Thursday, 28 March 2013

LET HALAL PREVAIL

Who needs 'halaal' certification? Muslim organisations, manufacturers or Muslim consumers. It's certainly not the Muslim consumer and Muslim organization but the businesses that crave for halaal recognition so as to enjoy the loyalty of their Muslim consumer.

A McDonald outlet  with Halal board

At time when demand for Halal food is rising globally, a new hardliner Sinhalese Buddhist group in Sri Lanka has called for the boycott of halal-slaughtered meat as well as other products which carry a halal certificate. Buddhist hardliners argue they should not be forced to consume food that is prepared according to Islamic rites.

At a rally outside of Colombo, monks of the Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Force, announced the boycott and insisted that shops clear their inventories of halal food by April. "More than 90% of the population are non Muslim and therefore there is no justification to force them to eat halal products," monk Kirama Wimalajothi said in a statement.

I wonder, why they consider Halal label to be threatening their culture and their traditions. It's a matter of choice and not an obligation. For instance; when a non vegetarian Indian enters in a food court at a shopping mall, he finds many food products with a green circle within a square that certifies the product being pure vegetarian. Now it's his choice whether to buy it or not. He never seems it to be threatening to his non vegetarian culture. 

Indeed, those waging war against Halal food are impeding the development of their nation. The Halal food industry is one of the important sources of foreign exchange and is an excellent business opportunity for companies looking to exploit the Muslim consumer market particularly in OIC countries. The Halal market is one that food companies cannot ignore. 

The question is 'Who needs 'halaal' certification? Muslim organisations, manufacturers or Muslim consumers. It's certainly not the Muslim consumer and Muslim organization but the businesses that crave for halaal recognition so as to enjoy the loyalty of their Muslim consumer. Muslims are very particular about the dietary laws of Islam. When there was a time before halaal certification. Even then Muslim consumers were very selective and used to have dinner or lunch in a restaurant either run by a Muslim or they had trust that their foods were 'halaal'. Indeed Halal certification made it easy to non Muslim food manufactures and eatery houses to attract Muslim consumers. Abolishing the halal certification will affect the business and not the Muslim.

As a matter of fact, there's nothing wrong if non Muslims will eat halal foods. Particularly for Buddhist when there are no set dietary laws in Buddhism. Tere is no such clear distinction between permitted and forbidden foods in Buddhism. That is why; there is a great deal of diversity in Buddhist practice in different parts of the world.

Fortunately, the Buddhist Force of Sri Lanka has disassociated itself from the violence, saying there are "duplicate groups" pretending to be them and stirring up trouble that has raised new tensions in a country emerging from nearly four decades of ethnic strife which claimed at least 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates.

Likewise the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), Sri Lanka's main body of Islamic clergy, which issues the halal certificates, asked retailers to ensure Halal certified products were offered only to Muslims. "We want to promote peaceful co-existence and harmony," ACJU president Mufti Rizwe told.

As per the report of Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada “The halal food market has grown quickly over the past decade, and is now worth an estimated $632 billion annually. As such, it represents close to 17% of the entire global food industry. Several multinationals, such as Tesco, McDonalds and NestlĂ©, have recognized this, and have expanded their halal approved product lines. It is estimated that these multinationals control 90% of the global halal market. There is also strong potential for halal certified products in non-majority Muslim markets, where consumers are looking for safe and ethical products. The increasing popularity of the halal market in Europe is driven by Russia, France and the United Kingdom.

Therefore let the Halal prevail, not for the Muslim but for the larger interest of national and global economy.


Economic Advancement of Muslims



 Muallim - India's Only Muslim lifestyle Magazine presents the idea for the upliftment of the community

Muslims are not necessarily what others think of them. They have their own coloured glasses tinged with their own biases, ideological proclivities, perceptions and interests. We must learn to view ourselves through our own glasses. We have forgotten that we have our own strengths and weaknesses which are often vastly different from the strengths and weaknesses that others find in us. We have our own ideological foundations, our own goals and our own ways to reach the destination. This however does not mean that we must reject others’ views about us altogether. Criticism often provides a unique opportunity to refresh our approach; and if we find the criticism unwarranted it can engender a new vigour in our hearts and spirits. We must learn to make a systematic analysis of what others say and deal with the issues without being overawed or apologetic.  I have taken care not to present Muslims as a community that cannot simply survive without help from outside. I have purposefully tried to present them as a community that has huge potential not only to make themselves a dynamic, vibrant and prosperous community but also a people that can and must play a meaningful role in national and international affairs.  They have a strong belief system and a religion that talks of “promoting good and campaign against evils”. They have their own perspective with which they view the world. More than anything else this community is an asset for the country of whose they are inhabitant. Muslims must realize sooner than later that they are in a very special kind of situation in India. The sooner they realize it the better it will be for the community. The sooner they are able to make the country as a whole realise this the better it is for the country.
Anything that is not in the interest of the second largest majority of the country, 18-million strong, cannot be in the interest of the country.

Few points to ponder upon;

1.    Muslims hold a very special place in India. Demographically, their population is around 180 million, greater than the population of most of the Muslim countries except perhaps Indonesia. They are the second largest majority of the country after Hindus. But considering the fact that Hindus have Dalits, which constitutionally have a separate status other than the rest of the Hindus, the gap between non-SC Hindus and Muslims further narrows making them a much more important political, social, cultural and economic entity than what looks on the surface. Muslims are very well aware of their hidden potential and capabilities. They are aware of their numbers, their strong historical background, their talents in various fields and their ability to influence the turn of events once they sit together to find what has gone wrong.
2.    Muslims have also to plan their strategies in accordance with their special conditions. They have a greater percentage of younger population than the national average, greater increase in younger population and greater increase in the number of labourers as well as consumers. All these specifics require special modes of planning in the social as well as educational areas.
3.    Muslims are equal citizens of the country. They pay all the taxes like other communities. They save and submit their savings in the banks. They buy shares. They contribute to Indian development in every possible way. They have therefore the right to all kinds of support from the government. They have to know and get what the government has decided in accordance with its policies and programmes.
4.    However, depending only on the mercy of the government without making any efforts themselves is suicidal. Both have to be given equal importance.
5.    We have failed to act as a COMMUNITY THAT CAN SUCCESSFULLY GOVERN ITSELF. We never thought of preparing any comprehensive strategy for the community at the national level.

But more than anyone else it is Allah who has devised ways through which Muslims can help each other and thus contribute in the development of the nation.
Muslims follow a system called Zakat, where in a Muslim who has surplus money / asset gives around 2.5% of money / asset he has stocked. A very close estimation is that Indian Muslims pay an amount of Rs 10,000 as Zakat every year and this is not a less amount, If mobilised according to a definite plan I am sure this can do wonders for the community and the nation in general. 
So we have the picture in front of us we are khaire ummat, we are here to please Allah by serving his creation, huququl ebaad. If we plan properly, every year we will generating capital more then what our government sanctions for the minority development.

Ulemas in the forefront can devise a programme for the proper utilization of such huge amount so that the need of the needy is fulfilled and we can be in a position to bring in place the mechanism required for the paradigm shift for the economic empowerment of the community and the country.
Thus Insha Allah if planned properly economic advancements of Muslims in next to impossible; we will be in a position to establish every mechanism required for impetus growth.

(With inputs from Dr, Javed Jamil – Executive Chairman, International Centre for Applied Islamics)