Move over organic – the new big business in food is halal

The Haloodies, a growing group of food lovers who are bored of curries, fed up with kebabs, and long for nothing more exotic than a shepherd’s pie. Their increasing spending power has sparked a race among retailers, wholesalers and canny restaurateurs to carve out a chunk of a market that is worth about £420bn globally.

 

This week an estimated 20,000 Haloodies will congregate in east London at the Halal Food Festival, the world’s first gastronomic celebration of halal produce. All of the UK’s major supermarket chains are sending scouts to help them find ways to exploit the trend. Attendees can browse food stalls offering anything from hot dogs and sushi to French and Moroccan dishes without worrying how the meat was killed or even transported.

 

Imran Kausar, a doctor by training, who masterminded the festival, said British Muslims were no longer “economic migrants trying to make do [but] affluent and aspirational members of the middle class [who wanted to] expand their culinary horizon.” He added: “While typical British dishes have got more exotic, Muslims want the reverse. We want regular stuff like shepherd’s pie, which we see everywhere but we can’t try.”

 

Contrary to stereotypes, not all those planning to go will be Muslim by faith: there is a small but expanding group of people who opt for halal much as they might choose free-range or organic meat. Around 4 per cent of the UK’s population is Muslim, yet halal produce comprises more than 15 per cent of all meat sold in the UK, according to Saqib Mohammed, the chief executive of the Halal Food Authority, one of the two main organisations that regulate Britain’s halal food industry. “Some is exported but the rest is being consumed by non-Muslims,” he said, adding: “Educated non-Muslims are convinced that halal meat is more hygienic.”

 

Restaurant chains are changing their menus to use only halal chicken. Although halal is most often used in connection with meat, the word simply means “lawful” and refers to any object, not just food, or action or behaviour that is deemed permissible under Islamic law. For meat to be considered halal the animal must be alive and healthy before it is killed, crucially with a single cut across the jugular. All the blood must be drained from the body and the slaughterer must recite a special Islamic prayer as the animal is killed.

 

The point that arouses controversy is whether the animal has been stunned first: stunning livestock is compulsory throughout the EU but most member states, including the UK, grant exemptions to Muslims and Jews. That said, Food Standards Agency data published last year shows that 84 per cent of all cattle and calves slaughtered by the halal method in the UK in 2011 were stunned first.

Teaching union furious as Islamic free school staff are told they must wear hijab even if they are not Muslim

Teaching unions have reacted with anger after staff at an Islamic free school were told they had to wear the hijab even if they were not Muslim. It was also claimed that teachers were dismayed that girls at the Al-Madinah School in Derby are required to sit at the back of the class raising fears over possible discrimination. Staff were reportedly spotted removing their headscarves as they left the premises at lunch time and claim they have been instructed not to wear jewellery or bring non-halal food with them to work.

 

The school, which is currently under investigation by the Department for Education over alleged financial irregularities, caters for 200 students aged between four and 16.

 

There are worries over practices concerning the discrimination between male and female pupils in the school, with the girls being told to sit at the back of the class regardless of whether they can see the board properly.

 

When it was founded last year it was claimed that half of students would be non-Muslim at the fully-subscribed school. Al-Madinah describes itself as having a “strong Muslim ethos” which it said would “give the school its uniqueness integrated with shorter holidays and longer school days to maximise opportunities for pupil achievement and success.”

 

No one at the school responded to requests to comment on the claims.

 

A Muslim Caregiver Fired Because of Her Veil

September 18, 2013

 

“Lose the veil or you are fired.” This was part of an incident reported by Tatiana Rotar, a 26 year old Ukrainian domestic worker, who was accompanied by her partner, Ashraf Gouda, an Egyptian, and owner of a food Import & Export, and resident of Malnate where he served as an Sos volunteer.

“It happened about ten days ago” says Tatiana “For two years I was working as a maid and nanny for a wealthy family of Varese. At one point my employer called me and told me that I was fired. The reason? I put the veil on to cover my head after I converted to Islam.”

From the Orthodox Christian religion to Islam: Tatiana says: “Until a month ago there were never any problems. They had never complained. Today they accuse my partner, and indicate that he has forced me to wear the veil. It this not this racism?”

The couple turned to a union to report the incident. The union has agreed to take the case. Marco Molinari the representative from the trade union CISL (the largest confederation of trade unions) said “We have picked up the case and we have already informed our legal department. Before proceeding with the dispute, that is submit for an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal, we will have to wait until she is handed a letter of dismissal. Only then can we start the legal process.”

Nashville rabbi offers Murfreesboro mosque trip on Yom Kippur

The rabbi of Nashville’s largest and longest-practicing synagogue used the most holy night of the Jewish year to invite his congregation on an unusual trip.

Going to the beleaguered mosque in Murfreesboro, he told them Friday, is part of Yom Kippur’s call to introspection.

“It’s the day that we look into our most honest selves and we have to wrestle with ourselves — not just to do what is the easy or comfortabl thing — but that which is courageous and filled with strength of conscience,” said Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple-Congregation Ohabai Sholom.

The congregation will load up on buses Oct. 27 and travel to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro for food and conversation, Schiftan said Saturday. While Jews and Muslims are often in conflict overseas, they’re both religious minorities in the U.S. The meeting gives both congregations the opportunity to ask questions and affirm their appreciation of the First Amendment right to practice their religions.

While Muslims have been meeting in Murfreesboro for decades, their newly opened mosque faced a number of tribulations, from burning of equipment on the construction site to a legal effort to prevent the building’s use.

Philadelphia mosque to open food pantry

The Zubaida Foundation will host the grand opening of its food pantry Saturday in Lower Makefield, organizers said.

“The pantry aims to serve the working poor and others who may be homeless,” said Lee Phillips, a spokeswoman for the mosque. “This is part of the mission of Zubaida Foundation to create opportunities for its membership to do hasanaat (good deeds) for the community.”

 

The foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2005.

Its purpose is to improve the community’s spiritual, moral and social health, Phillips said.

The mosque achieves its goals through congregational prayers, educational programs, social activities and interfaith dialogues and peace efforts with all faiths “in conformity with the teachings of Islam,” she said.

 

No Food for Muslims in the Parliament Building: Rep Chaouki thinks this should Change

August 8, 2013

“I have asked my party to bring up this issue tomorrow (today, ed.) and to attend the ceremony for the end of Ramadan.” The deputy Khalid Chaouki, elected by the Pd, is a practicing Muslim, and this month has followed the fasting of Ramadan; he now asks his colleagues to join in the celebration. What’s more, he also proposes that the refreshment stalls have halal meat.

He will tell you the problems faced by Italians are part of his campaign…
“I know that what I say may seem like a provocation, but my intent is to open a debate on the perspective of our multi-religious society and this includes our Parliament.”

How was the month of Ramadan?
“Difficult for the pace of work that we have had. I was also excluded from the conviviality of my colleagues who celebrated here with refreshments. Here you risk getting served croquettes that should be vegetarian and instead contain ham…”

Yeah, because he does not eat pork …
“I think it will be important to open a discussion on how public places and institutions should ensure the opportunity for all to have food that fits into the laws of their respective religion.”

Then would he like meat to be butchered according to Islamic rites?
“I think it is a duty to guarantee all citizens the right to eat. Here for example we have a chaplain but I would like to speak an imam.”

 Are you not afraid to start a controversy?
“We need to make changes to institutions in our society. Although there are many misconceptions about Islam: similar to the Catholic representatives who cast their votes according to their constituency, there are also Muslims who are secular legislators.”

Serving samosas to forge friendships: ‘The Big Iftar’ aims to help non-Muslims learn about Islam

A group of Muslims is hoping food can offer a path to racial harmony with “The Big Iftar”, a UK-wide initiative in which mosques around the country are opening to allow non-Muslims to join Muslims for a meal to learn about Islam. The Iftar is the meal served after sundown during Ramadan, the holy month we are currently midway through, when Muslims are required to fast between sunrise and sunset.

 

“It comes when myth-busting is more important than ever,” said Baroness Warsi, Minister for Faith and Communities. “Research earlier this year showed that less than a quarter of people thought Muslims were compatible with the British way of life.”

 

Following the murder of Lee Rigby in May, Muslims have come under attack from anti-Islam groups. “It’s about getting the message out that there is a nicer side to Islam,” said Altaf Choudry, 33. “A lot of people have been tainted with the wrong brush.”

 

Mark Buckley, 40, a Christian, welcomed the opportunity to engage with another faith. He said: “Just as Christians need to get out of their church walls, Muslims have to get out of the mosque walls and engage with people in the real world.”

Muslims in the German Armed Forces: Observing Ramadan in Uniform

There are around 1,000 Muslims among Germany’s 250,000 soldiers. During Ramadan, they have the extra pressure of finding a compromise between their job and their daily religious fast. Ulrike Hummel reports

Chaouki Aakil is a sergeant in a logistics battalion. He also carries the responsibility for the soldiers during transport operations. A loss of concentration in a risky situation would be unforgivable, the 30-year-old says.

But that is a real threat during Ramadan, which this year began on July 9, and which requires practicing Muslims to fast between sunrise and sunset. If Ramadan comes during the summer – as it does this year – doing without food and water can be a real problem.

Ramadan fasting dilemma when sun never sets

 

Practising Muslims across the world are observing Ramadan. For one month, they are fasting between first light and sunset. But what do Muslims do in a town where the sun never really goes down? The town of Rovaniemi in Finland lies in a land of extremes. At 66 degrees north it straddles the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland. During midwinter it is cloaked in total darkness. But in the summer it is bathed in daylight. The long days pose a particular problem for fasting Muslims like Shah Jalal Miah Masud. The 28-year-old moved to Rovaniemi – 830km (515 mile) north of the capital, Helsinki – from Bangladesh five years ago to study IT. He has not had any food or water for 21 hours. Masud says it is difficult to fast according to Finnish time and admits he is tired. But despite the hunger and fatigue, he says it is a pleasure to observe Ramadan during the long Finnish days.

 

There is another option which reduces the number of fasting hours – mark its duration by the rising and setting of the sun in countries far to the south of Finland. Dr Abdul Mannan – a local Imam and president of the Islam Society of Northern Finland – says there are two schools of thought. “The Egyptian scholars say that if the days are long – more than 18 hours – then you can follow the Mecca time or Medina time, or the nearest Muslim country time,” says Dr Mannan. “The other (point of view) from the Saudi scholars says whatever the day is – long or short – you have to follow the local time.” Dr Mannan says the majority of Muslims in northern Finland observe either Mecca’s fasting hours or Turkish time because it is the nearest Muslim country to Finland.

 

Nafisa Yeasmin recalls her first Ramadan in Rovaniemi when she decided to fast according to Finnish daylight hours, going without food for up to 20 hours a day. “It was very difficult to follow because in Bangladesh we are used to 12 hours’ daytime and 12 hours’ night-time,” she says. “Then I thought, not any more. I have to follow Mecca’s timetable. But I’m a little bit worried whether Allah will accept it or not.”

Teaching Ramadan – news and resources round up

It’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and that means the start of Ramadan – this year in July for the first time since 1980 – and most of the UK’s three million Muslims, including older children, will be fasting from dawn to sundown and focusing on being better Muslims and people. Ramadan is a great opportunity to find out more about Islam in RE lessons and beyond and also a chance for everyone to practice a little introspection. Fasting is a powerful way to empathise with those in need and give thanks for our food, and some non-Muslim students may like to practice their own controlled fasts during the Ramadan period in support of their Muslim friends. The following news stories, multimedia, teaching resources and recommended websites will help students understand the meaning behind Ramadan and how this important festival works.