Mihrabi Rugs – new testimonials

I have some new stock in at Mihrabi Handmade Prayer Rugs. Two recent satisfied customers have given me some feedback:

Despite this particular item being at the budget end for this type of rug [PRUG_22 ?80], I am pleasantly surprised with the thickness, size and sheer weight. I only wish I had enough space in my house where I could leave it permanently unrolled. Unlike the mass produced cheap types, a rug of this quality does not lend itself to being folded into a small, thin square for storage! I have an Egyptian colleague who I often see offshore. He had asked me to bring the rug offshore to show him. I don’t think it will be possible for me to pack it easily along with my belongings in my offshore bag. I will however recommend your site to him. No doubt my family, friends and colleagues (including non-Muslim) will see and handle the rug during visits and I’m certain that they too will be impressed. It is not easy to gauge the true quality from the pictures on your site. Once again, thanks.
Abdul Abeed Rashid, West Brom, UK

The rug arrived yesterday.?it is very beautiful, mashaAllah, much more than could be discerned from the pictures.?and i am very pleased with the quality and size of the rug. It was a great pleasure doing business with you and i appreciate the speedy delivery.
Abu Medina, NYC, USA

Freeman’s of Newent – report on halal slaughter

I recently received the following in my mailbox. It is a report on Freeman’s of Newent who supply Nando’s as well as a lot of other halal meat shops and restaurants around the UK. They are the biggest supplier of halal poultry in the UK.

Over the years numerous scare stories come out about Nando’s (and by extension Freeman’s) as not being halal, most of these “reports” present hearsay and conjecture and very little substantial or verified evidence to prove their point. I recently received one such email from a councillor in Blackburn by the name of Salim Mulla, the email was a long rant against Nando’s and about chicken brains exploding, pig being handled on the same premises and non-Muslims handling the chickens. He also stated that he visited Freeman’s with 4 unnamed ulama and witnessed all this, he gave no date, no time, who he met, where he actually went and who these Ulama were.

This is the crux of the email from Cllr. Salim Mulla

  1. Cutting is done with same machine blade / knife
  2. Meat / chicken cutting is done in pieces by English workers / same apron
  3. Cutting was done in the same preparation table.
  4. They were using the same non Halal container to load and unload the meat / Chickens, what about the mixing of blood.
  5. Cross contamination: Pigs were refrigerated in same area in the fridge

I responded in detail to the honourable Councillor and discussed at length his “finding” and specifically his approach to this which I think is very shoddy. Even after discussing with him I was still left unsatisfied by what he had to say as it just was not based on any solid evidence.

What follows is a proper report on Freeman’s of Newent, presented with clear concise details by someone who has personally visited the slaughter facilities. His name is Zubbair Malik, whilst I do not personally know him, I contacted him to verify this report and he said:

“by Allah this visit took place on the date stated in my report (Tue, 12th Feb 2008)”

The story Zubbair tells is very different from the exploding chicken brains one that does the rounds and Councillor Salim says he witnessed….

Wed 13 Feb 2008Asalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatu

I pray that you are in good health and iman and I would like to report an investigation in stunned halal poultry I have personally carried out this week.

Who and where this report reaches, only Allah (swt) knows. I have emailed this to people in my contacts list and as they know I am not an abattoir owner, meat wholesaler or retailer I am just a fellow Muslim end consumer concerned about eating halal and in addition, to inform my brothers and sisters of my findings, and pray to Almighty Allah that in this there is inshAllah knowledge that will benefit us.

I will try to keep this as brief and to the point as possible?

Recently, there has been a lot of ?hype? with regards to stunned poultry being doubtful. I am sure you have seen the emails and read the leaflets and reports.

As any concerned Muslim, I read and adapted this policy of trying to eat meat which was unstunned. I recently found out that a wholesaler (Nasons in Luton) within my region was delivering stunned poultry to almost all of my local halal butchers, takeaways and surrounding towns. With this concern, I approached Nasons, questioning their halal meat, especially the poultry.

They were adamant that the meat they supplied was halal and very open with regards to who their suppliers were. They invited me and whoever I would like to bring with me to see for myself that his poultry is most definitely halal, and there is NO doubt in their chicken being dead before slaughter.

On Tue 12th Feb 2008 we visited FREEMAN’S OF NEWENT Slaughters approx up to 50,000 – 60,000 birds a day, and is one of the main suppliers of halal poultry to the UK

I was met on arrival by Ali Bham, Head Slaughtermen of Freeman’s. After being introduced to various members of Senior Staff at Freeman’s, Ali explained his job and what measurements and Islamic standards he implements in his work to ensure that all Freeman’s chickens are 100% halal. He has worked for Freeman’s for the past 24 years.

The process for slaughter is as follows:

All the chickens are hung upside down on a line, their heads are dipped for about 1- 2 seconds in a tub of water and they are stunned with a high frequency stunner, at a set voltage of 39 volts. This temporarily knocks the chickens out.

When the chickens had been stunned, we were encouraged by Ali to touch the birds and feel their heart beat. Numerous chickens were touched and all had a heart beat and felt warm.

? Some chickens were still moving/flapping wings after being stunned.

? We removed chickens at will after stunning from the line and placed them on the floor. All birds opened their eyes after 5-10 seconds. After 1 minute the birds were trying to get up. After 2 mins, birds absolutely normal and walking around.

? After being stunned, the birds are slaughtered within 10 – 15 seconds.

? Very sharp knifes are used, no distress for chickens and ?Bismillah, Allah o Akbar? read on every single bird by the slaughtermen. Who, of course, are all Muslims. There were 6 of them, interviewed one of them and he knew all the etiquettes of halal slaughter.

? After slaughter, ALL chickens were clearly bleeding (meaning still alive)

? Chickens flapping after slaughter. Once slaughtered the line takes the birds into another section of the factory. Just in the killing room, (where the slaughter takes place), the line was about 3 lines deep. Chickens as far along as the third line were still flapping after slaughter (i.e. up to 2mins after slaughter).

? Clearly all 4 veins in the neck were being cut.

? Very humane, very calm, very clean and hygienic.

This in short is how the slaughter process worked. Allah (swt) is my witness, but from what I saw I was extremely happy that the chickens are 100% halal. Ali informs me that several millions of pounds have been invested by Freeman’s in this factory set up and is focused on halal poultry only.

Above all, I was very pleased to hear that Mufti Yousif Sacha is the one who certifies Freeman’s as halal. Now he must be, if not the, senior mufti with regards to halal and haram in the UK. I was shown the certificate, signed by Mufti Sacha, last certified in Jan 08. Ali informs me he visits every 6 months to check and certify the Freeman’s slaughter process.

Brothers and sisters, I would be under miming Brother Ali?s work at Freeman’s if I did not inform you of his hard work. Only Allah knows what is in people?s hearts, but MashAllah, this brother is doing his up most best to ensure that every single chicken that leaves Freeman’s is halal. And I have to respect him for it. I make dua that Allah (swt) accepts his efforts and rewards him in this world and the next.

I also visited IQBAL HALAL POULTRY, Bell Farm, Bovingdon, Herts prior to visiting Freeman’s. They slaughter 40,000 chickens a week and use a similar method to Freeman’s. Again, the same tests were carried out after stunning and all the chickens regained their senses and back to normal within a couple of minutes. They have 4 slaughtermen, I interviewed their Head Slaughtermen, and his reply to the nearest meaning, because he spoke Urdu, was; Allah is our witness, why would we lie about halal for a small worldly gain, when tomorrow we will have to give our account to the Almighty on the Day of Judgement.

To summarise, we should investigate into things we are unsure about and not just take other peoples word for it. I was told about the stunning process being doubtful by a ?reliable source?. And through a little investigation he has turned out to be not so reliable at all.

I can only speak for the two I visited, and in my humble opinion, these suppliers are halal. I encourage brothers to do their own investigation to eliminate any doubts in their minds. Alhumdulillah, these suppliers were very open in what they do and the process they follow. InshAllah, abattoirs near you are just as open.

JazakAllah Kair

Zubbair Malik

St Albans, Herts

Memories of Qawwali – A Tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

The following was a piece I wrote to commemorate the death of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Memories of Qawwali
A Tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

August 16th 2007 marked the 10th death anniversary of one of the masters of the qawwali genre of Muslim devotional music. Putting aside all the fiqhi (jurisprudential) discussions about music and the permissibility or otherwise of it (although one finds that Imam al-Ghazali and Shaykh Abdal Ghani al-Nablusi make an exception for devotional music), on a personal note I am indebted to Nusrat for making accessible to me the poetry and kalam of the Sufis which I ordinarily would not have had easy access to.

I am a second generation (British) Pakistani, born and raised in the UK, my first language is English, I think in English, I write in English and most of the time I dream in English (although I have had dreams in Urdu as well). Growing up, the language we spoke at home was “Pahari” rather than Urdu or Punjabi. I only really learned to speak Urdu properly when I got married and have a pretty decent level of conversational Urdu now (although lacking in more advanced vocabulary). My Urdu reading is generally poor (as is my writing), so much so that I just don’t bother with reading or writing Urdu (apart from having a go at reading the headlines in the Daily Jang newspaper!). That being said, I love languages and linguistics and love to learn the origins of words and phrases and so I have an interest in Sufi inspired qawwalis and other spoken/recited Urdu poetry. So I feel indebted to Nusrat and other qawwali singers for helping me in accessing at least a small portion of the Sufi poetry tradition of the Indian sub-continent, this rich art-form that has coloured and inspired the Muslim tradition of the Indian sub-continent.

People will complain about the environment of modern qawwali performances and the ills of it, which is fair enough. The adab (etiquette) of the majlis (gatherings) is something that is not ideal anymore but this does not detract from the content and form of this devotional musical genre.

My first memories of qawwalis are as a three year old in Pakistan on a bus and singing “damma damm mustt qalandar” but what I was actually singing was “damma damm bus conductor” thinking the song was about the buses! I know my parents used to listen to qawwalis as I was growing up (and occasional Mohammad Rafi songs too) even though my parents were not into music as such and were and are devoted and religious people, all the old classics such as “Allah hu“, “Mustt Qalandar” and the Sabri Brothers and Aziz Mian featured heavily in tape collections. Additionally, as a family we used to wake up early on a Sunday mornings and tune into “Nai Zindagi Naya Jeevan” (New Life, New Home) a BBC Urdu magazine style programme for early British Asian immigrants which covered current affairs, lifestyle and music. Quite often Nusrat and other qawwali performers were live in the studio performing some of their well known material, so all in all I suppose I am pre-disposed to this genre.

That said, my interest in qawwalis was rather patchy growing up through my early teens, college and university years in which my main music tastes were U2, Bruce Springsteen, Public Enemy, Stone Roses and all things Indie and Hip-Hop. I suppose I was switched on to qawwalis again when some well known western musicians started collaborating with Nusrat. Peter Gabriel, Eddi Vedder (Pearl Jam) and others. Whilst I was not a fan of either of these two musicians (although I had a vague appreciation of Peter Gabriel), it interested me to see western musicians take an interest in something from “my” cultural background. I must say that most of Nusrat’s collaborative stuff with western musicians was, for me, entirely forgettable and in some ways I considered it a dishonour and disrespect for the genre considering that the qawwali, in essence, is a devotional genre. So to taint this spiritual music with the decadence of western music disconcerted me somewhat, even though I was well into a lot of western music at the time and not a very observant as a Muslim! So Nusrat, in the context of western music, just didn’t do it for me and quite frankly most of it was dross and out of place as were all the “funky” remixes of the classic qawwalis.

My latent interest in qawwali was further piqued by the death of Nusrat in 1997 when Channel 4 aired a concert of his shortly after his death. One of the qawwalis particularly captured me with its power, majesty and poetry it was “Saray Nabiyon deh NabiThe Prophet of All the Prophets. Being married to an Urdu speaking wife, I had reached a fairly decent level of Urdu and Punjabi and my interest in the Seerah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and Sufi literature also helped me in accessing the meanings of this amazing qawwali. It was the first time that I saw past the music and accessed the words, that feeling of grasping something for the first time was just amazing, no longer did I have to have someone translate the meanings (although parts of the qawwali I had to have explained) I understood! The entire qawwali was in honour of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and expressed every emotion of awe, honour, respect and love that all Muslims hold the for the Messenger of Allah. I found this particular qawwali so powerful it literally moved me to tears. For me it is the single most powerful expression of my love for the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). I love the Burdah of Imam al-Busairi but as it is in Arabic I can’t access the meanings directly and so am reliant on translations, I can experience the sound and the singing (which I love!) but the meaning can’t permeate into my mind, heart and being as words from languages I understand.

So, a big thank you to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for enriching my life through his qawwalis, may Allah forgive him his shortcomings and raise him in the akhira (afterlife). Amin.