Halal Certification – Why should Non- Muslims have to accept and pay for it?
Posted on December 10th, 2012
Natives of non-Muslim nations are asking one simple question – why have their Governments accepted an unfair trade practice of insisting food, pharmaceuticals and other products used by consumers have to be halal certified for which a fee is charged and for which the consumers end up having to pay for nothing related to their religion or culture.
Today non – Muslims i.e. Buddhists, Hindus, Christians are increasingly asking why a religious practice that was solely confined only to Muslims for so long in the past is now being forced on non – Muslim nations.
Muslims who quote the Qu’ran which says ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ (Surah 2: 256), is following the exact opposite.
‘Halal’ is a Muslim practice since sixth century A.D. but the insistence of its implementation in non-Muslim nations especially on food, pharmaceuticals and other products is causing strong reactions and calls for “boycott Halal” even in Sri Lanka. Shop owners in Sri Lanka have been threatened that Muslims would boycott their shops if halal certification is not obtained. In a country with over 70% Buddhists what if they start to boycott Muslim shops? Such threats will cause unnecessary tensions and Muslims should desist from these unwarranted calls insisting non-Muslims adopt halal certification. It is raising questions of violating the self-respect of and dignity of the other communities.
It is the duty of a Government to standards products and award necessary certification and not private bodies most of which are established as religious charities and end up not paying taxes. Religious bodies cannot decide for other communities what is edible and what is not through a common labeling system that is based only on their religious principles and practices.
How can shop keepers and vendors or super markets for that matter agree to become halal compliant without obtaining the prior consent of the non-Muslim consumer?
Most eating houses, restaurants never fail to display “halal certified, no pork” boards. Whilst the cow is a sacred animal for both Buddhist and Hindus, how can it be acceptable to eat beef but not pork? Why is it that only the religious preferences of just one ethnic community decides for the rest of the population when that population is over 70%?
Without a doubt halal certification is creating tensions not only in Sri Lanka but globally as well. Political leaders, state officials need to wake up to the growing dissatisfaction amongst non-Muslims made worse by the manner the halal certification is forced to be implemented, for which consumers have to pay when they are already burdened with so many other taxes.
Politicians need to seriously take stock of the situation and address it without watching Sri Lanka take the path that Europe has taken where it is projected that the entire continent will become Islamized.
Halal certification – what it means in practice
Halal certification is a growing fad that is taking over the non-Muslim world forcing every food, pharmaceutical and other products to obtain halal certification which comes with a price tag that ends up at the doorstep of the consumer who despite being a non-Muslim ends up footing the surcharge for something he/she did not ask for or does not wish for. How moral or ethical is it for Muslims who live in non-Muslim nations to insist that their religious rituals and practiced must be legally enforced and paid for? Given the health and purity factor in arguing the usefulness of halal certification it behoves non-Muslim nations to declare that halal certification will be adopted but not at a price and certainly not have to be borne by the non-Muslim consumer. This is the only way the damage done can be absolved.
These concerns are nothing new to Sri Lanka alone and a growing number of people globally are voicing their dissatisfaction to their governments though most politicians have become prey to the economics of trade where countries are dependent on an import-export trade agenda.
In South Africa, Halal food trade is becoming a growing concern for the 51m South Africans amongst whom Muslims make up just 2% – 1million with 4 Halal certifying companies active in South Africa as well as several others. These halal certifying companies make millions annually for issuing certification for food, cosmetics and other products and these certifications do not come cheap and for every halal mark an indirect halal surcharge is taxed.
The global halal products market is estimated to be US$2.3trilion and not limited to only food.
If Halal trade is an Islamic trade system operating on the principles and regulations of the religion of Islam in principle it benefits only Muslims and therefore raises the question why in a country like South Africa where Muslims are just 2% of the population non-Muslims should have to be forced to pay for halal certification because the surcharge benefits only Muslim? These same arguments are being raised in Australia, New Zealand, UK and even in the US – some companies have hidden the halal factor from consumers altogether knowing the opposition.
In a Muslim nation there is no question about halal certification but why are Governments of non-Muslim nations allowing food to have halal certification and making companies pay for this which invariably ends up at the doorstep of the consumer? Rainbow Chicken pays Rand 320,000 annually for Halal certification why Unilever pays over Rand65,000 in Durban alone. Companies are never reluctant to pay because they simply pass on these costs to the consumer! Everywhere one looks the halal mark appears so much so it has become a joke and vegetarian restaurants carry halal signs! The difference in the Jewish kosher foods is that they are usually marked in a special section and are more expensive and people are not obliged to buy. Yet 80% of all products on display in South Africa have halal certification.
Why should consumers have to pay for something they did not ask for and for something they are not informed about?
If Muslims use halal on the basis of safety factor in non-Muslim countries especially there is no requirement to have a cost to the halal certification and the fee-element for halal must be removed forthwith as a compromise to the damage done. Halal is a Sharia Law requirement of Islam and non-Muslims in non-Muslim nations should not be required to follow such as a mandatory measure!
Most of the Halal companies themselves are established as charities and therefore are exempt from taxes. In the UK some of these halal companies have defaulted and closed shop making off with the money or opening another company under a different name. Meat codes are being used to hide the fact that the meat comes from certified Halal slaughter centers. Even Allied Bakeries a top UK bakery with a turnover of £11.1bn and close to 102,000 employees working in 46 countries has become halal certified.
In April 2011, the Canada Revenue Agency revoked IFRAN-Canada’s charity status having confirmed its links to Hamas. IFRAN was controlled by the Muslim Association of Canada which was proved to be part of the global Muslim Brotherhood.
Can washing utensils that have touched pork or haram foods become halal just because a restaurant has a halal certificate? What if pigs were swimming in the water that we drink despite going through purification process be halal simply because the water has a halal certificate?
Then what about the method used to slaughter animals? The halal method is to not stun animals before slaughter making them die a slow lingering death with the lifeblood slowly drained from their body aware and conscious of their death having to endure the pain more than what is necessary – does this not constitute cruelty to animals and their right to life?
Poland banned slaughter of animals according to halal and kosher methods going against EU ruling allowing ritual slaughter out of religious freedom but within a week of the ruling Poland’s agriculture minister announced new legislation that reinstated the practice dealing a blow to animal rights activists because Poland exports halal and kosher meat to 20 countries including Turkey – a case of profits overruling ethics!
In Sri Lanka where 70% of the population is Buddhist and its Constitution holds a special place for Buddhism the practice of animal slaughter should not follow halal slaughter methodology and questions why the animal sacrifice bill has been shelved?
It was in 2010 that the mufti of Bosnia – Mustafa Ceric urged Muslims to “conquer the world through Halal movement” and this explains why there is a rise in halal foods in non-Islamic countries where leaders are oblivious to the larger plan. Muammar Gaddafi expressed similar sentiments to take over the world by natural increase of the Muslim population.
The argument is that when standard agencies are already in place at a national level why is there a requirement to have a religious based certification catering to just one religion which invariably ends up with the non-Muslim consumer having to pay the price for it?
If Muslims in non-Muslim nations wish to eat halal food etc they should negotiate to have a separate counter made available in food outlets to cater to this need.
In any case there should not be any fee charged for Halal certification and no non – Muslim should be charged one cent or coerced to pay from his hard earned money to produce a benefit that accrues only to Muslims.
Such unfair trading practices must be brought to heel without any delay.