year over a controversy surrounding ‘Halal’ meat.

Those who offer meat today may or may not have managed to procure non-Halal meat, but they inadvertently would have ended up buying or using some other Halal-certified product in their food.

How do you make a distinction if half the things in your shopping basket are Halal? For that, you need to know what Halal is.

The term, as described by Halal Research Council, “refers to the things, actions and processes permitted by Islamic Shariah law without punishment imposed on the doer. It is usually used to describe something that a Muslim is permitted to engage in, e.g. eat, drink or use.”

But why do nearly all the brands that one can think of obtain the Halal certification for products that have nothing to do with meat or animal slaughter or even its byproducts?

It is because, as the Halal Council of India describes, “India alone has a larger market potential than the eight Muslim countries combined together.”

According to the certifying agency Halal Faizabad, “Halal gives certain guidelines that determine whether a particular food is allowed for consumption. The lawful items under Halal should not be made with unlawful ingredients as described by the Islamic Law.

“Next rule states that the food should not be prepared, processed, and transported in any facility or appliance that can contaminate the food with the unlawful substances. Based on the Islamic law proper cleaning procedures should be taken while preparing the food.

“In any case, if Non Halal items are exposed to the food, it cannot be consumed. The way in which the food is prepared and processed also determine whether the food is Halal or not.”

The agency’s website lists out some requirements to make the meat Halal:

1. The person slaughtering the animal should be Muslim and knowledgeable about Islamic laws

2. The animal to be slaughtered needs to alive (sic) before slaughtering it

3. The phrase Bismillah should be called after a person slaughters the animal

4. The device used to slaughter the animal should be sharp

5. The act of slaughter should target on the oesophagus, trachea, veins and main arteries

The certification gives a product “the recognition required to convince the Muslim community that it is prepared as per Halal Laws or the Halal requirement under Shariah law.”

It also apparently turns the product “safe, hygienic, nutritious and clean to consume” in the perception of “non-Muslim consumers.”

The Halal Council of India says it only certifies “100% vegan Food & Beverages, Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetic Products and Facilities.”

It says on their website that two billion Muslims living around the world today make up 26.4 per cent of the world’s population and this market reportedly spans an estimated US $7 trillion, “making it one of the fastest-growing consumer segments in the world.”

And as quoted on the website, according to Reuters, the Halal food market alone is estimated at US $1.7 trillion followed by Halal Cosmetics, which is valued at US $75 billion.

But the Halal certification process in India too is big business, even though Muslims form just 15 per cent of our national population and only 10 per cent of the world’s population.

Most Halal certificates are valid for six months to a year or a maximum of two years and have to be renewed every year upon expiry.

According to the Halal Research Council, after the first audit and inspection clearance, documents are evaluated by the Shariah Supervisory Board.

Upon receiving approval by said board, the case is submitted to the research wing that extracts samples from the product, process, and raw materials randomly. The samples collected are sent to the inspection team where these are evaluated in the laboratory.

A detailed report is prepared by the research wing considering all the details submitted so far along with the laboratory results. Then they submit their report, which, subsequently, is forwarded to the audit and inspection committee.

If the report is cleared by the committee, it is submitted to the Shariah Supervisory Board for Halal Fatwa. The board decides the Halal status and a Halal certificate is issued for a period of one year, during which time the entire process remains subject to review and observation as and when felt appropriate by the audit and inspection committee.

As far as the money is concerned, as per the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind Halal Trust, the fee structure is as follows:

That apart, there are conditions to apply for certification, as specified by Halal Certification Services India Pvt Ltd, which is “India’s first comprehensive established Halal Certification body in India, since 1999.” It has, among others, Nestle India as its client.

It requires that “Few Muslim staffs must be appointed at Halal manufacturing unit and all staffs must not bring Non-Halal Foods or Beverages onto the production area.”

That the Halal issue is much more than a particular way of animal slaughter, that it is a parallel economy that pitches religious practice as hygiene and health standards, doesn’t come to light until a Halal-related controversy, such as the one now in the news, arises.

(This piece is courtesy Swarajyamag). 

(Panchmukha is interesting content floating on internet, brought by NewsBred for its readers. They don’t necessarily reflect our views but make our platform diverse.)

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