All food halal until proven haram in Islam, says ex-mufti

Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin speaking at the Wacana Sinar forum at  Karangkraf, Shah Alam, June 20, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin speaking at the Wacana Sinar forum at Karangkraf, Shah Alam, June 20, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

SHAH ALAM, June 20 — Muslims need not be overly worried about what they eat as all food is considered “halal” or permissible until it is proven “haram” in Islam, ex-Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said today amid uproar over the halal certification process in Malaysia.

The popular preacher also said that just because an outlet or manufacturer does not have a halal certification from Malaysia’s religious authorities, it does not make their products haram.

“If we cannot prove something is haram, then it is halal … So with food, whoever says it is halal, he does not have to prove it. But if someone accuses it of being haram, he is the one who has to prove it,” Mohd Asri said in a forum on halal and consumers.

He added said that every animal on Earth is considered halal for consumption, unless there is an argument, such as in those found in the holy texts, that suggests otherwise.

“Whatever Jakim certifies as halal, then it is confirmed halal. But what is not certified halal, does not necessarily mean it is haram,” he added, referring to the Malaysian Islamic Religious Department.

He also suggested for Jakim to create a label for haram products or outlets, rather than the other way round, as is practised today.

“In an Islamic country, most stuff should be halal. There are more halal goods than haram. If we want to label, we should label the fewer goods,” said Mohd Asri, saying that this is opposite to Western countries where it is the opposite.

“It would be safer. Nobody would try to forge a haram label. That would be moronic.”

While he lauded Jakim’s certification, the Universiti Sains Malaysia lecturer also suggested that the current process is a profitable industry.

The suggestion however was shot down by former panellist Muhammad Naim Mohd Aziz, an assistant director with Jakim’s Halal Hub Department.

“The question is, who would apply for a haram certification?” Naim asked.

The Jakim officer also explained that there is already a label for pork content in food enforced by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism.

Mohd Asri’s suggestion was also rejected by the president of Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) Datuk Nadzim Johan, who claimed that the halal certification process is a way to preach Islam to non-believers.

Questions over the halal status of food in Malaysia cropped up after last month when more than 20 Malay-Muslim groups called for a nationwide boycott on all Cadbury products over the discovery of porcine DNA in a sample of its chocolates.

Jakim has since declared that the two batches of Cadbury chocolate products previously found tainted with porcine DNA are halal and safe for Muslim consumption.

Despite that, the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) insisted it will continue its boycott of all products by Cadbury Malaysia and Kraft Foods Manufacturing Malaysia.