About Us
Back Issues
Forthcoming Issues
Print Edition
Contact Us
IOS Minaret Vol-1, No.1 (March 2007)
Vol. 7    Issue 09   16-30 September 2012

Professor A. R. Momin

Increasing Global Visibility of Halal Products and Services

The demand for halal products among Muslims around the world is steadily and rapidly increasing. Halal products include a wide range of products and services, including meat, pastry, cosmetics, toothpaste, washing powder as well as a broad range of financial services. The easy availability of halal food products in most cities, the entry of global food companies in the halal food business, global tourism and international halal food festivals in Malaysia and Dubai have made halal food a conspicuous feature of Muslim culture in large parts of the world. According to the Malaysia-based World Halal Forum, halal food accounts for nearly 17 per cent of the global food market and is one of the fastest-growing segments of the food market. The current global market for halal food is estimated at over $600 billion annually. Sales of halal food reached $641 billion in 2010, up from $587 billion in 2004. In Europe, sales of halal food products reached $67 billion in 2010. About three million tonnes of halal meat are consumed annually in Europe.

The global halal market is estimated to be worth $2 trillion per year. International companies are cognizant of the fact that the global Muslim population today stands at 1.8 billion and that it is estimated to reach about 30 per cent of the world’s population by 2025. There are enormous prospects at present and in the coming years for investments into halal products and services. The growing worldwide demand for halal food has prompted global food giants like McDonald’s as well as supermarket chains in Europe and North America to enter the halal food segment. The British supermarket chains Tesco and Sainsbury’s have separate shelves for halal food products. British pharmacy retailer Boots sells halal baby food. Nestle earns more from halal products than it does from organic food. Rotterdam Port, one of the world’s largest ports, has built a huge warehouse of halal products and is set to become “the halal gateway to Europe”.

One of the sectors in which the demand for halal products and services is rapidly increasing is the hospitality industry. A recent study conducted by Dinar Standard, a US-based consultancy that tracks the Muslim lifestyle market, found that educated, well-heeled Muslims spent about €102 billion during their travels in 2011. This figure is expected to reach €156 by 2020.

A growing number of educated, well-to-do Muslim families now look out for a Muslim-friendly holiday package, including a hotel with alcohol-free dining areas, prayer rooms, halal food and private or segregated swimming pools. A seaside resort in the town of Port Dickson offers a Muslim-friendly holiday atmosphere. The luxury villas in the hotel complex have an arrow on the ceiling indicating the direction of the qibla. It serves only halal food, and alcohol is strictly forbidden. There are prayer rooms and one can ask for a copy of the Quran together with translations in English and French. The resort also offers special Ramadan packages.

(With inputs from www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19295861)

Women’s Museum in UAE

Gender roles in many Arab countries are undergoing a subtle but highly significant process of transformation. Quite a few Arab women now occupy prominent positions in public life and have successfully made a breach in the citadels of male dominance. Queen Rania, the wife of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, is a high-profile, widely travelled lady who is actively involved in a number of projects relating to children’s education and health, community empowerment and human development. She is the chairperson of an interactive children’s museum in Amman.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah appointed Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez, a US-educated former teacher, as deputy education minister in 2009. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, a globe-trotting minister of foreign trade in the UAE, has belied the widely held perception in the Arab world that a woman’s best place is in the home. Mayassa Al Thani is a powerful and influential art connoisseur and patron in Qatar. Saudi Arabia’s Manal Al-Sharif defied the ban on women’s driving by not only driving through the streets but also by putting a video on it on YouTube.

Rafia Obaid Ghubash, a prominent academic, psychiatrist and former president of the Arabian Gulf University, has taken an innovative initiative to establish a museum exclusively devoted to the role and accomplishments of women in the United Arab Emirates. The purpose of the museum, as envisioned by Dr Ghubash, is to highlight and showcase the multiple roles, contributions, power and accomplishments of women in the Emirates and to forge a link between the present Emirati society, which is being transformed by the powerful currents of modernity and globalization, and the country’s cherished traditions. It is extremely difficult if not impossible to translate one’s dreams into reality without an enabling, supportive social environment. The position of women in the Emirates has improved considerably over the past few decades, thanks largely to the far-sighted initiatives taken by the former president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayeed of Abu Dhabi. Now women in the Emirates are successfully competing with men in education and in communitarian activities. In fact female graduates in the UAE outnumber males by a ratio of two to one.

The museum, established in July 2012 and located in Deira, Dubai’s old but still popular shopping centre, showcases a wide range of objects and artifacts, including traditional jewellery, paintings and art works, mosaics, household tools and literature. The exhibits highlight the multiple roles of women in the Emirates, both in the past and at present, including those of homemaker, educator, peacemaker and business partner. Dr Ghubash has raised around $4 million from personal sources and is now on the lookout for sponsors to support the museum’s projects and exhibitions.

The inspiration to establish the museum has come mainly from Dr Ghubash’s mother, who instilled in her a deep-seated consciousness for women’s rights and a sense of personal identity. She once told her, “You have to learn that your rights are born with you. Don’t think the government or a man or your husband will give you a right. It’s inside you, just practice it.” (With inputs from The Economist, July 30, 2012)

Qatar: Discontents of Affluence

Qatar, once one of the poorest Gulf states, is now one of the richest countries in the world, thanks to its vast oil and natural gas reserves and the construction boom. It possesses more than 15 per cent of the world’s gas reserves. In 2012 Qatar’s economy grew by 19%, the fastest in the world, thanks to the production and exports of liquefied petroleum gas and petrochemicals. Since 1995 Qatar’s per capita GDP has more than doubled every five years. It now tops the list of the world’s richest countries and has the world’s highest GDP per capita (at US$100,000 a year). The country imports goods worth $ 23.3 billion, one-sixth of its purchasing power.

Prosperity often brings in its trail a whole lot of adverse consequences, including the culture of consumerism, sedentary lifestyle, indulgence and changes in dietary habits. Most of the food in the country is imported. Fast food outlets have mushroomed across the country and hamburgers, pizzas and colas are becoming increasingly popular with young boys and girls and even children. A sedentary lifestyle and excessive intake of junk food have begun to take their toll on health. It is estimated that the average food intake during the month of Ramadan – at the time of the pre-dawn meal and of breaking the fast – doubles in Qatar. This year, on the first day of the fasting month, some 128 people were hospitalized due to stomach upsets caused by overeating.

According to the latest figures released by the World Health Organisation, some 73 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women in the country are overweight. This trend has been in evidence since the past decade. In 2003, some 45% of women were obese, second in the Arab world only to Egypt (where the proportion was 46%). Qatar has the sixth highest rate of obesity among boys in the Middle East and North Africa. In a 2006 study of children between the age of 12 and 17, nearly 29% of boys and girls were found to be overweight. Many of these children and adolescents have diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses.

Obesity has major adverse effects on health. Morbidly obese individuals have as much as a twelve-fold increase in mortality. Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, and nearly 80 percent of patients with Type-2 diabetes are obese. In the U.S., an estimated 65 million adults are overweight or obese, leading to 300,000 deaths annually and more than $ 100 million in annual health costs. Obesity has a positive bearing on reproductive disorders, pulmonary disease, joint and connectivity tissue disorders and menstrual abnormalities. It is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease in men and women (including coronary heart disease, stroke and congestive heart failure).

The World Cancer Research Fund warns that being obese or overweight increases the risk of cancer. According to a study funded by Cancer Research UK, being overweight or obese accounts for around 6,000 out of a total of 120,000 new cases of cancer each year among middle-aged and older women in the UK. The study, which examined 45,000 cases of cancer in one million women in the UK over seven years, says this figure comprises about 5% of such cases.

A Harvard study suggests that a diet rich in red meat, high-fat dairy products and baked goods made from refined flour is 60 percent more likely to result in diabetes after the age of 40. Currently, 246 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating and costly disease. It is responsible for close to 4 million deaths worldwide each year. It is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, amputation and blindness. When diabetes exists with high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol levels and smoking, the risk of heart attack increases several fold.

The Arab Human Development Report 2009 points out that despite its abundant natural resources, the Arab countries are faced with a rise in hunger and malnutrition. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures, the Arab countries constitute one of the world’s two regions, the other being sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of undernourished people has risen since the beginning of the 1990s—from about 19.8 million in 1990-1992 to 25.5 million in 2002-2004. The report also notes that, paradoxically, while malnutrition is on the rise in some Arab countries, obesity is also emerging as an increasing health risk in the region. Qatar provides a prime example of this disturbing trend.

Marginalisation of Muslims in Indian Cities

Christophe Jaffrelot is a well-known and respected French political scientist who specializes in the political and regional issues of South Asia, particularly in India and Pakistan. He has written extensively on the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. His most important publications include The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, 1925 to the 1990s (1996), India’s Silent Revolution: The Rise of the Low Castes in North India (2003), Religion, Caste and Politics in India (2010) and India Since 1950 (2012). His latest publication, written in collaboration with Laurent Gayer, is Muslims in Indian Cities: Trajectories of Marginalisation, which focuses on the socio-economic backwardness of Muslim communities living in India’s towns and cities. The book is mainly based on the findings of a survey jointly carried out by a team of 12 Indian and French researchers in 10 cities, including Ahmedabad, Aligarh, Bangalore, Calicut, Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Cuttack. The survey broadly confirms the conclusions of the Sachar Committee about the socio-economic marginalization of the Muslim community in India.

Comparatively, Muslims constitute the most urbanized community in India, with the exception of the Parsis. According to the 2001 census, less than 28 per cent of India’s population lives in urban areas. However, nearly 35.7 per cent of Muslims live in town and cities. More than half of the Muslim population in India is concentrated in towns and cities in seven states: Tamil Nadu (73%), Maharashtra (70%), Madhya Pradesh (63.5%), Chattisgarh (63%), Karnataka (59%), Gujarat (59%) and Andhra Pradesh (58%).

The survey found that Muslims living in urban areas are increasingly experiencing marginalization and exclusion. The proportion of the poor among Muslims is greater in urban areas than in rural areas. About 37 per cent of Muslims living in towns and cities live below the poverty line as against 27 per cent of Muslims living in rural areas. The corresponding figures for Hindus are 22 and 28 per cent. The Sachar Committee report showed that only 8% of Muslims living in urban areas were integrated into the formal sector as against the national average of 21 per cent. A large majority of Muslims living in towns and cities make a very modest living as artisans, repairers, hawkers, mechanics and peddlers. Jaffrelot and Gayer take cognizance of regional variations in respect of the socio-economic marginalization of Muslims. Muslims in the southern states, for example, are comparatively better off than those in the northern and western states.

Jaffrelot and Gayer note that a highly significant indicator of the socio-economic marginalization of Muslims in urban areas is ghettoization. Ghettoization is generally perceived as the manifestation of a tendency on the part of Muslims to live apart from mainstream society in segregated ethnic clusters. This is then mistakenly interpreted as separatism and isolationism on the part of Muslims. The fact of the matter is that ghettoization is largely the outcome of an atmosphere of insecurity and vulnerability. Jaffrelot and Gayer rightly emphasise that the main reason for ghettoization in the case of Muslims living in urban areas is communal violence. During the outbreak of communal violence, Muslims living in the midst of the Hindu population or in isolated pockets are often the easy target of attack. It is therefore natural on the part of Muslims to live in safer neighbourhoods or to shift to areas predominantly inhabited by the members of their community. The safer neighbourhoods may include areas in the walled city, as in Hyderabad, Bhopal and Jaipyur, or on the periphery of the city, as in the case of Ahmedabad or Mumbai. In Ahmedabad, a substantial number of Muslims have been forced by frequent communal riots and an endemic atmosphere of fear and insecurity to move from the walled city to the peripheral areas.

Another common misperception is that ghettos are primarily inhabited by the poorer sections of the Muslim community. In Juhapur in Ahmedabad, for example, there is a large ghetto, which is inhabited by nearly 4 lakh Muslims. The residents include not only poor and illiterate Muslims and slum-dwellers but also a substantial number of educated Muslims from the middle classes, including IAS officers, lawyers and businessmen. The marginalization and exclusion of Muslims living in Juhapur has been compounded by the step-motherly attitude of the state. There is no bus service between Juhapur and the city centre. The poor state of infrastructure and public amenities in the area betray the callous and partisan attitude of the administration.

Jaffrelot and Gayer note that ghettoization is not always an unmitigated disaster. In the wake of the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat, a substantial number of educated, middle class families shifted to Juhapura in Ahmedabad. Their initiative and involvement in the area’s development brought about positive changes in the profile and public perception of Juhapura. Now there are better roads, schools and private hospitals.

(With inputs from the Outlook Magazine, July 23, 2012)

Egyptian TV Presenter in a Headscarf

Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, which have been considerably influenced by Western modernity and secularism, have discouraged Muslim women from wearing the headscarf or the face-covering veil. The American University in Cairo allows students to wear the headscarf, which covers a woman’s hair but leaves the face visible, but prohibits the face-covering niqab. Iman al-Zainy, a doctoral student at Al-Azhar University who wears the face-covering niqab, sued the American University in 2001 after it prevented her from entering is library. In June 2007 a court in Egypt upheld her petition and ruled that the American University could not ban women wearing the niqab on campus.

During the Mubarak era, women presenters were not allowed to wear the headscarf while appearing on television. Some of the women employed by the state television who were not allowed to appear on television while wearing their headscarves sued the television authorities and the courts upheld their petitions. But the court rulings were ignored by the authorities and the ban continued to be in place. The Muslim Brotherhood, which now holds the reins of power in Egypt, has always opposed the ban on the wearing of headscarves in government offices and institutions. It was a pleasant surprise for millions of Egyptian viewers when they saw a TV presenter, Fatima Nabil, in a headscarf while she read the mid-day news bulletin on September 16. Nabil later told the BBC: “At last the revolution has reached the state television.”

Name * :
E-mail * :
Add Your Comment :
Home About Us Announcement Forthcoming Features Feed Back Contact Us
Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved.