Our Opening Statement:Yearning for a Halal Way of Life

Ijtihad

Mehol K. Sadain

Muslims yearn for a society they call Islamic. Nowadays, however, there is constant, continuing debate among the faithful exactly how Islamic the term “Islamic” is, and how to put such into practice.

But all Muslims agree that “Islamic” means a “Halal Way of Life.” So to lessen the decibels of discourse, let us start with our unanimous aspiration for a halal way of life.

When we talk of our way of life, the concept and practice of halal expand beyond food products, although food is the most conspicuous manifestation of “halal” in a society. A society that is halal concerns itself with all activities of a Muslim, from eating his meals to wearing his clothes to taking his medicines; from rearing his family to enjoying his recreation; from choosing where to dine, or where to order his food; to selecting what shows to watch; from touring to travelling to other places; from saving his money, to investing and borrowing funds, and many others. In short, the halal way of life covers the entire gamut of a Muslim’s life. It is expansive, as it is also simple.

Halal is the mark of the Muslim society or a Muslim in society. It assists him in enjoining and living out what is right, and forbidding and avoiding what is wrong, all in accordance with the commands of Allah in the Noble Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in his Sunnah. And the social modicum of all these is the value of moderation, with the Muslim community as the Ummatan Wasatan, or the Community of the Middle Means.

Government has tasked itself with the accreditation of Halal Certifiers; but the halal certification system is private in nature. Accreditation of halal certifiers, therefore, is a function emanating from the State’s regulatory power over matters that have public consequences; while halal product certification partakes of a religious concern that the Philippine Constitution prohibits government from being financially involved. This less-than-ideal situation is the current system of relationship between government and the private sector on the Halal industry in the Philippines, and to a wider extent, in the Philippine Muslim’s quest for a halal way of life.

How ideal this system is, and how successful it can be in advancing the goals of the halal industry in the Philippines will be the subject of future columns. 

For the time being, we posit that our halal industry and program should strike a healthy balance between the requirements of religion and the demands of commercialism; between the Muslims’ ardent desire to live a halal way of life, and derive profit from competitive halal exports in the international market. 

What then are the areas that we should work on? Subject to elaboration in the next columns, these are the:

Establishment of Halal support systems like slaughterhouses, laboratories and learning centers on halal, and procedures like halal audit and monitoring;

Formulation of operative laws or implementing rules on Islamic banking, Islamic insurance (Takaful) and Islamic finance in general;

Coordination with concerned domestic institutions, like the Bangko Sentral for Islamic banking and the Insurance Commission for Islamic insurance, Congress for legislation, and the BARMM for regional operation, among others; and linking with foreign halal and Islamic financial bodies for training and further learning;

Establishment of a National Shari’ah Advisory Council that can give nationally-recognized fatawa on the halal industry and Islamic finance.

[Next in IJTIHAD: The Halal Legal Framework: How Effective is it?]

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