Firdaus Tarmizi

The Halal Conundrum

In Musings, Religion on July 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm

1.  The Halal issue.  Something very sensitive and close to the collective conscience of the Muslim psyche in Malaysia.  Muslims in Malaysia are more afraid of eating pork or other non-halal food than doing other haram activities such as smoking, or gambling.  Just try to offer a pakcik who just came out from Sport Toto while smoking some pork bak kut teh, and you can see his disgust.  Why?  You tell me.

2.  Anyway, after this issue came about, I tried to contact both JAKIM and IFRC Asia to get their explanation.  So far, only IFRC Asia came back to me with this answer:

Halal IFRC Asia

Reply from IFRC Asia

3.  So before we go any further, some questions popped up to my mind.  First, Why the reluctance in getting halal certification from JAKIM?  Are certifications from private companies faster and easier to get?  As a comparison, I was informed by an organic farmer that it takes only one year to get organic certification from an international body, but more than 2 years for get it from a government body (SOM).  Could this be the case also for JAKIM’s cert?

4.  Based on the KPDNKK’s website, seems like there are 3 possible sources of halal cert – JAKIM, private companies and other Islamic bodies, or proclaimed by the business owners themselves.  Of course, inspections are done by KPDNKK and JAKIM to confirm the validity of the Halal claim.  So, where did all these stories about non-halalness came from?  Do these sources have proof to justify their accusations?

5.  How come we rarely question the Halal validity of warungs, nasi lemak sellers and Muslim owned small restaurants without JAKIM Halal certs?  Chinese and Indians and non-Muslims are all out to get us, are they?  No honest non-Muslim businessman out there?  And Muslim business owners are all honest?

6.  In an environment of false reporting and sabotage, do we investigate the rumors going around?  How many of us simply jumped at any forwarded emails or blog posts saying KFC is Haram, Secret Recipe is Haram, IKEA meatball is Haram?  Do any of us actually pick up the phone to call JAKIM for confirmation?  Or a least check JAKIM’s website?

7.  I guess my simple point is, the burden of proclaiming Halalness should be on the shoulders of the business owners and supported by the authorities.  Yes, we are partly responsible, but we don’t need to go out of our way in believing every little story of horror of discovery of frog feet, pig DNA or human scrotum in such and such food source.  Don’t believe too easily in rumors, people.  Or else you are subjecting yourself to an environment of unnecessary fear and irrationality.


  1. Man, you read my mind 😀

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