The number of halal food producers catering for the Russian Muslim community has grown significantly in Moscow, with many of them setting an eye of expanding to other markers, The ASEAN Post reported on July 22.
“My halal food business has been feeling the pinch because many competitors now vie for a piece of a growing Islamic market. In the last few years, halal has become a trend in Russia,” explained Arslan Gizatullin who owns ‘Halal-Ash’ sausage factory in Shchyolkovo city, Moscow Oblast since 2012.
The factory was among the first of its kind when it opened some years ago, recreating Soviet-style sausages in accordance with Islamic Shari`ah, among other products.
“Now I go to shop displays and I see sausage from one, two, three producers. I see that competition is growing,” added Gizatullin who employs 35 workers and puts out up to 1.5 tons of produce a day.
The Center for Halal Standardization and Certification, under the authority of the Russian Council of Muftis, has approved more than 200 companies since it opened in 2007.
Now, the halal economy is worth more than US$2.1 trillion internationally, and it’s far from limited to meat. Thus, Russian cosmetics firms and services such as halal hotels have received licenses from the center, while state-owned Sberbank is looking into creating an Islamic finance entity.
Alif, a Moscow-based cosmetics firm, is a new company at the forefront of the move towards exporting halal goods to other countries.
“Our priority targets for export are France, Turkey, Dagestan, Iran, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and KSA,” said the Muslim convert manager Halima Hosman who launched Alif in 2018.
Push to Economic Stagnation
According to the certification center’s reports, the number of certified businesses grows by five to seven companies a year – from a standing start at the collapse of the anti-religious Soviet Union.
Russia’s overall economy is stagnant, with the government predicting the growth of only 1.3% this year, yet, the authorities encourage the national halal economy because it keeps growing at a rate of 15% every year according to the certification center.
Rushan Abbyasov, the deputy head of the Council of Muftis, said: “the Russian agriculture ministry was supporting the center in its efforts to increase exports to the Islamic World.”
Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” The term is commonly used for meat, but it’s also applied to other food products, cosmetics, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals which mustn’t be derived from non-halal sources like pork.
Halal also applies to any other consumed and edible materials which mustn’t be harmful to human health. For example, Islam considers wines, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, E-cigs, hookah and other unhealthy things to be non-halal.
For something to be considered halal, the animal from which it came from must be well-treated, raised in a humane and healthy way, and slaughtered according to Shari’ah for hygiene reasons.
The Moscow mufti council reported in 2010 that Muslims numbered around 1.5 million of the total 10.5 million people living the city. According to the 2012 Sreda Arena Atlas, Muslim constituted 3.6% of Moscow’s total population.
So far, there are four mosques in Moscow where the Cathedral Mosque that was inaugurated in 2015 has been built at the site of the former one.
The Moscow Cathedral Mosque has a capacity of ten thousand worshippers.