As you can probably imagine, at HalalFocus we hear all kinds of stories…good, bad and ugly. In general, our approach has been to stay away from the bad and the ugly; there is plenty of that everywhere else, and we try and stay positive. It is so easy to be critical of everyone who is not doing things the way you think they should be done.
And when we are critical, we also try not to mention names too much; rather just to make a general point….like I am about to do now.
We got some news today from a business friend of ours, a Halal food manufacturer, the kind of guy who shows up at all the Halal sector events; very committed, good at his job, really works hard to make sure his Halal products are good quality and also correctly certified. The kind of guy who will bother to find out where all the hoops are, and then work out how to jump through them in the best way.
He was just informed that he had lost an account selling his products to a restaurant chain. The restaurant insisted that the products be certified by one particular agency. That agency, when approached, said they would only issue a Halal certificate if our guy obtained all the other ingredients from suppliers who were also certified by them.
On further investigation, our guy finds out that those suppliers do not meet his standards of quality, reliability and quantity…so there is no way he can use them as suppliers.
And so he loses the business. He gets punished for maintaining his high manufacturing standards by the certification agency that purports to be upholding Islamic standards.
Is this ethical behaviour by the Halal certification agency? It does not seem like it to me. Is this not ‘selling your religion for a paltry price’…?
Why is it that, time and time again, the Halal market place is full of reports of unethical behaviour by the certification bodies? For all their cries of ‘doing it for the community’ and their affiliations to this or that mosque, why are transparent ethical business practices nearly always absent?
So for all the fears surrounding the proposed new labelling laws, creeping shariah and Islamophobia, we would do well to get our own houses in order. Why worry about it being torn down from the outside if we are letting it collapse from within?
If you are in the business of certifying what is Halal and what is not, then you had better have plenty of ‘fearful awareness’…that blade is a two-edged sword. It can cut both ways.
by Abdalhamid Evans