“The day even 10 per cent of the rest of 95 per cent start insisting on boycotting halal, this economic jihad will end. We can blame the government, free market and what not but the root cause of the problem is our dhimmitude,” says Ravi Ranjan Singh.
Ravi Ranjan Singh is a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and was a litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi case. He has been running an awareness campaign against Halal-onomics for more than a decade.
Apart from that, he has also been trying to fight against it in the courts via PILs (public interest litigations). He set up the Jhatka Certification Authority to counter the spread of the halal economy.
Swarajya talked to him in detail about how halal-onomics boomed, the threats it poses, the solutions that the government and citizens can explore to counter its spread and what his plans are to create an alternative meat ecosystem as the head of the Jhatka Certification Authority.
A century back, the halal economy wasn’t as widespread as it has become? How did it all start?
Halal has been around for more than 1,400 years. When Islam came into being, this word was there in the Arabic language. It simply meant ‘permissible’ and had different connotations for different tribes or religious groups residing in Arabia at the time. We can this as Stage 1.
The concept of halal was Islamised as that religion spread. That’s Stage 2. But it was still very much limited.
What we see today -- the transformation of Islamic halal into universal halal -- started 70 years back, just after the end of World War 2. We can trace its genesis to Great Britain.
After the War, when the Britishers left India, they issued special permits for those who had served the Crown and who were at the risk of being hounded after Independence.
So, groups like Muslims and Sikhs, who had an overwhelming presence in the Police and the Armed forces, benefited from this policy of permits and this is the reason why they are present in substantial numbers in Britain today.
These were also the servicemen who were skilled and could be trained easily in other jobs as per the needs of a struggling economy. And this didn’t cost the British much money.
The influx of Muslims into London increased more rapidly compared to Sikhs because the former had a larger world community to draw from while Sikhs were smaller in numbers as their presence was limited to only India.
Now, Indian Muslims who settled there were more intelligent, politicised and goal-oriented than their Ummah counterparts from other countries thanks to the decades of radicalisation due to the Khilafat and Pakistan movement.
These Muslims wanted to eat only halal and they approached restaurant chains in the city to provide them halal meat. In the beginning, their demand was met with indifference but due to community power and numbers, they were able to get some outlets to serve halal.
Since Muslims would eat at only those outlets, others in the market also decided to have an option of halal lest their business suffers adversely. Slowly, the whole London meat industry was halal-ised and native butchers went out of business.
The next step was a change in the composition of imports. Latin America was the major meat exporter to Britain but for Muslims in the United Kingdom (UK), the meat imported from non-Islamic countries wasn’t halal enough.
So, the shift in imports started and Latin America lost out and Muslim countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, gained at its expense.
The situation has become such that even non-Muslim countries that want to export meat have to strictly comply with halal norms. Just look at Australia and New Zealand and how they toe the halal line.
So it wasn’t sufficient that the meat is halal, they insisted that the meat imported is also from Islamic countries. It seems that the halal concept is very malleable. It differs from place to place and also gets updated with time too, isn’t it?
Well, as halal captures the economy step by step, new conditions are put in depending on the time and place.
Initially, only the product needed to be halal. Then, the eligibility changed and the whole establishment was required to be halal. Next, the whole food chain. And in some Islamic countries, a halal food chain means no employment for a kaffir at any stage.
But putting such a condition in one go would not be tenable, in say, India.
So, it is very much malleable. They may start with a minimum condition but will not stop until everything is 100 per cent Sharia-compliant. It’s black and white and there is no room for grey.
In India, what you have today is not strict halal because the conditions aren’t favourable to them but be rest assured, they will not stop until 100 per cent ‘halal-ification’ is achieved.
So if halal is so malleable and changes strategically with time and place, then it is more about getting hold over various aspects of the economy rather than a simple religious concept of consuming only that which is considered pure in Islam. It’s economic jihad, isn’t it?
Yes. There is no doubt about it.
You talked about three stages of the evolution of halal. First, pre-Islam; the second period ranges from seventh century to World War 2; and the third from the 1940s till the present time. What’s the next stage of this “economic jihad”?
The fourth stage in this evolution is going to be halal stock exchanges. It’s on the horizon. We already have many directives on which companies are halal and which ones are haram.
In these exchanges, all companies will be differentiated on those lines. The companies will be certified as halal by Islamic organisations like they do with products and services.
The trading in halal companies will be cheaper -- the stock exchange may charge a less intermediary fee if you buy their stock. This is another sort of jaziya. You are being penalised indirectly whereas your competitor is being rewarded for religious reasons.
Eventually, the investor may also be given a concession if he is a Muslim. And so on. Basically, the game will be rigged against the kaffir.
Halal spread because of our mental slavery and it will result in our financial slavery. This combination of mental and financial slavery is a deadly cocktail. Once that happens, there is no turning back. You can never come out of it.
Some European countries like Belgium and Denmark have introduced laws that have banned ritual slaughter including halal and kosher in the name of animal rights. Is that a solution that India can try?
What countries like Belgium are doing is good. But that’s only limited to the meat industry and there are exemptions in the law too. Nonetheless, it’s a welcome step.
But it’s not the complete solution. There is a misconception among many that halal is about the method of slaughter. It’s much more than that. The meat industry is a tiny part of the whole halal economy.
This is a packet of vegetarian potato chips which has the logo of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind Halal trust. And this is an eyedrop medicine for cataract that states that it was prepared the halal way. (Shows both items)
The whole industry is worth more than $4 trillion and estimated to rise to around $10 trillion by 2025. This covers goods and services. Let’s be clear about it. Every product or service is either haram or halal. Nothing will be outside the ambit of this classification.
Additionally, what some European countries are doing through their laws is that they are putting a condition to stun the animal before slaughter. Now, an animal must be alive when being slaughtered as per Islamic law.
But, as I said, halal is more about economic jihad than a purity concept. That’s why we now have Islamic organisations in Europe that have accepted stunning as a condition.
The debate has shifted to which way of stunning is halal and haram. So, they have already invented a loophole to bypass the laws.
Islamic organisations make tons of money issuing halal certificates and this goes into funding all kinds of activities. Moreover, they keep changing conditions based on their goals.
Does the solution lie in the government taking over all the operations of issuing these halal certificates?
No. They aren’t breaking any law. How can the government of India decide for Muslims which is the best way for them to follow Islam? It’s not practical and politically viable. Nor will such restriction or a law of that sort stand scrutiny in the courts.
They are coming up with the concept of a halal censor board for movies now. Sure, the government can keep issuing its own censor certificates but how will it stop an Islamic organisation from issuing one separately for Muslim audiences?
The problem isn’t these Islamic organisations that are issuing the certificates. In fact, this makes it easier for anyone to check if a product is halal or not. It makes things clear in the marketplace. It is making you aware.
The problem is with non-Muslims who, in their dhimmitude, have accepted Islamic halal as universal halal.
Economic discrimination is a big issue with the halal meat industry. You explained how butchers in London were driven out of business and Muslims took their place. This has also happened in India with butchers belonging to the Khatik community.
Absolutely. Before the partition, Muslims and Hindus constituted 70 and 30 per cent respectively of the wholesale meat market in the Jama Masjid area.
After partition, it became 90 and 10 and now it’s almost 100 and 0. At the retail market, the condition is slightly better but far from equal, let alone ideal.
Are there cases of halal economy incentivising and abetting conversions?
Well, conversions are of two types. The first is direct and happens in one go. The second is gradual. By accepting halal, you are slowly converting to Islamic ways. You have rejected your ways and accepting that of Muslims.
You may not be going to a masjid or reading the Kalma but your conversion has also started unofficially. If you are culturally and ideologically a Muslim, the only thing left is the formal ritual of conversion.
You talked about how Islamic halal is being normalised as universal halal and a big reason for that is halal meat is being promoted as tasty and healthy. How true is that?
Taste is a very subjective thing. It varies from individual to individual. So, that argument is completely bogus. As for halal meat being healthy, that’s pure propaganda. They have a lot of money power now which they use to even influence scientific research in some places.
But studies after studies have shown that the notion that the halal method leads to a healthier form of meat is bunkum. It’s a cruel form of slaughter and the chemistry of the animal changes as it goes through a lot of pain for a long time.
The animal feels the pain and this messes with the chemistry of the body of the animal and the change is not for good. While in the jhatka form of slaughter, the link between the spinal cord and brain is instantly cut and the animal loses consciousness immediately. Even blood clotting is more likely in halal compared to jhatka.
What’s the solution then because the government can only do so much?
The problem with Hindus is that they don’t want to sacrifice anything and sacrifice in the right way. Sikhs will spend a lot of money on langars and gurudwaras. Hindus will do the same on bhandaras and temples.
But they wouldn’t back a movement to support jhatka outlets. Many are struggling to keep them open. Spending on temples and gurudwaras is good but that’s not enough. If I am a meat-eater, I can drive a kilometre or two extra and support a Jhatka outlet over a halal one.
If I am a vegetarian, I can refuse to buy the food packet which has a halal logo on it and tell the shopkeeper that I am not buying it because it’s halal certified. Let this message be out there.
If we can’t even speak up and if we can’t spend Rs 5 extra from our pocket, then we shouldn’t expect that one day the Gods will come and save us.
We have to be aware, vocal, fearless and honest. The whole problem is there because Muslims, even if they are 5 per cent, insist on buying only halal.
The day even 10 per cent of the rest of 95 per cent start insisting on boycotting halal, this economic jihad will end. We can blame the government, free market and what not but the root cause of the problem is our dhimmitude.
You are running a Jhatka Certification Authority. What are your future plans?
The plan is simple. It’s no rocket science. We have all the blueprints and expansion plans on how to set up and scale operations of jhatka plants. But that’s stage 2.
The first stage is about making people aware. It’s a matter of simple demand and supply. At present, there is a lot of cheap halal meat supply. So, we have to begin with thin profit margins.
The only way jhatka outlets will survive is if there is enough demand in the market. That will come only through awareness. Supply is not the problem. That anomaly in the market can be corrected at any time.
So, our focus in the immediate future will be primarily on raising awareness.