Opinion: Why Jakim’s standards cannot be considered to be the only credible halal standards

OPINION by Shaykh Dawood Terblanche

The recent delisting of the world’s most experienced Halal certifying authority the MJCHT, has created mjcht-logo-green-design-purposes-e1423730477202another frenzy over the Halal operations of the MJCHT. Although, Jakim’s inspectors prior to their departure confirmed that the chickens slaughtered at the chicken plant in Cape Town are Halal and permissible for consumption, it did not meet the technical Checker system according to Jakim’s standards, a system non existing in South Africa. The MJCHT has fallen victim to Jakim’s Halal standards while SANHA and NIHT have been vindicated for not having the same Checker system in place. Instead, both SANHA and NIHT received a successful audit.

Jakim who has positioned itself as an international Halal expert and authority may not be seen as the only international compliance regulatory framework on Halal. It fails the Brunei standards as the chickens slaughtered by Malaysia are not fit for Muslim consumption according to Brunei. Thus Jakim’s standards is not international standards but Jakim’s own Halal standards.

In addition, Malaysia who is regarded as an Islamic country allows alcohol to be served at most of its Hotels despite claiming that the food is 100% Halal compliant according to Jakim’s Halal standards. In this regard, the MJCHT has withdrawn its Halal compliant certificates from two well-known hotels in Cape Town. Although the food is Halal, the high risk contamination factor may be unavoidable according to the Halal standards of the MJCHT. Previously the Capetonian Hotel in the CBD and Hilton hotel previously known as the Coral International Hotel in Bo-Kaap were under the Halal jurisdictions of the MJCHT. After the withdrawn of the Halal certificates by the MJCHT, ICSA and SANHA certified these hotels as Halal compliant despite it serving alcohol.

The food technologists contracted system employed by the MJCHT may be regarded as a higher Halal standard than both SANHA and NIHT. Jakim insists that food technologists are to be directly under the employment of the MJCHT. However, the system employed by the MJCHT gives more integrity and credibility to the food chain. The independence of the food technologists guarantees a higher Halal standard than the system enforced upon the MJCHT by Jakim.

Another area in which Jakim defaulted the MJCHT was in the qualification of Halal inspectors. According to Jakim’s Halal standards, a Halal inspector must be able to produce a required Halal qualification documentation, a recognised qualification non existing in South Africa by the Department of Higher Education. Furthermore Jakim has failed to understand that before the official institutionalisation of accredited Halal qualifications in Malaysia in the last 25 years, the inspectors of the MJCHT have executed the function of Halal verification and auditing for more than 70 years since 1945.

Although the MJCHT failed Jakim’s Halal audit, its inspectors failed to acknowledge that in certain areas the MJCHT Halal standards may be higher.

Shaykh Dawood Terblanche is a lecturer at the International Peace College South Africa (IPSA) and a PHD candidate at the University of KwaZulu Natal. He is also the officiating imam at the Nurul Huda masjid in Bokaap.