Monday, February 04, 2013

Halal Pork - Muslims have themselves to blame

Investigations following the detection of horse meat DNA in burgers sold in British supermarkets eventually also led to the discovery of pork DNA in processed food supplied as halal produce to prisons throughout the UK. The response is probably as scandalous as the discovery. On the non-Muslim side the emphasis was on this having been an unfortunate isolated accident. On the Muslim side it was a lot more muted than that concerning cartoons nobody ever saw. Somehow one got the impression that as long as only prisoners were affected it didn't matter all that much and, in any case, they had consumed the food unknowingly and thus were forgiven. The only key concern was that other services and outlets would not also have been supplied by the same firm, McColgan Quality Foods of Northern Ireland. The firm's website has been taken offline, making it impossible to check who certified them as halal in the first place.

No lessons will be learned as long as nobody addresses the systemic failures. The discovery of pork in halal labelled products is both an insult and a wake-up call to all Muslims, not just those who ate the food. Unless the system of halal certification and the use of halal labelling on food products changes, this will not be the last incident, just as it has not been the first. South African Muslims had a similar experience earlier this year of an unscrupulous butcher selling pork as halal meat. Years ago, the certification of halal food containing pork was questioned in Singapore. The key question, therefore, is: who has the right to declare a product as halal?

In the UK there are one major organisation, the Halal Food Authority (HFA), and a minor one, the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC). Whilst the former gives the impression that it is an official body with the use of the word authority, this is only a name it chose for itself. There is no regulation covering the approval and auditing of halal food products. The latter, HMC, was dissolved as a company after the UK tax office decided that the firm did not benefit from a VAT exemption and demanded some seven hundred thousands of pounds in back payments. As the company could not re-bill its customers, it had to close down, but its work continues as an unincorporated association of individuals. Halal Monitoring Committee is the only UK Muslim body insisting that halal meat should only be certified as such if it has not been previously stunned.

Halal has become big business, and the majority of companies profiting from it are not small and medium-scale Muslim family butchers and slaughter houses but large non-Muslim corporations. The list of certified suppliers on the HFA website has hardly a Muslim sounding name on it. All of them use stunning and mechanical slaughter processes. The halal element of their operations is reduced to a tape running with Qur'anic blessings and a Muslim slaughter man watching the conveyor belts. Once stunning had been declared as acceptable by scholars, Muslim conscience could be bought off with the supply of cheap halal meat on a mass scale. The same happened in the banking sector with so-called halal mortgages where interest was re-labelled and declared halal by hand-picked Muslim scholars and the market opened up and was exploited by non-Muslim banks such as HSBC.

Muslims have become consumers, and most are not worried where their food originates from as long as somebody tells them it's ok to eat and, of course, as long as it's not pork. Many take refuge in the Qur'anic permission to eat the food of the Jews and Christians, forgetting that their food is only permitted if it is in all other respects complying with Islamic dietary rules, in other words: their stunned meat is no less forbidden than their pork. Neither becomes halal just because it is produced by Jews or Christians. The permission only indicates that since they worship the same God, Muslims need not worry about their food having been dedicated to some other deity or idol.

I have come to a point where I probably trust Jewish food products more than Muslim ones. Jews don't permit non-Jews to process their food. They don't allow anybody outside their faith to take control of any of the processes of food production in order to label an item as kosher. What Muslims need to realise is that if you entrust the safeguarding of your religious requirements to people who do not share your faith, you cannot expect them to be all too zealous about it and things will inevitably go wrong. When our halal food is produced by non-Muslims with a remote nod of approval by some self-appointed and non-regulated body happy to cash in on selling the halal label, the selling of pork in halal produce was only an accident waiting to happen.

Muslims in the West, and those in the East sucking up to the West, have bent over backwards to please in order to be tolerated and share the affluence of materialism. We have allowed ourselves to be disarmed. Whilst Sikhs, for example, are at least permitted to wear a turban and a token plastic dagger, we haven't even held onto such symbolic relics of our identity. We've willingly taken off our garments and thrown away our arms; we were not conquered, we surrendered readily. How then, do we have a right to demand sensitivity and respect?

10 Comments:

At 5 February 2013 12:10, Anonymous Khalid said...

Dear Dr. Sahib Mustaqim Bleher,

In response to:

Halal has become big business, and the majority of companies profiting from it are not small and medium-scale Muslim family butchers and slaughter houses but large non-Muslim corporations. The list of certified suppliers on the HFA website has hardly a Muslim sounding name on it. All of them use stunning and mechanical slaughter processes. The halal element of their operations is reduced to a tape running with Qur'anic blessings and a Muslim slaughter man watching the conveyor belts.

We certainly respect your thoughts and view to which we hold no objection. It is just that some facts presented above are misleading to readers, hence we feel the obligation to respond for the benefit of your readers.

First of all let me give you some more food for thought; 90-95% of the halal trade is in the hands of non-Muslims. As such the only Muslim halal businesses you see are kebab and fish and chips shops, some small corner butchers and the ever popular Indian restaurants. The bulk of meat and poultry comes from slaughter houses that are not owned by Muslims. A lot of the halal meat and poultry also comes from outside the UK.

The mention of blessed blades and recorded blessings (Tasmiyah)is absolutely absurd and is a result of rumours spread by some ill-minded individuals. Can any body present a ting of evidence to that end. The Halal Food Authority has never condoned such a practice and it is in our opinion not something that is permitted in Islam. We do not allow such a practice!

The use of stunning (only the stun to stun method, in which the animal or bird does not die as a result of the stun i.e. it is reversible and if not slaughtered soon afterwards the animal/bird would regain conciousness and live) and mechanical slaughter have been a direct result of expediency of technology and this practice is not just limited to the UK. These methods have been in existance in a number of Muslim countries and other major halal meat producing countries, Namely Malaysia, Indonesia the GCC countries just to name a few.

You can have a difference of opinion, to which we have no objection but kindly please present the facts after some research. should you have contacted us for our criteria we would have been happy to provide all the information.

Kind regards

 
At 5 February 2013 12:39, Blogger Mustaqim said...

Salams, I don't see how this is a correction of fact when you confirm that 90-95% of the halal meat trade is in the hands of non-Muslims, which is exactly where the problem lies. We cannot trust non-Muslims to be sufficiently diligent about our dietary requirements.

A second problem is conveyor belt slaughter; you say the use of highly automated mechanical processes is a myth, but if you have ever visited a slaughterhouse you know that the animals are not handled and dispatched individually, birds, your focus, are moved along through an electric bath and then a cutting line whilst suspended upside down on an overhead conveyor belt. By contrast, for humane slaughter, see Mercy slaughter in the US: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHC9liKYdYM

As for stunning, and this is not only used in birds but also in mammals (e.g. sheep, cows), whilst the intention is for it to render unconscious without killing, everybody within the industry knows that there is a high incidence of mis-stunning where the animals either die or, defeating the whole objective of stunning, fail to be rendered unconscious, thus effectively suffering twice.

As for the criteria you apply for certification, I have given your website as reference. The readers of my blog are intelligent enough to look it up. However, you can't have you cake and eat it: once you are happy with stunning and mechanical slaughter as well as the process being managed by non-Muslims, there is not much point left in halal certification as such, because the meat is no longer much different than that produced by any non-Muslim slaughterhouse, except for the recital of the bismillah, and whether it is a tape or a person, the mechanical knife does not pronounce the words.

If I were to accept this procedure as sufficient, I might just as well buy meat, at a cheaper price, from any supplier and say the bismillah myself when I eat it, which is what Muslims do who interpret the verse about the permissibility of the food of the Jews and Christians in this way.
As the latest scandal has shown, the standards of meat separation (separating halal from non-halal) in a halal certified operation don't seem to be any stricter than in a non-certified operation either.

 
At 5 February 2013 16:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

salaams

I agree with everything you have written. i contact both the organisation you have mentioned and as I said in one of your earlier articles
HFA
HMC
are bloody useless. I did all the work getting information, persuing the jokers exploiting the halal industry etc they did not take any action
So really their letter (my guess) is a shameful one to say the least.

 
At 5 February 2013 16:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The firm's website has been taken offline, making it impossible to check who certified them as halal in the first place.”
My guess the Irish local authorities/authorities/government. I know the problem very well. I had a two year battle with the local authorities who claimed that
The company selling sandwiches (a basket attached to a bicycle) can
“decide which sandwiches are halal” – how there is no way to identify (colour/makings etc) – REMOVING THE PORK from the slices of bread+salad is halal
Using the same knife is halal
WHO ADVISES THESE COMPANIES? Boo!
The hygiene? The basket was so low that filthy rain water mixed with the dog/human waste etc
For two years I tried to get the brit authorities/Halal industry/halal certification but to no avail.
From the Muslim/Halal certification I got:
We know the problem. We do not have the resources/people etc. Considering the vast Muslim population (meat /food/restaurant/ industry) being in UK I failed to understand their excuses/reasoning. Having said that I have to put the blame strongly at the UK authorities. I have informed them and I even contact the firms claiming to be Halal caterers asking them
Who is your adviser regarding the Halal food
I got an expired Halal certificate claiming to be from Indonesia. Having presented the UK authorities with this information they REFUSED to take action so I am not surprised at the fraud/lies/vile ideology regarding the Halal industry.
AND YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT
MUSLIM LEAVING THE THEIR FOOD PROCESSING IN NON-MUSLIM HANDS IS THE SCANDALOUS RESULT.
We would never TRUST ANYONE.

 
At 5 February 2013 19:26, Blogger Mustaqim said...

It has since emerged that the supplier of the pies in question had indeed been certified as halal by the HFA (Halal Food Authority). The comments of its president (reported on the Meat Trade Journal website: http://www.meatinfo.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/15163/Council_of_Mosques_calls_for_Halal_Food_Authority_boycott.html?utm_source=News%2BFeed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS%2BText%2BNews) that the media ought not to make a mountain out of a molehill since only traces of pork DNA, not actual added pork, had been found, add insult to injury. Separation of halal from non-halal items to avoid cross-contamination must be one of the key considerations for issuing a certificate. Moreover, it is an established principle in Islamic fiqh that if a substance is haram (unlawful) then any amount of it, however small, is unlawful. Islam does not support the idea that a moderate intake of forbidden substances is unproblematic.

 
At 6 February 2013 11:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have contacted the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) by mail and phone and informed them of our experience. we have given them the details - how we came to know of issue
the brilliant fantastic Flying Imam of course.

we are glad that you have brought up this extremely important issue with profound message. we have to get Muslims to organise themselves as every thing Islamic is being attacked.
We contacted the Halal expo organiser hoping to get our message regarding the issued raised in your article.
we would also like to inform the HFA that we can teach Muslims to do the DNA checking. Muslims are educated and have the knowledge and expertise.
we are the best experts of what is right for the Muslims
Further we find disgusting and unacceptable that it is deemed that prisoners are fed pork so it is okay.
we know full well the scams surrounding the prisoners and it would be best if those who do not have first hand experience of the subject refrain from making revolting hideous shrill statements

 
At 18 May 2013 00:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Brothers.

I really apologies for my ignorance and naivety as I was under a totally wrong impression and was given false information. I do admit my fault as I should have been more careful and shouldn't have just believed my bosses for all the wrong stuff they have been doing over the past 20 years.

Unfortunately I used to work for the HFA and I confess and bear witness that they are nothing but a money making organisation. Their whole existence is a shameful and smells of corruption and deceitfulness.

Don't go for the soft words and cunning ways they represent themselves. They are very sophisticated in their manners but trust that they are nothing but a bunch of filthy leeches.

We should try and understand more about halal and spread the awareness to others around us and we should not let people like the HFA take advantage of our beliefs and charge companies on our behalf.

I am so remorseful and ashamed that I regret being a part of this unethical and corrupt organisation. May Allah forgive me for my ignorance. Ameen!

 
At 7 January 2014 12:05, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir, since we are concerned by this very important issue what do you think of these:
http://www.eat-halal.com/newsletter/6-jan-2014/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eat-halal.com%2Fnewsletter%2F6-jan-2014%2F&utm_content&utm_campaign=Eat+Halal+Newsletter+-+6+Dec+2014

 
At 8 January 2014 09:23, Blogger Mustaqim said...

Sadly, it's all part of the commercialisation of Islam, stunned "halal" meat, interest-based "Islamic" banking, US-sponsored Islamic extremism, the list goes on, and we have reached the point where Islam has indeed become a stranger again in the midst of global competitors trading Islamic brands.

 
At 14 January 2014 10:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sukaharan sir you have confirmed what we suspected.

We insist informing the imperialist junkies that what they are is a US/UK/naTO/Imperialist franchise . they are sick perverted barbaric
entertainment for kosher/holly/bolly wood zionised crusader mafia

 

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