KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Muslim restaurants are barred from selling food before 3pm to Muslims who are fasting, Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom explained, amid public outcry over the government’s latest restriction for Ramadan.
Jamil Khir pointed out that it was “not reasonable” for fasting Muslims to purchase food before 3pm.
“It is not reasonable for Muslims to buy meals before 3pm unless they are not fasting,” he was quoted saying yesterday by The Star today.
He admitted that it would be too rigid for the government to dictate a restaurant’s opening hours but said the 3pm rule on Muslim patrons was necessary to ensure they do not skip their fast during Ramadan.
“We have to enforce this rule (of no sales before 3pm) so as not to encourage people to skip their fast,” he said.
Last Saturday, Jamil Khir similarly said that Muslim eateries who defied the 3pm rule during the fasting month risk punishment, with the New Straits Times local daily reporting that they would face a RM300 compound and seizure of their equipment.
Yesterday, The Malay Mail Online reported the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Noorul Hassan Saul Hameed as saying that some of his 3000-odd members are “still confused” as the government had not provided them with the “proper guidelines” on the 3pm rule.
Pointing to fast-food restaurants which Kedah said would be exempted from the 3pm rule, Noorul questioned the enforcement that he said smacked of “double standard”, pointing out that Muslims could still go to such outlets to eat during fasting hours.
It was “unfair” not to enforce the same ruling on fast-food outlets that carried the halal certification like all other Muslim-operated eateries, he said.
During the whole fasting month which started on June 29, Muslim restaurants would stand to lose out if they were barred from selling food to non-Muslims before 3pm while also incurring high rental and overhead costs, he said.
A young Muslim recites the Quran during the holy month of Ramadan at the Tuanku Mizan Mosque in Putrajaya, July 7, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
One factor that should also be weighed is that certain Muslims exempted from fasting such as young children and women who are menstruating would still need to eat and buy halal food during fasting hours, he had told The Malay Mail Online.
In another report by local daily The Star today, Noorul also said that Islam does not prohibit Muslims from operating food outlets during the fasting month.
He also said the 3pm rule was a “short-sighted solution” as Muslims could still buy food from food courts in supermarkets and from convenience stores.
Originally published on http://www.themalaymailonline.com