Roger M. Othman
Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu ‘ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH (S) and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad (s). Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!
Attention to Halal Food is increasing among all sectors of society, consumers, producers, legislators and educational institutions. Since our last issue of Halal consumer, a number of significant events have occurred, all of which indicate a keen attention to Halal foods.
First, the State of New Jersey became the first state to pass a Halal Food law. The bill was signed into law July 2000 and it requires Halal food vendors and producers to disclose the basis upon which they claim the food is Halal. The law is intended to provide consumers with confidence that food labeled Halal is Halal. If a consumer suspects a fraudulent product, they can ask for proof of the claim and if not satisfied, make a complaint to the State of New Jersey, who will implement the Halal Food Law. The law became a reality because of the work of Muslims in New Jersey, particularly Brother Riza Dagli, Deputy District Attorney in the State of New Jersey, and the response of local legislatures. Muslims are becoming a larger constituency in all states and as they become more active in all facets of life, they are being noticed as a resource for votes, as a market for Halal goods and services and as a trendsetter for pure and wholesome activities.
Next, the State of Minnesota followed suit and also passed a Halal Food Law. The Minnesota law is similar to the New Jersey law and is a tribute to the Muslim community in that state.
Recently, the State of Illinois passed a Halal Food Law. This law was different than the others in that it is a standalone law, not part of any other laws and it also applies to the raising of animals on the farm as well as to the final meat. You can read the entire Illinois Halal Food Law later in this issue.
On other fronts, Dearborn Public School officials (Dearborn, Michigan, USA) announced they would start providing Halal meals under the school lunch program starting in Spring 2001. The district business manager, Robert Cipriano, explained “Our students are our customers and if they are not eating, they are not nourished and their academics will suffer”. This too is a tribute to the Muslim community in Dearborn and the open-minded officials in the School District, who are working to serve their customers. We are sure they will find other students’ interest in enjoying Halal lunches as well. Cornell University is making an effort to provide Halal meals to students on the Itheca Campus and other colleges and universities are also considering Halal food programs.
Late last year, a county in Minnesota began a program of offering home loans for government auctioned homes that complies with Islamic financing, avoiding riba.
All these events are a signal that the Halal consumer is having an effect on the marketplace and that food and service providers are responding to these new marketing opportunities. We look for accelerated progress in these and other areas in the future.
Other candidates for Halal Food Laws are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all states with substantial Muslim populations. We would also expect school districts in the metropolitan areas of Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Toronto, Canada to make an effort to provide Halal meals for their students. We also expect Universities and Colleges will become more responsive to providing Halal meals for their students.
And of course, we are seeing more and more food producers interested in providing Halal products for the Halal consumers. This is not a fad market. Halal products will always be in demand and the demand is increasing.
IFANCA congratulates the Muslim communities who are working to get their Halal needs met and the legislators, school districts and food producers who are responding to the needs of the Halal consumers. And our closing supplication is “Praise be to ALLAH (S), the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds”. [RMO]