America’s Costly Halal Food

by Muhammad Qasim

WASHINGTON — Though they concern themselves with eating halal food,
American Muslims are finding it difficult to get affordable foodstuff
to cater to their needs with the skyrocketing prices of
Shari`ah-compliant items.

concept of halal food is costly,” Tariq Javid, a manager at a local
restaurant in Virginia, told while shopping at a halal
grocery store.

“If someone is selling halal food cheap, I will think, it’s not halal.”

should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from
their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be

Like fellow Muslims nationwide, finding low-priced
halal food items costs Nafees Syed, a 27-year-old mother, a lot of time
and effort.

“I am buying stuff other than meat and chicken from
American stores like Giant, Shoppers etc., comparatively cheap, but I
must buy meat and chicken from halal store,” she said while shopping at
the grocery store.

According to a survey by the New York¬-based
advertising agency J. Walter Thompson on Muslim shopping trends, 44
percent of Muslim-Americans feel that halal food products available do
not meet their needs.

Syed Sultan Ahmad, a Pakistani who worked
as butcher for the past nine years, has an explanation for the
costliness of the halal meat.

He says that special arrangements are needed to slaughter the animals according to Shari`ah.

“Special and trained and Muslim work force for this purpose is also costly and limited.”

says that stores also raise the prices to make up for the cost of
ordering food from distant places, sometimes in other states.

“We are ordering our halal meat and chicken from Noor Halal Slaughter House in Pennsylvania,” he noted.

A Must

But no matter how difficult it is to get affordable halal food, Muslims insist that it is worth the trouble.

“Being a Muslim mother this is my duty to feed my kids with halal food,” says Mrs. Nafees.

“It is not possible for Muslim to follow Islam having haram (unlawful) food in their stomach.”

Nawaz, a butcher in the same halal grocery store where the Muslim
mother was shopping, asserts that her stance matches that of many
customers who come to the store.

“For American-Muslims it is a must to buy halal food, otherwise they object.”

Sales of halal food are maintaining a slow but steady increase nationwide.

to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), 90
percent of America’s estimated seven million Muslims would want to
purchase only meat that has been slaughtered by a Halal-certified
butcher if it were widely available.

The Chicago-based research
firm Mintel International Group estimates that approximately 5 percent
of those who limit foods for religious reasons only eat foods that are

Javid, the Virginia restaurant manager, says that while
American Muslims want to eat halal food, there must be ways to help
them get it at affordable prices.

“There should be a price
check, there should be no expire products in the stores and if some are
violating the rules, there should be strict actions against them.”

being an observant Muslim, Javid also agrees that till these problems
are solved, he has no other option but to hunt for affordable halal
food products.

“We must buy it, no matter how much costly it is.”