Halaal certification is a necessity in a country where there is such a diversity and where Muslims do not form the majority of the political and cultural will. There are no laws to oblige meat packers to only serve halaal meat. However, with a community as small as the Muslim Community in South Africa, and for a country as geographically small as South Africa, it is hard to argue that Halaal certification is anything but a commercial venture.
And that is indicative of the divided community here. Granted no community is always united. But there is this perception that one Halaal certification body is better than the other. Here are my questions:
1. If Halaal certification is not about making money out of peddling fear to the local Muslim community, why do we need 4 bodies to certify that what we consume is halaal?
2. If the integrity of any organisation is in question should there no be a process where evidence can publicly presented so that these organisation are removed from certifying halaal?
3. Does one certification carry more authority than the other?
4. Why does milk have to be certified?
5. Is there a movement to have everything certified, including products where there would be question. For example – sugar?
6. Is there a target quota for businesses to be certified?
7. Is there a Turf war between SANHA (Crips), MJC (Bloods), NIHT (Kings), ICSA (North Side Boys) where if a venue or product is certified by an organisation other than one’s own gang, the product or venue is considered doubtful?
8. Do any of the halaal certification bodies care about the members of the Muslim community?
Frankly, the whole thing stinks of people who are in the know manipulating the masses by using collective guilt, erroneous religious injunctions (READ: when it suits them). How do we justify the certifying of water? This is a service performed and billed for which leads me to the conclusion that halaal certification is purely a money making operation which benefits from the strict requirements regarding what food and drink maybe consumed. It is that simple but has seen Muslim engaging in long winded scientific debates around the insects used in the glazing of whatever. Really?
The real problem is that for a long time many Muslims have lost patience with many of our certification bodies because of their internal petty politics. Remember the Rainbow Chickens debacle. Chickens were declared non-halaal but only because certain key people were having a tiff. Now how in the hell is that keeping within the spirit of the religion when you create doubt based purely on your need to put pressure on someone else.
Let me continue. There are some Muslim people who will not eat anything unless it has the specific halaal stamp. So for example a friend at University would not eat anything with an MJC stamp because he considered their certification dubious. I question where that doubt originated from as if he only saw SANHA then why the doubt? Brand loyalty? Loyalty card points? Who knows.
Further information dissemination has further led to doubts in the minds of the greater community over the credibility of these organisations. Mail messaging claiming to represent these bodies would often be forwarded at rapid speeds: “Don’t drink Coke, it is the blood of Palestinians, Coke is Haraam because it contains alcohol, it contains cocaine, don’t support X because they support Israel.” These are good causes but, it should be a matter of choice and conscience and not be slipped into the same stream of halaal/haram consumption. As MJ pointed out many moons ago on his blog, Coca Cola South Africa employs a significant number of people directly and indirectly and boycotting them here would directly result in hardship for local people. Further, it is sugar water and it tastes like it should, not that crack sweat people serve at weddings. (Koo-ee. WTF?)
We need halaal certification in South Africa but a single body and not multiple entities all screaming H-Unit!!! (Like G-Unit but with an H). We need consistency and we need to restore integrity into Halaal certification and trust into Muslim consumers.