Author: NIHT Media
ALLAH SUBAHANAHUWATAALA states in the Holy Quraan surah 2 v 168. “O people! Eat what is on earth, Lawful and Good.” Furthermore ALLAH says “Eat of the things which ALLAH has provided for you, Lawful and Good.” (surah 5 – v 88). These are direct orders from ALLAH. The consumption of Halaal Food is a fundamental aspect in any Muslim’s life. We will try to critically evaluate the concerns and scepticism of the Muslim Consumer today. After all, the consumption of Halaal or Haraam has a profound effect on a Muslim’s duahs. Understand, the Muslim consumer is faced with immense difficulty regarding choices in today’s world. The certification of Halaal products no longer refers to meat or ancillary products only, but to a host of other products covering franchise stores, pharmaceuticals, cosmetic products, ready to eat products, as well as a host of drinks, spices, sauces and condiments. Lately we have also seen a flood of financial, investment and insurance products with the attachment of Sharia or Halaal compliant tags.
The Quraan states “O you who believe! Obey ALLAH and his Rasool (SAW) and those charged with AUTHORITY among you.” (surah 4 v 59). It is with this Ayat in mind, that the Muslim consumer needs help, direction and assistance when confronted with the plethora of Halaal products on the shelves of supermarkets and cafe’s confounding the issue is the globalisation of trade. This globalisation of trade allows for products of various countries to be marketed and sold locally and vice versa, without any ramification to religion or culture of that country.
With the advancement in Food technology. Food and drink’s are being produced by Bio Technical and Bio Engineering techniques on a mass scale. Specific introduction of special material cultivators, micro organisms into plant and animal products have potential to increase production and enhance the shelve life and manageability of many food products. Hence, the widespread use of emulsifiers, preservatives and food enzymes. It is in these technologically produced foods and drinks, that not only the source of origin, but the processors of manufacture need to be analyzed and reviewed by the Jurists to determine the acceptance (Halaalness) of these products for Muslim consumption, that is why there is a definite need to have Halaal Certification.
Take the mundane product like the manufacture of BREAD; its easy to say what can be Haraam, Dubious or objectionable in BREAD and other so-called basic products. But take a closer look. In the old days we knew BREAD to be made from flour, water, yeast and salt (4) four ingredients, fast forward to today and look at the ingredients of your favourite bread. Flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar, soya, hydrolyzed fat, emulsifiers, minerals, preservatives, flour improver, vitamins, calcium proponate, phosphates, zinc oxide and sodium diacetate, more than 16 ingredients. What does this mean to us, the layman. Thanks to our countries labelling laws, ingredients such as emulsifiers, colourants and preservatives need not be specified individually. In other words while the ingredients list would state emulsifiers, it could be from as many as eighty (80) emulsifiers used simultaneously or individually, the same with preservatives and colourants. This obviously leaves us with a dilemma, since some emulsifiers, preservatives or colourants could be derived from a plant or an animal source. As Halaal consumers our main concern would be animal derivatives. The same for vegetarians and people following the Hindu religion where the consumption of animals are forbidden. Take for example a few well known emulsifiers, preservatives or colourants, used in the manufacture of food stuffs today.
LECITHIN – could be from an animal or vegetable source.
GLYCERINE – could be from an animal or vegetable source.
COCHINEAL – obtained from insects.
SHELLAC – obtained from insects.
L-CYSTEINE – used as flour improver – could be made from HUMAN HAIR or Feathers.
PHOSPHATE – could be mineral or from animal bones.
MONO-DI-GLYCERIDE – process needs to be evaluated.
FUSEL OIL – flavour enhancer derived from cognac brandy.
This list is just but a few of problematic ingredients used in the food manufacturing industry today. Ever wondered how does the bread of today still feels fresher three days later?? Say thanks to an ingredient called Polyoxyl 40 stereate.
These issues cover just the ingredients only. Without wanting to alarm the consumer, cognisance must still be taken of the baking process. What about the greasing process used on the baking tins. Are they Halaal?? The greasing used on the baking pans to prevent the bread from sticking, could be from an animal or vegetable source. We need to ensure the product for greasing is Halaal (vegetable source). Lets take it one step further, the bread will need a glaze on top, maybe a little egg is used to glaze the bread, thats fine, but wait, what about the brush used to apply the glaze to the bread. It could be made from 100% bristles which means it is made from pork hair, thereby rendering the use of the brush Haraam and unusable by many faiths including Islam. Makes you think doesn’t it. These are issues being faced by Muslims concerning a basic necessity item in today’s structured world, BREAD. You will now understand the need for Halaal certification and the challenges facing the NIHT and the Muslim Ummah at large.
This article has not been written as an ALARMIST or an apocalyptic piece of sensational journalism, but rather as a tool to educate, equip, understand and critically analyze the challenges facing us as the Muslim Ummah. The good work being undertaken by organizations like the NIHT can only auger well for the Muslim Ummah. One can now understand the research undertaken both theologically and scientifically, over and above the inspections and the checks and balances implemented by the NIHT, before an article or product is pronounced Halaal. So the next time you see a product bearing the Halaal logo of the NIHT, think of the process, before enjoying it with full confidence.
In conclusion, the Muslim consumer can now understand the enormity of the situation and the need to be vigilant and informed. The need for Halaal certification is now needed more than ever.