As so-called sharia finance grows in the West, so too do beheadings, honor killings and dhimmitude. And more powerful, better-funded jihad groups. There is a direct correlation.
“There’s a good chance that piece of lamb you are buying at Whole Foods is halal, even though it’s not branded as halal,”
via Shariah financing growing popular in the West. h/t Dee
CHICAGO — Ahmed Irfan Khan was poised to transform his family’s small but successful slaughterhouse into a specialty-meat selling juggernaut.
Just one thing stood in his way: His faith.
Khan’s thriving business in Chicago’s old stockyards — which sells halal meat — protein slaughtered in a way prescribed by Islamic law — might have made him attractive to Main Street investors. But his strict adherence to his Muslim faith made going down that path complicated.
From Khan’s website:
Back to the story:
Under Islamic law, collecting or paying interest is prohibited, making it difficult for Khan to borrow the roughly $2 million needed to expand his company, Barkaat Foods.
But Khan was ultimately able to get the capital for his business — and stay true to his faith — with the help of a traditional bank and a boutique venture capital firm willing to hammer out arrangement that Khan said was “Shariah compliant.”
In the Barkaat deal, the Chicago-based venture capital firm Prairie Street Capital borrowed from Ohio’s FirstMerit bank on standard terms. Prairie Street then entered into what is known in Arabic as a murabaha, a deal that is effectively structured as a lease-to-own agreement. The firm rents back equipment and the building to Barkaat at a marked up rate.
A Chicago investment bank, Sikich, assisted Barkaat in brokering the deal.
Michael Barry, president of Prairie Street Capital, said his firm was enticed by Barkaat, even as the Midwest has seen several mainstream meat producers go out of business in recent years. With the U.S. Muslim population projected to grow by 35% in the next 20 years, Barkaat was uniquely positioned, Barry said.
“We saw a business that we felt good about owning, we felt good about being part of,” Barry said. “It’s a business we can add value to and we could make money with. It’s what drove us to the decision.”
Khan, whose first career was in IT, knows first-hand the demand for his product. When his family moved to Chicago from Bombay in the mid-1980s, they struggled to find halal meat.
For years, he looked for slaughterhouses, like the one he eventually bought in 2009, that would let him come in and slaughter his own lamb or goat, so that he could be assured his family was eating authentic halal meat.
Already, Khan is selling his meat directly to thousands of Muslim customers throughout the country, who buy his lamb, goat and veal, and have it shipped to them. (With the $2 million cash infusion, he plans to buy new equipment and retrofit parts of his slaughterhouse, so that he can begin slaughtering cattle as well.)
While most of his customers shop online, many come to check out his facility in person. Earlier this month, hundreds of Muslim families came to his slaughterhouse to kill lambs themselves to mark the holy day of Eid al-Adha.
Non-Muslims are also his customers, with much of his product being sold to a Wisconsin meat company that sells high-end organic meats to grocers.
“There’s a good chance that piece of lamb you are buying at Whole Foods is halal, even though it’s not branded as halal,” Khan said.
Some critics, including the conservative Center for Security Policy, warn that Americans should be wary of Shariah-compliant financing. They charge that certain aspects of Shariah are draconian, including requirements that women seek permission from their husbands before doing something as mundane as getting a driver license and calls for capital punishment for those who slander Islam.
“Islamists are attempting to impose Shariah Compliant Finance (SCF) on Western institutions to use our own financial strengths against us,” the group writes on its blog dedicated to the issue, Shariah Finance Watch. “The most serious problem with SCF is that it legitimates and institutionalizes Shariah law… a theo-political, legal doctrine violently opposed to Western values.”
Chris Geier, partner-in-charge at Sikich, the investment bank that helped broker the Barkaat deal, said such criticism is unfair.
“This is a company in the U.S., legally domiciled, approved by the USDA to do business the way they are doing it,” Geier said of Barkaat. “We try to help companies and support their business plan and therefore support this economy. It is done without a belief about what they do religiously.”
Which economy? The sharia economy? The economy of jihad? Geier does not care if his clients use the money to fund jihad. It’s all about the money.
Meanwhile, Khan is elated that sharia is creeping along in the U.S.
Khan said he’s unfazed by the criticism, and instead said his deal shows that American financial institutions are beginning to see Islam in granularity that they hadn’t before.
“It’s progress when you can find a way to do business and stay true to your beliefs,” he said.
From a 2010 post:
Barkaat’s biggest single customer is Strauss Brands, a Franklin, Wisconsin based purveyor of lamb and veal which has made a name of itself producing free raised animals, which graze in pastures with their mothers, rather than being confined to crates, or held on tethers.“Our secret is authenticity,” Strauss advertises.
After each slaughter, most of the meat is shipped to Strauss’ Wisconsin facility for further processing, and sold under the Strauss label. In Chicago, you can buy Strauss brands, which may have been slaughtered at Barkaat, through Whole Foods, and through Caputo’s Fresh Markets. It’s also available through Costco online.
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