As we roll ahead into 2003, a number of challenges await us in the horizon, all waiting to be addressed. In a series of editorials, eat-halal.com’s editor sheds some light on these issues.
Editorial by: Editor www.eat-halal.com
Halal meat stores are ever-increasingly cropping up, especially in metropolitan areas across UK, USA and Canada. How can the average Muslim be assured of the fact that the meat he/she is buying from the local Halal meat shop is in fact Halal and Zabihah?
It would be really nice if all Halal storeowners and operators were God-fearing people who would never dare sell anything but Halal and Zabihah. Yet, we know all too well that it is foolish to expect something like this. This is not to say that all Halal storeowners and operators are dishonest people. I personally know Halal storeowners who are very honest people and try their utmost to supply their customers with authentic Halal, Zabihah meat. The problem lies in those who are dishonest – those who will cross all boundaries to make a quick buck.
The dishonest ones undoubtedly do not fear Allah. But most probably, they would fear the law. That is, if there were a Halal food law in Europe and Canada. A number of states in the US have adopted Halal food laws that make it very tough to run a dishonest Halal store or operation. These laws need to be adopted in the West if we are to bring dishonest Halal store operators and owners to task. This would be the first step, but it has the potential for taking quite a bit of time, so we might have to fast-forward to step 2.
The second step is to create a Halal certification program for Halal meat stores. Sounds like a nice idea, but working out the details is not that simple. Who will run it? How will it be financed? How will a business that is caught cheating be dealt with?
A plan currently in the works calls for Halal meat stores to sign up for certification. There would be a nominal administrative charge that would cover basic costs. The program would be managed by a volunteer organization. Some of the main slaughterhouses would be Halal certified, and each shipment would be shipped with a certificate. The meat found in a store could be verified by checking with the slaughterhouse and by checking the certificate. Random inspections at the stores and slaughterhouses would be carried out by volunteers. Certified stores would display a time-sensitive certificate on their window or any other prominent place. If demand increases, inspectors could be hired on payroll. This plan is not perfect, and since it is still in the planning stages, changes can easily be made.
It is very important to consult with all related parties – the slaughterhouses, the storeowners/operators, and the Muslim public. A one sided decision without consultation has a great potential of creating animosity and distrust among the parties, and ending up in disaster.
I’d like to call on all parties to recognize that this is a real problem and an issue that needs to be dealt with, and to come together with ideas and solutions. Send us your ideas. You think it can be done differently? Tell us. Do you have any concerns? Voice them. We need to have a dialogue and discussion if we are to get anywhere with these ideas.
WE have to deal with the issues that affect US, because if we don’t, who will? So let’s unite and tackle these issues – for ourselves and for our children.
Concerns, ideas, and suggestions can all be sent directly to the eat-halal.com’s editor at firstname.lastname@example.org