Halalization: Religious Product Certification in Secular Markets

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In Islam, the extension of religious regulation and certification to new product types and economic sectors—“halalization”—has become widespread. There are now Islamic mortgages, halal ports, halal refrigerators, halal blockchain, and shariah-compliant cryptocurrencies. Yet classical secularization theory says religious authority cannot regulate modern economic activity. So what explains halalization? I point to an elective affinity between fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and twenty-first-century markets. Contemporary fiqh offers widely respected religious jurists who issue fatwas certifying products. Entrepreneurs empanel the jurists on certification boards, allowing fiqh to function as a regime of voluntary regulation layered atop secular state law instead of conflicting with it. Indeed, secular liberal markets provide ideal conditions for halalization and religious meaning-making through consumption. Case studies of Islamic finance and halal logistics show how entrepreneurs assuage consumers’ religious anxieties—and generate new ones—in the context of globalization and liberalization in secular markets.




Calder, R. (2020). Halalization: Religious Product Certification in Secular Markets. Sociological Theory, 38(4), 334–361. https://doi.org/10.1177/0735275120973248

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