muslim consumer

So a couple weeks ago, I promised @copperbadge a review of the book I was currently reading, “Sorting the Beef from the Bull: The Science of Food Fraud Forensics.” And then my cat had a life threatening medical emergency (he’s okay!) and I got a little distracted. But, hey, better late than never, right?
First things first. I’m not a huge chemistry nerd. The word “science” is in the title for a reason. There’s a fair amount of it in here. I skimmed most of it. But there are two other aspects to the book that are fascinating and, honestly, rather terrifying. First, actual stories of food fraud throughout the world and history. Second, the non-immediate implications of it, looking at what it means for politics, economics, health, and the environment. It’s an extremely strong argument for the importance of regulations and, if you’re not terrified by the current push in the US government to deregulate, you will be. It’s a sadly timely book.

It starts out with an overview of the field, a couple anecdotes of food fraud (fake eggs in China, horse meat found in hamburger in UK grocery stores- one of the authors is British, so lots of examples from there), a breakdown of some of the scientific methods using the example of honey and why the whole issue is important.

Most people probably can think of the economic implications of things like olive oil being cut with cheaper oils. Consumers lose out on money, because we’re paying for a product based on the label, not what’s in it. Plus, it impacts honest sellers who have their market undercut by the cheaters. Raises some interesting questions on the idea that deregulation makes for a “freer” market place. 

The environmental implications are also concerning, and frankly, I may stop eating seafood. Turns out a lot of fish is mislabeled. Some of this can be chalked up to inconsistent naming conventions across countries, but given that fish are almost always mislabeled as more expensive varieties, that’s doubtful. But, important for those of us who try to eat responsibly, there have been cases of endangered species relabeled as allowable ones. Apparently, seafood laundering is a real thing. (A terrible thing, with a name that cracks me up). And good luck trying to be sure that your organic food is really organic. you may just be paying extra for the same stuff the rest of us are eating. 

But the scariest is the health implications. Olive oil is a good example in two cases. Mostly, you’re just overpaying, but it’s been adulterated with peanut oil in some cases. And then there’s the Toxic Oil Syndrome in Spain, where colza oil intended for industrial use was sold as “olive oil” in 1981 and killed over 600 people. Other horrifying examples include “monkfish” that turned out to be puffer fish (yikes!), fake baby formula in China, and chicken deemed not fit for human consumption that was washed up, trimmed of the ugly bits and then sold.

Some of it is not so horrifying from a health perspective, but more offends our sensibilities. The horse meat example, for instance, is not something that would hurt many people’s health. Heck, it’s probably lower in fat than beef. Ground meat was commonly found to contain other meat sources than the label said. All beef products, such as sausages, were found to contain chicken or pork, the later of which would certainly offend Jewish and Muslim consumers, but I’m fairly sure most religions don’t hold you responsible for something you are completely unaware of. A few have been found to contain rat, which certainly makes us go “ick” but unless it’s diseased, it probably won’t hurt us. 

The end result is a very strong argument of the importance of funded regulatory bodies, because the average consumer can’t determine this stuff for themself. Heck, the average chemist probably can’t figure out some of this stuff, because it’s ever evolving and our global food stream means there are too many points along the way where it takes one person looking to make a buck to screw people over, and people are really fucking creative at times. There are some amazing ways to catch issues, but a lot of people won’t want to pay for them, so only a portion of cases get caught. 

I was talking with a friend about the book and her response was “Wow, that’s important to know. Not sure I WANT to know.” True that.

anonymous asked:

.. do people honestly think that muslims or perhaps any group that doesnt consume alcohol dont ever have social gatherings in their homes ie house parties lmao

exactly haha and also there are muslims who do consume alcohol and go to parties. no need to make them feel like they’re not muslim for it. let’s be adult about it yknow.  

It was time to break my silence…
On my way home last week, I drove by a pretty bad car accident. It got me thinking about the things we fear in life and the role fear inevitably plays in our lives. With the heart wrenching events of last Wednesday, fear of backlash has begun to consume the Muslim discourse. Many sisters are nervous about the hijab and some leaders have called for laying low.
But in reflecting, I feel there is something wrong with our approach. Statistically, the risk of getting into a car accident is far greater than the risk of an Islamophobic attack. But we don’t stop driving. We don’t stop going where we need to go. And most certainly, we don’t shift all our conversations to the dangers of getting behind the wheel. In other words, we don’t feed into the paralyzing fear of hyper focus on a problem.
Yes we’re aware of the risks of getting behind the wheel. So we take our precautions; we buckle our seatbelt, say our duaa, and put our trust in God. And then we continue to live our lives. We continue to drive. We stay awake–but not afraid. And there’s a difference. Fear only takes over when we allow a problem to consume us. Focusing all our reading, all our thoughts, all our conversations on something only makes it grow disproportionately and deceptively in our minds. If all I talked about, read about, thought about was car accidents, I’d probably become too terrified to drive.
The question now is: what are those precautions we need to take for protection? Well, I apologize in advance, but I must stand up and unequivocally say I do *not* believe those precautions are wearing baseball hats and bandanas to hide our hijab.
I feel it is irresponsible for our leaders and public figures to spread fear, when what we really need is empowerment. What we really need is strength and hope and trust. And faith. When it gets dark, the believers don’t hide. They shine. That’s what light does. Light doesn’t hide from the dark. It breaks through it.
Brothers and sisters, the darker it gets, the more we need the Light. The more the world need the light. The more we need to empower oursleves to be sources of that light. And the darker it gets, the brighter that light will shine.
You see every single moment we make a choice. We choose how we’re going to live. We can either live motivated by fear–by what we hope *won’t* happen in life. Or, we can live motivated by hope. By faith. By what we believe can and should happen. And then work for that. Remember, what you focus on grows. You get back what you put into the world.
Yes, there are horrible, tragic things happening in the world. Absolutely true. But, dear God, there are also beautiful, inspiring things happening too. The problem is, if you never turn off the news, you’ll begin to believe the world is only dark. You see, good news doesn’t sell. Only blood and guns do. Only ‘radical Muslim terrorist’ do. My dear brothers and sisters, refuse to buy into it. Refuse to allow the darkness to hijack the discussion.
Focus on what you can do to grow the light.
And to all my fellow sisters, who have to feel a little more scared today to put on their hijab, I say this: Remember why you wore it. And for who. Then ask yourself: Do you think the One for whom you wore it, the One who also happens to have sole ownership and power over the heavens and the earth and every Islamaphobe on it, won’t take care of you?
But your baseball cap will?
My sisters, don’t be afraid. Buckle your seat belt, yes. But keep driving. And keep your eye on the road; not on the belt. Keep looking up. The seat belt won’t save you, and neither will your cap.
But Allah will.
Tell the world you won’t hide, because your hijab isn’t just a cloth. It’s a symbol. It represents love. The love of God. And the love of God brings about everything good.
Sisters, by God, you are beacons of light walking around.
Hold it strong.
—  Yasmin Mogahed
“I genuinely believe that visionary, creative entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers will pave the bright future of American Muslims” Nouman Ali Khan

anonymous asked:

I am a Muslim Australian. I am terrified for the hostages in the Lindt Cafe on Martin Place but at the same time I'm terrified for the backlash that will be received by me, my family and the muslim community. I am consumed by both these fears and ever since I found out this morning I've been burdened with a constant dread. Please understand, this is the act of one individual not a religion. Islam is not responsible for this neither are all Muslims. Have an open mind. Stop the bigotry. Please.

i know this, darling. i’m so sorry. i hope you stay safe. i hope everyone stays safe; this is a horrific situation that i hope causes as little harm to everyone, because almost everyone is an innocent bystander in this. i fear the backlash is inevitable but i know i will be doing anything in my power to stop it.

if there’s anything i can do for you personally, please message me again.

Muslims, Capitalism, and Consumption: An Excerpt from Tariq Ramadan

I’ve been reading Radical Reform by Tariq Ramadan, and I can’t help but think about how important his work is for the Muslim community right now. There have been so many instances in reading this book where I’ve wanted to transcribe and share entire sections just because of how poignant his analysis is and how vital I see it is for Muslims living in the West (and elsewhere) to be exposed to and adopt his critical, rational, practical line of thinking. Hopefully this section, quoted from his chapter on economics and halal consumption, will show you what I mean; the same methodology with which he approaches this issue guides his approach to all the other social issues he addresses, and I highly recommend that anyone with any involvement or interest in contemporary Muslim issues read the whole book.

The “halal” market and an economy of “Islamic” products have undergone extraordinary development in the past few years. One can observe the same deviations, which consist in trying to obtain the same results with means and commodities considered as “halal” without questioning the productivist, mercantilist, materialistic points of reference and state of mind produced by such processes. Little thought has been given to the squandering of natural resources, to the exploitation of men, women, and children, to the outrageous treatment of animals. All that matters, at the end of the day, is the lawfulness of the product that is to be consumed or worn and the “Islamity” of the commercial transactions through which it is marketed. Islamizing the means in this way while legitimating an unethical capitalism interested only in end results is the most perverse expression of the counterproductive formalism that acts against the values it claims to defend. This global “Islamized” capitalism, as it can be seen on the African continent, in Arab countries, or particularly so-called emerging Asian countries as in Malaysia, or today in Dubai, results in an Islamized Americanization under a coat of very halal terminology and financial techniques.

Reform, alternative ideas, and resistance are reduced to market-oriented variations on the theme of Islamized labels. Fast food is profitable, therefore Islamic, halal fast-food restaurants are put into operation, from McDonald’s to other famous brands. Coke dominates the soft drink market, so a line of products labelled as “Cola” emerges (Mecca Cola, Zem Zem Cola, Medina Cola) to recall the “taste” of the parent company’s product while they are alleged to resist the actions of the foreign company or constitute an alternative! There is no resistance in this, no alternative thought, and indeed no originality: marketing methods have merely been “Islamized,” as well as brands… and that is supposed to do the trick. Not only is this logic too basic, it is above all dangerous, for behind a veneer of “Islamity” it hides objectives that care little for ethics, sometimes paying little attention about the collateral damage produced by such economic processes. Just as people are satisfied with the mere technical and “Islamic” aspect of slaughtering without paying attention to the way the animals were treated in their daily lives, little thought is given to the way in which workers are exploited, in all sectors of economic activity, to provide the new “Islamic” products (as is also shown by Fulla, the hijab-clad doll, an Islamized duplicate of the Barbie doll complete with a line of accessories that, like it, is made in China). Not only are those serious aspects minimized, but in addition, the same attitude and the same logic of all-out profitability and blind productivity are maintained. Where ethical awareness and understanding goals should bring more soulfulness and reflection about the meaning and quality of life, the “Islamic” label is exploited then sullied to enable market logic to work on minds but invested with additional religious legitimacy. Ultimately, the “Islam” label, marketed freely, brings money, loads of money. We have come full circle: the capitalist system has managed to efficiently take over an ideational frame of reference that was supposed to resist it, with the collaboration of its operators and of Muslim consumers themselves.

Thus, from one end of the chain of economic operations to the other, problems are far reaching, multiple, and complex. Coherence requires the issue should first of all be approached holistically, in the light of the [Islamic] higher objectives pointed out earlier. This is the only way not to be deceived by technical, formalist adjustments that ultimately change nothing, or even confirm the dominant global economic system. Raising awareness among economic operatives is necessary, but it is no less imperative to educate consumers so that both the former and the latter become more fully aware of the issues involved and ask themselves about the outcomes at the heart of their commercial ventures and of their day-to-day consumption. National and international legal councils, here again including fuqaha’, women, and men, and (Muslim or non-Muslim) specialists in those different disciplines, must produce thorough, comprehensive reflection about the goals of economics, of consumption, and about the use of the “halal” label as applied to techniques, productions, and products (regardless of ends). Fundamental issues emerge from simple, day-to-day life choices. For instance (and in the light of the different legal opinions about the issue of meat), let us ask an interesting question: which is ethically more “Islamic,” more “halal”? A chicken that has been mistreated when alive, that may never have seen the light of day and that has been force-fed before being slaughtered according to Islamic norms with the ritual formula, or an animal that has been kept in a healthy environment respecting its development according to “organic food” label norms, but for which no ritual formula has been declaimed? Many fuqaha’, single-mindedly focusing on technical norm implementation, would not even understand such a question’s being asked, and yet, all things considered, in the light of outcomes, before God and human conscience, this question is meaningful and may rightfully be asked in the name of the refusal of too often hypocritical formalities. Ideally, of course, both aspects should be combined, but such products remain marginal, as experiments in different parts of the world demonstrate. Without having to push people into such radical choices, would it not be appropriate, nevertheless, to declare - after detailed study of course - that truly “organic” products are “halal” in their essence and principle, and that Muslim consumers must be invited to add, before eating, the usual and simple formula “Bismi-LLahi ar-Rahman ar-Rahim” (I begin with [In the name of] God, the Merciful, the Most Merciful) without further ado? We are still quite far from taking such fundamental stands, and yet the contemporary Muslim conscience needs to be awakened and redirected on such issues.

When considering all the issues mentioned in this chapter, one can ascertain that the needs are many. True commitment by ‘ulama’, scientists, economists, and other specialists is necessary to develop an in-depth reflection. Besides, a sweeping awareness and reeducation campaign should target consumers to lead them to transcend the aforementioned higher goals. The Muslim world must undertake this radical reform and free itself from the misleading exclusively normative approach, which often adds injustice to hypocrisy. Everywhere symbols, techniques, and products are put forward and presented as “Islamic” while the whole economic system they stem from fails to respect any of the aforementioned ethical goals. This hypocrisy of “formal faithfulness” is as true in product development as it is in punishments under the law: the economies of oil-rich kingdoms, which are fully integrated into neoliberalism, based on speculation and the accompanying corruption and injustice, receive no specific “Islamic” or “ethical” condemnation while poor Pakistanis or Filipinos who steal are “Islamically” punished for example’s sake… or for form’s sake. Reforms must begin and education must absolutely be put to rights.

Have the contemporary Muslim conscience in general and fuqaha’, scientists and expert councils in particular, so much as looked into these issues? Have they raised awareness among women and men about ethical consumption choices? Have they taken a clear legal stand about those genetic manipulations whose motivations are not always as noble as they may seem and whose risks remain a legitimate preoccupation? Many 'ulama' and thinkers answer that they have far more urgent concerns than those, and that Muslim-majority societies are faced with such curses as illiteracy, poverty, corruption, and so many other difficulties that, after all, the economy, GMOs, and the quality and quantity of consumption remain secondary issues. One can hear and understand such arguments, yet their logistics and their conclusions remain highly debatable. First of all, as I said, these problems are now interrelated and the ethical approach requires comprehensive reflection. Second, it is not true that all Muslim-majority societies are poor, yet even in oil-rich kingdoms or Muslim communities in the West, such reflection is absent or unfocused, and the same reflexes of ritualistic and ethical formalism have set in everywhere. Finally, one cannot but notice the isolation of Muslim thought in which publishing continues to focus on higher goals and Islamic ethics with no effect on believers’ practical, day-to-day lives. Whenever they can, Muslims consume with the same frenzy as others, obey the same requirements of the dominant economy, take an equal share in polluting the planet, in deforestation, in mistreating animals, and in creating nonrecyclable waste. Where is the “ethical distinction” that constitutes the essence of Islam’s message, the fundamental notion that everyone must be “a witness” in her or his being and actions? Who fashions and teaches the knowledge of higher goals that requires each conscience, in its life and daily consumption, to resist economic, productivist, and consumerist deviations?

If Islam and Muslims can provide a meaningful contribution today, it lies in questioning the goals of life and in the requirement of improving its quality. In all cases one should get rid of blind imitation: the imitation of past scholars (taqlid) that makes us believe that we can avoid facing today’s challenges by taking refuge in the past; and the imitation of the dominant economic model and ways of life that delude us into believing that we may be saved by melting into the dominant positions and fashions of the present. Those are the essential teachings that we must be reconciled with, and that we must call on fuqaha’ and scientists to put into practical use in our individual and collective daily lives. This is what the reform, renewal, and contribution of the Muslim world requires, unless one is deluded by words, catchphrases, and formulas about the “halal” or “Islamic” character of this or that practice or technique while, willingly or not, remaining blind to the betrayal of sacralities. To criticize knowledge cut off from its sources, Rabelais used the apt expression: “Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul.” In our present Islamic Universe of reference, which is muddled with often misleading normative formalities, one should recall that the morality of means is never sufficient guarantee of the ethicality of ends. That is indeed why the human conscience must never stop questioning means and ends and adding soul to knowledge, science, and economy. Only through this effort can we eradicate poverty and preserve the planet’s future: that is what being stewards on earth (khulafa’ fi-l ard) requires.