On November 27 the New Delhi news outlet Organiser announced the Uttar Pradesh government banning of halal-certified products for use inside the state. Halal is an Arabic word for lawful or permissible as described in the Holy Qur’an.
The Uttar Pradesh government is accusing the use of halal certification as, “forcing one community’s religious preferences on the entire populace.”
The Orginiser article claims, “It’s not just the manufacturing of halal food that is problematic but the manner in which it is served to consumers (especially non-Muslims) in Bharat stands in clear violation of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The said Article demands that before a person is subjected to do anything there must be an informed consent.”
The Organiser article states that serving halal food to consumers unaware of the type of food they are eating breaks the law because they are not given the choice to consent.
“Information gathered through the RTI initiatives of Sarayu Trust clearly suggests that before serving halal food to the consumers, food joints/canteens owned by government and non-government authorities do not bother to mention that the food being served is halal or non-halal.”
“Majority of people in Bharat are subjected to eating halal food without even getting informed about the true nature of food items, neither in the food menu nor otherwise.” The Organiser continues.
If this issue of violating Article 19 of the Indian Constitution is a concern, then shouldn’t halal food labeling and certification remain as a solution to this problem so all members have a chance at informed consent? Wouldn’t removing halal options keep those who need them from the option of informed consent?
The article goes on to cite those who are being discriminated against by the presence of halal butchered meats.
“Traditional Hindu butcher communities like Khatik and Valmiki belong to the Scheduled Caste communities. Similarly, many Scheduled Tribes have traditionally slaughtered animals. Halal meat is discrimination against these SC as well as ST communities.” according to the Organiser.
If this is the case, wouldn’t the lack of halal food be discrimination against the Muslim communities?
The Organiser article stipulates the process of slaughtering an animal in accordance with halal practices is in fact harmful or “inhumane to the animal:”
“Under halal, the animal is butchered by making a fatal incision across the throat that cuts the jugular veins but not the spinal cord resulting in the animal’s slow, extremely painful and conscious death.”
The raising of, caring for, feeding of and attention to the health of an animal to be used for consumption, are all factors included in the labeling of halal products.
According to an article by halalmeatinfo.com, “Islam’s humane approach extends beyond the act of slaughter itself. It encourages respect for the animal’s life by ensuring good living conditions and proper care during its lifetime. In addition, it is a requirement that the animal is well-fed, not abused, and is free from any sickness or defects at the time of slaughter.”
“These stipulations underline the profound regard for animal welfare in Islamic principles,”
Considering that any form of butchering an animal is in fact “fatal,” as the intention is to take the animal’s life before it can be prepared for eating, to make sure the animal does not have a “slow and painful death,” halal slaughtering procedures follow strict rules.
Holy Qur’an states in Suratul Maidah, “Prohibited for you are… the animals dead by strangulation, dead by blow, dead by a fall, dead by goring, and that which a beast has eaten unless you have properly slaughtered it.”
“The act of slaughtering must be swift and humane, causing minimal pain to the animal,” says halalmeatinfo.com. “This involves simultaneously swiftly and precisely incising the neck with a sharp knife, severing the jugular veins and carotid arteries, windpipe, and esophagus, causing instant death and allowing blood to drain from the body… complete blood drainage is essential as the consumption of blood is not halal, or permissible, in Islam.”
There is also a good reason for not cutting and severing the spinal cord according to the Islamic law as explained by halalmeatinfo.com:
“The spinal cord should not be cut during slaughter, as this can cause unnecessary pain and suffering…The emphasis on a swift and painless process minimizes the animal’s suffering, ensuring a more ethical approach to slaughtering.”
With regard to halal being a discriminatory process, it doesn’t infringe on others. Muslims do not impose the need to eat halal on anyone other than themselves. It is a legal requirement to adhere to the religion. Since there is no compulsion in Islam, Muslims don’t force their religious beliefs on others.
As stated in Suratul Baqarah in the Holy Qur’an, “There is no compulsion in deen (Islamic way of life).”
“Ayurvedic and FMCG products companies, such as Patanjali, are also forced to use halal certifications to export products to Muslim-majority countries,” states the Organiser. “‘Halal India’, one of the halal certification bodies, had refused to certify certain Patanjali products stating that animal urine is proscribed from being granted halal status and some of the Patanjali products have cow urine as an ingredient.”
According to an article from opindia.com, “Halal India, the certification authority in this particular instance, states that processed food is considered halal if it is not contaminated by ingredients that are considered ‘najis’ as per Sharia Law.”
Vegan food of other religions is halal except alcohol. Any vegan or vegetarian type of food or product is automatically halal unless the item contains alcohol of any type, or in the case of Indian products labeled vegetarian, human or animal derivatives. Any halal labels on vegan/vegetarian items are to assure Muslims they do not contain non-permissible substances.
According to opindia.com: “Processed flour could contain additives that would make it non-halal. Therefore, certification is necessary to certify that the flour is indeed halal… Mostly available in the [flour] market is L-cysteine made from human hair. Of course, because it is derived from the human body then L-cysteine is forbidden in addition to L-cysteine made from human hair, it can also be obtained from poultry feathers.”
“Many people are confused as to how flour could be certified as halal or why is that even necessary. According to Islamic law, vegetarian food is halal by default. However, they could contain non-halal ingredients that would make them haram. The same is the case with flour,” opindia.com states.
Halal-certified products can also include non-edible items, like cosmetics and personal hygiene items.
“The UP government in its order said halal certificates for vegetarian products like oil, soap, toothpaste, and honey, where no such certification is necessary, suggest a deliberate criminal conspiracy targeting a specific community and its products. The ban is in the interest of public health and to prevent confusion.”
“Unrestrained propaganda is being disseminated within a particular section of society to discourage the use of products lacking a halal certificate,” states the article. “This harms the business interests of other communities… The government contends that the labeling of certain products with a halal certificate lacks legal basis, as there are no provisions for such marking in government rules related to drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics.”
The Organiser article then speaks on the social and economical aspects in Indian society affected by halal certification practices, “The move aims to curb the exploitation of religious sentiments for financial gain, fostering social animosity, and violating public trust.”
The Organiser article details what aspects of the halal ban are actually affected:
“The ban covers the production, storage, distribution and sale of all halal-certified food products across the state. The ban covers the production, storage, distribution and sale of all halal-certified food products except those meant for export.”
This statement may be the reason exports of halal products from India have not been banned. “Today the global halal industry is estimated to be around USD 2.3 trillion, and is growing at an estimated annual rate of 20 per cent – thus making it one of the fastest growing consumer segments of the world.” Organiser adds.