By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
18 February 2017
(With reference to news heading: “Meat company 'carried out a £250,000 scam by duping restaurants into buying cheap turkey thinking it was HALAL LAMB”; By Steph Cockroft for MailOnline Published: 15:31 GMT, 9 February 2017”)
As a sequel to a previous article on Halal industry, and this event being a practical and very recent to have happened, here it is discussed and questioned in general terms of the actions of a ‘Muslim meat trader and the restaurant owners’. One assumes that the event must have caused a stir raising some questions on religiosity, morality, legality and Quranic commands related to the event.
The Questions Raised Are:
-Did the Muslim meat trader sell the Muslim customers, that is, the restaurant owners, non-Halal/Haram/forbidden meat which then was consumed by diners there?
a) If we consider what the Book the Quran says, then he did nothing of the sort. The animals in question, lamb and turkey fall into Halal/allowed group by the Codes given therein. Both the animals in question are Halal that is to say, the turkey and the lamb are allowed by the Creator for consumption.
b)If it is asked in terms of Muslim religious practices external to Quran then, it seems YES he did, because the followers of Religions expect a mere man to ‘play god’ by performing slaughter (Zibah) rituals on the animal to “make it and declare” it as so! The trader being Muslim should know of this requirement and if he knowingly ignored it, he cheated the customer in their religious practices.
But how difficult it is for an adult and regular meat eater to tell the difference between turkey and lamb?
In the eyes of the Muslim community, the fact that the businessman is a ‘Muslim’, his action is most likely considered as…… blasphemous! The fact that he is a Muslim somehow makes him an angel, possessing exceptional business ethics and high morality and therefore could not and should not have committed any scam!
Not to condone his action though, this sort of business frauds and scams are a daily occurrence in the greedy human business world. And yet never considered as sacrilege or sinful, but simply as breach of legality, and that too if they are found out!
Religiously, the Halal industry is the biggest con-job on the Muslim community, as it flouts Islamic/Quranic ordinances. Many books, articles and opinion columns have been written since this industry has taken religious and economic strangle hold in the name of Islam, the source of which is Quran- a book of codes. One of the biggest frauds is of course the slaughter of millions of animals annually as “sacrifice” to a deity!
The food related Code in the Book is simple. It only gives what is ‘Haram/forbidden’ in order to keep it simple: “We wish for you ease and felicity; We do not wish to impose difficulties for you” says the Creator. Therefore it lists four groups/types of edibles and consumables which are forbidden. First three of those are in terms of hygiene and health consideration, and the fourth in terms of Faith, Belief in the One God, that is to say, not to accept others as “gods” who declare, give orders and post commandments in the name of the Book, as that is the prerogative of the one God the Creator. And there too, in all of them it gives dispensation under emergency conditions.
On this issue, one of the two important concomitant commandments, that is, Halal حَلال and Tayyeb طیب, the latter is hardly ever mentioned by the religions operatives. For simple reason that if they did, the whole Halal industry comprising of trillion dollars of commerce in the world, will collapse. Even governments in the West, traders in live cattle and Halal industry are netting billions in export and so are loath to stop it.
Tayyeb is given as a comprehensive term in the Book to denote not only pleasing, wholesome, tasty and nutritious; as propagated by the industry but that which is: obedience to God, moral, ethical, legal and conducive to the development of ones “self”. To put it another way, that which does not erode ones morality and does not tarnish ones character. The two terms therefore are inseparable.
(For example: Neighbour’s chicken wanders in the other’s backyard. It being of the Halal group, they slaughter and cook it. But it was not Tayyeb as it was immoral, unethical and perhaps illegal if they were caught!)
Do we ever see a label put on goods by Halal-certifiers saying “Halal and Tayyeb”? No, for this trade of theirs is NOT Tayyeb!
So in the Book’s terms the Muslim meat trader has breached the requirement of Tayyeb behaviour and thus has diminished his “self”. He committed social fraud by telling lies and swapping products of sale. Laws of nature and nature’s god will take care of him, and it is not up to the Muslims and Muslim church to deal with him. No church on earth is a court of legal justice.
As a non-legal and lay person, one can safely assume that at least on its statutory books, every civilized nation in the world today considers every kind of ‘fraud’ as illegal. In terms of the Law of the land, it is obvious that by committing fraud/scam to cheat his customers, by swapping contracted product with another, the trader has broken the law of the land and will be penalized accordingly, if proved guilty.
That Leaves One More Question:
-How is it that so many of the restaurateurs for so long did not recognise the fraud: a)Was it only recently that one of them was alert to its responsibility and smelt the rat, so to speak and blew the whistle?
b) It must be questioned if the other restaurateurs therefore were accomplices in the scam along with the meat trader and over some length of time? If the answer is YES then the receiver of stolen goods must also be guilty; morally and in religious ethics and perhaps legally too if purchased knowingly.
This is an important question in Muslim context. It is the responsibility of all followers to comply with the requirement of the Code. “One cannot shift ones burden of responsibility on to others”, says the Book.
Will the Muslim community there take the trader to Sharia court to try him for the breach of their religion and the customers too for the abrogation of their duty?
Further, is it not true that the receiver/buyer of stolen goods is considered as guilty in legal terms as the thief? Will the civil court, when trying the meat trader take in to consideration this aspect?
All in all it is a good practical event to have taken place for Muslims in the West to ponder, contemplate and consider; in terms of the Codes of the Book that they take their oaths upon.
With apologies to the Poet, a parody of his famous statement is called for in this context:-
جُدا ہو دِین تِجارت سے تو رہ جاتی ہے چنگیزی!
Separate the Code/Deen from commerce, what remains is anarchy!
Iqbal should have no objections to this change of one word.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer