Demand for halal certified products skyrocket in India during Ramzan or Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic or Hijri calendar and the most venerated month during which Muslims fast from pre-dawn till sunset). Muslims all over the world eat sumptuous foods after the fast during Ramadan and end the month-long fasting event with Eid al-Fitr (the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”).
To understand why halal certifications are sought by many Muslims in India or other parts of the world, it is important to know the significance of halal to Muslims and the belief system surrounding it.
What is Halal and why is it important to Muslims?
Especially during Ramzan or other Islamic festivities, many Muslims in India look for Halal meat and other products. In Arabic, “Halal” means permissible. This term is related to the dietary laws guided by Islam.
That’s why many Muslims in India look for Halal certified restaurants that serve them with foods prepared as per Islamic dietary laws and regulations. Halal status of certain food items is important to many Muslim consumers as it ensures that the foods are permissible, lawful and clean (in accordance with Islamic dietary laws).
Halal certification ensures that the food items (meat, milk, canned food, or others) are prepared by following certain Islamic dietary guidelines including:
- “Zabiha” or “dhabīḥah” method is followed during slaughter of the animal. Islamic laws say that such slaughter process inflicts least pain to animals, thereby performing slaughter with respect and compassion.
- The process involves swift, deep incision into the neck of the animal with the help of a sharp knife (cutting the jugular vein, wind pipe, and carotid arteries but leaving the spinal cord intact) while reciting the Takbeer (“Allāhu akbar” or “God is the Greatest”). This will allow all the blood to be drained out of the body. Only then the meat can be cut as per requirement.
- The meat has not come into contact with animals that have been slaughtered other than Zabiha method.
- The meat hasn’t come into contact with pork (considered “haram” or forbidden by Islam as it is considered unhealthy, impure, and harmful for human consumption).
Halal certification bodies in India
Halal certification is provided by several halal bodies in India including Halal India Private Limited, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, Halal Certification Services India Private Limited, and many others. These bodies generally provide certifications to restaurants, non-alcoholic beverages, foods, catering services, storage/warehouse services, abattoir, Industrial, packaging & labelling, and others.
Halal bodies in India generally provide halal certifications by auditing certain important aspects:
- The product doesn’t contain any animal part that is prohibited by Shariah.
- The slaughter has been done as per the Shariah.
- The institution seeking halal certification doesn’t contain anything that is considered impure by the Islamic dietary laws.
- The preparation, processing, and manufacturing don’t involve any instrument that is considered impure by Shariah.
- During preparation/processing/storage, the item/institution seeking halal certification hasn’t come in contact with or in close proximity to any food item that is considered impure by Hukum Shariah.
Do Indian restaurants need halal certification?
Halal is a matter of faith for Muslims, especially regarding their habit of taking food. Over 172 million Muslims live in India, which is 14.2% of the total population and the 3rd largest Muslim population in the world. Not every one of them seeks halal certified foods all the time round the year. However, many do. So, it is a matter of choice whether a Muslim seeks halal certified food or not.
What matters to most people is whether the food they are having is hygienic, clean, and tasty. Therefore, it is up to the discretion of an Indian restaurant whether it needs halal certification, based on the extent of demand of halal certified meat or other food items.
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