All halal foods (those permitted under Islamic dietary guidelines) will now be regulated by a new overarching body, the UK Halal Commission.
Launched on Saturday, 2nd June 2012 at a special gathering of imams, scholars and health and food industry associations, the UK Halal Commission will act as the UK’s premier halal organisation, defending the halal industry from recent attacks and lobbying media and government.
At the Muslim Council (MCB)-sponsored event at Birmingham Central Mosque, the meeting signed a historic communiqué, the ‘Birmingham Declaration’.
The Declaration underlined concern at attempts by pressure groups to change the law, potentially removing the exemption which allows religious communities such as Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals without stunning. The Declaration affirmed the Muslim community’s resolve to resist these attempts and to campaign against them.
The document went on to declare that criticism of religious slaughter – that it causes more pain – is false. It said that no other method of slaughter was more humane than halal, provided proper standards were maintained.
In addition to vigorously campaigning against any change to the current definition of religious slaughter, the new Commission will develop an ‘assurance scheme’ to ensure strict adherence to animal welfare and other halal standards. It will also address wider issues relating to training, education, food ingredients, and pharmaceuticals.
The meeting was addressed by Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Dr Mohammed Naseem, Chairman Birmingham Central Mosque, Dr Ahmad Makhdoom, Director World Muslim League, Dr Majid Katme, Islamic Medical Association, Haji Akram, Association of Non-stun Abattoirs, Mawlana Yunus Dudhwala, Halal Monitoring Committee, Rafiq Sehgal, Bradford Council for Mosques, Mawlana Israr Hussain Kazmi, Hussainia Mosque, Birmingham and representatives of other organisations.
Speakers at the Commission launch discussed creating an extensive awareness campaign, starting with the Muslim community itself: the Friday mosque sermon (Khutba) will be used to encourage demand by Muslim consumers for ‘un-stunned’ chicken and meat.
Deputy Secretary General Dr Shuja Shafi said: “Consumers of halal food need to be confident that their food is prepared to high standards of safety, animal welfare and environmental protection. Schemes such as Red Tractor Assurance, intended to maintain, develop and promote standards throughout the whole food industry do not permit ‘halal’ food operators to participate in the scheme on grounds that the meat is slaughtered by the (permissible and legal) religious method. This is despite the assertion in their promotional material ‘whatever your business, find out what Red Tractor can do for you’. The UK Halal Commission will work to develop a credible Assurance Scheme for halal food and in other sectors.”
The UK Halal Commission will now invite representatives from all segments of the British Muslim community to put forward representations to the body. Convenor of the Birmingham meeting, the MCB’s deputy secretary general Dr. Shuja Shafi, will act as interim chairman to help put in place a proper governance structure.”
The Birmingham Declaration was agreed and signed by:
• Mr Farooq Murad, Secretary General, Muslim Council (MCB)
• Dr Mohammed Naseem, Chairman, Birmingham Central Mosque
• Mawlana Qari Muhammad Ismail Rashid, Jamiat-e-ulama Britain
• Dr Ahmad Makhdoom, Director, World Muslim League, London
• Haji Akram, Association of Non-stun Abattoirs (ANSA)
• Mr Rafiq Sehgal, Bradford Council for Mosques
• Mufti Mohammed Osman, Dar Al Basira, Bradford
• Dr Abdul Majid Katme, Islamic Medical Association
• Mawlana Abdur Rahman Madani, Dawatul Islam UK & Eire
• Mawlana Israr Hussain Kazmi, Husainia Mosque, Birmingham,
• Dr Adel Sabir, European Halal Development Agency
• Mawlana Yunus Dudhwala, Halal Monitoring Committee
• Mawlana Saeedur Rahman, UK Islamic Mission
• Sheikh Khurram Bashir, Sharia Council
• Mawlana Talha Bukhari, Fiqh Council Birmingham
• Dr Yunes Teinaz, Independent Chartered Environment Health Practitioner
• Mowlana Ehsan Mir,
• Mr Yousuf Pandor, Halal Supply Solutions
• Mrs Rukhsana Shain, Be Halal
• Mr Ahsan Shah, United Muslims Alliance, UK
• Mr Khalil ur Rahman, Masjid-e-Hamza, Birmingham
• Mr Shoeb Riaz, The Halal Society London
• Ms Sabah Mallem, Community Worker, Brmingham
• Yemeni Community
• Paigham-e-Islam Trust
• Mr Mohammed Salem, ANSA
• Mr Choudhury Mueenuddin
• Dr Shuja Shafi