We would like to share our journey so far with you to explain why we are not currently sharing our produce.
Alhumdulliah since purchasing the farm in 2007, we have spent years learning and implementing Halal and Tayyab practices, building an abattoir, working with the FSA (Food Standards Agency ) alongside running our main businesses and raising two children we have always been very passionate about raising standards in the Halal Industry. We do not feel that anything that we were doing was out of the ordinary or that “we were years ahead”as HMC once put it to us. In-fact we have always felt quite the opposite that Subhan Allah we are all behind as Allah swt gave us these practices 1400 years ago.
In 2017 we made some very important decisions which I would like to share a few of the events that have contributed to our decisions to pause sharing.
In Febuary 2017 we were visited by Jewish Professor Joe Regenstein , Cornell University, New York State along with Br Shuja Shafi of the MCB. It was a very interesting visit and I had previously met Br Shafi at the “Raising Standards at the Time of Slaughter” event that I had attended in 2016.
Prof Joe made some very interesting points, he advised that the Jewish community had educated their consumer in the 1920’s. In particular explaining to us why their Kosher produce cost twice or three times as much as Halal, the Koshering process and he also mentioned that they had defined Kosher in Law.
Having visited a Kosher Slaughterhouse in December 2016 we could relate to what he was saying and his words began to play on my mind.
The key message taken and to be implemented was to educate the consumer…. we were trying but with everything that we had going on for example with the rearing, slaughtering, sharing, the kids, businesses it became challenging for us. Our passion and how we could really and truly make a difference has been of high importance to us. Yes we were sharing but as we were just hobbyists our production was limited. The key question that ruminated over and over again was how could we ensure that we touched the life of every Muslim now and in future generations to come inshaAllah?
This prompted me to take action, to do further research into the Kosher meat produce/industry. Incidentally, one of the biggest difference that we noticed when we visited the slaughterhouse was that we pronounce the full tasmiyah at the time of slaughter whereas they did not say anything at the time of slaughter as they had blessed their building. This made me question why this was the case? This got me thinking and I wanted to know about their legislation, in particular how was Kosher protected? Some of you may recall or be aware of news report in the past where as Muslims we had cases of Pork labelled as Halal and nobody was prosecuted, how had they protected themselves?
Alhumdullilah since 2015 Allah swt had connected me with Ustahda Fatima Pirbhai of Chingford. Many of you reading this would have known about us through her MashAllah and you would also have heard her talk about her dream “Positive Food”. “Positive Food, for a positive mind, positive energy, being careful about what you eat; Halal and Tayyib”. We would spend hours talking and discussing the current Halal industry and the changes that needed to be made. With sincere compassion and conviction she always said “I’ll do it Aapi” along with her signature “innit”. She introduced me to Sister Yasmin of Walthamstow and we would often meet to talk about what could be done and how to move forward to make this positive change and benefit the ummah. Sadly, due to ill health Fatima wasn’t able to bring “Positive Food” to fruition and she returned to Allah swt in April 2017, may Allah swt expand her grave and make it from the gardens of paradise and grant her Jannat hul Firdaus without hisaab, Ameen.
I began to question what we were doing? Fatima was always ready to help and one thing her passing taught me was that no one knows when or how long one has or will stay alive in this duniya. We had identified that there was an issue but what could we do. The Jews had educated and helped each other. They had protected their Kosher definition so inshaAllah this is what we had to do too.
Sister Yasmin a graduate in Business, Marketing and Research took to the challenge when I asked her to research the British Laws to see how was Kosher defined. How could we define Halal but also Tayyab according to the Quran and Sunnah? I knew that as Muslims and Jews in UK Law we have been given an exemption from stunning which clearly written in the WATOK guidelines. Further, this means that we do not have to stun contrary to what some people may tell you, but what else was there?
What was interesting when conducting the research was the finding that although in the Halal meat industry we had been given an exemption from Stunning, however, there is NO LAW which stated or makes it compulsory for all Halal meat to be Unstunned. In fact there was no legal definition of Halal in UK so anything could or can be labelled as Halal…..
This is when we realised that there was a lot of work to be done. We felt that if we started to try to promote Halal and Tayyib under the ZUSS brand/label and lobbying for Legislation then people would think we were trying to promote our own produce purely for profits which was not the case. Solely for this reason we decided that it was more important to educate, create awareness, support and give advice by helping the Ummah inshaAllah and our future generations to come. We took the decision to stop sharing our produce at the end of 2017.
After a lot of research I made an appointment to meet my local MP. When I had attended the conference in 2016 I learnt about the Governments Labelling initiative, they to wanted a comprehensive labelling system that could be easily monitored and implemented, what was causing the issue was Halal. In January 2018, all abattoirs were invited to participate in the English Slaughter Method Survey. It listed all the methods of slaughter for all animals. The Kosher section was very neat, unstunned. Ours was an embarrassment…… so many different methods.
So when I met with my MP and began to discuss the Halal industry and mentioned FSA stats show that 95% of Halal meat in the UK was stunned he was shocked! We had a few further meetings and spoke at length about how we needed a Legal Definition of Halal, how the definition would support the Labelling Initiative and support UK farms. After various meetings and letters from MPs I was told Mrs Khan you have good ideas but you are on your own….. You need an organisation.
Was I really on my own? Did no one else care?
Alhumdullilah in February 2018 I met Sister Sidra Naeem, MashAllah she was very active in the community but had never heard of Halal and Tayyab. She had a YouTube channel and was happy to be filmed! ( I’m a bit camera shy!) We spoke at length about what I had learnt and the changes that were necessary and MashAllah she was on-board.
We decided to first ascertain what was the general consensus of Halal and Tayyib so we knew where to start, to do this we designed a survey.
We then needed to agree on the definition; various Muslim Organisations had a few years ago been given an opportunity by the FSA to do just that but had sadly argued and disagreed in front of the officials and nothing was done; what was wrong was they were trying to implement their own opinion and had forgotten that they have no right to define as Allah swt has clearly told us; Blood, Carrion, Alcohol and Flesh of Swine is forbidden… SubhanAllah there is our definition.
So this is where are at in our journey so far. Alhumdullilah we recognise that to solve a problem you need to own a problem. Let’s inshaAllah take ownership of the problem, lets educate ourselves and help each other, do we really need to be eating so much meat. Allah swt has ordered us to eat Halal and Tayyib; why? What are current farming practices? What is intensively reared? Are animals medicated? Alhumudullilah this is the information that we want to share and a lot more inshaAllah.
We may be 100 years behind the Jewish Community but nothing is lost. InshaAllah we need to talk, it’s no good saying that if the person selling to me says it’s Halal it’s OK, that’s not enough, as sadly they don’t know the origins of the meat as we have no law protecting us and a Halal sticker has no value. Yes, we have labeling organisations but all with their own interpretations, no standard and none of them has any involvement with how the animals are reared.
I pray that inshaAllah it has helped you understand a bit about what we are doing, please do join our mailing list so we can keep you updated about our campaign and when we begin to share produce again.