Halal Certificate: mere certification or a façade for propagation of Islam?

Map depicting Muslim majority countries
Map depicting Muslim majority countries

Many brands in India are favoring the Halal stamp on their products. From the likes of Haldiram's, Bikano, Amul to Patanjali, big brands are paying high prices to gain confidence of their Muslim consumer base. According to the belief of Sharia, a Muslim should only consume food which is permissible under Halal.

What is Halal?

Halal is an Arabic word meaning allowed or permitted. In Islam there are several ground rules regarding halal. The do's come under halal and the don'ts fall under 'Haram' category. Haram means unlawful, essentially following halal guarantees pure Islamic practice.

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The religious practice of halal, does not always encompass sophisticated mannerisms. One such practice which may be deemed inhumane is the slaughtering of animals fit for eating. According to the Muslim Halal method the animal has to be placed in the direction of Mecca and must be awake during the time of butchery. A Muslim butcher would make a deep incision in the animal's throat while saying "Bismillah"(in the name of god). The slaughtered animal would be left to bleed till its death. It is important to note that the non-religious methods are comparatively sympathetic in the method of killing the animal. The animals are not conscious when the deed is done, thus feeling no pain.

What is halal certification?

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind Halal Trust, an organization in India which claims itself to be a 'non-profit', issues certification for food products, restaurants, airlines and hospitals which is accepted in several countries. The certification ensures that the concerned food items, restaurants, hotels, airlines and hospitals are complying with the halal practices. If it is a food item, it means it is fit for consumption as per the Sharia law. The religious practice may seem noble for religious purposes but it has more than one contribution to the Islamic community.

Map depicting Muslim majority countriesWikimedia

The supposed not-for-profit organization gains approximately 4 crores in a year from over 250 traders in India. The organization markets the Halal trademark as the sole key to "penetrating Muslim countries" and the ones who do not have it "would lose a large segment of potential consumers from around the world". It claims the Halal market to be worth $600 billions' worth. As an NGO the Halal Trust is provided tax exemptions on its funds. Not only does it have a profit-based business in the country but it gains from abroad in crores. 'Jamiat Ulma Hind UK' is its top foreign contributor, with a contribution of over 6 crores in the last 4 years.

Though the Jamiat's origin has roots in the Khilafat movement of 1919, the current running has nothing to do with it. Jamiat aims to 'enroll 20,000 fresh members' in the Jamiat Youth Club in 2021 and 12.5 million youth to be prepared in the next 10 years. With details of expansion of the club and promotion in the youth, Jamiat focuses on propagation of Islamic practices and upliftment of madrasas.

The question arises, in a country which claims itself to be secular, what place do such organizations hold? Do they enjoy special status in the name of minority or is it a general bias running throughout the world?

Key Words: Halal, Halal Certificate, Islam