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The Pitfalls of Halal Certificates

The market for Muslim lifestyle is growing rapidly, but so far there has been no uniform certification for Islam-compliant products. The EU’s internal markets have been unclear for years. In addition to so-called “mosque certificates”, which are only accepted domestically.

Without a recognized halal certificate, the export of food or cosmetics to Islamic countries has become practically impossible. The certification of Halal products will be a central topic at HALAL HANNOVER, which will be held for the first time from March 6 to 8, 2020. 

A few years ago, numerous certifiers from Europe lost their accreditation in the Gulf States, including several well-known German mosques. Inspectors from the responsible ministry in the Emirates found that the controls were too superficial and incompetent. At customs at Dubai Airport, high-quality food with invalid certificate spoiled container-wise. In Germany and Austria only three certifiers are currently accredited, in Switzerland there is no longer one.

An account certification to the high standard of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who also hygiene standards of the EU, now may a “Certification Body” only make if he can last long after a complex process, which two years is accredited. For this purpose, several inspectors from the Gulf are sent from the Golf to an applicant, who randomly check their certificates in the companies on site. The Emirates require qualified specialist staff who have both internationally recognized academic degrees in food chemistry and in Islamic studies.

Accreditation is now associated with high fees. All in all, a certifier can expect costs of around 100,000 euros for a first recognition from Dubai. One of the most valued accreditations (UAE.S.2055 / GSO 2055 / OIC / SMIIC) is then valid for three years. The certifier is then re-examined. The letters and numbers conceal the approval in the seven Emirates, in the six GCC states and in the 56 states of the Organization of Islamic States (OIC).

The IIDC Islamic Information, Documentation and Certification GmbH (iidc.eu) with branches in Austria, Germany, Hungary and France may also certify in Switzerland with the exception of meat products. The certificates have become correspondingly time-consuming and costly for the producers. A halal certificate is also only valid for one year and must then be renewed. Nevertheless, according to Günther Ahmed Rusznak, the CEO of IIDC in Linz, no certifier can put global acceptance at the feet of his customers. IIDC will be represented at HALAL HANNOVER with a booth. Rusznak will also speak in the conference program about the importance and different standards for halal certification.

The halal industry is about much more than the German market. It’s about lucrative business with almost 1.8 billion Muslims. This requires specialist advice and the choice of the right certifier. A medium-sized cheese factory had to recognize this recently, when the certificate it presented was recognized in distant Malaysia, but not in the GCC countries in the Gulf. Dubai, in particular, with the world’s largest food fair, Gulfood, is a popular export location for every producer. From here, high-quality products also reach other Muslim markets, in the EU or as far as China. 

Not even ten percent of the means of production are in the hands of Muslim companies. The Swiss group Nestlé is the world’s largest producer of Islamic food. Many of his factories have been halal certified for years. The individual national representations are responsible for the certifications; the headquarters in Vevey on Lake Geneva merely coordinates the exchange of goods. In contrast, the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the German-speaking countries have only minimal basic knowledge and rely on serious advice.

Conditions and market opportunities are changing faster and faster. Indonesia has withdrawn all accreditations this year. The certifiers have to re-qualify, the IIDC is about to be approved. The government of Turkey is in the process of introducing its own halal certificate, which will affect the many Turkish-German supermarkets. Is it worth getting into the Muslim markets for medium-sized companies? Advice should clarify this and a reputable certifier should also accompany his customers to the relevant trade fairs.

HALAL HANNOVER offers the Halal industry a new platform for business and professional exchange from September 11th to 13th. The first event will be all about halal-compliant food, beverages, cosmetic products and travel. An international conference program and a special gastronomic area round off the event.

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Halal News

Ethereum Blockchain and Ether classified as Halal

Additional rules apply to believing Muslims in financial transactions and those transactions are dictated by Sharia law, the Islamic law. So far, there is no general judgment as to whether cryptocurrencies meet the Sharia requirements. In order to promote the adaptation of the Ethereum platform in the Islamic region, the Ethereum Foundation has had its blockchain examined.

Are Muslims allowed to use the Ethereum platform? Islamic legal scholars from Amanie Advisors, an Islamic financial consultancy that have investigated this question in cooperation with the Ethereum Foundation.

The result should be gratifying for Muslim crypto enthusiasts: the scholars classified both the Ethereum platform and the associated cryptocurrency Ether as “Sharia-compliant”. Amanie Advisors summarized the results of their investigation in a Shariah white paper

Being Sharia compliant means that ether can be lawfully traded and exchanged by the Muslim community. It is permissible for a Muslim to buy, sell or hold Ether to participate in the Ethereum Blockhain and take full advantage of the technology.

The purpose of the investigation was to remove any uncertainties in order to stimulate interest in the Ethereum platform in the Islamic world. The head of the initiative is Virgil Griffith, who is responsible for special projects at Ethereum. He made contact with Amanie Advisors and the legal scholars then set out to highlight the “Sharia parameters” of Ethereum and Ether.

Ether is not considered a currency

In the Shariah White Paper , the authors first discuss the question of whether Ether should be classified as a currency from an Islamic perspective. The scholars deny such an assessment; instead, Ether is designated as a valuable commodity, because they recognize the primary function of Ether as a utility token for the Ethereum platform.

Ether therefore primarily serves as an incentive for miners to confirm transactions and as such, it only has value within a limited ecosystem. In contrast, the use of Ether as a store of value and a universally valid medium of exchange is only of marginal importance from the perspective of the experts.

The scholars then check whether Ether meets the Sharia requirements for goods. The principle applies here: What does not include anything prohibited is allowed. Following this maxim, they come to the conclusion that the exchange of Ether does not include interest nor is there an inevitable uncertainty. After all, trading in Ether could not be compared to gambling thus, from an Islamic perspective, there is no reason why Ether should be considered banned.

The Ethereum blockchain is also sharia-compliant

Amanie Advisors also assessed the other components of the Ethereum ecosystem. They classified both the platform and the mining of Ether as permitted. They also saw no fundamental objections regarding smart contracts and dApps, however, it is important to check the specific content of the contracts and applications from case to case.

Incidentally, Ethereum is not the first Crypto project to undergo a Sharia check. The Stellar cryptocurrency received a Sharia certificate in 2018 .

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Halal Travel – How Muslim travelers change tourism !

Ever heard of Halal Travel?  No population group in the world is growing faster than that of Muslims and now the tourism industry is adapting to the new target group – also in Europe

With its sweet and juicy baklava, dates and dried fruits from the Arabic welcome treatment, the view of the Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz can be embellished in the suite of the “Adlon Kempinski Berlin“.

An Arabic transmitter is quietly playing in the background, the Koran is at hand, the prayer mat too. An arrow shows the right Kiblat to the person praying.

Refreshments are waiting in the minibar, but no alcohol – if you get hungry, you can order food with confidence, there is also halal food here. No population group worldwide is growing faster than that of Muslims and the tourism industry is taking on the new target group with halal-friendly trips.

“Halal” describes according to Islamic law “all things or actions that are permitted, in contrast to haram”, says professor Jamal Malik from the Institute for Religious Studies at the University of Erfurt. This means compliance with Islamic dietary regulations, the waiver of pork and animals that are not properly slaughtered, but can also relate to the entire lifestyle and is “to a certain extent a matter of interpretation” due to various legal schools.

This includes praying to Mecca five times a day, following dress codes such as wearing headscarves, and refraining from alcohol, drugs and extramarital sex.

“Customers no longer want to compromise”

Those who live according to Islamic rules also value halal services when traveling. No matter whether on a business or city trip, a wellness weekend or a beach vacation. Like the “Adlon Kempinski Berlin”, more and more hotels across Germany are trying to reach the target group – also because the so-called “Halal Travel” market is exploding:

According to the “Muslim Millennial Travel Report” (2018), the number of Muslim travelers will be close to 160 million and the numbers are rising.

By 2020, the new jet setters are expected to spend $ 220 billion annually, by 2026 it should be $ 300 billion. The growing interest in halal-friendly travel is also due to the rapidly growing group of young and affluent Muslims.

By 2030, almost 30 percent of the world’s population will be Muslims between the ages of 15 and 29. While globetrotters with an interest in halal offers have so far mostly come from rich oil countries such as Saudi Arabia, demand is now increasing in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where the middle class is growing. “But the second and third generation of Muslims in Europe also want to make nice trips,” says Malik.

“With the new purchasing power, customers have become more demanding and don’t want to compromise anymore,” says Ufuk Seçgin from the booking portal halalbooking.com.
Seçgin, who was born in Hamburg with Turkish roots and has lived in London for 16 years, knows the dilemma himself. “When I travel, I’d like to go to a chic star restaurant, and I don’t always fancy Turkish cuisine. “In the meantime, many British restaurateurs in London have prepared themselves for Muslim guests from home and abroad, while hip bars are expanding their cocktail menu with non-alcoholic alternatives and leisure organizers such as “Muslim History Tours” offer sightseeing trips with a focus on British Muslim history. For many cities, tourism associations, tour operators or hoteliers there is a lucrative potential.
Prayer rugs in the room and corresponding culinary offers are just the beginning and for many people, halal travel begins with the arrival of the appropriate food on the plane or even prayer rooms on board and at airports, continues with leisure activities and ends with the quiet place.
“It is common in the Muslim world to clean yourself with water after going to the toilet,” says Seçgin. “Anyone who adapts to this as a hotelier with special sanitary facilities really serves a great demand.”
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Halal News

Religiously correct cosmetics : Everything Halal

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  • Large cosmetic companies have been using halal labeling for some time. A billion-dollar business beckons worldwide.
  • Halal identifies care products and perfumes that, for example, contain neither pork fat nor alcohol.

The trend comes from Southeast Asia: Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world with around 260 million inhabitants, passed a law requiring all products to have a halal label since last year. Perfumes with alcohol or lipsticks with pork fat fail – instead, manufacturers have to do without animal products and alcohols.

Cosmetics giant L’Oréal and the German chemical company BASF pay attention, the market finally grows – after all, according to several studies, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.

L’Oréal has long had hundreds of its products certified as halal and the French company also check production for religious admissibility.

A few years ago, halal cosmetics was a niche market for some small businesses in Muslim countries but that has changed in the meantime, as can also be seen at the Festi Ramazan, the huge Ramadan festival currently in Dortmund: the word “halal” is often found on a tour of the 22,000 square meter festival site.

The global market already reached a volume of 18 billion euros in 2014 and according to the British market research company Tech Navio, this could double again by 2020 and account for six percent of the global business with beauty products.

No waiving of Plastic – so far

French perfume manufacturers have also discovered Dadestal for themselves: tons of roses are exported to Grasse in France, the “world capital of perfumery”, where they are used to make perfume. “There is so much on the market that can be done even better, even fairer – for everyone involved,” says Fritz confidently.

Halal is a very exciting business, explains Julia Fritz and it is an ethical task.

For example, it is not enough for them to do without animal products or alcohol. “Halal has to be good for everyone, for the producer, the retailer, the consumer. It has to be fair and transparent for everyone.” Many Muslims are too concerned with prohibitions and commands and lose sight of the essentials, she says. “The basic idea of ​​every Muslim should actually be that we should take care of this earth,” says Fritz, who converted to Islam at the age of 22.

So far, al-balsam has not been without plastic. Not yet. The market would be there, as you can see at the Dortmund Religious Festival. The festival is a large consumer fair, in which German automobile clubs or, for example, electricity retailers also take part. Visitors can buy bed linen and real estate here as well as stay in two tent mosques to pray.

Next door tens of thousands visit the international tattoo fair at the same time, many are tattooed from top to bottom – but some of them end up at the Festi Ramazan. Because of the culinary specialties that they like to emphasize and, of course, they are all halal, of course.

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