First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Muftis Council Rushan hazrat Abbyasov told the Made in Russia portal about the requirements imposed by Muslim countries on imported Russian goods.
Rushan Rafikovich, how does the Russian Muftis Council develop trade relations between Muslim countries and Russian goods producers?
Eastern and Asian countries traditionally view goods with the Made in Russia mark positively. Muslim countries, first and foremost, are interested in Russian-produced goods with the halal mark, and therefore we are working on developing that production globally.
In particular, Russia, specifically in Moscow, has created an international center for the standardization and certification of Halal. It takes into account the experience of other Muslim countries in which halal industry standards are well developed.
In countries of the Arab-Islamic world, in every restaurant you enter, to every store you go to buy groceries, you automatically know that they are halal, and approved. Products produced in Russia require an additional mark, certificate, and inspection to confirm the lack of ingredients prohibited for Muslims.
The halal mark indicates that the product is safe, wholesome, and, from a religious point of view, approved. Without it, it’s impossible to trade with governments that have predominantly Muslim populations.
Today our center signed a partnership agreement with other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Indonesia, and more. Residents of these countries actively acquire Russian products with the halal mark.
Halal products are an entire segment of the domestic Russian market – more than 20 million Muslims live in our country. Therefore, this mark reveals new opportunities for goods producers, a particular segment of the market where they can work.
What is halal? Tell us more.
The term halal literally translates to “allowed, permitted” in Arabic. Devout Muslims are prohibited from consuming pork, the carrion of any animal, products that are bad for the body, such as alcohol. Tobacco, drugs, and other intoxicating substances are also prohibited. I will note, though, that halal is a safe and high-quality product as well as a form of honesty about the cooperation and relationships, including financial.
What kinds of products have this mark?
All kinds, from meat to water, chocolate, and candy.
So even Coca Cola could be halal?
Only if a doctor or scientist proves that it is wholesome and not harmful to the body. According to doctrine, on Judgment Day a person will be held accountable for his actions, including how he treated his body, which is why God says “eat what is wholesome and permitted,” – and what is permitted is halal.
Have there been instances of the halal mark being used improperly in Russia?
After studying the experience of Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, we understood the importance of protecting the halal product market from mislabeled goods and corrupt goods producers. There previously have been not rare instances in which we grabbed a packet of pelmeni that had a picture of a mosque or other Islamic symbols on it and it turned out that they were made with pork. For Muslims following the Quran and for those under Abrahamic religions, meat from this animal is considered sinful, it is forbidden to eat it.
We have registered our own trademarks in order to protect religious believers from corrupt enterprises. We identify and stop legal violations.
If the halal mark is applied in Russia, is that enough for domestic products to make it to the shelves of Muslim countries, or do they need to go through additional certification after transportation?
Our certificate is fully sufficient. For example, representatives of the United Arab Emirates came to visit us not long ago. They visited several enterprises that have undergone our certification to confirm that all products were produced in accordance with halal standards, the killing of animals was done correctly, everything was sterile, clean, and high-quality.
All marks are in three languages: Russian, English, and Arabic.
How is the halal certification process organized?
After we receive a request from a company that would like to receive certification, our specialists go to the company, study its production process, examine the products themselves. We have already signed agreements with several laboratories that will, upon our request, examine products to ensure compliance with halal standards.
After undergoing the necessary examination, an expert is appointed to oversee further production. Typically, this representative is part of the local Muslim community and has undergone professional courses.
Is there a single standard for halal certification, or are there any kinds of offshoots, deviations?
There are deviations in some countries, but they aren’t major. For example, in several Arab countries where a good horse can cost as much as two Rolls-Royces, eating horse meat is forbidden; meanwhile, our Tatars can’t live without it. Interviewed by Alexey Yaushev
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