THE TRUTH ABOUT HALAL CERTIFICATION
Part 1 (of a 12 part series)
Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.
Phew! It’s very bloody hot around here. I know it’s not the weather, so it must be that halal certified curry I just ate. Golly, something tastes very funny with my Mussaman beef and my Vegemite too, and my Cadbury's chocolate bars... and all my Nestle stuff!
Hang on. I’ll just go look in the fridge and pantry.
My milk tastes fishy too, so does my yoghurt, and my ice cream, sour cream, whipped cream, cheese, bread, pizza, pies, sushi, water, flour, muffins, butter, breakfast cereal, pancakes, crumpets, coffee, dried fruits, nuts, honey, mayonnaise, vinegar, barbecue sauce, cooking oil, eucalyptus oil, chili pepper, vitamins… just about every bloody thing!
Wait a minute. Let me check the bathroom. Even my mouthwash, toothpaste, cosmetics… everything from my kitchen to my bathroom… even plastic containers, leisure products and holidays, it's all halal certified.
So what’s going on here then?
News sites, the Federal Parliament, Facebook posts, web blogs, TV and radio talkback are sizzling with chatter about halal certification – the involuntary Islamic tax we all now pay at the supermarket checkout, cafes, bakeries, fast food outlets, restaurants, and beyond.
Even lawyers have their pistols cocked at ten paces on instructions from halal adversaries.
What was once limited to meat slaughter has now crept into all products associated with my life, including non foods items to basic services, in what has been described as ‘Shariah creep’.
Opportunistic moneymen have identified a gap in the market where ‘infidel idiots’ are primed for exploitation.
But Australians in their millions are now looking very, very closely at that funny little symbol with the squiggly lines on their supermarket items and restaurant menus.
Australia’s best known household brands are among hundreds of food items, now funding halal certification schemes to the benefit of Islamic agenda and personal wealth by fortune hunters.
Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, IGA, Franklins, Food Land, Cadbury, Nestle, Kraft, Kellog’s, Allowrie, SPC Ardmona, Sanitarium, Paul’s, Harris Farm, Parmalet, Tip Top, Helga’s, Purina, Bega, Blackmores, Ingham, Steggles, Lilydale, Sara Lee, Buttercup, Saxa Salt, Johnson & Johnson, Capilano Honey, Leggo’s, Sunbeam, Maggi, Top Taste, Mainland, Vegemite, Marmite, Promite, Nutella, CSR, Masterfoods, Dairy Farmers, Meadow Lea, Vittoria Coffee, Fountain, Devondale, Dilmah Tea, Dolmio, White Wings, Eta, Wrigley’s, and Four ‘N Twenty are just the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg.
Fast food outlets, and restaurants like McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, Burger King, Red Rooster, KFC, Subway, The Cheesecake Shop, Krispy Kreme, Wendy’s, Mrs Field’s Cookies, Nudie, Nando’s, Le Wrap, Curry Express, Salsa’s Mexican, Garlo’s Pies, Dougie’s Flamed Grilled and retail butchers and chicken shops like Red Lea Poultry are either certified by group, store, or by individual item and many others including independent and chain sushi stores, pie shops, kebab shops, cafes, pizza shops, bakeries, ice cream shops, burger shops, poultry shops, grills, pubs, theme parks and restaurants are all financing the halal certification tsunami to the extent of $12 billion a year, and that’s only what we know of. Now that equates to any proposed GST increase!
The Government is also losing the same amount in company tax deductions and very few certifiers pay tax as it is claimed to be a religious related income.
The certifiers have now got our kids’ kindergarten canteens in their sights with the intent to halal certify every school canteen in the nation by 2018. Even our national airline QANTAS is halal accredited, requiring all food suppliers be halal certified.
The controversial certification fee has become a local and global industry upsetting both non-Muslim consumers and devoutly religious Muslims, who are dismayed and angered that unscrupulous moneymen are profiting from misrepresenting Islamic teachings.
Certifiers can set up a private business, approach producers and food outlets, tell them an appealing but misleading story about Islamic law, sell them a stamped certificate, get them to sign a confidentiality agreement, and bingo! The royalties start pouring in.
It’s money for jam, halal certified of course.
The IFGST (Islamic Food, Goods and Services Tax) seems to have recently ambushed the wider general public, although it’s been around a while. Its origins were benign enough but over time halal certification has morphed into a malignant cancer pervading our entire economy.
Mad-as-hell consumers are furious that they have been unwillingly entrapped in a dodgy money scheme of which they want no part. They vent their objections everywhere - on social media, radio, blogs and news sites, which are met by return online fire with abusive name calling by at least one litigation happy Egyptian halal moneyman.
Our politicians are trying to come to terms with consumer outrage while remaining hoodwinked by the self-serving moneymen saying it’s all about exports. But that’s not at all the true picture.
The swelling tide of anger is about the redistribution of big bucks from domestic consumers’ wallets into the pockets of the halal certifiers, who laugh all the way to the bank.
There is no single halal certifying body in Australia, as there is in other countries. Here there is a growing list of 33 certifying outfits all with varying motives, from expanding Islam to expanding private bank accounts. They madly compete with each other in a growing turf war. The end consumer (and beleaguered taxpayer) bankrolls it all.
Consumer law has unquestionably been breached (misleading and deceptive conduct) and it’s only a matter of time before authorities step in and legal action is commenced. The push is now on to regulate an unregulated national scam.
While consumers have been snared in a religious money-go-round, deeply devout Muslims also are watching in anger as they see their faith being hijacked for profit.
Hapless food company executives have been caught up in the crossfire between expanding their halal market and eroding their local customer base from a growing ‘boycott halal certification’ movement.
Halal certification fees, which amount to no more than the unscrupulous exploitation of Islamic beliefs, is big business… and it’s getting bigger.
This is the greatest con ever inflicted on Australian consumers using religion as ammunition.
Grossly uninformed and lazy media have failed to lift the lid on the deception and only now are they being forced to recognise a serious problem.
HALAL AND HARAM
Halal is an Arabic word meaning ‘permissible’ or ‘lawful’. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited.
It is not required in any Islamic teachings, nor is it in Shariah law, that a fee be paid to ensure food is halal. In fact almost everything is already halal, and with very few exceptions.
The following products are already halal:
Milk (from cows, sheep, camels, and goats)
Plants which are not intoxicants
Fresh or naturally frozen vegetables
Fresh or dried fruits
Legumes and nuts like peanuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, etc
Grains such as wheat, rice, rye, barley, oats, etc.
Haram foods are:
Meat and by-products from swine.
Animals improperly slaughtered, or those already dead.
Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah
Intoxicants (alcohol, drugs and mind altering substances)
Blood and blood by-products
Halal food was lawfully mandated for Muslims for good health between the 7th and 10th Century when Islam was founded. There were no refrigerators, preservatives or health department regulations or inspectors. Halal was a guide to food cleanliness. Being Muslim is a way of life from worship, (Sharia) law, (holy) war, to politics and eating. It’s an holistic ideology. Eating is simply a part of this faith.
Although eating halal foods is the pursuit of Muslims, certification fees are not part of Islamic teachings. Many Muslims say their religion has been exploited to make profits for greedy individuals. They have a deep distrust of certifiers’ motives. They say the halal certifiers are making their own laws above those of Allah’s.
Muslims have been eating halal according to the Qur’an’s teachings for 1400 years. Charging fees has been prevalent for only two or three decades.
Halal certification started out with honorable intentions and originally related to the slaughter of livestock. Cattle for example had to be slaughtered by a smite to the neck from a sharp blade so all blood is drained while the heart is still pumping to expunge the haram blood.
The charging of certification fees did not begin in Islamic countries.
A system was first devised in the US in the 1970s to identify and brand halal meat for local minority Muslims. The certification method at first was not about generating money but a sincere way for Muslims to identify meat to ensure they were eating according to the instructions of their faith.
Western abattoirs were advised by Islamic clerics of the halal procedure to kill for the Muslim minority. These slaughterhouses allocated a percentage of their produce for this small but growing market. For practical management many abattoirs transitioned to 100% halal, increasing export market growth.
Then the opportunity presented itself for certifiers to expand their business income. They began to sniff out money in just about everything related to food, and non food items.
Moderate fees were initially charged to producers to cover the cost of inspection. This grew to a ‘halal royalty’ for the rights to display trademarked ‘halal’ logos of multiple variations, depending on the certifier.
Now food producers pay annual royalty fees up to hundreds of thousands of dollars to individual moneymen… one litigation happy certifier openly admits to becoming a halal millionaire. These cost imposts are borne by the end consumer as everything has now become an imposition on food and almost everything else.
Islamic halal certifying bodies became organised only as recently as the 1980s.
In America, IFANCA (Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America) has been established since 1982, IDCP (Islamic Da’Wah Council of the Philippines) since 1987, the MUI (Indonesia) established in 1989, JAKIM (Malaysia) started issuing halal logo certificates in 1994 and the World Halal Food Council (WHFC) was founded in 1999.
In Australia, both the IVVC (Islamic Co-ordinating Council of Victoria) and the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia (SICHMA) were founded in 1992.
But, as with most unregulated money markets, the “business” of religious purity has become infected by greed, rivalry, corruption and bribery.
The potential global market for halal certification can make a few well-positioned opportunists very, very rich.
Muslim scholars are dismayed at the exploitation of their faith posting online excerpts from the Qur’an showing there is no need to certify food as ‘halal’, because most food is already halal (“everything is made for us by Allah”), with the exception of blood, intoxicants (alcohol), forbidden animals such as pigs, already dead animals or those that have died “of themselves”, carnivorous animals and birds of prey.
This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them.
Prohibited for you are animals that die of themselves, blood, the meat of pigs, and animals dedicated to other than God. (Animals that die of themselves include those) strangled, struck with an object, fallen from a height, gored, attacked by a wild animal - unless you save your animal before it dies - and animals sacrificed on altars.
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants (alcohol), gambling, [sacrificing on] stone altars [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.
He only prohibits for you dead animals, blood, the meat of pigs, and food, which is dedicated to other than God. If one is forced (to eat these), without being deliberate or malicious, then God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
Halal is about food cleanliness, purity and hygiene to meet with Qur’anic teachings and the hadiths which were written 300 years after the Qur’an.
Apart from some serious animal welfare issues in the slaughter process, there’s nothing wrong with halal food. Non-Muslims have been eating ‘halal’ for centuries and there is no special preparation for halal food except for the slaughter of animals.
The slaughter issue, without pre-stunning, is the main animal welfare objection as it relates to the pain and distress endured during the time interval between slashing the neck and the loss of consciousness.
There are three basic conditions of halal slaughter.
1) Most of the four veins (including the Jugular vein) must be cut with a knife or a tool that is sharp and has a cutting edge;
2) The name of Allah must be pronounced at the time of slaughtering, whether actually or effectively (such as when it is forgotten by someone who would normally have said it);
c) The slaughterer can be any Muslim, Christian or Jew, known as ‘People of the Book’, (Ahl al-Kitab). It is documented in the Qur’an that the prophet Mohammed ate goat and sheep meat prepared by Jewish women.
The contemporary practice of certification is ‘Bid’ha’ (unlawful innovation in Islam) as it is a ruling above Allah’s law.
Allah Most High says: “Today are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them.” (Surah al-An’am, v. 5)
The meaning of ‘food’ in the above verse specifically concerns animals slaughtered by the People of the Book (See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2/19).
News reports with graphic footage have surfaced in Islamic and non-Islamic countries of Muslim slaughtermen kicking animals in the head while alive to render them partly unconscious, then hacking at the animals’ necks with blunt saws. The animals scream in agony until they painfully die as other livestock watch on. The violent cruelty of halal slaughter is a major issue. However this is not what this investigation is about. That is a just cause for animal welfare activists.
Certification fees and extra costs imposed by Muslim-only slaughtermen are considered a compliance cost by the “client”, therefore they become a tax-deductible cost against general revenue, so even buyers of products which are not halal certified, but produced by the same ABN entity, contribute to the bottom line. Likewise, the profit and tax liability decreases as a consequence of the certification cost; so it’s an extra tax burden for everyone, including a tax loss for the Government.
Halal certification is no longer about what’s permissible for Muslims, but is now about branding and stamping by Islamic certifiers for the benefit of the certifiers.
Everybody pays a cost uplift on food at checkouts, restaurants and takeaways, both Muslims and non-Muslims. Governments have looked the other way while allowing consumers’ rights to be abused.
Food hygiene is already strictly regulated and monitored by food and health authorities; therefore halal standard controls should be under the umbrella of our health and food department inspectors (who could permissibly be halal compliance experts under Islamic law) with one official certifying stamp.
Ironically our food preparation standards are already more stringent than in some Islamic countries where street and restaurant food is more susceptible to contamination.
In recent years, as the moneymen have been allowed to prowl the Australian markets unregulated, halal certification has grown from ‘user pays’ to ‘everyone pays’.
The objection is not with halal food per se but paying an added Islamic tax on foods, goods and services to private or religious entities with the funds funneled to either the pockets of private scamsters and/or to funding the promotion and growth of Islam in Australia, or for other more sinister causes (depending on the certifier).
The funding of terrorism was not the concern of this investigation, but it must be noted there is clear evidence halal certification schemes overseas were found to be directly funding organisations such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood – all are proscribed terrorist organisations determined to destroy the West.
In the US, France and Canada it has been proven that halal certification schemes directly funded these organisations. In Canada it was found that $14.8 million dollars over a short period was funnelled to Hamas from halal certification money. It was found that Canadian halal certifier MAC (Muslim Association of Canada) sent funds to IRFAN Canada (an Islamic front charity), which in turn contributed to terrorist organisations. These scams have now been broken up and the ringleaders charged.
In the US, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is a major halal certifying body. ISNA is listed by the US Administration in court documents as an unindicted co-conspirator with links to the Muslim Brotherhood and their various front groups. The judge’s ruling reads: “The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the association of ISNA, with the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas”.
In France, researchers of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre documented ties between one of the largest certification organisations UOIF (Union des Organisations Islamiques de France) and the Muslim Brotherhood as well as radical clerics involved in jihad campaigns. The report states: “Furthermore, the UOIF participates directly in the financing of Hamas, through a French-registered charitable organisation, the CBSP (Palestinian Charitable and Relief Committee)”.
In Australia, an entry in the annual report of the Islamic Council of Western Australia (ICWA) a halal certifier confirms using profits for “...ongoing donations to Syria. Because of the difficult civil conditions, the donations were made through ‘Al Imdaad’ (another front charity) to ensure that no recriminations could be directed at ICWA”.
Is it any surprise there are questions raised in Australia as to where halal money goes to?
Where there has been alleged corruption and bribery overseas, governments have imposed regulations. Overseas government standards apply and are enforced for halal certification. These include qualifications in Islamic law and food science. In Australia only Islamic organisations are supposed to be halal certifiers, but this condition is being grossly breached.
Halal businessmen have even labeled pork as halal in a push for market expansion. Nothing is off limits in the frantic effort for a share of the rich pickings in halal certification.
Muslims say they already know what haram foods to avoid because it’s part of their teachings, and the list is quite small. If there is doubt (mashbooh) whether a food is halal, a simple prayer is said over the food and it immediately becomes halal. If a Muslim unknowingly or of necessity consumes a haram food, it is quite okay and there was never a need to pay a fee for it. These instructions are in the Qur’an and Hadith and the moneymen know it. But the ignorant infidels don’t know it.
Here’s a message from one of the many Muslims who were interviewed as part of this investigation:
“I was taught if I am in doubt (mashbooh) to recite an Islamic prayer (bismillah) over food and Allah will accept it. I have discussed this with my Imam who confirms it is immoral and un-Islamic to charge for halal.“
And another, “In my country we do not need a stamp on our food to make it halal. All food is halal and if mushtabahaat (uncertain) we say a prayer to make it acceptable to Allah and according to Quran, it does not need to be even cooked or prepared by a Muslim.”
Another, from a Muslim in a takeaway food business, “Halal stamp is rubbish. We have to pay at our shop but our meat is already halal but we have to pay again. This is not Islam. This is making the bastards rich who make us pay. Please you must tell everybody we are not happy about this situation. We work hard in our shop and pay the halal guy but he does nothing for the money.”
Islamic scholars with a different interpretation of the Qur’an to the certifiers are now publicly condemning cash for halal certification. Fees are not just an issue of disharmony between non-Muslims and the certifiers, but surprisingly a highly contentious issue between the certifiers and devout Muslims.
In Australia there is no single authority in relation to halal, therefore nobody can truly be an approved halal certifier. The Qur’an is the sole authority. Islam is about the individual being personally answerable to Allah, and making personal decisions about his/her lifestyle.
No self-appointed so-called “authority” can do this and nobody can make laws above the Qur’an regarding halal. This is not my opinion, it is an edict of Islamic law.
Next: IN THE NAME OF THE PROFIT