WHAT IS HALAL CERTIFICATION?
Published by: Deeptanshu Chandak
What is halal?
To understand halal certification, we first need to discuss what is halal. Halal basically in Sharia law i.e. Muslim law translates to what is permissible and the opposite of haram, signifying not permissible. The wide understanding used to be that halal is the permissibility to food or the Muslim dietary laws enshrined by the Quran, but halal has become a much more wholesome and inclusive term relating to all lifestyle permeability to a Muslim person. Halal in its basic essence translated and dealt with what can be consumed and what cannot be.
Halal meant the absence of alcohol in vegetarian food and the absence of pork in meaty foods. Further, there is a specific permissible way of how to slaughter animals whose consumption is permissible or their consumption to becomes haram or not permitted if slaughtered in the wrong fashion. The requirements for the slaughter to be considered haram is that the animal must be slaughtered by a clean sweep of the knife to the front of the throat-cutting the trachea (windpipe), esophagus, the carotid artery, and jugular vein but no means cutting the spinal cord of the animal. Further, the animal must drain all the blood and must bleed all its blood this way. Furthermore, the slaughter must be preferably by a sane mature Muslim man of maturity or people adherent to religions known as people of the book like Jews or Christian. Also, the carcass of already dead animals must not be eaten. Additionally, the name of Allah must be called by the means of the player of Bismillah while the slaughter occurs. Haram food may be consumed by a Muslim man if it pertains to matter of life and death.
The halal way of life
Earlier halal used to be a dietary law now it has transformed into a lifestyle choice and has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry owning to the fasting growing religious population of the Muslims. Now halal has made its way into all aspects of consumer derived market form makeup to all-out halal tourism. The halal industry also includes modest fashion along with pharmaceuticals being halal-friendly. Countries of the majority Muslim population have started to set up state regulatory authorities for halal certification. The halal certification has now become essential to the Muslim consumer goods market as it reassures them that the food is made with keeping their religious dietary requirements in mind and that is a big percentage of the population keeping in mind the fact they make up about 24% of the world population right now with the highest growth rate of any religion.
Obtaining a certificate
The process of obtaining a certificate is different in each country and countries may not honor the certifications of the another country, in India the centrally regulated food quality authority is the FSSAI and the body gives no form of halal certification, much like the country the bodies decision on permissibility are based strictly secular and scientific-based free of religion. The fact that much like India mostly secular or non-Muslim states do not have a centralized halal certification process, it opens the possibility of private certification and in most countries, it is by pre-existing Muslim bodies. There exists a lot of similarity in the process of certification which consists of the application, strenuous testing, and auditing to make sure the food is strictly halal. But since these organizations are not state-run the testing is slow and tedious and the question of transparency always arises. As the scope of halal has increased so has the scope of halal certification, now u can have a restaurant certified by registering the whole menu and then each and every raw material and then going thru the testing and auditing process. Furthermore the registrations for processed foods and beverages, pharmaceutical, baked goods, primary meat, cosmetics, and nutraceutical. Further even hotels, malls, and even clothes now get halal certification. It has come to the point that companies like Macy’s US, Marks & Spencer, and H&M have gotten certified.
The halal certificates have become as important as if not more than the nationally provided food licenses. Further the added redundancy of the license as a growing amount of people in just assume all food to be halal in Muslim majority countries, but this could be owing to the fact that the push has been hard by these Muslim states on halal-certified goods. These practices have made it impossible for a company to penetrate a Muslim majority state without being certified, and not only does it need to be certified it needs to be certified with that intended state as the majority of the countries do not accept other country's halal certifications to be permissible. These practices add to the cost of production, further lead the companies to alter their manufacturing leading to unnecessary and exorbitant mark-ups on the Retail Prices.
The halal was supposed to be dietary laws of the Sharia Law as enshrined in the holy Quran relating to the use of alcohol, pork and slaughter practices basically to make sure that Muslims eat well and lead a healthy life and thus were forbidden eating haram as alcohol as it is detrimental to health, pork as it considered as an impure animal and to kill animals by specified slaughter practice to ensure the animal is pure and free of any toxins, thus labeling pre-dead or wrongly slaughtered animals as unfit for human consumption. Now Halal and thus Halal certification has become an act of commercializing and industrializing on the religious belief of the ever-growing religious population, to make their belief system highly lucrative by proving absurd industries like Halal media, recreational sector, halal-certified malls, and modest fashion. What started as a movement to empower Muslim consumers to make informed food decisions in line with their religious needs has become a move by religious lobbies and industries alike a religious marketing tactic to sell the product. The consumers too by falling prey to these kinds of tactics are empowering their own exploitation by letting certification bodies decide the permissibility of every aspect of the life, while simultaneously pushing out the competition and raising prices, moves which hurt only the consumer and empower the industrial exploitation of a religious belief system.
Footnotes:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6582925/  https://www.icv.org.au/about/about-islam-overview/what-is-halal-a-guide-for-non-muslims/ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332120184_Global_Halal_industry_An_overview_of_current_developments_and_future_perspectives  https://halalindia.co.in/ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332120184_Global_Halal_industry_An_overview_of_current_developments_and_future_perspectives  https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2014/05/13/Halal-meat-controversy-Should-certification-chaos-be-tacked#