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Washington, D.C. – The Shia Muslim Foundation (SMF) participated in a significant event at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which also marked the launch of the “State of the Global Islamic Economy Report” by DinarStandard. The event was a convergence of key players in the halal food industry and provided a platform for discussing the halal food ecosystem and its economic impact. The report is available for download here:

Dinar Standard Global Report 2023
Download PDF • 11.39MB

Insights and Highlights from the USDA meeting:

  • Tackling Food Insufficiency: The alarming issue of food insufficiency among American Muslims was addressed, with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) distributing 800,000 meals annually to those in need across 40 states.

  • Prominent Industry Figures: The event was attended by influential figures in the halal industry, including the founder of and the President of Crescent Foods.

  • Advocacy for Halal on Campuses: The event highlighted initiatives to promote halal food options at 30 universities in the Northeastern US, emphasizing the importance of meeting diverse dietary needs in academic institutions.

  • Research Initiatives: Texas A&M University’s commitment to funding research related to halal food practices was showcased, with the support of various Muslim groups.

  • Amish Farms’ Role in Halal Meat Production: A surprising discovery was the substantial contribution of Amish farms to the US halal meat supply, aligning traditional farming values with halal principles.

Market Statistics:

  • The US halal market has reached impressive milestones with $60 billion in sales of halal food products and $20 billion in halal lifestyle spending in 2022.

  • On a global scale, the halal market is estimated at $2.3 trillion, with Muslim assets worldwide totaling $3.8 trillion.

The event at the USDA was a landmark occasion, bringing together an assembly of esteemed professionals:

At the helm of the USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships stood Samantha Joseph, whose leadership and vision have been instrumental in fostering community engagement and environmental stewardship. Her welcoming remarks set the tone for a day of meaningful dialogue and collaboration.

The international trade landscape was represented by Aamer Uddin from the Department of Commerce. His expertise in global markets and digital diplomacy initiatives provided a valuable perspective on the economic intricacies of the halal industry.

From the corridors of the White House, Senior Policy Advisor Sameer Hossain brought a wealth of knowledge from the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. His contributions to the discussion underscored the importance of inclusive policies that resonate with diverse communities.

The core of the event was the unveiling of the “Global Islamic Economy 2023/2024 Report” by DinarStandard. CEO Rafi-uddin Shikoh, alongside Partner Reem El Shafaki, presented the key findings, offering a data-driven analysis of the Islamic economy’s trajectory. Their work at DinarStandard has been pivotal in providing actionable insights and fostering economic development within the Islamic markets.

Dr. Aamir Rehman, Senior Partner at DinarStandard, joined the panel discussion, bringing his academic prowess and strategic acumen to the forefront. His contributions to investment strategy and his role as a Senior Fellow at Columbia University have enriched the discourse on Islamic finance and its potential.

Elaine Trevino, the Associate Administrator of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, shared her

experiences in addressing export-import challenges and her involvement in the White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force. Her expertise was invaluable in understanding the complexities of the global food supply chain.

Asma Ahad, the Director of Halal Market Development at IFANCA, provided insights into the certification processes and consumer needs within the halal market. Her dedication to servicing the halal consumer has been a driving force in the industry’s growth.

Shahed Amanullah, a Director at Frost Capital and Co-Founder of Zabihah, brought an entrepreneurial spirit to the event. His innovative approach to connecting consumers with halal options through Zabihah has been transformative for the industry.

Lastly, Ahmad Adam, President and CEO of Crescent Foods, shared his journey in establishing one of the largest providers of premium Halal poultry and meat in the United States. His vision and leadership have been central to meeting the growing demand for halal products.

Together, these speakers contributed to a rich tapestry of discussion, their collective wisdom paving the way for a more inclusive and prosperous halal market. The SMF, having been part of this gathering, looks forward to the continued growth and success of the global Islamic economy.

The SMF is honored to have been a part of this event and to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on halal food policy and practices. The Foundation remains dedicated to supporting the halal food ecosystem and the broader Islamic economy.

(WASHINGTON DC - March 28, 2024) The Shia Muslim Foundation (SMF) supports President Biden’s recent acknowledgment of Nowruz and his mention of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Executive Director Rahat Husain has expressed concern over the anti-Shia bias evident in some groups’ criticism of the President’s statement. Mr. Husain's discussion of the President's comments were recently featured in Politico article.

RAHAT HUSAIN, of the Shia Muslim Foundation, said he thought that Biden’s decision to mention Gaza in the statement was “entirely appropriate.” He hoped, in fact, to see the president speak more directly to the crisis.
“Most people that I know who are celebrating or commemorating Nowruz in my community and other communities are entirely concerned about Gaza. And it’s colored our celebration of Nowruz,” he said. “How much can you celebrate when people are suffering?”

Contrary to the claims of these critics, Nowruz is not exclusively a non-Muslim celebration nor solely an Iranian holiday indifferent to Gaza. This festival is observed by numerous Shia communities across India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Turkey. The debate on whether Nowruz is a cultural festivity or has Islamic roots does not diminish its significance to these communities.

The SMF emphasizes that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza transcends religious, regional, and ethnic boundaries; it is a matter of universal human rights. The Foundation commends President Biden for addressing this issue in the Nowruz statement and urges for more substantial action rather than divisive rhetoric online.

Executive Director Husain, whose insights were sought by Politico, reiterates that unity and scholarly discourse should prevail over attempts to isolate Shia Muslims or any community.

The SMF remains committed to fostering understanding and advocating for the rights of all individuals, regardless of their background or beliefs.

(WASHINGTON DC - March 8, 2024) - Today the US Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation held a session to provide critical updates on issues related to issues of physical safety and civil rights violations impacting the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities in the US. The meeting was part of the United Against Hate Program, a nationwide initiative to increase awareness and prevention of hate crimes and incidents, and to foster collaboration among faith leaders, community groups, and law enforcement. The Shia Muslim Foundation attended this event.

The meeting featured three speakers: Mr. Jonathan Smith, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Civil Rights Division of hte DOJ, Mr. Clark, the Assistant Attorney General at the same division, and the Deputy Director of the FBI, Paul Abbate. The speakers addressed the challenges and fears faced by the affected communities in the wake of the October 7, 2023 attack by Hamas, which sparked a surge of hate crimes and discrimination against them. The speakers also outlined the actions taken by the Justice Department and the FBI to combat hate crimes and incidents, and to prevent domestic terrorism. The speakers encouraged the participants to report any incidents of hate or bias to the authorities and to seek help from the available resources. The speakers expressed their gratitude and solidarity with the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities, and assured them of their commitment to ensuring their safety and civil rights.

The meeting was moderated by Smith, who welcomed the participants and introduced the agenda and the speakers. He acknowledged the challenges and fears faced by the affected communities and assured them of the federal government’s support and resources. He also mentioned that the meeting was a follow-up to the previous meetings that the Justice Department leaders had with law enforcement and community leaders in November 2023.

The first speaker was Clark, who expressed his gratitude and solidarity with the communities and condemned the hate-fueled violence and discrimination. He outlined the actions taken by the Justice Department to protect the civil rights and safety of the communities, such as directing the US Attorney offices and the FBI to work with local partners and meet with community leaders, and launching investigations and prosecutions of hate crimes. He also encouraged the participants to report any incidents of hate or bias to the authorities and to seek help from the available resources, such as the Civil Rights Division’s website, the Civil Rights Reporting Portal, and the Victim Connect Resource Center.

Clark continued to describe the actions taken by the Justice Department to address the hate crimes and incidents against the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities. He mentioned some examples of the cases that the department had charged or investigated, such as:

  • A Florida man who threatened the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan chapter

  • A fatal shooting of a six-year-old and his mother in Illinois

  • A shooting of three Palestinian men in Vermont

  • A Utah defendant who threatened a Palestinian rights organization

He emphasized that the department was committed to holding the perpetrators accountable and sending a clear message of zero tolerance for hate crimes. He also explained that the department was focused on hate incidents that may not rise to the level of criminal violations, but still harm the communities and violate the civil rights laws. He gave some examples of the cases that the department had intervened or filed, such as:

  • A Washington State School District that failed to protect Muslim students from harassment and assault

  • A Maryland employer that discriminated against a Muslim employee who wore a hijab

Clark concluded his remarks by highlighting the United Against Hate Program, a nationwide initiative to increase awareness and prevention of hate crimes and incidents, and to foster collaboration among faith leaders, community groups, and law enforcement. He reiterated his empathy and solidarity with the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities, and his commitment to ensuring their safety and civil rights.

The next speaker was the FBI Deputy Director Abbate, who thanked the previous speakers and the participants, and stated that the FBI had been working closely with the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities to counter the threat of domestic terrorism and to prevent violence and harm. He acknowledged the real and persistent threats that the communities faced because of their identity.

The Deputy Director of the FBI shared the data on the increase in hate crime incidents from 2021 to 2022, and the concern about violent extremists who may target the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities in the US. He explained the measures that the FBI was taking to address these threats, such as:

  • Working with federal, state, and local partners through the Joint Terrorism Task Forces and the civil rights coordinators

  • Taking a closer look at existing cases and intelligence to identify potential threats and gaps

  • Enhancing outreach and engagement with the communities to build trust and cooperation

  • Providing training and guidance to law enforcement and prosecutors on hate crime identification, investigation, and prosecution

  • Developing and disseminating public awareness materials and resources on hate crimes and how to report them

Deputy Director Abbate also mentioned some examples of the cases that the FBI had investigated or assisted, such as:

  • A New York man who plotted to bomb a synagogue

  • A Texas man who stabbed an Asian American family at a grocery store

  • A California man who set fire to a mosque

  • A Pennsylvania man who vandalized a Jewish cemetery

He stressed that the FBI was determined to protect the communities from hate and violence, and to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution. He also urged the participants to report any suspicious activity or behavior to the FBI or local law enforcement, and to visit the FBI’s website for more information and resources on hate crimes.

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