The Qur'an, in accordance with the verse, "God wants that which is easy for you," (2:185) teaches that everything is to be considered halal (permissible) unless there is a detailed scriptural edict that makes it haram (impermissible). Despite this leniency, an aggressive, largely petro-dollar-financed, radical movement has sought since the 1970s to impose a suffocating stringency that sees only one correct view. That in turn birthed the halal industry—about which Kamali's book is the first full-length study. Shariah and the Halal Industry is well structured, with an introduction, twenty-six chapters, four appendices, and a glossary. It demonstrates how extremist legalism has promoted an economic agenda that the Kuwait Finance House estimated in 2018 to amount globally to US$6.4 trillion.
Medicine offers one example of the halal economy. The law of darura (necessity) in Islam stipulates that, in times of dire need, that which is normally forbidden is allowed. Medicines and vaccines being necessities, their containing alcohol or pork derivatives has historically not been a problem. Lately, however, efforts in some Muslim majority countries seek to ensure that all medicines and vaccines meet strict halal requirements. Halal parks in Malaysia produce these updated medicines and vaccines.
Halal tourism offers another example: "The hotels in the halal sector serving Muslims will not serve alcohol and have separate spa facilities and swimming pools for men and women." While the author focuses on Muslim majority countries, he notes that Europe, North America, and Australia present emerging markets for halal-compliant regulations.
The reader may note that it is no longer the duty of the individual Muslim to avoid alcohol but rather the responsibility of the establishment (even if non-Muslim owned) not to serve alcohol. Although gender segregation is not practiced by all Muslims, it is now sought as a norm in non-Muslim-majority countries catering to Muslim tourists.
The author criticizes what he calls "halal phobia" in some non-Muslim majority countries while not considering that some may view the halal phenomenon as a form of economic jihad. He notes, "As with the Islamic banking and finance industry, it [i.e., halal] is more market driven than knowledge driven." The author's belief that "halal phobia" could be countered by new advertising strategies may explain why, in countries with increasing Muslim populations, there is fear of Shari'a implementation.
Kamali provides a useful introduction to an emerging industry.