“The halal food industry is growing in double-digit numbers in Russia,” Madina Kalimullina, director of the Economic Department of Russia Muftis Council, told Khaleej Times. “Annually, we certify more than 40 enterprises in different spheres of production.” Over the past three years, the Russian Muslims have been calling for issuing common standards for halal food production. “The present stage of the halal industry development can be considered as mutual acquaintance and deeper knowledge of each other among certification bodies,” said Kalimullina, who is also a director of Moscow Halal Expo.
“The efforts of the Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries (SMIIC) to work out common standards for halal production started in 2011 are likely to give results in the coming years. “Based on commonly-recognized standards, system of audit, constant research and innovations, the halal industry, by the will of Allah, has the ability to become the world brand of healthy, ecological and safe products and services.
“In the coming years the issues of logistics, regulation, customs clearance and distribution would be put on the agenda more often as the concept of halal will require new routes in the international trade,” she said. According to Kalimullina, the OIC has exclusively the right to unite views on uniform standards for halal certificates. “The issue, however is complicated due to different mazhabs and business practice,” Kalimullina, who holds a PhD in economics, noted. “At the same time, unanimous efforts of Muslims around the world are sure to result in a deeper integration and development of halal production, trade and investment.”
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food. Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned. Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
In a bid to attract new investors to the growing halal market, the Russia Muftis Council (RMC) launched the project of Moscow Halal Expo in 2010. “Their (native Muslims’) number now exceeds 25 million,” Kalimullina, the director of Moscow Halal Expo said. “Apart from that number we have 10 million Muslim work migrants from CIS countries that form the demand for halal products; although they are from a low income group, but the demand is massive.
The success of halal food industry was not limited to Russian Muslims. “Another big group of consumers are non-Muslims, who choose halal for its quality,” Kalimullina said. Thee halal food industry has been one of the RMC’ priorities. In 2002, it established the centre for Halal Standardization and Certification. By 2011, the administrative structure of RMC has formed the Economic Department for the council.
“In general, there is a plan of umma economic development worked out by the RMC Economic department which includes the enlightenment in the sphere of Islamic business ethics and Islamic finance, halal certification system development, educational courses, translation into Russian language of the international Shari’ah standards in Islamic finance adopted by the AAOIFI, support is halal business and Islamic finance companies, Business Development Club, and, finally, Moscow Halal Expo,” Kalimullina explained.
“Now, we direct efforts at development of new business and investment projects in halal sphere. Presently the most important of which is the chain of halal distribution chain all over Russia.” The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Islam is Russia’s second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population. — HA/IINA