Author: NIHT Media
he recent controversy surrounding the meat industry, locally as well as internationally, has led to a greater awareness amongst all consumers, Muslim and Non-Muslim alike, regarding what they consume. From donkey and horse DNA being found in processed products in Europe, to water buffalo in South Africa, what has become apparent is that, in some instances, the consumer has been misled by unscrupulous businessmen and the time has surely arrived to ensure that consumers are fully aware of what they are consuming.
It is however, imperative to remember that the matter of DNA testing is not as simplistic as it is appears. Laymen do not often understand intricacies of involved in the process of testing. The NIHT since its inception has always consulted with professionals in the field of science and food technology to better understand issues that faced the organization. The organization had therefore established the NIHT Scientific Advisory Council to assist with the scientific issues which would arise from time to time.
During a recent meeting of the National Independent Halaal Trust (NIHT) board, presentations on genetics were done by Dr Arshad Mather and Dr Muhammed Sayed, two of the members of the NIHT’s Scientific Advisory Council. Their presentations provided valuable insight into the building blocks of life. Regarding genetic testing, it was established that some of the testing methods were extremely sensitive and as such, DNA contamination is possible, even though the product tested did not contain the species whose DNA was found. Results are not often as conclusive as they are deemed to be.
In a meat processing or manufacturing facility where different species of meat is handled, for example beef, mutton and chicken, “contamination” is a great possibility. If a worker has handled chicken, and then touches a beef product, and if hypothetically thereafter the beef product is sent for DNA testing, it is possible that the traces of chicken DNA will also be found. Therefore results therefore have to be verified by professionals in the field before any conclusions can be drawn.
Amongst the Ulama present at the meeting were Mufti M.A Hazarvi, principal of Darul Uloom Pretoria, Moulana Sayed Yusuf of Saaberie Chishty, Moulana Aslam Sulaiman of Sultan Bahu Centre and Hafiz Ismail Hazarvi of Darul Uloom Pretoria. Commenting on the meeting and presentations, Moulana Sayed Yusuf said that he was indeed impressed with the levels of consultation employed by the NIHT and the meticulous research done into important matters facing the organization.
Nevertheless, what the entire saga highlights is that the proper labelling of products, is a necessity and it is clear that all meat traders and manufacturers, including the small Muslim butchery need to comply with the proper labelling legislation as stipulated by law. The Muslim businessman is duty-bound to follow Islamic business ethics, values and principles because, on the discussion of Halaal and Haraam, these are not limited to food and beverage consumption alone, but encompass the Muslims entire life. The manner in which you earn your livelihood has to be Halaal as well!!!
Islam gives complete freedom to economic enterprise. A Muslim may choose any means of earning his wealth provided that it conforms with Shariah. The behaviour of a Muslim businessman in his trading and dealing is codified within Islamic law. The ultimate Muslim Businessman is exemplified by none other than the exalted Prophet of Islam, our leader and guide, Muhammed Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. His example in all facets of life is second to none.
Lying and cheating is strictly prohibited in business dealings. The Holy Qur’an has stressed the importance of fairness in business: “And, O my people, give full measure and weight justly, and defraud not men of their things, and act not corruptly in the land making mischief. What remains with Allah is better for you, if you are believers” (Surah 11. Verses 85-86). Numerous Hadith testify to the honesty of our Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam in all aspects of his life. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), while reprimanding the dishonest dealer, said: “Whosoever deceives us is not one of us.”
According to Imam Al-Ghazali (R.A), a Muslim who makes up his mind to adopt trade as a profession or to set up his own business should first acquire a thorough understanding of the rules of business transactions codified in the Islamic Shari’ah. Without such understanding he will go astray and fall into serious lapses making his earning unlawful. Honesty and integrity therefore needs to be in the DNA of a Muslim businessman.
Article first published: 13/01/2013