“Walastu bi’akuli lahmal adahi“ (“I do not eat halal food”)—Al-Akhtal, the 7th century defiant Christian Arab poet.
Recently, pharmaceutical company Himalaya announced that its all products comply with Islamic law (Shariah) and are free of any ingredient forbidden under Islamic law. Last year, activist RV Babu was arrested for posting a 9-minute video on social media with the title “Shops which give only Halal food have to be boycotted.” The ground for his appeal was that the Halal system is discriminatory.
What is Halal?
Halal, an Arabic word, means lawful or permissible. When applied to food, it means food that is in conformity with the appropriate Islamic injunctions, such as the Islamic mode of ritual slaughtering (dhabihah) and avoiding food that is haram, such as pork and alcohol.
The full process—from slaughtering to packaging to stamping to sealing to storing to transportation—has to be carried out by or under the supervision of Muslims alone in a slaughter house that doesn’t handle any food that is considered haram (prohibited) in Islam.
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 slaughter house itself is required to be certified as halal by Muslims and is subjected to regular audits by Muslim-only inspectors.
The whole process discriminates against non-Muslims by excluding them. After all, the rules are simple:
1. Muslims must eat halal food only.
2. Halal food is that which, from sourcing to transportation, has been handled in a halal-only facility by Muslims only.
3. Halal facility must be entirely separate from non-halal or haram one.
Not just that the halal rules exclude non-Muslims from the entire chain of production, it also excludes any, what it considers as haram food from its menu, thus obviating the customer’s preference for eatables like ham and beacon that contains pork.
Halal rules have ensured that virtually all of us are eating halal food whenever we enter a McDonald’s or KFC or buy a Cadbury Dairy Milk, and so on. Domino’s doesn’t serve pepperoni pizza anymore. All airlines and many of the government canteens (including Parliament canteen) today serve halal food only! Not just eatables, we are also forced to use halal certified drugs, make-ups, etc.
Most of the world’s food and beverages companies are silently partaking in this Muslim appeasement. Consider a Nestlé advertisement of 2010 that showed a Muslim woman enjoying a KitKat chocolate with the heading “Bringing Peace of Mind around the World.” It further stated that “Halal” benefits everyone and that the company promotes “Halal” standards to both Muslim and non-Muslim consumers and that its Halal products are available in more than fifty countries around the world. A 2010 report entitled “Addressing the Muslim Market: Can You Afford Not To?” Halal is a $632 billion per year market!
Sharia-Compliant Food Forced on Non-Muslims
You see, you are literally forced you to eat halal food—a food that systematically excludes non-Muslims from virtually every step of the service chain, goes against customer’s choice, promotes Islamic fundamentalism and reportedly finances terrorism. RR Singh, the Jhatka Certification Authority chief, terms it as “economic jihad” that arises out of our dhimmitude.
And yet, the likes of RV Babu get arrested for opposing an unjust, rigged and discriminatory system. Worse still, you can promote halal-only (i.e. Sharia-based) food in a secular India. But when a Jain bakery owner sometime back posted an ad about his Jain bakery saying ‘all items at his bakery were pure vegetarian, made only by Jains and not Muslims,’ he was arrested. How was his ad different from a Muslim-only label that comes automatically with a halal certification?
In a nutshell, today you do not have a choice in choosing your food in the same way you do not have a choice when you are forced to listen to azaan that declares that there is no true god but only their version of god (despite the Supreme Court ban) 5 times a day. A Muslim is well within his right to decline a temple prasad, but a Hindu is forced to virtually accept only halal food, which is nothing but an offering to the Muslim’s version of God. I use the term Muslim’s version of God because, unlike a Hindu, a pious Muslim will not accept the Gandhian dictum of Ishwar Allah tero naam.
For Muslims, theirs is the only true religion; theirs, the only correct way of life; their version of god, the only true god; offerings to their god, the only permissible food. When Himalaya supports halal, it, ipso facto, supports this intolerant premise of Muslims. It supports the discrimination inherent in halalonomics. It supports the Islamization of food that every democracy-loving citizen must oppose. After all, your halal (permissible) is your halal, not my halal.
Silence of the Majority ——> The Dictatorship of the Minority
The Hindus who say they do not have an issue with halal are too naïve and unaware of a deeper malaise. The conversion-based ideologies, as against the inward-looking Dharmic religions, will stop at nothing but to force their will on all others. This is in addition to a more direct strategy, that is, conversion. This is the reason you are forced to listen to ‘Allah is the greatest and the only true version of god’ at least 5 times a day daily. And this is the reason that you are forced to only eat the offering to Allah in the form of halal food. Did you say ‘choice’?—My foot! You do not have a choice; all you have is a lack of options.
This is what Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of the best-seller The Black Swan, calls as “dictatorship of the minority.”
Taleb demonstrates how a small group of intransigent people can impose its will on the majority. Say, if Hindus are comfortable with either food (halal or non-halal) but Muslims are stubborn on only eating halal food, all Hindus will eventually be forced to eat only halal food.
Today, Muslims are out-stubborning Hindus (or Sikhs or Jains or Buddhists) in a secular India by forcing them to eat only halal food. They are out-stubborning the system by forcing eateries and food companies to serve only halal food. The author Taleb narrates his personal story of being at a large dinner party that served all kinds of food—vegetarian, non-vegetarian, kosher, etc. No one minded what other was eating. “However,” in the words of the author, “Had my neighbour been a Sunni Salafi, he would have required the entire room to be eating halal. Perhaps the entire building. Perhaps the entire town. Hopefully the entire country. Ideally, the entire planet.”
Silence of The Majority
The author Taleb goes on asking and answering a fundamental question that the tolerant Hindus and other Indians have forgotten to ask:
Can democracy—by definition the majority—tolerate enemies? An intolerant minority can control and destroy democracy. Actually, it will eventually destroy our world. So, we need to be more than intolerant with some intolerant minorities. Simply, they violate the Silver Rule. It is not permissible to use “American values” or “Western principles” in treating intolerant Salafism (which denies other peoples’ right to have their own religion). The West is currently in the process of committing suicide.
This silence of non-Muslims is nothing short of dhimmitude, which forces them to pay for a purely Islamic ritual, a part of which, as evidence shows, also goes into financing violence and terrorism against non-Muslims.
Thanks to their orthodoxy and the silence of otherwise vocal activists, hundreds of children get crippled and die every year due to the refusal of critical vaccines like those of polio and measles in the Muslim world for fear of being non-halal.
Worse still, the majority community, without fully understanding the implications of this Islamic coercion, goes on accusing those who raise a voice against this discrimination and injustice.
A The Indian Express editorial dated January 23, 2021, for instance, criticised an SDMC order that made it mandatory for eateries to display whether they serve halal or jhatka meat. The editorial criticised SDMC’s motive as an attempt seemingly to “communalise food and to pit people involved in the animal trade against each other.” Oh really? Dude! It is the Muslims who are trying to Islamize the food. If food does not have a religion, why everyone is systematically forced to eat only the ritual halal food? And why does it become communal if SDMC takes steps to advance the principle of customer preference in making choices? After all, is not the customer supposed to be a king in a consumerist society?
Furthermore, under this narrative, a customer is not allowed to protest against the halal method of slaughtering even on the purely secular ground of avoiding animal cruelty. Why should not a customer be allowed to choose jhatka mode of slaughtering, which results in a relatively painless, unconscious death of the animal?
And then there are Sikhs and members of a 4.8 crore strong Khatik whose religious traditions require them only to eat jhatka meat. How come a Muslim’s needs are respectable while a Sikh’s needs are communal? After all, the SDMC order has only sought to reinstate the supremacy of choice while deciding on food. What SDMC demands is respect of customer preference and respect for traditions of communities other than Muslims as well. After all, a Muslim’s halal (i.e. permissible) is a Muslim’s halal, not a Sikh’s or a khatik’s halal!