A photo went viral on WhatsApp and then on other social media platforms where pharmaceutical company Himalaya purportedly says it uses halal-certified products. The message in the image claims that the company maintains the ‘halal-ness’ of the herbal, chemical, food colour products in order to fulfil the obligation for Muslims to consume halal products. It further claims that the company’s products comply with Islamic law, which is the Shari’ah, and are free from any forbidden ingredients under Islamic law. Since then, #BoycottHimalaya has been trending on Twitter and other social networking sites.
Tagging Himalaya India on Twitter, one of the users asked the company to clarify the issue before it is too late and people start using alternative products. Hope you realize that with Indian consumers it is not only product & quality, some notion of emotions also attached to it, he further said.
Non-Muslims are getting sensitised against halal certification because it is an issue that goes beyond the consumption of meat, which people can still avoid. When things other than meat are halal-certified — for example, a halal-approved factory — it implies that the facility or the product employs a certain number of Muslim workers, explains jhatka activist Ravi Ranjan Singh who had carried out a campaign to rid the parliament canteen of halal certification.
Singh says that, in this manner, Muslims are ensuring their community’s stranglehold over various means of the economy. “There will come a time when you will be at the mercy of Muslims for any economic activity,” Singh said in an exclusive interview with Sirf News-Satya Parakh Bharat on YouTube.
This is not the first time such a post is going viral on social media. Earlier, in July 2021, several social media users shared a claim suggesting that the Himalaya Drug Company’s neem, tulsi, and lasuna supplements contained halal-certified meat. There was a claim that the Himalaya cosmetic products, tulsi, and neem capsule shells are made from gelatine, which is obtained from cows or pigs, and are halal-certified.
But Singh says meat is not the only issue. “When I came to know that meat outlets were increasingly using the halal method of slaughtering animals, I turned into a vegetarian. But will have no option left when halal subsumes everything we do,” he said during the interview.
Halal certification is issued by even governments, state authorities and big corporations in Islamic as well as other nations. Many private companies in India say they are halal-certified. While telling Muslims that the food offered does not offend their religion, and that cosmetics and pharmaceuticals that include animal by-products were obtained by killing animals the Islamic way, it also means implicitly that a certain percentage of Muslims were employed in the workforce to produce the good.
Within the domain of animal products, of course, alcohol is present in perfumes and pig fat is used in lipsticks and lip balms while cosmetic items use pig, chicken, goat, and other animal by-products, all of which are considered haram by Islamic law. As a result, halal-certified cosmetics and pharmaceuticals merely signify that they do not include any ingredients that are forbidden to Muslims.
Companies are securing halal certification for their products so that they can be exported to Islamic countries.
The Himalaya company has been silent on the issue so far. The Twitter handle of Himalaya Wellness Company, @HimalayaIndia, carries a fact check by OpIndia but no direct clarification on the issue.
The Himalaya Drug Company is, however, known to have been founded by an entrepreneur called Mohammed Manal in 1930 in Bengaluru, the present capital of Karnataka. The company was founded to commercialise the roots and herbs products being used in natural form earlier. As of 2022, the company has offices across the globe, including India, the US, South Africa and other countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
The company employs Hindu workers too. For example, its global CEO is Shailendra Malhotra while Jayashree Ullal is its CFO and COO.
“During the period when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat and his birthplace Vadnagar was hit by unemployment, the Himalaya company opened a facility in the village that went on to generate 1,100 jobs, villagers told me during my visit to the village,” Sirf News‘ Editor-in-Chief Surajit Dasgupta said, adding that the villagers of Vadnagar largely comprised Muslims who were happy with Modi’s initiative but demanded that some more employment avenues must open in the area, now that the local population had increased.
When asked whether the Himalaya company, rather than its products, can be called halal-certified on the basis of the demographics of its recruitment pattern, Dasgupta answered in the affirmative. “The company does employ several Muslims in every office it runs and thus Himalaya Drug Company, and not merely its products, is halal-certified,” he said.