The emerging halal market in the USA
Halal is a word with many meanings and connotations depending on how it is used. Halal in the Arabic language simply means permissible but to Muslims it has far reaching meanings of legitimacy, purity, and adherence to precepts of faith. To the Islamophobic crowd, it is a scary word that triggers Sharia phobia and the fear that “The Muslims are coming”.
The emerging halal market in the USA
Halal encompasses many aspects of a Muslim life from personal conduct, from finance and to the most obvious, food. I will strict this article to food, and ingredient that impact every single Muslim.
The seventies and eighties saw large immigration of Muslims to the United States. They sought education or a better life with many choosing to remain. The African American Muslims, indigenous and increasing in numbers, were on the rise with affluence and influence. With increasing numbers came an increasing awareness of Muslims needs that were not being met. Muslim activists began to stablish mosques, schools, and civic organizations to address spiritual and educational needs. Muslim community activists as well entrepreneurs began to look for ways to meet the basic needs of halal foods and personal products. These efforts gave rise to many Muslims establishing restaurants, halal slaughterhouses, and products meeting the halal requirements.
These efforts, till today, have not met the Muslim community’ needs for halal products and services.
As a Muslim shopper going to a supermarket, I am lucky to find an item or two with the halal label and if labeled, I am not certain that it is truly halal.
Many states (11) have enacted halal acts to assure that products being sold as halal are truly halal. The problem is that the States did not set any agreed upon halal standard and do not demand that those products and services labeled as are certified by legitimate halal certifying agencies.
Luckily, dozens of certifying agencies are currently operating in the domestic market to certify products that would provide the Muslim consumer with the confidence that the product is truly halal.
Given the increasing number of American Muslims and the increasing perception amongst non- that halal products meet higher standards than that of governmental agencies, the halal market is poised for exponential growth. American companies entering this market can also benefit by marketing their products and services internationally to over 1.8 billion Muslims.
Muslim countries are primarily a consumer markets with needs that can only be met by importing those products. The halal market is easily many trillions and increasing rapidly with improved living conditions and growing economies.
The American Muslim community , affluent and devout , has been yearning for easy availability of halal products and services and that is precisely the reason that NAIT, the North American Islamic Trust , has established the American Halal Institute ( https://americanhalalinstitute.com) to promote halal products and services. This will be achieved by promoting and advocating halal products while setting up a mechanism that will assure that halal labeled products meet the halal requirements.
NAIT is not a newcomer to the halal products and services. In fact, NAIT was the first to establish American Trust Publication to write Islamic books in English when it was nearly impossible to get such a book. We also established the distribution channel through the Islamic book service to assure easy access.
To address the need for halal investing, NAIT was the first to establish (1986) a halal sharia compliant mutual fund. The Amana fund grew to billions of dollars. With increasing demand for halal alternatives, NAIT established the IMAN mutual fund in 2000.
NAIT has a history of addressing the needs of the Muslim community, not just by protecting the properties of Islamic organizations, but any need that will allow Muslims to live withing the bounds of their faith.
American Muslims should seek halal alternatives and demand it from those who are catering to their needs. Parents should ask their schools about halal food for their children, airline travelers should demand halal meals, shoppers should ask their markets to provide halal products. University students, prison inmates, military personnel deserve to have access to halal food and should demand it. Our demands should not be limited to meat, chicken, and food. Our demands should extend to pharmaceuticals, vitamins, cosmetics, clothing and otherwise.
Only then, will we see halal products and services become prevalent. We at AHI will be hard at work trying to make this happen. But this will not come about unless Muslims play proactive role by soliciting and demanding halal products and services.