John Lewis pauses sale of halal cat food brand after it allegedly used antisemitic passage in Quran to justify its product

The cat food company claim the Quran forbids feeding non-halal meat to pets


A John Lewis store in Kingston-upon-Thames, England (Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

A halal pet food company whose product was sold at John Lewis justified the existence of its product by appearing to use an antisemitic passage from religious Islamic text.

The Tiana Halal Pet Food company, based in Manchester, claims the Quran “forbids non-halal meat and animal fat from being purchased and handled by an owner for the purpose of feeding their cat”.

On the company’s website, there was a now deleted document that offers an interpretation of scripture that supports this position, issued by The Olive Foundation, a faith school in Bradford.

In the document, from January 2021 entitled “Are we permitted to buy non-Halal cat food for our pets?”, the author discusses the morality behind purchasing or otherwise benefitting from the fat of a non-halal animal – often the ingredients of cat food – under Islamic law.

The author cites a passage in the hadith, Mishkat al-Masabih 2766, which reads: “Allah cursed the Jews as he had made the consumption of animal fat illegal, so [instead] they sold it and consumed the earnings from its sale.”

It continued: “Allah and His Messenger have made illegal the transacting in alcoholic beverages, non- ritually slaughtered animals, pigs and idols.” He was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what about the fat of non-ritually slaughtered animals, because we coat the ships with it and we lubricate the skins with it and we use it as a lighting fuel for the people? The Prophet responded, “No, it is illegal.” Then the Messenger of Allah continued, “May Allah curse the Jews because when Allah made illegal for them the fat of animals, they gathered them together and sold them and consumed its earnings.”

The author also says it is “not permitted” to feed animals that have not been ritually slaughtered to your pet.

The document, which was taken down from the Tiana Halal website on Tuesday, was reported to the police as a potential race hate crime by members of the public and to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Critics have accused the company of employing “insensitive, gratuitous, and entirely unnecessary” antisemitic tropes to sell their product.

A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “What does it say about the state of antisemitism in Britain today that a company actually thinks that Jew hatred might be a selling point for their cat food?

“At a time of rising antisemitism, seeking to profit from the demonisation of Jewish people is about as low as one can get.”

In an Instagram post from July 27, Tiana Halal announced that its cat food would be available for purchase at John Lewis. The caption read: “We’re so happy to bring halal pet food into the mainstream, making the life of a Muslim pet owner that bit easier,

“As you’ll know, John Lewis’s priority is providing your pets with quality items that tick your boxes and align with your values. It’s great to see inclusivity in action.”

John Lewis, who until earlier this week had the product appear on its online store, “paused” its sale in stores and removed it from being listed online while an investigation was carried out. The retailer claims it was unaware of the content on the supplier’s website.

A John Lewis spokesperson told the JC: “We want to be an inclusive retailer and for all customers to feel comfortable shopping with us. We’ve spoken to the supplier, and they’re making changes to their website.”

No further details about what John Lewis communicated to Tiana Halal have been shared, however John Lewis confirmed that once they are sufficiently “comfortable with the steps taken by the supplier”, the product would likely return to its stores.

The ASA, Tiana Halal and The Olive Foundation both did not respond to requests for comment.

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