Following a front page article in Asian Image Halal meat wholesalers have hit back at the actions of the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC).
In our October Issue we reported how the HMC was increasing awareness of the its services to the wider public. It followed claims that some businesess were putting up HMC authentication certificates without the group's permission.
But this month in the run up to one of the busiest periods for Halal meat suppliers, wholesalers say the comments of the HMC have put unnecessary doubts in the minds of customers.
The HMC however, say they stand by their comments and denied they were causing doubts in consumers' heads, saying they were already there.
Abdul Jabbar of Chaudrhy Halal Meats supplies over 45 shops across Lancashire and has been in the meat trade since 1989.
"I have spoken to other halal meat wholesalers and we are very angry at the recent actions of the HMC. They are simply putting doubt into the minds of people when there was no need for it.
"The HMC is a private organisation that charges businesses and they only seem to pop up during Ramzan time when they know they will have maximum impact."
"There is no Muslim owned slaughterhouse and if the HMC is so concerned about the quality of the Halal food market then why don't they call for the building of one? It seems they are all too concerned about the building of another mosque on another street corner rather than something that is desperately needed.
"I have a couple of questions for the HMC. Why do they only monitor lambs and chickens? What about the beef?
"What about imported meat? How does the HMC propose to check that?
"And finally, if they are still not happy I am willing to pay someone to come and slaughter the meat themselves. I've said this to the HMC but they are not interested.
On its website HMC states the following factors it has adopted. That manual slaughter be by a Muslim (non-mechanical), verbal recitation of Allah's name (no blessed blades to pre-recorded bismillah) and ensuring the minimum amount of vessels are severed.
Mr Jabbar added, "I have been in the halal meat business for many years and this is the first time people are asking us about how halal our food is.
"All the meat we supply is slaughtered by a Muslim and in the correct manner. We have independent regular checks performed by Islamic scholars.
"I want to assure customers that wholesalers go out of their way to ensure the meat is halal. There is no need to be concerned.
"All the HMC has done recently is cause unnecessary friction between average customer and the meat shop. Then the meat shops have complained to us."
Maulana Hanif Dudhwala the regional head of the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) said, "First of all we do not say everyone else is haram. And secondly the doubt in people's minds was there before the HMC came into being.
"We are not telling customers what to do. We continue to say you must put trust into whoever is supplying the meat but it is our Islamic duty to tell people if we have evidence contrary to that."
Maulana Hanif said the group was in any way financially motivated. "This is ludricrous as many of the HMC staff are volunteers. I would like to put it to the suppliers should they not be taking the lead in these matters. We had to go into schools to check if halal food was being served. This was not our responsibilty but we did it.
"Customers are turning towards the HMC because we are independent. The group is now being asked to monitor slaughterhouses in other countries too."
In response to suggestions that there were no Muslim slaughterhouses and only lamb and chicken was monitored Maulana Hanif said, "We are working towards beef being HMC approved. But to say there is no Muslim-owned slaughterhouse is wrong. What about Gafoor Poultry?"
"Whilst meat suplliers may well slaughter their own meat how can we be guaranteed that there are not instances where non-Muslims are slaughtering the meat in other slaughterhouses?
"We recently heard of a situation where a non-Muslim was slaughtering food because the Muslim person was on his day off."
Each outlet at that signs up to the HMC is inspected regularly and a new certificate is issued every month.