Sunday, January 08, 2017

Halal-certified computer mouse, shirt buttons and cat food

In the MM Online, Narinder Pal Singh wrote an article titled No need to throw accusations at Jakim over McDonald’s, urging us not to criticize JAKIM too much. He says (extracts):

is playing golf overseas halal? 

JANUARY 6 — Recently some non-Muslims were not too happy with fastfood chain McDonald's for prohibiting non-halal food to be brought into their premises.

Generally people who frequent such outlets will not bring outside food — for it beats the entire purpose of eating in McDonald's; unless maybe and remotely milk products or baby food for infants or toddlers that tag along.

We all know that McDonald's food prepared in its outlets are certified halal by Department of Islamic Development Malaysia or famously known as Jakim. And that includes, by logic, McDonald's premises.

Had its premises not been shariah compliant, most probably it would not have got the halal certificate and status in the first instance.

Unfortunately, Narinder Pal Singh did not explain why 
that includes, by logic, McDonald's premises.

Indeed, why the 'premise' when halal relates
to the consumption of food? Would that be logical?

Unless of course Narinder Pal Singh was personally informed by JAKIM that the word halal also embraces the consumption of a 'premise'?

For example, would the country of Malaysia as a 'premise' be considered halal?
And why has McDonald's in Sarawak rescind its halal cake-premise nonsense?
MM Online columnist Zurairi AR informs us:
Does McDonald’s really need to ban cakes with no halal certification in order to keep its halal status? If that is so, how come its branches in Sarawak do not carry out the same policy? Not only that, but it was able to reverse the policy following complaints there. Should its Sarawak branches not worry about their halal status too?

And how come other fast food and family restaurant chains do not have to worry about such a thing? Do they not have to worry about their halal status?

In actuality,
halal certification in Malaysia has been perceived as more about 'business' (in the very meaning of the word 'business which reaps revenue) than about solely the sanctity of the food to be consumed, though of course there is that about the latter.
Wong Chun Wah of the Star wrote Let's not go overboard, a very balanced article on halal certification. It's a fairly lengthy article so I have selected only relevant extracts, as follows:
Malaysia is a secular country and we should not let religious authorities run our country and how we should live our lives.

Wong is absolutely correct that Malaysia is a secular country, which if Islamist clerics and Mahathir do not ignore the humongous elephant sitting on their toes in the room, they would have seen the truth by way of the overwhelming superiority of the civil (secular) courts over the subordinate syariah courts.

The syariah courts are limited ONLY to Muslim family laws with very restricted ability and scope to award punishments, unlike the all powerful civil (secular) courts.
That's precisely why Pak Hadi and PAS want to push through his private member bill UUC355, which is in reality a PAS strategy by stealth to make, firstly, syariah courts equal to the civil courts, and then subsequently, to replace civil (secular) laws with Islamic syariah laws inclusive of its code of punishment, namely, hudud. And by then god saves us non-Muslims.
Wong continues:

[But] LET’S face it – the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has become so powerful as the sole authority in deciding whether any product is regarded as halal that no manufacturers would dare to go against this religious body.

The fact is that the country’s Muslim population has increased and Muslim consumers prefer religiously safe and clean products, properly certified by Jakim.

It is a lucrative market and manufacturers want the halal label to ensure that their products are accepted by Muslim consumers.
The wait for the Jakim approval takes up to six months, if the manufacturers are lucky as it can be longer if there are questions raised. 

The reality is that winning over pious Muslim consumers in the global market is estimated to be worth US$2.3tril (RM10tril) a year.

It has been reported that Malaysia’s halal exports are expected to grow over 19% to RM50bil this year from RM42bil in 2015, leveraging on intensive promotions from industry stakeholders.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud said the halal industry was fast becoming an important source of revenue and growth as attracting foreign direct investment in the halal business (products and services) would help increase exports.

The global halal foods market alone was estimated at US$693bil (RM3.1tril) while Malaysia’s annual demand for halal foods was valued at RM1.7bil, ...


In Indonesia, many other items are reportedly touted as halal, like computer mouse, headscarves and even shirt buttons.

There is even halal cat food over there as Muslim owners want their furry friends to follow the same dietary restrictions as they do.

hehehe, none for those dogs 

An Indonesian paint manufacturer, Bernahal Paint, is advertising that its wall paint is halal, claiming its material is lard free.

The Indonesian counterpart of Jakim is the Indonesian Ulema Council Food and Drugs Supervisory Agency while in Singapore, the Islamic Religious Council (Muis).

But Muslims are now asking if businesses are commercialising religion and halal matters by promoting what Muslims should use and consume.

Is the line being pushed too far? Even Jakim expressed surprise when a manufacturer of middle-eastern dates asked for a halal certification – I mean dates are dates, and they are a fruit after all.

In an interview with the Straits Times in Singapore, Perlis mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin was quoted as saying that “Muslims are required to eat halal but the problem is when people practise religion beyond the nature of Islam itself.

“Traders are commercialising religion and halal by promoting what Muslims should use and consume,” he added.

... such commercial uses of the label have spurred a group of auditors, including Muslim Singaporeans, to form a new association to help governments certify manufacturers using halal guidelines and standard practices.

One of the initiators, Imran Musa, reportedly said they aimed to quash “halal extremism” and set the record straight on what is “genuinely halal and good.”

“Having unnecessarily stricter rules towards halal will lead to halal extremism,” he asked, saying “who would have thought of halal paint and halal tudung?”

“Halal extremism is slowly creeping in as some clerics impart their own judgment, hence making halal more stringent.”

The reality is that currently, halal certification has no universally accepted standard, with different countries imposing varying interpretations of the Islamic rules for what is permissible.

In Malaysia, with our multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural make up, many non-Muslims are saying that the push for halal requirements is going too far.


But there is an issue here over Jakim’s authority, given that it is a halal-certification authority. So, does it not mean its authority is confined to only food served at F&B outlets but not the premises itself?

If this continues, it will open the floodgates for more areas, like public transportation vehicles, cinemas, entertainment outlets and schools, to be classified along halal and non-halal lines.

For example, when the now-defunct Rayani Air was launched, it was more concerned with selling itself as a fully syariah-compliant airline but less than four months after its launch, it was grounded for safety audit reasons. Many talked about its halal status and not about the most important aspect –its safety.

While we must be aware of the sensitivity of Muslims over dietary matters, we must be mindful that directives made should not segregate the people along religious lines, especially at a time when there is a need to enhance unity in the face of rising extremism.

As Malaysia turns 60 this year, it is time we reflect and think about the path we are taking as a nation. Whether we wish to admit it or not, Malaysia is a secular country and we should not let religious authorities run our country, including how we should live our lives.

The job of administering our country belongs to elected politicians and not clerics, of any religion and race.

And may I also say so, that includes the Christian clerics.
Narinder Pal Singh continues:
And also be reminded that the halal certification is not a compulsion but rather an option McDonald's would have taken to cater for a bigger market in some countries.

Like any other eateries, there is no way Jakim would have forced McDonald's to get them to certify against their wishes.

Practically any business owner can apply for the halal certification and if they meet the requirements Jakim will provide — on the condition that they comply with the Islamic way of preparing food.
But Narinder Pal Singh has shot himself in the foot, talking about they comply with the Islamic way of preparing food yet also saying that includes, by logic, McDonald's premises but not premises in Sarawak which I doubt Narinder will be able explain.

But he needs to make up his mind, whether its about food preparation or premise preparation.
He continues:
What baffles me is those that have politicised the issue of McDonald's reminding its customers to respect their business decision and marketing policy.

If you want to cut your birthday cake that is not halal or even bring in non-halal food into the party – why must you do so in McDonald's only?
That's because McDonald's has advertised it caters for children's birthday parties.
There are many other options — one being that you can take away your favourite meals and feast on it somewhere else where a hybrid menu of halal and non-halal food is allowed.

There is no necessity to throw accusations at Jakim as though they had been “unfair” to the non-Muslim community by certifying McDonald's as a halal outlet.

In as much as the non-Muslims (and I cannot stress it more) do not wish to be told how they should conduct themselves in doing non-halal food and beverage businesses, likewise these people have no rights to denounce the actions of entities like McDonald's.

Just because McDonald's is swarmed by many non-Muslims, that does not permit any one of them to dictate how McDonald's regulates its premises.

definitely NOT halal - meant for only non-Muslim eyes 

To cut the matter short, I have to agree with
Narinder Pal Singh. To avoid confrontation of this sort, which will only arouse religious and racist emotions and bad feelings, I advise non-Muslims in Malaysia to hold their kids' birthday parties elsewhere. 
Obviously the McDonald's advertisement of holding children's birthday parties at its now-halal premises is more meant for Muslims ... so, to wit, f**k off, you non-Muslims, wakakaka.
Thanks for advice Narinder Pal Singh


  1. With so many issues, I wonder why your obsession with JAKIM. Common sense dictates that there is no such thing as a halal premise. On why the concerned outlets bar non halal certified food is probably due to fear those brought in food might find its way to the plates of these outlets. And you realize once it is " contaminated" it needs to be washed by way of mud and what not. Probably, the easy way out for them is to bar from the beginning. But why cakes, I don't know. I too find it amusing.

    1. have to when it intrudes into non-Muslim activities, directly or indirectly, in an absurd manner

      how will a, say, Chinese mother taking in non-halal certificated cake for her, say, daughter's birthday contaminate the Macca's foodstuff? Don't tell me she would go around selling slices of cakes? What has the entry of that cake got to do with the halal-ness of the preparation of foodstuff in Macca?

  2. Below are relevant extracts on "K" i.e Kosher compliance certification for the Jews.

    "Food has an effect on the eater’s soul, no matter when or where it is eaten. Thus it is as important to eat only kosher food when visiting, dining out, vacationing or traveling, as it when eating kosher at home. Acquaintances and friends may sometimes wonder at our unwillingness to eat in all restaurants, but most people will respect us for upholding our principles."
    "The OK certifies over 500000 products and ingredients on six continents, with a top customer experience driven, the required preparation of kosher food and the way in which it is consumed."
    "When food is prepared in large quantities by a large kitchen staff, the difficulty of maintaining high standards of kashrut is greatly amplified. Add to this the pressure of commercial considerations and culinary integrity, and the need for kosher supervision becomes readily apparent. A mashgiach (kosher overseer) is essential to restaurant kosher compliance and may be required to be on the premises at all times."
    "Before dining out, find out who is responsible for the kosher supervision of the premises. Trustworthy kosher establishments are always willing to answer your questions about the kosher certification of their restaurant or service."

    Here are a few foodservice establishments with OK Kosher certification.

    Ariel Glatt Mart
    304 N La Brea Avenue Los Angeles

    Bibis Bakery & Cafe
    8928 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles

    Delice Bakery & Cafe (Beverly)
    7122 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles

    Pizza World
    365 South Fairfax Avenue Los Angeles

    Bagel Time Restaurant
    3915 Alton Road Miami Beach Florida

    Chagall Bistro
    330-332 5th Street Brooklyn New York

    Bravo Pizza
    1367 Broadway New York New York

    So, what's the big fuss on halal certification, be it on food or foodservice establishments or on any other aspects of one's life?

    1. My dear Bro Hasan, I respect every religion's kosher requirement, but I fail to see how a birthday cake will contaminate the kosher preparations of McDonald's food, where its kitchen is separated from the children's section?

  3. just don't eat at Mcdonalds. 1 more reason not to go there.