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Islamic Society ( 23 Nov 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Murky Waters of Halal Industry and its Labelling Income


By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam

24 November, 2014

The debate is raging in Australia that the income derived by Muslims from “Islamic Halal” industries and its Halal labelling profit is channelled out to fund the terrorist activities.

“A Coalition MP's attempt to draw links between Islamic food labelling and terrorism has drawn fire from within the Muslim and Jewish communities.”

However nobody has ever questioned whether the same is applicable to the Jewish “religious Kosher” labelling of food products.

This submission, is not to refute or otherwise the allegation made; for it is the function of journalists to investigate and the authorities to prove or disprove it and take appropriate action where deemed necessary.

But what is necessary for Muslim community in the West generally, is to question whether, firstly in the context of Islam, the Islam which is derived from Quran and not the various religions of Muslims; there is an authority in it, other than the Almighty Creator who can command any ordinance in His name?

Secondly, whether Almighty has delegated to others His authority?

And thirdly, whether to label any food product as Halal is a legitimate commercial business under Islam?

The following few verses out of many, are presented here as the basis of argument:

Firstly, the only authority is given in Quran as;

6-57, 12-40 &67; Innal Hukmu Illaah- indeed all commands are from Almighty only

28-85; Innalazi Frada Alaika Qur’an– Indeed WE have only ordained Qur’an upon you.

Secondly the delegation of God’s authority:

7-3; Follow the revelations given to you from your Lord and follow not as friends (Auliya) or protectors other than HIM

And thirdly the legitimacy of the commercial business in the name of God:

2-79; Then woe to those who write the book with their own hands, and then they say ‘this is from the Lord’…

To an enlightened Muslim then, the question remains as to where do one find what is allowed-that is Halal- and what is not- that is Haram?

This is answered by the first and second statements given above. Further, and most importantly it is impressed upon the Believers that having received the guidance it is nobody else’s responsibility but one’s own to carry the burden of Belief.

17-15; …Walaa Taziru Waziratun-Wizra Ukharaa…no bearer of burden can bear the burden of another…

Therefore a Believer cannot delegate ones responsibility for such matters to a commercial organisation or pseudo authority and that too for fraudulent business; irrespective of what and where that profit is channelled.

Fraudulent Business? --Yes, because the commands as given in the Book Quran at various places, are clearly explained; even for a layperson to understand that such business is uncalled for.

The following are to summarise the issue of Halal and Haram:

2-172: O you who believe! Eat of the ‘good’ things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to God, if it is Him that you obey.

The ‘good’ (Taiyebaati) includes lawful, tasty, nutritious etc. The verse 2-173 is in the same vein as the following, which is a bit more elaborate.

6-145; Proclaim (Oh Muhammad that), “I find not in the Divine Revelations revealed to me that forbids an eater to eat thereof, except that it be (i) what dies of itself, (ii)or the blood poured forth (iii)or flesh of swine, for that certainly is unclean; (iv)or what would be transgression, as impious on which a name has been invoked other than the Almighty.

It is therefore obvious from the above that the first three requirements are hygienic and the fourth is that of Iman, that is the belief. To accept any other authority certifying what is Halal or haram is accepting it as God. Therefore Shirk.

As far as any guarantee of cleanliness and hygiene in the abattoir of the western countries is concerned, to question it is like comparing the efficiency of a modern dental hospital to that of a third world footpath dentist.

The ordinance in the Quran on this issue is clearly in the form of classification of meat based food (Laham) in terms of goodness (Tayyeb) and belief (Iman).

As such to commit excesses in this matter is contrary to the requirement of the very code of the Book:

4-171: O people of the Book commit no excesses in your Deen, the code!

5-91: Eat of the things that God has provided for you, that which is allowed and lawful; but be conscientious of God in whom you profess to believe.

6-119: …when HE has explained to you what HE has forbidden to you…as in 6-145 above!

5-90 oh you who believe make not unlawful the good things which God has made lawful for you. But commit no excesses, for God loves not those given to excess.

10, 59: Yet you hold something forbidden and some lawful …you invent falsehood to attribute to God.

Thus there are any number of verses which explain in detail the Quran’s commands such that even a lay person can understand without the intervention of a commercial enterprise in the matter of ad-Deen—the Quranic code, for a believer who takes his or her responsibility upon themselves as commanded by the Almighty.

Hence, eat drink and be merry, as long as it is Tayyeb and be thankful to the Almighty Sustainer.

Hence summary of the issue of Halal:

1-     The only authority that can prescribe basic laws is God nor does HE share HIS command with any other what so ever

2-     The list of Halal and Haram food has already been prescribed in Quran by God as given above.

3-     Therefore all other commands on food are man-made (2-172). Even a prophet could not forbid that which is sanctioned by God (66-1)

In the context of Western countries food of the “people of the Book” (5-6) is allowed for Muslims in spite of the fact that Quran maintains they have corrupted their books. 3-98, 99 Therefore the assertion that they are not the People of the Book today is contradicting the Quran. The Quran itself is a Book and the Muslims too are therefore the people of the book.

The motives in raising the issue of what is allowed and what is not are therefore based on vested interests, ignorance and religious prejudices!

To put Halal labels on water bottles, cereal packets vegetable oil, sugar, flour, tooth paste etc. and for a person or church to dare certify them and declare oneself as God’s agent, is at least ‘playing minor God’.

This action produces confusion, disharmony and division in the community of Muslims. Any action that causes difficulties and strife in the community is akin to shirk, (30-31,32)—sinful!

Who then has nominated them as the certifying authority? Certainly not the Quran!

The general non-Muslim community is entitled to protest at the additional invisible tax levied on them as customers, in terms of increased prices which it has to pay as a result of the increased cost that the manufacturing businesses have to fork out to the certifying bodies. They then pass on the additional cost to the customer!

As a result one has to sympathize with the “Boycott Halal” movement. Why should the non-Muslims who had never been burdened with this additional tax on their consumables before now have to pay for other peoples’ religious requirement?

“Call to boycott Halal food called a political stunt by Halal certifiers”.

In addition when one realizes that the so called religious requirement has nothing to do with the faith that has its origin in Quran that all Muslims proclaim to be their book of belief, the felony is compounded.

It is not wise to bring such simple Quranic ordinance in the murky waters of politics and to incite hatred and dissention in the nation as a whole for the sake of monetary gains: 2-79: …to trade with it for a miserable price!

This also raises a further question. What is the guarantee that the Halal label on consumables is a protection against unhygienic manufacture of products, and that it can be trusted that they comply with the requirements of health requirements of the law of the land? 

It is inflicting self harm and causing difficulties for the community and disharmony in the nation unnecessarily by imposing unwelcome burden on all:

2-185: …God wishes every facility for you; He does not wish to put you to difficulties….

A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer