Former Perlis mufti Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin says everything is halal until it is proven to be haram and then, if someone says it is haram, one has to provide evidence that it is haram.
Similar to the legal adage “innocent until proven guilty”, unless stated otherwise, the default state of food is halal according to former Perlis mufti Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.
“Everything is halal until it is proven to be haram and then, if someone says it is haram, they have to provide evidence that it is haram,” he said while speaking at a panel discussing the rights of Muslim consumers.
He said that Islam was not so strict as to hold Muslims accountable if they accidentally or unwittingly consumed food that was not halal.
Otherwise, he said, Muslims would have to question the food they were given even at their relatives’ houses as the food was not certified as halal by Jakim.
“What Jakim has certified as halal is confirmed to be halal, but what they have not certified is not necessarily haram,” he said, pointing out that halal and certified halal were two different things.
Mohd Asri also proposed a different labelling system for Malaysia whereby foods would be labelled if they were found to be haram instead, although he doubted the idea would be well received.
“It’s going to be rejected, but I will suggest it anyway, that we have a haram stamp. In a Muslim-majority country, everything is generally expected to be halal anyway.”
He also reiterated his previous stance that whether a substance was halal or not depended on its state when consumed.
“Judge grapes as grapes, raisins as raisins, wine as wine and vinegar as vinegar,” he said, pointing out that vinegar was often made from wine but considered halal for consumption.
On the recent Cadbury issue, fellow panelist Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan, who had proposed that Muslim consumers sue the chocolate-maker, said they would now wait for investigations to be concluded.
“We can’t investigate it, so we made a report for the police to investigate. In this current situation, we cannot sue anyone. We will wait and see,” he said, adding that those in doubt could temporarily avoid eating the chocolate as it was not medicine.
Nadzim also said that the halal industry contributed opportunities to Muslims, a point that was also agreed to by Jakim halal monitoring and enforcement assistant director Muhamad Naim Mohd Aziz.
Muhamad Naim said that because of the interest in halal certification, companies were hiring Muslims to oversee production and ensure that the guidelines were being adhered to.
At the same time, he said Jakim was not looking to punish producers.
“We are not going to factories to punish them or find fault. We are looking for perfection. If there is perfection, then they can be certified as halal,” he said.
As the guidelines were strict, Muhamad Naim said even non-Muslims would find them interesting and could be become drawn to Islam through such practices.
Regarding the Cadbury case, he said Jakim had not reacted immediately because it had been through similar cases in the past, the only difference being that this time the matter had exploded in social media before Jakim could investigate the case fully.
“Back then, there was no Whatsapp, and Facebook was not so popular,” he said, adding that inter-agency cooperation was being carried out when the issue had been leaked online.
Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Research Institute for Halal Products halal products laboratory head Prof Dr Jamilah Bakar was the fouth panelist.
She said laboratories in Malaysia had to go through regular certification checks to be accredited and that determining how porcine DNA could be found in a sample of chocolate would take a long time as they would need to check each stage of production.
During the question and answer session, Abdul Rani Kulup Abdullah, president of non-governmental organisation Pertubuhan Martabat Jalinan Muhibbah Malaysia, attempted to drum up support for a new movement.
“Why not take take this opportunity to boycott all non-Muslim companies? Do you agree or don’t agree?” he asked the audience loudly, but when he was met with silence, he answered the question himself and chided them.
“You don’t agree. Your children and grandchildren will eat haram food in the future,” warned Abdul Rani.
Later, Mohd Asri, who had said Muslims should be more supportive of one another’s commercial enterprise, however, said that boycotting non-Muslims was not appropriate in a mixed society such as Malaysia.
Originally Published on http://www.therakyatpost.com