Importance of Halal Food-
UK Halal Commission Formed
Dr. Mozammel Haque
Halal foods are foods that are allowed under dietary guidelines. According to these guidelines based on the Qur’an, Muslims cannot consume the following: pork or pork by products; animals that were dead prior to slaughtering; animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah; blood and blood by products; carnivorous animals and birds of prey.
The method of slaughtering, in Islam, is based on certain clear guidelines found in the Holy Qur’an, the Sunnah and traditions practised by the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him). In the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) it is clearly laid down as follows:
1. “Hence, eat not of that (animal) over which God’s name has not been pronounced, for this would be sinful conduct indeed. (Al-Qur’an: Surah 6, Al-An’am, verse 121)
2. “He has forbidden you Carrion, and blood and the flesh of swaine, and that over which any name other than God’s has been invoked. (Al-Qur’an Surah 2, Al-Baqarah, verse 173)
3. “Forbidden to you is Carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swaine, and that over which any name other than God’s has been invoked, and the animal that has been strangled, or beaten to death, or killed by a fall, or gored to death or savaged by a beast of prey, save that which you yourselves may have slaughtered while it was still alive. (Al-Qur’an Surah 5, Al-Maidah, verse 3)
4. The Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited from Satanic slaughtering, where jugular veins are left intact and just the skin alongside with some flesh tissues is cut (Abu Daud)
5. The Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited cutting the spinal marrow of the goat while slaughtering (Tibrani)
6. Abdullah Ibn-e-Abbas, Anas and Abdullah Ibn-e- Umar (Allah be pleased with them all) said that if an animal is slaughtered from the back of the neck, its meat is not Halal. (Bukhari)
From the above verses of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet peace be upon him, it becomes clear that slaughtering must be performed manually by a mature Muslim who fully understands the fundamentals and conditions relating to slaughtering according to Islamic Law; at the time of slaughtering the name of Allah must be invoked by saying – Bismillah – Allahu Akbar; the animal should be slaughtered using a sharp knife, penetrating the throat of the animal; windpipe, food-tract and two jugular veins should be cut, preferably in one stroke; the blood of the slaughtered animal must be drained as completely as possible and slaughtering from the back of the neck is not allowed in Islam.
The above are the guidelines and requirements for a meat to be declared as Halal. These are followed by Muslims living in both the Muslim majority and the Muslim minority countries.
Muslim majority countries
The Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has established its Halal meat certification centre in Tehran, Iran for the Muslim countries. The Executive Director of the Centre and the pioneer in this field, Mr. Jafar, passed away recently in 2011.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia imports food from more than 150 countries. Recently, an international conference on Halal food was held in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Food and Drugs Authority organised the three-day conference focusing on monitoring Halal food. In his address, the Executive President of SFDA Muhammad Al-Kandal stressed the need to monitor imported food. The participants, including 120 experts from abroad, discussed 60 studies on various aspects of monitoring Halal food in different sittings of the conference. More than 20 foreign companies participated in the exhibition apart from Saudi participants.
Dr. Ahmad Makhdoum, the Director of the Muslim World League London Office told me, “The Muslim World League in Makkah has a committee and they are now reforming this committee. They want to assure that all the meat coming from outside of Saudi Arabia is being Halal, slaughtered according to Shari’ah.”
“What the Muslim World League in Makkah is doing is organising the matter, watching, monitoring and giving the certificate by the Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami (MWL), The Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami is the only organisation which is authorised to give this kind of certificate to all the meat coming from outside of Saudi Arabia,” mentioned Dr. Makhdoum.
Muslim Minority countries
As regards Halal food vis-à-vis Muslims living in the Muslim minority countries, there is a lot of debate about Halal food in France. The phoney war over Halal meat erupted in France last February when Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National, claimed consumers were eating Halal unknowingly. Then former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to make the labelling of Halal meat pivotal to his re-election campaign has infuriated, alienated and dismayed France’s as many as six million Muslim community.
The former French President Sarkozy ignored the spending power – the Halal market, for example, is growing at 20% a year more than organic food. France has failed to learn the lesson of its history, says Mohamed Abdenebi, 36, a history and geography teacher to the Guardian: “In 1939 when there was an economic crisis, the enemy was the Jews. Today there is a crisis and it is the Muslims. It’s the same discrimination, just a different community.” It is reported by Kim Willsher in Paris to The Guardian, 10 March 2012.
In Russia we find a different story on Halal meat. According to Dr. Madina of the Russian Mufti Council, “In 2003 we established the separate Halal standardization certificate of the Russian Mufti Council which pledged a huge row in Moscow Halal establishment. This standard certificate is already recognised by the OIC standard certification. We created a lot of voluntary certification because in many countries as we saw Halal certification is going on without system. It is important to have system certification. In this regard we cooperated with all kinds of scientific and research institutes of meat products. This is with the All-Russian scientific standardization and certification and our standard is registered with the state standardization certification and it is recognised as voltar organisation.”
Dr. Madina also mentioned about the Halal Exhibition 2012. Moscow Halal Expo 2012 was held in All-Russian Exhibition Centre. More than 7 thousands of visitors from different corners of Russia and around the world gathered there. It is reported that Moscow Halal Expo corroborates the status of the largest Russian activity in the sphere of ethical business based on Halal standards and increases its scale and variety from year to year, attracting more and more Russian and foreign partners, exhibitors, participants and visitors.
The big international business-forum «World Experience and Prospects of Halal and Islamic Finance Markets» was also held within the Exhibition. Experts in Halal from Saudi Arabia, Republic of South Africa, Turkey, Malaysia, Great Britain, Australia etc. and specialists in Islamic finance from United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Indonesia, Italy, Russia and other countries was expected to take part there.
In the United Kingdom, The Muslim World League London Office is playing an important role about Halal food. Talking about its role relating to Halal Food, Dr. Makhdoum said, “The European or Asian countries are killing animals; it is very inhumane in dealing with the animals; hence researches established that slaughtering cutting the throat, I mean all the veins, arteries and in the neck area is the best way in dealing with the meat of the animals.”
“When you cut the throat you cut all the nerves and you make all the blood going out from the animal. By this way we are achieving three very important aspects; obeying Allah the Almighty, and the Prophet peace be upon him who said, make your knife sharpen; and No 2 is dealing with animals in a very humane way, mercy to the animal and thirdly, healthy way,” said Dr. Makhdoum.
Speaking about what is the role of the Muslim World League London Office with regard to Halal Food, Dr. Makhdoum said, “Our role here is concentrating giving the awareness to the people either by giving some brochures, organising meeting and communicating with the people and Insha Allah our goal for the next few years is to spread the awareness of the benefits of Zibah.”
Recently, on 2nd of June 2012 there was a conference on Halal Food in Birmingham which was attended by Muslim and Jewish communities. The conference talked about the Halal meat, what is the best way of slaughtering lawful animals and most of the people who gathered there agreed to the fact that the best way of dealing with the animals is by Zibah . Besides the Muslim religious leaders and organisations, there were some Jewish people and organisation. The conference agreed that it is not Halal with the electricity and passed a Birmingham Declaration which is as follows:
Special meeting of the Imams, Scholars, community leaders and stakeholders held in Birmingham, United Kingdom on Saturday, the 2nd of June 2012 where they agreed and endorsed the following declaration:
“Muslims are immersely grateful to the successive governments for the exemption accorded to slaughter by religious method in Schedule 21 and 22 of the Part IV of the 1995 legislation* that “Schedule 5 (which relates to the stunning and killing of animals) shall not apply to any animal which is slaughtered in accordance with Schedule 12 (which relates to slaughter by a religious method).”
However, the Muslim community along with our Jewish compatriots are concerned that there are relentless attempts by some vocal pressure groups to force the government to do away with this highly valued exemption on the unfounded pretence that religious slaughter (without stunning) causes more pain. Muslims reject such views and maintain that no other method of slaughter of animal could be more humane than religious method of slaughter when standards are scrupulously implemented.
British Muslim community will refuse to accept any attempt to change the current legislation and as a community it is determined to ensure strict adherence to Halal standards. To achieve this today’s meeting agrees to establish a UK HALAL COMMISSION with representation from all segments of British Muslim Community.”