'Halal' Food is Not Just About 'No Pork' (Part 1)

Bismillah-ir-Rahmaan-ir-Raheem. 

May this piece of writing be a guide to knowing what is halal food.

In all my insufficiencies, I hope that by the end of this post, I would have covered the important aspects of what is meant by halal food. I am no Ustaz (a term regularly used to refer to an Islamic teacher). Just a regular netizen trying to open the eyes of the public, especially our non-Muslim neighbors and friends.

So, one would ask, why the sudden urge to write about it?

First of all. It wasn't anything related to food - at all. There are in fact, many other aspects in our modern life that I have found completely misconstrued from what it should have been - Islamically speaking. For example, once upon a time, the term 'profit' in Islamic banking was found to be interchangeable with 'interest' by a conventional banking employee.

"Aaahh, sama saja!!" (It's the same thing!!)

He said.

I paused.

I knew there was a difference but I had forgotten why. Many years back, I made a conviction that Islamic banking was the way to go. Many years now into the present, people are so used to using 'interest' all the time that even when you're applying for an Islamic-based loan, they'd refer to the 'surplus' amount as an 'interest', and not a 'profit'. On paper, however, they still maintain it as 'profit'- thank goodness!

The reason for highlighting this issue is simply because one (conventional banking) promotes riba (usury), while the other (Islamic banking) is a purchase and sales agreement - one that Islam permits. It looks the same but is totally different in implementation. The more important thing to realize is that contrary to conventional banking, Islamic banking aims to preserve the sanctity of the Islamic faith.

So, if one finds himself continuously submitting to the use of 'interest', what implementation is he allowing himself to be immersed in?

Thankfully, an article by one of the Shariah committee members at Maybank Islamic Berhad, Dr. Nik Abdul Rahim Bin Nik Abdul Ghani, has provided an excellent explanation of the difference between 'profit' and 'interest'. I urge the interested reader to be the reader of that article 😄.

By now, I think I have gone completely off-tangent from my original intent in writing this post. Nonetheless, the detour is necessary in order to provide a wider context as to what we are facing in reality. Misconceptions such as this are aplenty and my intention is to only cover the misconceptions about halal food. Last but certainly not least, I would like to quote an excerpt from Dr. Nik's article mentioned above.

Five pieces of fried chicken on a plate
Source: Allrecipes

"Let us take the example of chicken curry from halal and non-halal restaurants respectively. When comparing the outcome, both chicken curry are the same, however, the process is different as the halal restaurant is required to slaughter the chicken whereas the non-halal chicken does not have such requirements from the very start. The same goes to Islamic and conventional banking. They are two different entities despite having similar outcome. Even though, the rate pricing appears to be the same, it is factually distinguishable." - Dr. Nik Abdul Rahim Bin Nik Abdul Ghani

To be continued ...

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