Wednesday 11 June 2014

Preparing for Ramadan: Choosing Your Dates Carefully

Last Friday Friends of Al-Aqsa launched their Check the Label - Boycott Israeli Dates 2014 campaign. I'm a little late, but with Ramadan less than three weeks away, I thought it would still be timely to mention the campaign.

It seems to me that as consumers Muslim’s in this country do have some power to make a difference. The recent furore in the newspapers over the use of halal meat by mainstream food retailers (see here, here and here) seems evidence of that (not that I asked for halal KFC or want it). This is why I think it is so important that we put some thought into our purchases, particularly where we are the target audience.

Dates from Israel are a strong example of this. Friends of Al-Aqsa state:

“We often check the ingredients on food packaging to decide if foods are good for our health and if they are halal. This campaign extends the concept to 'check the label' to ensure the dates we eat during Ramadhan are good for our body and soul!

Every year, Israel exports millions of pounds worth of dates to the world, which many people unknowingly buy and use to break their fasts. These dates are grown in illegal settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, on land that has been stolen from Palestinians. By buying these dates, we are in fact helping Israel to continue its occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Their campaign website gives a list of companies that we should avoid and asks us to help the campaign in a number of ways including by:
  • Distribute leaflets after Jummah Salah
  • Put up posters on your mosque notice board
  • Share the campaign literature on social media and repost
  • Ask your imam to dedicate the khutbah to Masjid al-Aqsa and mention the campaign
  • Use #icheckthelabel
  • Sharing the message through facebook, instagram or twitter.
Please do be careful about the dates you buy. Most of the supermarkets and grocers near me sell dates from the companies mentioned and I often see Muslim’s buying the big 5kg boxes (costing £35 upwards), including to donate to their masjid’s for iftar. As the campaign states:

“He who buys the stolen property, with the knowledge that it was stolen shares in the sin and shame of stealing” – Hadith Tirmidhi

Some brands that the campaign suggest are avoided include:

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