motivated allegations, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) yesterday faced the press, emphasising that its role is legal and transparent sans any hidden agendas.
ACJU also denied allegations made towards it to the effect that it was forcing companies to be Halal certified, noting that obtaining the certification was voluntary.
“We have not and will never compel any company to be Halal certified if they do not wish to,” said ACJU member Shaik Fazil Farook. He added that just as they do not compel Halal certification of companies, the ACJU also does not force Muslims, or anyone else, to consume Halal foods.
The ACJU expressed that the Hahal certification is 100% voluntary and said that the allegations were baseless and could be verified from any vendor who has been certified with the association.
The ACJU explained that any company that wished to be Halal certified should send in an application with their Standard of Procedures (SOP). Once all documents are received, the association regularly visits the site of production for study. If it is noted that any ingredients or processes used are not permissible according to Islamic law, alternatives are suggested andthe company is under no obligation to amend their ways to receive the Halalcertificate.
With regard to having the authority to issue Halal certification, Shaik Farooktold the Daily FT that as a registered association, it was well within its limitsand was doing what was permissible.
“ACJU is a registered association that delivers a service to the community by issuing Halal certification, and in return we take a fee to cover the costs incurred. We are not doing anything wrong,” he said.
When questioned if the issuing of Halal certificate should be handed over to the Sri Lanka Institute of Standards (SLIS), the ACJU said the criterion it used was different.
“What the ACJU offers is also a standard – it’s a Halal standard and people should understand this,” said Farook. He added that should the Government want to be involved in the certifying process, the ACJU would certainly consider it if such a proposal were to be put forward.
The media conference facilitated by the ACJU clarified the meaning of Halal as it is noted to be misunderstood by the majority of Sri Lanka. The association stressed that the Halal terminology, which means ‘lawful’ in Arabic, is used to designate any object or action which is permissible to use or engage in according to the Islamic law and is not limited to food and drink alone.
ACJU acknowledged the rise of Islamic finance products being introduced by major players in the financial sector such as BOC, Commercial Bank, HNB, and LOLC as an indicator. ACJU said it would not be surprised if fingers were pointed towards them, accusing the association for forcing such financial houses to render Islamic finance services to the Muslim population.
“Before such allegations are made, we would like to convey to the public beforehand that we have not protested or fought for the availability of Islamic banking. These companies have realised the potential of the market and with the consultation of Islamic scholars, they have chosen to deliver such products,” ACJU added.
Commenting on whether Halal products were permissible for non-Muslims aswell, Shaik Farook said: “We say Halal foods are for Muslims, we have never said that Halal foods are ‘only’ for Muslims and I stand by this.”
Shaik Farook opined that it is only in Sri Lanka that the consumption of Halalfoods has been blown out of proportion. Countries such as Thailand and Singapore have successfully accommodated Halal certification into their processes and procedures. Despite Muslims being minorities in these countries, the Halal certification process is backed by the government and well as the public, he explained.
The official Halal website of Thailand states that the Halal food industry is one of the key elements in the Royal Thai Government’s efforts to promote and propel Thailand as ‘Kitchen of the World’.
Thailand is one of the world’s top food supplying countries and the website highlights that Halal food is receiving strong interest from more than 1.9 billion Muslim consumers worldwide and non-Muslims are now increasingly consuming Halal food because it is hygienic. COURTESY:DAILY