Food & Beverage

Malaysia: How Halal Are Ramadan Buffets?

MALAYSIANS especially Muslims, are very particular about cleanliness and holiness of the meal they are indulging in. This is because of the simple fact that the food is consumed, digested and becomes part of our body.

The world “halal” comes Arabic word which means it is “allowed” or is “observable” according to the Islamic law.

In the meantime, “Hukum Syarak” is part of Islamic law according to Mazhab Syafi’e shool of thought which is also included in the scribes by Mazhab Maliki, Hambali or Hanafi and have been approved by Yang di-Pertuan Agong, our King, and is enforced within the federal territory states.

According to the official Malaysian official Halal portal, the law that goes under Perintah Perihal Dagangan Pengunaana Perbahasan “Halal” an act with regards to teh usage of the word “halal”, the followings are to be observed:

i) The food should not be part of, or include ingredients that involves parts or products from animals that is refrained in Islamic law (Hukum Syarak) in terms of consumption; or not slaughtered in said law.

ii)  It doesn’t contain any elements which are forbidden or constituted as forbidden according to Hukum Syarak.

iii) Food items which are not prepared, processed, or manufactured using instruments or machines which are unclean according to Hukum Syarak.

iv) The said food, at the time of preparation or during storage period, should never be in close proximity, let alone touch, elements that are against Hukum Syarak.

It is inevitable that one should seek for Halal items, so that you are not going against your practices (if you are a Muslim, that is…but Halal products and produces should also appeal to non-Muslims as they promote clean and healthy meals)

For Muslims, you don’t even have to refer to the portals mentioned above as, you should be aware of what is “Halal” and what could constitute as sin when it comes to consumption

How far does the Halal equation goes?

According to Professor Madya Dr. Mohd. Asri Zainal Abidin (pic: ktd), who preferred to be called as Dr. Maza, even when a food item was initially Halal, it would become Haram if the method of preparations is proven to be otherwise.Dr. Maza/Pic: ktd 

“Therefore, if there are food items that are supposedly ‘haram’ and yet is not proven to be so; can be deemed to be ‘halal’,” he said.

He also stressed that Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) the department that governs Islamic development in Malaysia, has the capability to identify the sanctity of a product on whether it is Halal or not, and Malaysian Muslims can figure out what is deemed safe for consumption.

According to Mohd Asri, those that did not receive halal logo need not necessarily be non “Halal” products and can always be questioned

“This is indeed some of the opinions held strongly according to issued Fatwas a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority in Europe, as well as known Egyptian Islamic theologian, and chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars

Ramadan Buffet

We are aware that Ramadan buffets are like, as we say in Malaysia’s proverb, spurts of mushroom after rain.

In Malaysia, in fact, there are many hotels and restaurants around the nation that have joined the race in offering Ramdhan Buffet. And why not, it spells a great windfall for them.

The question remains, are they really sincere and are offering genuine Halal Ramadan buffet?

In fact, it is a well known story that some of these premises also offer non-halal products within the same building while they promote their Ramadan-related services

Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria/Pic: The Malaysian TimesIn a related news, Perak Mufti, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria (pic: The Malaysian Times) was quoted in Berita Harian as saying that Muslims in the country who chose to break fast in premises that sells alcohol and non-Halal items, and indirectly committing a sin

“Their fasting is basically cancelled as they have sinned no thanks to their choice. The punishment is just as same as those (Muslims) who drink, serve and sell alcoholic products,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kelantan Mufti, Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad said that the hotel and restaurant owners should get Halal certification from Jakim, and follow the rules and regulations as laid down by JAKIM before going on to promote their Ramadhan buffets.

Too many choices: why choose one particular join to break fast?

Adding to his comments on the Ramadan buffet issue, Dr. Fathul Bari Mat Yahya, a Muslim scholar and UMNO Youth Exco, said that Muslims should be sensitive as to the premises they pick to break fast.

“It shouldn’t be a problem if they want to break fast in the hotels in this country, as the Halal logo given by JAKIM need not necessarily for the whole hotel, but is limited to the coffe house or the restaurants within the hotel’s vicinity,” he said.

What says JAKIM?

Director-General of JAKIM, Datuk Othman Mustapha (pic below: Suara Generasi Baru) said that those involved should not simply use the phrase like “Bufet Ramadhan”, “Makanan Berbuka Puasa”, “Iftar Ramadhan” or “Makanan Bersahur” arbitrarily as it can confuse the Muslim consumers.

“The premise should get Halal certification that comply with the rules and regulations. This can avoid any form of skepticism,” he added.Datuk-Othman-Mustapha/Pic: Suara Generasi Baru

With regards to the issue, he stressed that there is an ongoing operations keeping a close watch on food and beverage premises as usual to make sure that the products sold are according to Hukum Syarak (Islamic Law).

“If they are found to be not in accordance to the Halal standard, strict legal action would taken on them without compromise,” he said.

For now, there has been 351 food and beverage premises, restaurants and hotel kitchens that failed at the application level in getting the Halal certificate in Malaysia.

Among the factors that have been the main contributors for failure to keep the Halal certification include the cleanliness of the premise which apparently have provide non-halal food with accordance to the Halal certification board.

According to a statistic by Montoring and Enforcement unit of JAKIM, which runs inspection on the food outlets, including hotel kitchens that holds Ramadhan buffet promotions, four premises were suspended of their Halal certification, while another four is under investigation according to Trade Descriptions Act 2011.

Source: Malaysian Digest

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