"Are you willing to stand before Allah (SWT) on the day you are judged and carry the sin that you have sent a Muslim Brother to eat Haram food?".....
This was a question asked of me by a Brother recently and it focused on whether it was appropriate for me to be a part of a team that provided a Directory of Halal Food Services like restaurants and Meat Providers to Australian Muslims and Muslim Tourists to our shores.
The answer is easy for me...
"Yes, I am more than happy to stand before Allah (SWT) on that day and be judged because I believe it to be a greater sin that I could not bare to stand before Allah (SWT)...to let a Brother or Sister eat Haram food and NOT do something about it"...
Creating the right place for you to find Halal Products is easier when you are committed to ensuring the right information is made available for the right reason.
To our team it is more important that as a Australian Muslim's to ensure that Halal Food information is provided openly and accurately as possible to support our Brother's and Sister's because the other option of having a service like our own managed by a "non Muslim" or an "overseas company" and commercialised is a risk I did not want to watch unfold before me. There are examples around online of how this can be used in a way to undermine the beauty of Islam and who we are as people in the Australian Culture.
We are committed to working towards being active at promoting the values of Islam in a Positive way inshaAllah.
Over the past six months our team have been active in approaching and working with a range of wonderful Restaurants and Cafes across Australia. A key feature that we always worked towards was ensuring that Halal Certification and Halal Suitable were easily identified in the Australian Consumer Marketplace and to enhance the knowledge of those around us with the difference between these and Haram.
As we became more engaged in talking with consumers, owners and local authorities the question was asked with regards to the Halal Certification process for the suppliers. Naturally this left us scratching our head. After all if we need to find a quality place to buy our Halal Meat locally then surely other brother's and sister's around us face the same problem? We have all experienced "Google" for a list of Halal Butcher's or even turned to Facebook to ask the question "Where is a good Halal Butcher" then dealing with the flood of suggestions. So if that is what we have to endure then surely others do as well. It indicated a need to provide a reliable source of Halal Meat Providers within Australia.
Some discussions with a number of the Halal Authorities had us worried about what we were stepping into. Often the concerns of Halal Certification came down to the same sort of issues:
1. Integrity of the Meat Provider. It can come down to the math of the business. In a simple manner if 100 Kg of Halal Meat is produced but 200 Kg of Halal Meat is sold then it is of concern. A big part of Halal Certification focuses on the requirement that the Business opens their "books" to the Halal Auditor for assessment. If there is a "concern" then often the Certification Process stops or is revoked. Some owners when dealing with this may take issue to the need to be audited in this way finding it to be intrusive to the Business or taking offence to the scrutiny involved.
2. Integrity of the Meat. Many Meat shopfronts are sourcing their supplies from local Abattoirs or Slaughterhouses. With the Abattoir or Slaughterhouse providing copies or access to their own Halal Certificates by default granting "Halal Status" to the Shopfront. A complication to this happens where the shopfront may sell Pork based or other Haram Products though it markets itself to be "Halal" because it purchases its meats from a Halal Certified Abattoir or Slaughterhouse.
3. Integrity of the Process. What we are talking about here is of opinion with regards to the method of the Halal processing of the meat. Whether the Meat was treated "Halal Mechanically" or "Halal Hand Slaughtered". Though it can extend beyond this to also take into account the treatment of the animals in preparation for the Halal Process. Some key aspects to the requirement of achieving Halal Status include use (or not) of stunners and whether the animal is able to be revived before the Halal Cut is applied if needed.
4. Integrity of Staff. A key aspect to the Halal process is the reliance on suitable Muslim staff that will be involved. So for some Halal Authorities they will spend time to assess the suitability, training, character and properly licensed status of slaughter men etc.
This is just a small portion of the considerations that Halal Authorities must work through before endorsing the Halal Status of the final Product. It can be detailed and it can be thorough but it is needed to ensure that the integrity of the Halal Status is maintained through the complete process to the consumer. The approach for each Halal Authority is different and the process of Auditing and eventually Certification varies from each to the other. While some Authorities focus on Halal Certification for export purposes others will remain focused on Halal Certification for Manufacture, Pharmaceutical, Consumer or Restaurant purposes.
The team at Halal Food are thankful for the services that these Halal Authorities in Australia give towards making a difference in our day to day lives living in Australia. You can access a list of some Halal Authorities in Australia here. Having access to a great range of Halal Products at our supermarket stores or the local shops is greatly fortunate for us indeed... when we sit down with our families or friends to enjoy a meal that is carefully prepared and best of all totally Halal.
So when we put things into the right context with what we wanted to do and how we wanted to achieve it. We felt it was important to set some clear guidelines in place.
1. The Team at Halal Food do not issue Halal Certificates in any form.
2. The Team at Halal Food are not an Authority in Halal Certification.
3. The Team at Halal Food do not question the Halal Authority issuing the Certification
4. The Team at Halal Food do not question the Halal Certificate being issued
5. The Team at Halal Food do not question the process of Certification by Authorities
6. The Team at Halal Food do not question/challenge the Authority or Knowledge or Experiences of the staff of Halal Authorities.
7. We respect the Opinions and Rights of people to make a choice
Simply put... if a Restaurant, Cafe, Butcher or Shopfront tells us that they have Halal Certification. We verify the Halal Certificate. We accept that the Halal Authority has done its job when issuing the Certificate. We do not challenge it in anyway. We will note who the Halal Authority is, who the Halal Certificate was issued to, the date it was issued and the expiry date. Where possible we take a photo of the certificate for our records to include in the listing for the Venue and if a question is raised we contact the issuing Authority (for example the Certificate has expired or not been renewed).
Our aim in doing this is to provide access to information for our Brother's and Sister's in Australia to have the means to easily identify a suitable Provider that is Halal. We do not endorse a Meat Provider as Halal but we do encourage our Brother's and Sister's to always be vigilant. Once you have chosen a provider or restaurant do be sure to inform yourself.
So when we stepped into creating a Directory for Halal Meat Providers the intention is right. The guidelines we follow are as follows:
1. The Shop must be Halal Certified (and current) or
2. The Supplier must be Halal Certified (and current)
3. The Halal Certificate on products must be clearly labelled and showing on the packs
4. The Halal Certificate in the store must be easily recognised or sited if requested
5. Any Haram Products (pork) must be clearly separated away from Halal Products
Here my Brother's and Sister's you now have a little insight into how the Team at Halal Food are moving forward.
We invite you to give feedback and to visit our exciting Halal Meat Feature, InshaAllah, it will be an informational feature to help us to find a suitable place to buy our Halal Meats.