A Sri Lankan Muslim’s Perspective of the Halaal Issue
Posted on December 16th, 2012
A Vital Need of the Muslim Community : Prior to the introduction of the Halaal Certification System by the All-Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema (ACJU), most Sri Lankan Muslims were in the habit of buying their requirements of Beef, Chicken and Mutton from Muslim-owned Shops assuming that the meat products available in such shops had been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Rules and were therefore ‘Halaal’. The key word here is ‘assuming’, because there was no way of verifying that this obligation was actually adhered to by the Owners of these Meat Shops. Thus, the subsequent introduction of Halaal Certificates by the ACJU was a tremendous relief and a boon to Sri Lankan Muslims in this regard as they could now consume products purchased from halaal-certified sales outlets without any qualms. If there was a concomitant increase in the unit price of halaal-certified Meat Products, clearly the Sri Lankan Muslims (despite the fact that they have no choice in the matter) felt that having halaal-certified Meat was well worth the higher price paid for. They recognized the fact that establishing and constantly monitoring the systems put in place by the ACJU to ensure that the halaal requirements are always adhered to and met by the certified Organizations would quite naturally entail a cost. After all, there is no such thing as a free cup of tea, is there ?
A Choice for Non-Muslims : However, as far as the Non-Muslim Meat-Consuming Sri Lankans were concerned, the introduction of halaal-certification provided them with a choice in this regard. They could either purchase the supposedly lower-priced ‘non-halaal’ Meat or the allegedly higher-priced ‘halaal-certified’ Meat. Unfortunately, there is no documented evidence to confirm the pre-conceived notion that obtaining Halaal Certification resulted in significant increases in the selling prices of meat products or for that matter increases considerably the cost of a Family’s Monthly Shopping Basket. Critics of the halaal system resort to quoting anecdotal evidence and basic Pricing Theory for this purpose. Such persons cannot make the case that they are compelled to buy their requirements from ‘higher-priced’ Halaal Certified Shops. They can always opt not to buy a halaal product, since such a decision does not have life-threatening consequences.
A New Path to Prosperity : While it is only to be expected that all Muslim-owned Business Establishments will ensure that their Organizations are halaal-compliant, the question arises as to what could have induced Non-Muslim Business Establishments to follow suit. After all, these Non-Muslim Businesses were not compelled by law to do so. Their decision to obtain halaal-certification would have been purely voluntary. Is it possible that these Non-Muslim Businesses were simply motivated by the enhanced market prospects that possessing such certification would bring them ? Not only would the local market open up further but more importantly the lucrative export markets (especially in the Muslim-majority Countries) would be more easily accessible to such Businesses. Would it be wrong then to conclude that the decision of all Non-Muslim Companies to obtain Halaal certification was prompted by their Greed for Profits – and definitely not by any desire to be of service to the Muslim Public ?
Resolving Perceived Issues : If a person, group of persons or an Organization has serious reservations about the Halaal Certification System and it’s perceived adverse effects on Sri Lankan Society, there are two ways in which they could resolve this issue to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
Firstly, convince all Non-Muslim Businesses, specifically Sinhala Buddhist Owned Businesses to cancel their Halaal certificates immediately. These Businesses must be made to understand that their considerable loss in local and export income is well worth the effort to prevent the spread of ‘Halaal-Fever’ in Sri Lanka.
Secondly launch a mass campaign aimed at educating the General Non-Muslim Public about the extensive financial savings that will accrue to them if they switch from consuming Halaal Products to Non-Halaal products.
Even if the efforts of such persons are successful, Halaal Certification will always be required by Muslim-owned Businesses and the ACJU can continue to provide the necessary support in this regard. The income currently earned by the ACJU (which some Critics have erroneously described as being ‘disproportionately high’ and used it to discredit further the Halaal Certification Programme) will drop drastically and Sri Lankan Muslims will be compelled by circumstances to make their purchases of food products only from Muslim Shops.
Contextual Environment : The events that led up to the successful termination of all terrorist activities in May 2009 revealed in no uncertain terms the fact that Sri Lanka had at long last a tough President who was ready, willing and able to make the necessary decisions that are in the best interest of the Country – and to stand by such decisions unwaveringly. His vision for the Country was best described by the announcement he made after the annihilation of the terrorists to the effect that ‘There are no longer Majority and Minority Communities in Sri Lanka’. After May 2009, the President has had to face immense pressure both locally and internationally as various accusations were hurled at Sri Lanka regarding it’s alleged human rights violations. Sri Lanka is still not out of the woods in this regard and as the CEO of Sri Lanka, our President has to use all resources available at his disposal to defend our Motherland from such attacks.
At a point in time, when all Sri Lankans who love their Motherland should be rallying round the National Flag, forging unity and providing strength to our President to overcome the international and local forces which are trying to destroy our Country, it is extremely sad and shocking that a group of Sinhalese ‘Patriots’ have decided to launch an anti-Muslim campaign in our Motherland, thereby weakening considerably the hand of President Mahinda Rajapakse who has over the years established excellent rapport with the Leaders of many Muslim Countries.
Unanswered Questions for Sri Lankans : Why is this anti-Muslim crusade being conducted with such venom now ? Are certain foreign Countries with known anti-Muslim sentiments using these gullible ‘Patriots’ to fulfill their own agendas ? Are some foreign and local elements, who do not wish to see a prosperous Sri Lanka with it’s citizens living in relative harmony, adding fuel to this fire in a desperate bid to derail the development programmes of the Government ? Don’t these Sinhala Extremists realize that their words and deeds only serve to strengthen the hands of Muslim Extremists in Sri Lanka ? Don’t these Sinhala Patriots believe that President Rajapakse deserves a chance to implement his Vision for our Motherland if only because he got rid of the cancer of Terrorism that bled our Motherland for 30 years ?