Halal – Its Meaning and Significance to the Muslims
“Halal” is an Arabic word that literally just means “allowed” or “permitted”. In the Qur’an, it is often used together with the word “tayyib”, which means “wholesome”. The opposite of halal is haram.
In business terms, halal may be broadly described as a value-based quality assurance system that is implemented within a supply chain. But in layman’s terms, Muslims the world over equate halal to things or acts which are allowed by Allah the Almighty.
In recent years, the scope of halal has been extended to include, not only food, drinks, income and marriage as they are found in the Qur’an but also other aspects of a Muslim’s daily life.
So why is halal significant to Muslims? The reason is quite simple, as the One who shapes and forms every living being in this world, including us humans, He would know precisely what is good and bad for each and every one of us.
Thus, when He says, “Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine… (more)”, believing Muslims the world over would simply adhere and submit. No questions asked.
As such, in many Muslim majority countries, halal is taken very seriously. This seriousness extends past food and drinks, as they are naturally equated to sustenance that shapes and forms the tissues and muscles in our bodies.
If the body is fed with haram sustenance, one would not enter Paradise and “the hellfire is more worthy of it”, according to several hadiths or sayings of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Nobody wants this, surely.
Going beyond food, halal compliance now extends to daily consumer goods and services, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, clothing and fashion, business, finances, even investment, making sure that these halal products and services are produced and bought using halal sources or income.
To make sure its Muslim majority population is protected from haram food and other consumer goods and services, some governments introduced halal certification standards and logos to differentiate ones that comply with Islam’s Shariah rules from the ones that do not.
The halal standards and certification parameters also vary from one country to another. Within the South East Asian region, four countries have been vying to become the region’s premier halal hub, each with its own merit and advantages – Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of Singapore.
With each country having its own halal certification standard and logo, either supervised or owned by the government as a measure of taking responsibility of the basic needs of the majority of its population, halal uniformity is achieved via the creation and enforcement of local laws.
Naturally, some laws in some countries are stricter than others. For instance, complying with halal standard is still voluntary in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei but not in Indonesia where it has been made compulsory beginning this year.
More often than not, it is the societal backlash that is more damaging to many companies having the unfortunate experience of being embroiled in halal controversies.
In Malaysia, companies like Silver Bird Group (High 5 bread), Ikea (meatballs), Cadbury (milk chocolates) and most recently Heineken (halal beer) have felt the real strength of local Muslim consumer groups.
These controversies have far lasting and damaging effects to the local society than any other types of scandals, like financial mismanagement, misappropriation of funds or even sex scandals for example.
The sensational nature of halal highlights the importance of proper planning and execution of not just a company’s internal halal compliance procedures, but also sound public and media relations to manage any possible crises with visible tact and empathy.
In Malaysia, there are several courses and training organised by some of the country’s leading authorities and agencies dedicated to promoting a strong and robust halal industry in the country.
Here are five training programmes and conferences recommended by H Media, which we can vouch for its effectiveness and are run by well-known professionals within the Malaysian halal sphere:
- Halal Industry Fundamentals by Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) [more]
- Halal Awareness Programme (HAP) and Halal Industry Programme (HIP) by University Teknologi Malaysia’s (UTM) School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE) [more]
- Halal Technical Competent Person (HTCP) training by HTCP [more]
- Halal Industry Awareness program and various other courses by International Islamic University Malaysia’s (IIUM) International Institute for Halal Research and Training (INHART) [more]
- Global Halal Summit organized by JAKIM Malaysia, Matrade and HDC in partnership with DagangHalal [more].
For more information or insights, kindly contact us.