This article aims at analyzing how the penetration of a commercial rational into the religious field impacts the relations between the State and the Muslim religion in the case of post-Soviet Russia. Here, the rise of a ‘halal market’ – that is the market for halal products and the market of halal certification – was punctuated by scandals. This research scrutinizes one of them, linked with halal meat products containing pork dna. This scandal is studied as it reveals the pre-existing order and is considered per se, as a critical test when common values and norms are either abandoned or strengthened, and previously established relations are transformed.
First, the article presents how Islam is organized and regulated in the Russian Federation; then it analyzes the ‘scandalization strategy,’ which leads to the reconfiguration of the game of actors. Lastly, it examines how the scandal, through the use of law and court decisions, contributes to the extension, legitimization and consolidation of the certificated ‘halal’ norm beyond the circles of pious Muslims.
This research is based on empirical data gathered in Moscow and Kazan in 2018: the observation of a court trial and the analysis of documents relating to the legal proceedings, semi-structured interviews and online research.
This article analyzes how the halal industry in Ukraine began. One of the characteristic features in the development of Ukraine’s halal industry is a confrontation between the main halal market players. These represent the transnational Sufi network al-Ahbash and the global Muslim Brotherhood, respectively. The first part of this article discusses the history of the halal industry in Ukraine and of the organizations that carry out halal certification. The second part is dedicated to one of the oldest halal certification centers – the Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine (dumu – Dukhovne upravlinnia musul’man Ukraïny), associated with al-Ahbash. I reveal that for dumu, the development of halal certification is primarily considered a part of the discourse on orthodoxy (i.e. practices of ‘traditional’ Islam) and how certification is undertaken is considered to bear on the religious status of dumu in the eyes of Muslims. The economic aspect of halal is considered of secondary importance. In a third part of the article, I consider another halal operator, the Alraid Association, which is associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. For this organization, halal certification is an important tool to promote the association’s influence in business and the public sphere. In conclusion, I show that the halal industry in Ukraine is present and promising, but at present it aims mainly at large producers. Ordinary Muslims face certain troubles due to the underdevelopment of this sphere.
The introduction to the special issue discusses the important aspects of the studies of Halal markets in non-Muslim countries and outlines the contributions of the special issue. It also provides a general theoretical outline to bring the articles of the issue together which also offers a starting point for further discussions about sociological and anthropological studies of Halal economies. The major focus within our discussion of halal practices and definitions of halal is on the moral and rational reasoning behind halal marketing and consumption. These questions open more space for further interpretation of halal in secular contexts.
Through the transformation of solidarity groups in Kazakhstan, and their confessionalization, we will try to see whether ‘Islamic economy’ offers a new framework of socio-economic organization and redistribution of wealth through the mobilization and valuation of private initiative and solidarity. Based on fieldwork in Southern Kazakhstan in 2014–16, this article uses qualitative interviews with Sufi entrepreneurs; it shows them driven not only by market demands and economic opportunities, but also by religious thinking and contest, which lead to the gradual emergence of new forms of socio-economic organization nourished by a specific admixture of Islamic values and Soviet-made norms of morality.
Attending to the rise of halal economy and particularly halal certification initiatives in the region and globally, this paper asks why and how third-party certifiers would gain credibility and authority, and what does authority have to do with the work of entrepreneurs in the sector. Drawing on fieldwork conducted between 2012 and 2015, and interviews with entrepreneurs and a private halal certification agency in Kyrgyzstan as well as their accreditors in Kazakhstan, I pay close attention to the collective meaning-making deliberations that revolve around questions of what makes goods and services halal and also what makes one a ‘good Muslim’. Certifiers and entrepreneurs come to form what I call a valuation circuit. In these circuits, they construct shared understandings of ethnical and behavioral norms for market actors, create and reinforce binaries around halal and haram, and rely on transnational network of religious authority as they attempt to valuate and measure compliance to halal standards.
Based on fieldwork in Henan and Ningxia conducted in numerous research trips each lasting from two weeks to two years from 2010 to 2018, this article argues that in the two decades from the late 1990s to the late 2010s, there was a critical transition in how halal food was marked in China and how the state as well as ordinary Muslims perceived these shifting signs. By explaining the difference between qingzhen and halal signs, and by highlighting the imagistic character of the former, this article shows how local governments both propagated the proliferation of halal signs and soon afterwards saw in these same signs not so much economic prosperity as the threat of global Islam. Therefore, the current crackdown on Islam in China is as much about how Islam is to be visually represented as it is about concerns over sovereignty, ethnicity and religious dissent.
Despite standardization initiatives among states, businesses and non-profit agencies, the understanding and practice of halal requirements vary. This fragmentation of halal certification is particularly significant in terms of genetically engineered food. Studies in both global North and South show that women consumers are more concerned about food choices. This paper examines the convergence of halal and organic through genetically engineered food with recourse to women consumers’ definitions of ‘wholesome food’ in Turkey. Using data from a total 13 focus groups carried in the cities of Ankara and Konya in the summer of 2015, and in the cities of Ankara and Balikesir in the summer of 2019, the paper examines the concerns of women consumers about food in a Muslim majority country fully integrated into globalized markets. It also questions how women consumers negotiate their food choices particularly in relation to genetically engineered food, halal and organic food. The paper argues that both secular and devout Muslim women consumers as mothers have growing concerns in feeding their family with clean and healthy food. However, halal certified food does not address their expectations about ‘wholesome food’. The discussions about the convergence of halal, organic and genetically engineered food highlight the tensions in the alternative food movement about what clean and good food look like.
Halal certification introduces a new discursive and material basis for the regulation of Muslim consumption in a world of global trade and complex food technology. Through chemical tests and state of the art supply chain management the halal certification industry aims to replace the necessity of intra-Muslim trade for the practice of halal. This paper presents the approach of two competing halal certification organizations in South Africa in interaction with Muslim businesses. It argues that the aim of the halal certification industry to standardize, trace and trade in halal is limited by the communal practice of halal that emphasizes intra-Muslim trade and exchange. Halal certification is an incomplete recalibration of halal. Attention to Muslim business practices illuminates the limitation of audit cultures to the practice of halal, offering a view of the complexity of halal in practice.
This essay discusses in how far we can understand the evolution of secularism in South and Southeast Asia between the end of the First World War and decolonisation after 1945 as a result of transimperial and transnational patterns. In the context of the growing comparative literature on the history of secularisms around the globe, I argue for more attention for the mobility of ideas and people across borders. Conceptually, I suggest to capture the diversity of 20th century secularisms in terms of family resemblance and to understand this resemblance less as colonial inheritance but as the result of translocal networks and their circuits of ideas and practices since 1918. I approach these networks through a combination of global intellectual history, the history of transnational social networks, and the global history of non-state institutions. Empirically, I illustrate my argument with three case studies: the reception of Atatürk’s reforms across Asia and the Middle East to illustrate transnational discourses around secularism; the role of social networks in the form of translocal women’s circles in the interwar period; and private US foundations as global circuits of expertise. Together, these illustrations are an attempt to sustain a certain degree of coherence within globalising secularism studies while at the same time avoiding conceptual overstretch.