Post the Unified Plenary Session assembled by the World Halal Summit 2015 here at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, scholars and community leaders alike from around the world have gathered together in the Scholars Forum to discuss the key issues and concerns that exist in the Halal subject.
Moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Haslina Ibrahim, from International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), the first session of the Scholars Forum which discusses the topic, “A Divine Brand with Divine Responsibility” by Maulana Yusuf Patel, Chairperson of South African National Halaal Authority (SAHNA) of South Africa. He addressed the neglected areas of the Halal issue by providing the moral dimension of Halal and its potential to becoming a divine brand.
The most important aspect of any brand is the emotional connection between the company and its consumers. Maulana Yusuf Patel expresses the importance of emanating the values of Halal as a divine brand – a brand of which that is pure and good for the well-being and health of all individuals and community.
He listed the significance of the bedrock values associated with Halal which are as follows: 1) to promote modesty and decency, 2) it is not a deliberate punitive prescription designed to deprive humans of joy and pleasure, 3) it creates capacity to act obediently and 4) Halal purifies the heart and mind and it opens doors for the graceful acceptance of our duas and prayers.
Maulana explains that Halal as a divine brand is not to be prioritised for commercial ventures as it is part of a belief system and moral code strongly abided by Muslims because ultimately, it is governed by the Divine. It is not compatible with a materialist branding framework. Therefore, scholars have to embrace prophetic principles, divine rights and human obligations in validating something which is to be Halal.
As certification is essentially a testimony, Maulana points out that the scholars must question, ‘What are the requisite skills for someone or an entity to accredit a product to be Halal?’ It is vital to ensure that Halal certifiers possess noble and specific qualities. For instance, one must be intelligent or wise (‘aqil), fair and just (‘adil), have reached maturity (baligh), is a Muslim and lastly, not charged with false accusations or in other words, a man of integrity. Therefore, the argument of having non-Muslim certifiers does not come to the equation.
He recommended that self-definition of what Halal is, transparency, accountability and authenticity are also needed. The challenge is to have a core set of non- negotiable standards that every country and authority has to subscribe.
“Halal as a divine brand has to be managed in accordance with divine rights and human obligations. It must convey principles above profits or Halal will lose its divine brand,” said Maulana Yusuf Patel.