are we connected?
, Lead follow or
get out of the way An analysis of power within the Halal marketplace
路 Simplify Your Life- Halal is Healthy 路 Why Halal Food is Good for Everyone 路 Halal in the American Marketplace 路 Halal-Friendly Tourism
CONTENTS:: JULY 2010
08 Cover story
08| Lead, Follow, or
“Industries “Go Halal” to develop national economies.”
“The big SPLASH in Halal apparel is growing!”
16| Eating Halal Responsibly
“Take scholarly advice from Dr. Ingrid Mattson for our Responsibilities as Muslims to Choose Halal.”
06| AHA promo
“American Halal Association promotes the Halal Movement for consumers’ and industry’s benefit.” sumer Power. We hold the keys
18| Islamic Solutions
to Everyday Financial Problems
“Kudos to Azzad Asset Management for promoting youth awareness of Halal Finance and Investments!”
20| Able Community
“Join a Social networking, Education, and Commerce web portal your family will love!”
to Economic Recovery and Growth!”
24| Halal is the Answer “Dream of a better world with virtue at its core.”
28| Halal Travel
“Fly Away and Stay in Halal Accommodations for your next vacation.”
“Let’s realize Muslim ConHALALConnect l 1
Simplify Your Life
by alper bolat
ow can we as Muslims achieve simplicity in daily life? The answer is in the Sunnah (life example) of our Prophet (SAW) and in accepting him, his family and his companions as beacons of light who can guide us. They ate simple and pure foods, and were never wasteful. As a rule, we should do our best to indulge in freshly prepared foods made from pure ingredients, and try to avoid processed foods that contain chemical additives and questionable ingredients. Before we enter a restaurant or
fast food “drive thru”, we should ask ourselves, “Would I take the Prophet (SAW) to this restaurant, mixing with men and women, where alcohol is served, where I am not sure if my meal was touched by pork or includes some Haram ingredients? Or would I prepare for him the purest and healthiest meal, and make sure that everything is OK according to his teachings?” By thinking in this direction, you will realize that you avoid most of the products you used to buy and put Halal Certified products or natural products in your shopping cart. “The beauty of examining our actions in light of Sunnah is that it encourages us to change our attitude and stop some questionable practices that previously seemed benign. We essentially develop our awareness and begin to use more natural and healthier products.” All of this leads to a healthier, less stressful, more natural, simplified lifestyle. Remember Halal is Healthy!
Cover Photo Credit. www.Photos.com Cover Design by: Ashfaq Rahim
PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Alper Bolat ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR Gulden Zont EDITOR IN CHIEF Susan Labadi CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ahmad Adam, Fawzan Alsharif, Kelly Alsharif, Syed Rizwan Ashraf, Abdalhamid Evans, Salama Evans, Susan Labadi, Yvonne Maffei Dr. Ingrid Mattson ADVERTISING & SALES Joohi Tahir, Asma Khan ART DIRECTOR Ashfaq Rahim GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Ibrahim Harun , Kim Puetz SUPPORT TEAM MehmetYilmaz, Hamdi Munishi PUBLISHED BY: American Halal Association 2605 W. 22nd St., Ste. 38 Oak Brook, IL 60523 Mailing Address: 444 E. Roosevelt Rd., Ste. 251 Lombard, IL 60148-4630 Tel: +1 630 528 3400 Fax: +1 630 528 3239
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letter from the editor
Bringing Halal Living to the Forefront?
he American Halal Association invites you to explore the new wave of Halal Living! Halal is no longer just a word relating to food, it incorporates lawful, pure, and wholesome qualities to all aspects of life. From social networking, finance and investments, personal care products, travel, pharmaceuticals, cosmetic products, as well as food, the American Halal Association is working with ISNA to develop an Accreditation Board; so that consumers have a higher level of certainty about adherence to Islamic protocols for products and services. The worldwide Halal Movement is well underway from its beginnings in Southeast Asia. Standards of Halal for many facets of life are being established. Halal products are being pursued by huge mainstream corporations such as Walmart and Costco. Expedia offers Muslim meal options on air travel. Nestle is the largest halal products producer in the world! We want to create new jobs, businesses, and wealth within our communities. You’ll get a glimpse of the global Halal scene from Hajj Abdalhamid Evans, director of Imarat Consultants in “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.” He and Salama Evans just produced the International Halal Market Conference in Brunei, Darussalam. Sr. Salama also
contributed “Halal-Friendly Tourism” with her insights into the Halal Travel Industry. Dr. Ingrid Mattson, as President of ISNA has also joined us in sharing her concerns in “Eating Halal Responsibly.” She points out the questions and solutions that Muslims should know regarding their dietary and purchasing decisions. We also have popular blogger,Yvonne Maffei from My Halal Kitchen.com who shares her perspective on what Halal means in the deeper sense. Many aspects that comprise the Halal Lifestyle are discussed, and it would not be complete without inclusion of our Internet habits. Br. Rizwan Ashraf has a web portal worthy of sharing, Able Community. He has cornered the Muslim market segments affecting children, teens, and adults with his growing site. As a bonus to our community, he is finalizing the School Management System that connects us around Education. True to a Muslim’s legacy, Br. Rizwan freely contributes his talents toward making us better, and that is what HalalConnect is all about. American consumers finally have an answer to secure ethical, pure, and transparent industries with an ISNA sponsored Halal Accreditation Board. Through this, we can know assuredly that our products and services meet
professional, audited, and enforced standards, and the world will seek to do business with us, as high quality American business partners. Join us as we unite consumers and businesses in this growing industry, the Halal Movement in North America. The time has come to lead, make the Accreditation Board a reality through consumer demand, and realize the power of Allah through choosing HaLAL.
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C O V E R
S T O RY
Lead, follow or
of the way An analysis of power within the Halal marketplace
Hajj Abdalhamid Evans
he leadership vacuum in the Muslim world is so evident that it scarcely needs to be pointed out. It is a chronic ailment with no easy remedy in sight. Ever since the decaying Ottoman Khalifate failed to come to terms with the challenges of the unfolding 20th century, the Muslim Ummah has been fractured and wounded. Our leaders have been caught in a political game whose rules they did not write, and can barely comprehend. Our scholars, for the most part, unable to tackle real issues, have remained marginalised in academic institutions dealing with matters that are either theoretical or superficial. The rich and powerful went shopping, and built dream palaces, both for themselves and for tourists. The 20th Century was not a stellar one for the Muslim world. And yet, amongst all the rampant consumer8 l HALALConnect
ism and wars on terror, a curious phenomenon has unfolded. As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, with the Muslim consumer market tagged as â€˜the fastest growing consumer segment in the worldâ€™, everyone wants to take home a slice of the Halal Market pie. In many ways, the Halal Market is unique. It has, primarily, a singular defining parameter, that the products must be Halal, permissible, for Muslim consumption, a parameter that encompasses and highlights what may well be the largest consumer demographic on earth: the Muslim consumers. But it is by no means just one market. Halal cuts across geography, colour, race and culture; it cuts across taste, style and age. As a market, it is being defined, and defining itself as we speak. It is so old, and yet so new. And it is full of players of many shapes and sizes.
The National Governments Governmental initiatives to engage with the Halal market can really be divided into two: Muslim majority and Muslim minority. Malaysia was really the first Muslim majority country where the government announced the development of the Halal sector as a potential engine of growth for the national economy. They were possibly the first to incorporate Halal into the scope of
Halal industry, and to develop a Masterplan for the national Halal sector. While the rhetoric may have run way ahead of the results, this process, starting in 2003-4, laid out the basic ground plan for any other country to follow. Brunei Darussalam, more quietly, but with arguably more imagination, recognised the Halal sector as a potential means of diversifying the national economy away from an overdepen-
sourced and sold all over the world is unique, and it fits into a complex ecosystem of Halal-related projects that will indeed shape the local economy, regardless of how much they contribute to the national coffers. Indeed, in many countries in South East Asia, perhaps feeling the need to respond to Malaysia’s claims, national Halal programmes are being rolled out, each one aiming to take advantage of their perceived strengths; Singa-
their long-term economic planning, certainly the first country to declare an ambition to be a global hub for Halal goods and services, the first to create a specific agency for developing the
dence on oil and gas revenues, and in this respect have probably given Halal a bigger task than any other country on earth. Certainly, Brunei’s idea to create a ‘Brunei Halal’ brand for products
pore’s service sector, Thailand’s food processing and manufacturing, Filippino raw materials and cheap labour, Indonesia’s sheer size. The rest of the Muslim world has HALALConnect l 9
been remarkably slow to recognise the potential of this market, and, so far, have certainly not played a leading role; one could say that they are following the lead from South East Asia, and while they might disagree with that definition, they are certainly following a similar course. Many of the Muslim-minority countries were already way ahead, but in different ways. Australia has long recognised the potential of the Halal consumer market in the Middle East for red meat, and has staked a strong claim in that arena; similarly, Brazil with their chicken exports, and New Zealand with their lamb. While these
If the process by which the Halal industry obtains proof of Shariah compliance is itself not transparent and free of conflicts of interest, then the actual foundations of the Halal market itself are not stable. Halal initiatives were simply adaptations of their regular production processes, recent developments to regulate their entire Halal value-chain have taken this to a new level, requiring new approaches to the Muslim associations that issue the Halal certificates.
10 l HALALConnect
New Zealand, in particular, has initiated a new programme that requires all Halal certification agencies to get government accreditation, with ISO compliance and recognition from established semi-governmental agencies, (such as JAKIM in Malaysia, or MUI in Indonesia) as pre-conditions. And here lies the irony. JAKIM, although itself a government body with a global reputation as a respected Halal certification authority, is itself not ISO-compliant. Furthermore, a JAKIM certification does not ensure compliance with health and safety issues, let alone social or environmental compliance. It is simply a religious certification that in some way sees its parameters as being separate from the industry norms of the global marketplace. And here is where the big industry players may well start to flex their muscles. The Industry Players All of the world’s largest food corporations – manufacturers, restaurants and retailers – have major interests in the Halal market, and have done so for many years. They all operate in the Muslim world, and they understand the stakes, the issues and problems, as well as the money that is there to be made. Large corporations are risk-averse; they like stable, long-term relationships with their suppliers and markets. It is in their interests to get the entire Halal process to conform to the normal procedural standards that are practiced in the rest of the food industry. They see Halal compliance, understandably, more as a plug-in to the existing health and safety standards already in use, rather than as a stand-
alone requirement. Indeed, on its own, a Halal certificate is not going to get your product very far in the global market. Furthermore, some major corporations have expressed a concern that the Halal auditing and certification process is itself not monitored in any effective way, especially in the non-Muslim world where the majority of the Halal food manufacturing and processing takes place. A senior representative of one of the world’s largest food corporations recently stated that what he (speaking on behalf of ‘big industry’) is hoping to see in the near future is a transpar-
ent and clear separation between a) the standards in use, b) the auditing process and c) the issuance of the Halal certificate. And for this entire process to be monitored by some form of Accreditation body. This is the way things are done in other sectors of the food industry, and that the Halal compliance process should fit into these industry norms. This is indeed a valid point.
protect, the weakest link may well be the logo of a certifying body that is itself self-regulating; that is to say, they use their own standard, conduct their own audit, and then issue their own certificate. One of the main principles of the Islamic Shariah is the removal of doubt, particularly when it comes to business; terms are made clear and transparent; agreements are witnessed. If the process by which the Halal industry obtains proof of Shariah compliance is itself not transparent and free of conflicts of interest, then the actual foundations of the Halal market itself are not stable.
This statement is not an accusation. It is a recognition of something that needs to be put right. The Halal industry is in a process of evolution. It began by adapting existing procedures in a minimal way to provide market access. It has not been ‘designed’ from the ground up; it has rather grown along the lines of least resistance. The market has not been built on a Shariah foundation, but has rather followed the line, ‘What is the least we can do to get the product to market?’; thinking that has actually, in many ways, characterised the manufacturing as well as the certification processes.
The Certification Bodies If the certification process is not monitored, then there will inevitably be doubt and rumour from all corners. For a company with brand value to
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Until the process by which Halal certification is carried out is monitored by an accreditation body with real authority, there will continue to be shortcuts, conflicts of interest and mistrust; exactly the kinds of problems that the Islamic Shariah is designed to prevent. Standards must be clear and readily available; the auditing process must be done by a body that is independent from the one that issues the certificate. Certification bodies cannot be doubling-up as unofficial sales agents working on commission. In short, the same level of transparency and regulation existing in the other sectors of the general food industry must also be applied to the Halal food sector. It is inevitable that new accreditation authorities will appear in the more dynamic and forwardthinking areas of the Halal market. They are likely to encounter resistance from some quarters, but unless genuine accreditation structures are put in place, the process of Halal regulation
will remain a lawless one. And there is a nice paradox if ever there was one! There are some genuine moves among some certification bodies to group together and form larger umbrella organisations, and it is to be hoped that these moves will produce beneficial results. It is, however, too early to ascertain to what extent these new moves will bring about positive changes of the kind we have described. As always, time will tell. The Finance The question as to why the Islamic Financial institutions are not investing in the Halal industry is still an unanswered one. I gave a paper entitled “Halal food and Islamic Finance – Natural Allies” at the International Islamic Finance Forum in Dubai in 2004. The only person in the room, other than me, who seemed to be genuinely excited at the suggestion was the Event Organiser, who recognised, correctly, that there was a ‘Halal event boom’ waiting to happen. A leading Halal food manufacturer in the USA told me recently that when he went looking for funds for the expansion programme for his business, he was told by the Islamic financial institutions that the food business was considered too risky; they preferred real estate. In the wake of the collapsing US real estate market they may have reassessed that opinion, but it certainly demonstrates the limited thinking and profound lack of imagina-
tion that exists in the world of Islamic Finance. At the inaugural World Halal Forum in 2006, the Islamic Development Bank stated that they would be creating a fund to help develop the Halal industry in the OIC member countries. Four years later, perhaps they are still ‘in conference’ on the subject. Indeed, the lack of interest in the Halal food industry from the Arab heartland, other than the parts they can roast on a spit, is still conspicuous. Do we really need the world’s tallest tower or the largest race-track? An investment roughly equivalent to one horse would probably be enough to create the world’s first ‘designed-from-scratch’ Halal slaughter line that could end the speculative and time-consuming arguments about stunning and mechanical
The integrity of the Halal certifiers and economic policies, the final truth is that this affair belongs to Allah, and it will unfold according to His Will, and by His Power. 12 l HALALConnect
slaughter, and simply build a line that is designed to do the job in the best way. What IS the best way?…let’s find out. How hard can that be? How much would it cost? Probably, not much more than the gold fittings in some of the Royal bathrooms around the Muslim world. So what might be the trigger for change in all of this complex equation? How about consumer power? The Public In many ways, the consuming public are the most important and most overlooked component of the power dynamics of the Halal market. The moment when the mouthful of Halal food is consumed is actually the pivotal moment in the whole equation; it is the point of the entire process. All of the above-mentioned power players are all working (albeit with varying agendas) towards the moment of consumption, and without it, the rest is meaningless. The recognition of the importance of the Halal consumer will generate a new ‘gear’ to drive the Halal market
home cooking’…nothing ever really comes close. It shapes who we are in a fundamental way. Eat Halal,Think Halal, Live Halal is already a T-shirt. For the general public, the ecoethical-environmental issues are also now character-defining tags. They also speak to our identity, we choose to be on one side of that green line or the other; they speak to our desire to be good to ourselves, to each other and to the world. The Quranic injunctions that give human beings responsibility for the welfare of the earth and everything on it has somehow, so far, been more readily understood by the non-Muslim population. But for a new generation of Muslims, exposed to Western ideas to the next level. Understanding the and thinking processes, coupled with consumers’ needs and priorities, both a sincere desire to take on Islam in a Muslim and non-Muslim, will require study and research, but the results will way that is genuinely transformative, these green concerns and Halal/ Tayyib be a new level of product and service concerns will merge into a more development, plus, importantly, an comprehensive fusion of ‘deep green’ entirely new approach to marketing. awareness. As the standards development agen We are about to turn the page and cies struggle to keep up with the pace of industrial development, and as new embark on a new chapter in the Halal market. New awareness, new technolHalal standard modules appear to fill ogies and deeper understanding will the ‘farm-to-fork’ spectrum, another development will appear along side the drive this market into the next phase. Fasten your seat-belt; Halal 2.0 will legal requirements; issues to do with not be boring. identity. Finally, for all the analysis of the Halal and Tayyib are, properly dynamics of power, the evolution of the speaking, inseparable if we are to take industry, the integrity of the Halal certifia holistic and comprehensive view of the parameters for consumer products. ers and economic policies, the final truth is that this affair belongs to Allah, and it Either one on its own is not enough; together they will create a new market will unfold according to His Will, and by His Power.The more we understand the niche that is a fusion of specific relireality of this, the greater our success. gious compliance with broader eco ethical concerns. Originally published in The Halal Jour For the Muslims, Halal food is nal, and reproduced here with their an identity issue as much as anything kind permission. See else. Food is a core human concern, the deep human resonance of ‘mama’s www.halaljournal.com HALALConnect l 13
Makes A BIG
Splash! by Susan labadi
fter reverting to Islam in 2000, Jennifer A. began to observe hijab in accordance to Islamic tradition. After the birth of her twin sons, she longed to take part in the pool with her young children and enjoy their time as a family. It was also a safety issue because she knew that when you have young children, you should stay within arms reach of them at all times while in the water. The accidental death of a local toddler made this point strongly to her. Thus began a search to find a swimsuit. After loads of research on the Internet and even asking her friends, who also faced similar situations, she purchased a swimsuit from Alsharifa.com, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After receiving her swimsuit, she was so thrilled that she wrote to the company: “MashaAllah, I’m very happy and excited with my swimsuit from Alsharifa. I have tried it on and abso-
14 l HALALConnect
lutely love it.The quality of the product is amazing and you have thought of everything, including the tie downs for the shirt. I was always a lover of water, and since embracing Islam 10 years ago, it’s been a challenge to find a way to swim with my husband and kids. Thanks to you guys, I can do everything I love doing. Jazaak Allah; may Allah reward you for your hard work and dedication”. Owner and founder Kelly Alsharif said of
the email, “We want women to be able to enjoy the lifestyle they want, and maintain their own Islamic values and identity.” Kelly explained, “Our customers are ordering a swimsuit, but what they don’t know is how much work actually goes into producing a high quality item like our swimsuit.” Working with chemical engineers and pattern makers, Alsharifa began the project of creating the world’s most stylish super-water-resistant Islamic swimsuit. “Our swimsuits have several specialty coatings on them, including those that release soil, repel dirt, water, and are anti-bacterial.” Instead of using polyester alone, other fabric ingredients were used, such as polyamides, spandex, and other components. “We put our product through many tests, and in the latest, the fabric and surface treatment on the recent generation of Alsharifa swimsuits showed the water standing on the fabric surface for 17 hours before any visible water absorbance took place!” Giving further insight to Alsharifa’s
commitment to quality, Kelly described, “We also try to be innovative and on top of trends; we follow Western and Islamic fashion closely in order to bring fresh ideas and designs. When I wanted to swim, I couldn’t find anything that met my personal taste or met Islamic guidelines for modesty. I began Alsharifa as a way to help my community. I felt that the products available on the market weren’t up to my standards. Often items were poorly made, or incredibly expensive.” The first swimsuits were—and most still are—made from 100% polyester with some fabric treatment to lower water absorbance. When Alsharifa.com set out to manufacture its swimsuits in the United States, it had raised the design bar by defining criteria for the new generation of Islamic swimwear. The range of new customer needs is wide, from beachgoers, to women with their children in a swimming pool, to professional swimmers, divers, and snorkelers. Kelly even mentioned, “While we design with the hijabi in mind, we have many customers who are non-Muslim buying our products; such as those concerned with sun exposure, as well as women from other faiths who also observe modesty.” Kelly stated, “Alsharifa implements suggestions sent from customers. Many of our customers asked for longer tunics, so we took that into consideration and have just completed our Riviera style which will be launched this year at ISNA 2010 in Chicago. It features a knee length tunic in black with a pop of color in the contrast stitching. As a limited edition, many have already been sold as pre-orders and will be available at the convention.” Alsharifa.com currently stocks sizes from XXS girls-5X women in a variety of four styles. The company is working to continue to produce new and exciting items. While a young company, Alsharifa. com has an edge that many others don’t have. Their goals are to become the first global hijab brand based in America. They want to promote affordable items that are chic, modest, and modern, to fuse fashion with faith, and to bring Eastern and Western fashion together.
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by Ingrid Mattson The following are excerpts from Ingrid Mattson’s article “Eating in the Name of God” from Islamic Horizons, March/April 2010
o perform any activity “in the name of God” means to undertake it in full awareness that God is the ultimate source of all means and capacities and that activi-
16 l HALALConnect
ties are blessed only if undertaken with a grateful recognition of this reality. Muslims who seek to act in His name must also be aware of the divine guidelines established for their activities. Beyond [the] basic rules, there is an increasing awareness that the Qur’anic command to consume “wholesome” (tayyib) foods might require paying more attention to how animals are raised and what they are fed. At the same time, this increased awareness has not necessarily been matched by a widespread change in consumption. This is not surprising; for busy families find it difficult enough to get dinner on the table on time, much less ensuring that organic halal meat is at hand whenever they need to prepare a meal. Given that many Muslims do not restrict themselves to zabihah meat, it may seem impractical to propose even more factors to what eating “in the name of God” actually involves. Presented with a more holistic ethical approach, however, Muslims might have more motivation
to reassess their consumption patterns. According to Islamic law, humans can kill animals for food. While there is no universal obligation to consume meat, from an Islamic legal standpoint it is better to do so occasionally than to shun it all together. The Prophet, whose practice exemplifies Islamic principles and hence
is normative for Muslims, both ate meat and distributed it to the poor and needy on Eid al-Adha and other occasions. At the same time, the Qur’an and the Prophet restricted the way animals can be killed for consumption and the kinds and amounts of meat that can be consumed. Live animals must be treated kindly and with dignity. The Prophet explicitly forbade castration, branding, striking them in the face, loading them with very heavy burdens, cutting off a piece of their flesh, separating baby animals from their mothers, and delaying their milking until their udders become uncomfortably full. If animals are to be killed for food, many rules to prevent their suffering must be observed. Sadly, many of these rules are violated, especially in large commercial farms and slaughterhouses. Live animals are drugged, deprived of wholesome food, and sometimes force-fed; baby animals are separated from their mothers at birth; hormones that leave their udders painfully distended are given to dairy cows; and terrified animals are routinely slaughtered in front of one another. The list of cruelties committed against animals raised for human consumption is long. Muslims should not only help to develop and consume alternative meat sources that are in harmony with their
values, they must also engage in broader policy discussions about these issues and promote legislation regulating the industry at large. As long as animals continue to be mistreated in an immoral fashion, Muslims have a duty to work to change their situation. These are not issues that simply can be relegated to the sphere of personal choice. Animals have rights, and these rights can only—and must be—protected by people. All adult Muslims should be aware of Islam’s prohibition of consuming pork and blood and its requirement that animals be slaughtered according to certain rules that minimize suffering and render the meat wholesome. While Muslims can find competent people to guide them in such matters, the community must ensure that such competent people exist, for in their absence the whole community bears the burden of sinful negligence. Religious leaders and theologians can ensure that these issues are continually researched and that the community is educated; however, it is up to the business community to make halal food accessible. Muslim leaders who advocate such a change will notice a better reception for their moral voices if savvy
marketers echo their message. At the same time, we have to recognize that no Muslim business committed to ethical practices can survive without the community’s support, despite the products’ slightly higher prices. Given that many Muslims are reluctant to pay more for zabihah meat, Muslim businesses seek to cut other costs. Unfortunately, this is often done by underpaying employees and having them work in unhealthy conditions—also violations of Islamic law and ethics. We cannot really be said to be eating in the name of God if those men and women who provide us with our food are being exploited. Transforming Muslims’ consumption patterns can be achieved over time, God willing, if multiple strategies are employed. Specialists must keep current on the relevant research and work with Muslim ethicists to create clear, practical guidelines. Research findings have to be disseminated among religious leaders and educators who will spread it to the community at large. Businesses that are struggling to provide halal food must be supported. For example, Muslim organizations and institutions should purchase their products for community dinners, school lunches, and other events from such businesses. The extra expense of doing so is justified if we consider providing them as part of our religious and educational mission. Community meals, after all, are not just about food, but are ways to communicate our values. The Muslim community is justifiably proud of its reputation for hospitality; by providing wholesome food that preserves the rights of animals and workers, we can also be proud of our integrated ethical approach to consumption. –– Dr. Ingrid Mattson is ISNA’s president as well as director of Hartford Seminary’s Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, director of its Islamic Chaplaincy Program, and professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations.
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Islamic Solutions to Everyday Financial Problems
by lena sarhan, 8th grade, universal school “Winner of Azzad Financial Literacy Essay Contest.”
t’s been less than two years since American citizens started to realize how serious their nation’s financial problems. This is an important wakeup call for everyone to start evaluating our financial system. Every day we experience financial problems that forces us to question how these problems be solved. We save money for our children to go to college, we save for ourselves to have a worry-free retirement, and we always look for ways to raise our income and to reduce our debts. Sometimes we ask “Will I always have enough?” “Am I running out?” or “Will I be bankrupt?” Islam keeps us from going broke and making wise decisions to invest our money in good and wise ways that will ensure good outcomes. In this essay, I will discuss three major financial needs that many American families discuss at their kitchen table and I will bring an Islamic solution for it. The most distinctive element of Islamic finance is the prohibition of interest. To follow the rules of Islam, any investment must not involve inter18 l HALALConnect
est. As Muslims, we are allowed to invest into common shares or stocks. We are not allowed to deal with companies whose business involves
forbidden products such as alcohol, pork, tobacco, and weapon production. In Islam, Muslims aren’t allowed to use interest, and since the credit
card principle is based on the interest, for a conservative Muslim who follows Islam, the best way to get rid of the credit card system is by paying off the balance right away and not accumulating the interest over months. In this way, the Muslim will earn good credit while applying the Muslim principle of avoiding interest in daily life. Shopaholicism is prohibited in Islam because it would result in wasting money and hard work. Even though Allah asks Muslims to show that they are thankful living a good life and having good homes, good vehicles, and enjoying their wealth, Islam also asks us to be moderate in everything. Buying more than what we need, wasting money and goods are not a good practice of Islam. Zakat is the greatest pillar of Islam that comes after Salah. Zakat means
purity and cleanliness. A portion set from your wealth for the needy and poor is called Zakat. In this manner, the giver of the Zakatâ€™s wealth and his self become purified. By making Zakat obligatory, Allah has put every person to the test. That person alone who willingly takes out what is due to
God from that wealth which exceeds his requirements, and helps with it the poor and needy, is useful for Allah and is worthy of being counted among the faithful. If oneâ€™s heart is so narrow that he cannot make this much sacrifice for the Lord of the world, he is of no use to Allah. Muslims can give Zakat to community masjids and schools as well as local shelters, and by doing so, this will ensure safety and happiness in the community. In Islam itâ€™s been stated that the strong Muslim is better than the weak Muslim. This advised Muslims to look for wise ways in order to keep their wealth as they retire. Many retirees and others need to invest in incomegenerating vehicles with minimal risk. Obviously, investing in common stocks carries significantly more risk than most such people can tolerate. At the very least, a component of their investment needs to be earmarked for so-called fixed-income vehicles. Unfortunately, the vast majority of conventional fixed income investments (e.g., CDs, government bonds, money market accounts, etc.) include forbidden Riba. How, then, can retirees and those nearing retirement be able to get a lower-risk source of income from their investments? Consider a simple example first: the individual seeking the lower risk investment vehicle may use his money to buy some real estate (e.g., an apartment building, or a warehouse), which generates income in the form of rent. This rent will naturally go up with inflation, as will the value of the real estate, thus providing a reasonable inflation hedge and helping the investor keep the real value of his or her wealth, while generating an income on which to live. Every day American families sit around their kitchen table and talk about their financial problems. This essay summarized some solutions for these problems. If Muslim scholars and intelligent financial advisors combine the religion and the intelligence they will come up with many clever solutions to the world financial problems. HALALConnect l 19
Are The American Halal Consumers Protected? by ahmad adam
alal products availability in America started with the basic need of having meat or chicken slaughtered by a Muslim and by hand. In order to fill this need, some individuals used to drive to the countryside, sometimes more than 100 miles, to a farm where they negotiated with the farmer their needs and conditions on how to slaughter an animal and take home the finished, clean meat. As communities started to grow, individuals came into the business of slaughtering and supplying local populations directly. Soon after, some butcher stores started emerging that would be a one-stop shop for Halal meat and chicken. The stores also started supplying local restaurants. As the communities expanded, demand increased, and no longer were the slaughtermen personally known. Doubt about the integrity of the Halal products began to creep into the minds of the consumers. Furthermore, in the seventies and early eighties, a Halal export market started formulating due to the demand from Muslims overseas for high quality American meat and chicken supplies. The multinational corporations and chains took advantage of the opportunity, but the need for Halal certificates, along with country of origin, by foreign embassies and importing agencies became imminent. Although, Halal certifying agencies existed in some Muslim countries before the U.S. market became ready, some Muslim countries sent their governmental Halal agencies to the U.S. in order to have oversight on the Halal process and secure the integrity of the certificate. One such agency hailed from Malaysia, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM). They have been very 20 l HALALConnect
instrumental in creating a Halal Economic Hub in their nation. The World Halal Council, initiated in Jakarta, Indonesia, became the international body that constituted the reference for many certifying agencies around the world. The agencies were diverse in levels of sophistication, from a one-man-show to large corporations. The agencies negotiated with one another and voted on a subset of Standards, mainly for the food industry. Although, some small proprietorships and larger agencies created their own unique set of Standards, transparency evaporated. The spread of self-certifying producers also added to the complicated mix. American Halal products, currently certified by such agencies, supply both domestic and international markets from the local ethnic mom
and pop store to the U.S. Armed Forces around the world. In May 2006, the first World Halal Forum was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Halal as a Global Industry was born. Therefore, recognition of Halal as an emerging global economic powerful force became a mandate to require Standardization, Training, Auditing, and Accreditation of the industry. Southeast Asia and Europe currently are ahead of the U.S. in development of these consumer protection initiatives. However, the world is waiting and watching for the U.S. to enter this Halal Movement because our nation has the largest Halal producers in food in the world. Furthering this drive, it is recognized that Halal is more than food; it encompasses entire industries in production, logistics, and services. In fact,
community it represents a comprehensive lifestyle, so the opportunities are vast. A group of American stakeholders, including The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), of the Halal Industry met in March 2009 and initiated the American Halal Association (AHA). AHA is a trade association that functions as a liaison between the American Halal Industry and the American Halal Consumers. AHA has an outstanding initiative in promoting the organization and institutionalization of The American Halal Industry. ISNA has taken the lead to become The American Halal Accreditation Body that would accredit and monitor, the Halal certifying agencies in America. The following graphical representation reflects the future structure of the American Halal Industry with its own rights:
1. The American Halal Accreditation
Body represented by ISNA. ISNA being the largest, most prestigious American Islamic organization with almost half a century of grass root community services qualifies to be the voice of the majority of the American Muslim Community.
2. American Halal Sharia’h Board repre-
sented by a diverse formation of Sharia’h Scholars and related industries, specialists, and scientists representing a sophisticated and highest credible approach to rulings of concern to the American Halal Industry and The American Halal Consumers.
3. American Halal Standards Council that
integrates the highest Islamic Standards in all related industries, in conjunction with the highest reputable international Standardization bodies and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).
4. The American Halal Auditing Services.
Third party auditing must be integrated in the Halal certifying process. Integrity, transparency lead to consumer protection.
5. The various government agencies are
needed to provide legitimacy, consumer protection, labeling compliance, additional legislation for domestic production as well as exports regulations.
Able Community AbleFamily Fun & Learn!
MSmile and Connect!
ble Community is an innovative Muslim Online social platform that helps provide a safe, fun, and solution oriented environment for families, teenagers, kids, and individuals. It features a strong, high quality online infrastructure on which community organizations, masajid, schools, families, and teens can engage, collaborate, and establish trust and communication toward effective solutions as a group or as an individual.
virtual space. MSmile is a better facebook alternative for our community and families. Ideas, Voting and Surveys help to keep people in touch with feedback and ideas. Customize your topics and query in realtime.
Able Community has 4 key areas:
Able Professional Job Seeker, Business, Ask and Answer, Event Planner, and Yellow Pages are some of the features being offered for community members to exchange their resources within this domain.
A Able Kids: (www.ablecommunity. com/kids) A fun and exciting place for our children to enjoy clean and safe online games, Islamic and cultural stories and cartoons. Resources are always being added and help bring children a better foundation. A Able WIKI: (www.ablecommunity.com/wiki) One of the largest and most excellent repositories for Islamic and professional knowledge resources for families, students, professionals, and teachers. A Halal Food and Masjid Finder: Building a database for online Muslim Yellow Pages for community members to locate Halal food and restaurants, and to locate a Masjid in the vicinity.
A School Management System (www.learn.ablecommunity.com/learn) is nearly complete as a comprehensive tool to link stakeholders of schools. Each school can have its domain with teachers’ pages for every class. Homework boards, blogging, display of student portfolios, and access to grades are some of the exciting attributes promised on this initial project which should greatly benefit Islamic school communities. Contact Br. Syed Rizwan Ashraf, firstname.lastname@example.org or cell# 408-887-8994 for details. Br. Syed Rizwan Ashraf has devoted the greater part of 10 years to creating this one source portal for Muslim families to benefit in a safe environment. He is rich with ideas for further developing this site, and is working to help our community realize its potential. All Able Community resources and solutions are available for free to benefit our families, teenagers, kids and community organizations.
MSmile Meeting Place A MSmile (www.msmile.ablecommunity.com) is the dynamic and interactive community for social and collaborative networking based on our values and ethics. Invite friends, write on a Wall, create Events, join Groups, and Message in a
HALALConnect l 21
Halal in the American Marketplace -Identity, Opportunity and Influence by hajj Abdalhamid EVANS
mpires in decline still carry enormous weight, and the USA is no exception. In the midst of turbulent transition, the changes that will take place in the USA over the coming decade will have far-reaching repercussions far beyond its shores. As the economies of India, Asia and China move into pole position as the next power-houses, passing the Western world on the inside track, the relationships – good, bad but seldom indifferent – with the Muslim world will be critical for all involved. While these relations have so far tended to be seen as being all about the economics of oil, politics and war, another hidden, and much more user-friendly force has entered into the equation; Muslim consumer spending power. There is a slowly dawning recognition that the youngest, fastest-growing religion in the world is also a mirror image of the youngest and fastest-growing consumer market…and the foundation stone of that
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market is about Halal. It is like one of those optical illusions where the background suddenly becomes the foreground; once you get it, nothing ever looks quite the same again. So for USA, desperate to find new formulas to rejuvenate an aging economy, there will need to be a better potion than endless injections of debt. Given that that is what caused all the problems in the first place, it is unlikely that the poison will miraculously become the cure. There will need to be a more substantial force than bailing out debt with debt. Halal – it’s not what you think In more ways than one, the next chapter of the Halal industry in the USA is likely to be transformative. It will change the Muslim community, change the economy and also change the way the world – especially the Muslim world – looks at the concept of Halal. The global Halal market represents the biggest market opportunity since the advent
of the computer. It is a doorway to a new economic paradigm that will bring social and economic transformation. “Oh Mankind, eat from the earth what is lawful and wholesome…” A global market based on Divine instructions, accepted without reservation by close to 2 billion people, but also directed to and widely accepted by many of the remaining 4.5 billion…this is not a niche or a fad. The is a New Order. The non-Muslim world is more involved that one might at first think. With somewhere in the region of 80% of the world’s Halal products coming from the non-Muslim world, their acceptance and commitment to the Halal consumer market is in many cases perhaps more deeply rooted than the Muslims. As consumers, it is important that the Muslims understand the strength of consumer power. And this is where the American market gets interesting. Halal is an identity While there is undisputed validity in the judgement that the Muslims can eat the food of the People of the Book, there is a stronger case for building the strength of the Halal sector by using the collective power of the Muslims consumers’ preference for Halal goods and services. With corporations large and small looking for new ways to enter new markets, the possibilities that present themselves in the Halal market are compelling. Distilling the statistics from the 2008 Gallup survey on the American Muslim community, you get a picture of a community that is younger, more affluent, better educated, faster growing, better connected and more influential than the average. This is powerful, and that is before you take into account that we are the inheritors of the final revelation, and with direct access to the wisdom of the Prophetic sunnah. In the land where the customer is always right, this is a powerful combination. As the political and corporate leaders spin around looking for direction, we have a direction, divinely-inspired and proven again and again as a force that can transform societies to bring justice, social harmony and economic wellbeing. And while we may, justifiably, feel helpless much of the time, the Halal marketplace offers a new kind of influence for the Halal
consumers. We can change the way that business is conducted. Manufacturing is largely based on catering to consumer preference, and the estimated USD $641 billion Halal food market is already founded on the question, “Tell us what you want and we will do it.” It is no exaggeration to say that the major corporations and an increasing number of national governments are looking at the Halal market as one of the driving economic forces of the coming decade. It is now widely recognised that Halal is not just about a method of slaughter, but that it encompasses the entire supply chain from the farm to the fork. The unfortunate reality is that for the Muslim world, farmto-fork translates into knife-and-fork. We do the slaughter and the eating, and in between huge amounts of money and power are left for others to handle. Halal is a challenge The Halal market is now at a tipping point. For many mainstream food companies (suppliers, manufacturers, processors, restaurants, food service and retailers) that potential rewards to be gained from ‘going Halal’ outweigh the possible risks. This is the moment to make a difference. And while there is no doubt that the Muslim consumers can make a substantial difference to the growth and strength of the Halal market, we have to ask ourselves why we are not more involved. Are we content to leave Nestlé, McDonalds and Tesco as the Halal champions of the Halal marketplace? Why are we not more involved? Feeding the Muslims is BIG business, so why are we leaving it to others to get rich and powerful doing it for us? A nation in transition is an opportunity to make a change. What happens in America has a profound impact on the rest of the world, and the way that the Halal industry goes into the next chapter of growth in the coming years will be felt around the world. Let me tell you why. 1. The American Muslim consumers have the capability to create a Halal movement that can have a substantial impact on the food
industry. Think about how President Obama came to power, then translate that into the Halal context and you will see what I mean. Grass roots have power. 2. Corporate America is trying to figure out how to talk to the Muslim consumer. The more we get involved in the conversation, the better the outcome will be for us. 3. The values that are inherent in the Halal market are in harmony with the new values that are trying to make themselves felt in the marketplace. People want more honesty, more integrity, more quality, more ethics. Halal encompasses all these and then adds more. This is green with a spiritual dimension, this is Deeper Green. 4. America is the home of marketing, branding and advertising. For better or worse, the way that Halal products and services are marketed around the world is about
to undergo a profound shift. The marketers are going to get hold of it, and do for Halal what they have done for organic, fair trade and eco-friendliness; i.e. take them mainstream. The days of just putting a Halal logo on a package are about to disappear. 5. Most importantly, the ways in which Halal certification is carried out is also about to change forever. Other than those few Muslim majority countries that take Halal certification seriously, the certification process in the food producing non-Muslim world has for decades been largely unregulated. As the value of the market becomes more widely recognised, the certification
procedures will also become more regulated, professional and more in line with the way that other health and safety compliance is carried out in the food industry. The certifiers themselves will need to be certified Halal demands leadership Recent legislation in New Zealand, a world-class meat exporter, stipulates that any agency that carries out Halal certification will have to be accredited by the appropriate federal Standards authority. Legislation that separates ‘Church and State’, as is the case in the USA, means that the accreditation body in many countries will have to be a body that is recognised both by the State as well as by the Muslim community. It will have to be an intermediary, and honest broker. With no disrespect to the agencies that have been carrying out Halal certification in the USA for many years, this call for change is a global one, and the way that the process is carried out will inevitably change in the next few years. From one perspective, the gaps in the Halal market reflect the overall leadership vacuum in the Muslim world. Others would be excused for thinking that we would rather talk than act, and prefer to exacerbate our differences than stand together on our similarities. The currents and tides within the Halal food industry are going to force that leadership vacuum to be filled. Major corporation want to see the Halal certification process become more transparent, free of conflicts of interest and to be monitored by reputable accreditation agencies. This is an instance when it is wiser to swim with the tide than against it, as it will force our Muslim communities to bring forward leaders who can take on this task. Halal is our affair, and if we can’t produce it then we must at least be able to define, monitor and regulate the marketplace so that, at the end of the supply chain, the consumer is protected. They have the right to eat lawful wholesome food, and they have the right, as a paying customer, to demand it. Think about it for a moment. If we can’t manage our own food, what hope do we have of dealing with all the rest? HALALConnect l 23
Halal Lifestyle Answers as the Fruit of Education & Action by Susan Labadi
ost Muslims learn the terms like halal, zabihah, and tayyib when they are young, either from their families or educators. Their reference has mostly been relegated only to food and drink options. The consumption of blood, pork products—including gelatin-- and alcohol are forbidden and easy to understand. However, if only everything were so easy, we would not be so confused and led unwittingly into consumption of adulterated edibles. Food technology today has resulted in “Franken-foods” that often are depleted of nutritional quality and are chock full of chemical creations that are certainly not tayyib, nor halal. What are we and 24 l HALALConnect
our future generations to do? Would it not be incumbent on us to educate ourselves, our families, and friends on the truth, and should we not strive to rectify a mass food processing debacle that threatens our purity, our health, and possibly our DNA? Muslims beware! You may be purchasing products thinking they are Halal, but they may not be. Unfortunately, some business people are not completely transparent, and consumers are being fooled. Greet a day when you can safely know that the products you buy are safe from unhealthy substances, ideally with Halal certifications. Wake to using Halal personal care products, like soaps, sham-
poos, creams, and deodorants. Ladies; beautify yourselves with Halal cosmetics and apparel. The children have reasonably priced Halal snacks that complement Halal culinary delights. Should you have a need for medication, you have Halal certified products handy; and your local hospital is familiar with Muslim protocols because they have had appropriate training. They know to respect gender differences and privacy needs, and even have wudu facilities in washrooms. Finally, plan your family’s vacation with an airline that features Halal certified meals and prayer area in the airport. Feel fantastic because you will stay at a fun-filled family resort that is actually
advertised as Halal with separate swimming facilities, fine Halal dining with luscious health boosting beverages…away from those who imbibe in alcohol and dress immodestly in full view of your family, by whom you have responsibility to protect from the impure. This vision is becoming a reality, and only the power of consumer demand will determine how long before it comes more prevalent in the North America. Southeast Asia and Europe are way ahead
of us, and major corporations here have taken notice. Why are we not pursuing what is within our reach? It is a combination of Education and Expectations. We have become complacent, apologetic, and overly compromising in order to not disrupt the status quo. And so, we get what we deserve. Animal by-products in our food and skin care products, chemicals of all sorts mixed in our consumables, and unsavory displays of unrefined, unacceptable images in our media and recreation sites. Muslim families need to be proactive; we have the means to improve our environment, and it is our responsibility to do so before our value-based society further declines into decay. We and our children would benefit from educational resources online and in school curriculums to learn how to avoid the impure. Learn the chemical product names to avoid; call companies and ask questions. Specifically, ask which of their products or services are Halal. Note that their call centers create databases of the
types of queries, so when we call and ask about Halal, they will count the quantity and that will drive company decisions. Muslims have tremendous buying power, domestically and globally. If we educate ourselves about the prospects for what is permissible; and we support Muslims who are trying to offer better lifestyle products, we can help build our community to be more strong and self reliant. Just as the call has been going out to avoid dependency on foreign oil, Muslims should take stock to audit our own spending practices. Who is receiving our hard earned money? How many dollars do we spend to non-Muslim businesses? If businesses and products do not exist, then why are we—so well educated as we are— not creating businesses to provide for ourselves? If Muslim businesses exist in these areas, why do we not purchase from them? We must address our dysfunctional attributes through Education and Action, or we will be accountable for why we did not take the steps to make a better choice for the future Muslims. Ask, Fix, and enjoy the day when…the Halal Lifestyle is the answer. HALALConnect l 25
Why Halal Food is Good For Everyone by Yvonne Maffei,
blogger of Halal Recipes & Healthy Cooking From MyHalalKitchen.com
ithin the Muslim community, halal is used to describe what is permissible both in food and in actions. We typically associate halal with food, as do many non-Muslims. Explore why halal food, specifically meat and poultry, is good for everyone. I grew up devouring literature with information on eating right
and living healthy. When I became a Muslim nearly ten years ago, I was excited to learn about the guidelines set forth in the Qurâ€™an as it relates to what a Muslim should and should not eat. In the process, I realized that I was fortunate enough to develop health-conscious eating habits early on in life that morphed into actions related to food consumption in accordance with Islam. It was
For an animal to go from farm to table as halal food, it must have lived a pure life from the very beginning, finishing a cycle of life that is permissible in accordance with Islamic standards.
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quickly obvious to me that the two went hand in hand. As a food writer and blogger, I keep up with the latest news and trends on the U.S. and international food scene on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there are more and more instances in which food is contaminated and people sickened from preventable issues related to food safety and sanitation in both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Also unfortunate is the rising number of preventable diseases related to over consumption. Alhamdullilah, there is a growing movement in the U.S to revolutionize how and what we eat. First Lady Michelle Obama, celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, and well-known food writers such as Michael Pollan and Alice Waters are heading up this movement through books, documentaries, and lectures across the country. Because of this push to educate the masses, many people are not only reading labels but demanding to know the source of their food. They want to know what the animals are eating and how they are living, the kind of air they are breathing and what, if anything is being injected into their bodies. They are visiting farms, talking to farmers, insisting on organic products, or at least those that are all natural and not sprayed or injected with harmful pesticides, toxins or artificial growth hormones. How does halal food fit into this parameter? Halal encompasses more than just meat, or even the type of meat eaten, although it is the most discussed type of product consumed. For an animal to go from farm to table as halal food, it must have lived a pure life from the very beginning, finishing a cycle of life that is permissible in accordance with Islamic standards. It must have eaten well, been treated well, and been sacrificed well. It may sound good in theory, but what does all this mean?
The Life of the Animal The kind treatment and the feed of an animal during its life is important. It should not be abused, mistreated, or caused any pain. It should not be confined to an area where it cannot move or walk normally or get fresh air. It should be fed clean water and food that is appropriate and absolutely never fed another animal or products that contain the by-products of other animals. The Sacrifice of the Animal As an animal should be treated well during its life, it should also be treated well at the time it is sacrificed for us. The slaughter should never be done in the presence of other animals and the animal should be made comfortable as it is positioned for the sacrifice. The act of the sacrifice should be done with a sharp object, so as to accelerate the process and reduce the pain suffered by the animal as much as possible.¹ Afterwards, the blood should be completely drained from the animal. It is the blood that carries toxins, germs, and bacteria; and when left inside the body of the animal, could potentially make people sick. At the very least, it could make the cooked meat quite tough. An amazing result of cooking and consuming halal meat is a healthy meat in which the resulting texture is tender and the meat delicious. Some people say they can “taste the difference.”
exciting, delicious and healthy variety of foods. Islam enjoins us to treat our bodies well as it has a right over us and will testify against us on the Day of Judgment for any injustices we may have caused it during our lifetime. Treating our bodies with wholesome foods free of harmful ingredients: pesticides, toxins, pollutants, filth, etc. It is not just a value desired by Muslims; it’s desired by all of humanity. It’s a common need, a common desire, and a common right; and that means everyone can benefit from consuming halal foods and avoiding what is not.
Resources Halal Meat & Poultry Companies Crescent Foods (Poultry) www.crescenthalal. com Green Zabiha: www.greenzabiha.com Whole Earth Meats: www.wholeearthmeats.com Halal Food & Cooking Sites My Halal Kitchen: www.myhalalkitchen.com Zabihah.com (restaurant locator) Important Documentaries about Our Food & Agricultural System Food, Inc. The Future of Food King Corn: You areWhatYou Eat Books About the Current State of Our Food and What We Can Do About It Pollan, Michael. Botany of Desire Pollan, Michael. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual Waters, Alice. Edible Schoolyard ¹Narrated Shaddad bin Aus (RA) Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “Anyone of you should sharpen his blade so that the animal may be spared from the suffering of the sharpeing.” [Reported by Muslim].
Treating One’s Body Well is a Good Thing On the flip side of halal is the haram (impermissible). The most commonly known haram consumables are alcohol and pork (and their by-products), both of which are the cause of numerous health issues, backed by scientific data. Although these two products themselves could constitute their own essay, for purposes of this article they are only briefly mentioned here. Instead of seeing the impermissible as a closed door on food choices, one can embrace an entire world of HALALConnect l 27
Tourism by salama Evans
n 2004 a hotel in Dubai made a bold move to become the first 5-star hotel in the region without a liquor license. When asked if this made it more difficult to market the hotel to tourists, the manager at the time, a German non-Muslim, said, “We simply don’t get the kind of guest who has come to party, so that changes the whole atmosphere of the hotel.” He said that at first he had expected it to be difficult, but it turned out that the hotel simply attracted a different kind of guest. No alcohol in the restaurant or mini-bar, prayer facilities, separate leisure facilities for men and women became distinct advantages to the Muslim traveler. The Taj Palace Hotel still clearly promotes on its website that it ‘does not serve alcohol to its guests,’ but it is not the only hotel taking this route today. A new hotel group in Dubai, Shaza Hotels, brands it hotels by offering ‘the religious and traditional practices of Arabian lifestyle and hospitality.’ They also assure the guests that Shaza hotels will not serve alcohol. The chief executive officer (CEO) Christopher Hartley, commented, “The regional tourism market is not all about rich, holidaying Saudis any more. Muslims are traveling more, on business and on holiday, and they want suitable hotels when they travel.” The concept is obviously appealing as they are expanding to open locations in Bahrain, Doha, Marrakech, Cairo, Madina and Fez. The Sah Inn Paradise, Antalya, Turkey, also in this ‘non alcohol’ category, includes separate leisure facilities for men and women, with the women’s section covered for no overhead viewing. ‘Non Alcohol’ hotels like this are now starting to be listed on the www. islamictourism.com site, showing the growing market for this type of holiday resort, and the need for them to be identified and promoted to the discerning Muslim traveler. 28 l HALALConnect
Coral International Cape Town is a hotel catering to Muslims in South Africa, a country with a Muslim minority. Cape Town has a long Muslim history, with a population of over 1 million Muslims, and is a top tourist destination, so this Halal hotel located there makes good business sense. Brunei Darussalam has taken another route and has a ‘no alcohol’ policy for the whole country. So wherever you stay or eat, from the 5-star Empire Hotel to the stalls in the marketplace, you can be assured that it will be in harmony with the Halal principles of the country. Brunei also has hotels overseas and serves Halal food in some of its restaurants in the Royal Plaza on Scotts, Singapore, The Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and The Dorchester in London. In a travel survey done by ArabianBusiness.com in 2008, 78% of the people interviewed in the UAE said that when it came to getting away for a few weeks, time with the family and the cultural offerings of their chosen destination far outweighed considerations such as partying or participating in active sports.
Culture, sightseeing and comfort for the family are the most important facets of a vacation for Gulf travelers. This is significant with Gulf residents being some of the most traveled people on the planet, with 80% having traveled to more than one country every year. Grasping the Opportunity for Halal Travel What has been known as ‘Islamic tourism’ is now also being labeled as Halal tourism. New websites are just getting started in this sector, such as IRHAL.com, HalalTrip.com and Crescentrating.com, which promotes the concept of a ‘Halal-Friendly’ rating service for hotels and travel packages. Crescentrating has its own list of icons representing the various aspects the Muslim tourist might look for in a Halal friendly hotel, such as: Qibla marking, pray times, list of local Halal restaurants and mosques, etc. These new sites appear to have hit the ground running, and as they increase their online content, the Muslim tourist will be able to search for a complete
Halal holiday package anywhere in the world. They will be able to combine the Islamic cultural aspects they are looking for, with the Halal products and services they require. There is no doubt that across the globe Muslims are becoming more and more Halal-conscious. This fact is reflected in the growing availability of Halal food and the spread of the Islamic Banking industry around the globe in the past ten years. Consuming products and using services which are considered Halal has always been the foremost consideration of a Muslim. But now, the increasing possibilities and potential of ways to guarantee that products and services are Halal has given a new impetus to the Halal food and service providers to create a whole new range of Halal choices for the Muslim consumer market. Travel services and facilities are just one of the areas which have seen the direct impact of this. With more Halal-conscious Muslims now traveling for both leisure and business, the need for travel and tourism facilities to cater to their unique needs is
being acknowledged and beginning to be accommodated by the travel industry. In the past, travel geared towards Muslims has always highlighted Hajj and Umrah packages. Muslim travel agents are fully in control of this sector, and for some it is their main clientele. But this does not cover the needs of the Muslim family who just want to go on holiday together, and also have Halal facilities that make them comfortable at their chosen destination. According to David Smith, CEO at Global Futures and Foresight Ltd in the UK, “the Halal sector is forecast to be one of the fastest growing sectors of business this century. Today, it is a niche player in travel and tourism; but with the growth in the number of Muslims and their increasing wealth, Halal travel and tourism can be expected to grow rapidly. We increasingly see the world as needing to conform around us and our values, and the providers that recognize this and develop fully compliant Halal products will find a clear differentiation for them to present to the market.” 2007 is probably the year that the Travel industry started reacting to this emerging trend of Halal conscious travellers. In the last three years, we have seen this trend taking off with announcements from hotels, tourism boards and tourist attractions prominently promoting themselves as catering to the needs of the Muslim traveler. This is opening up new destinations for Muslims, which they would not have considered a few years ago. Beyond the economic benefit to these destinations, this will also bring social benefits from better communication and understanding that will develop due to the increased interaction between different communities. This should encourage governments to look at working with the industry to accommodate these unique, but simpleto-implement, services and facilities in order to ensure they do not miss this opportunity. “It is not difficult for a destination to accommodate the basic requirements to make the Muslim traveler’s stay more
Halal-friendly. The two basic requirements are Halal food and prayer facilities. Of these, the most important is the ability to provide food which is Halal, and hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and other attractions need to find ways to fulfil this very basic need of the Muslim traveler,” said Fazal Baharudeen, Founder and CEO of Crescentrating. For hotels, this can be in the form of having a Halal certified restaurant, or at the very least, listing the Halal food options on the menu, just as are commonly seen now on menus that include vegetarian options. They should also be able to give their guests a list of mosques and other Halal restaurants in the vicinity. This is obviously easier in a Muslim country or a country where there is a recognised Islamic authority. The Tourism Boards of countries which do not fall into these categories should spearhead the initiative to develop Halal food services. They could also highlight Halal restaurants and facilities already available by printing a Muslim tourist guidebook for them in conjunction with the Halal certifiers who audit them. Having prayer facilities is much easier to implement. In the case of hotels, the most important aspect of this is to have the direction of prayer clearly marked in all hotel rooms. As for tourist attractions and shopping malls, there is a need to allocate a clean, easily accessible space for a prayer room with facilities for ablution. >> HALALConnect l 29
Hotels that receive a large number of Muslim guests would be wise to offer their guests special meals during the month of fasting, such as an early breakfast and a dedicated Ramadan selection timed for breaking the fast in the evening. This in turn presents a new marketing angle for the hotel. There is definitely a business opportunity for hotels that see the potential for their establishment to attract this growing market segment. One of the key challenges for destinations wishing to become more Halalfriendly is the access to Halal-literate human resources. This is the case for countries which have very small Muslim communities (such as Korea or Cambodia). For the Muslim communities in these destinations it is an opportunity to work with the travel industry to extend their skills and knowhow. It will also be an opportunity to connect with the rest of the Muslim world through the Muslim visitors. Airlines and airports can also benefit by making the journey of Halal-conscious travelers a more comfortable one, and to facilitate the growth of this market. Airports are already beginning to provide prayer places, either by having multi-denominational prayer rooms with prayer mats available and the prayer direction marked, or with prayer rooms dedicated for Muslims. However, many airports fair badly when it comes to providing Halal food 30 l HALALConnect
services. There is surely a market opportunity for a restaurant chain to open branded Halal food outlets in selected airports so that Muslim travelers worldwide can easily find Halal food. Currently this is indeed a lost business opportunity for many airports and an inconvenience for many Muslim travelers. Some airlines, such as Etihad and Malaysian Airlines offer the added option of a curtained section for Muslims to perform their prayers during long-haul flights, with the prayer direction indicated in their flight path video system. Royal Brunei also includes the recitation of a traditional prayer blessing before take-off, a welcome reassurance for many travelers. Muslim majority countries such as Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia that are already recognized as being Muslim countries must continue to enhance the Halal-friendly experience for their tourists to keep ahead of their competition. Countries with strong Muslim communities such as Singapore and Sri Lanka are also well placed to attract this market segment, since most services and facilities already cater to the strong local Muslim community. Showcasing this strength is one way
to attract Muslim travelers to these destinations. Though countries in Europe, US, UK, Canada and Australia have small Muslim communities, they are very Halal-literate. These countries would do well to tap into this niche market by building better services and options to attract and accommodate Muslim travelers. Southern Spain has a wealth of Islamic history tourists who are already flocking to discover, but what is missing is the Halal-friendly option of where to stay and eat once they are there. Halal travel for Muslims is certainly here to stay, and it may well emerge as the next major Halal industry. Destinations that take the lead in attracting this market segment will stand to benefit both economically and socially and will contribute to making the world a more peaceful place for the co-existence of different communities. We would like to acknowledge and thank the following contributors for their contributions to this article: Fazal Bahardeen, Founder and CEO, Crescentrating, www.cresentrating.com David Smith, CEO, Global Futures and Foresight, www.thegff.com
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HalalConnect Issue 2010