Have we let it go too far?
Much has been said and much has been discussed regarding the halaal food trade in South Africa. Although the halaal food trade is gradually becoming a growing concern for many South Africans, it has been in this country for many years.
The Muslim Judicial Council claims to be “in the field of Halaal certification for over 50 years and was the first such authority in all Africa” (MJC 2012). In other words, it has been over fifty years that South Africans have been consuming halaal products. Surely, fifty years ago the percentage of halaal food in the food market was much less than what it is today. Today, there are four established and active halaal certifying companies in South Africa: MJC (http://www.mjc.org.za
), SANHA (http://www.sanha.co.za
), NIHT (http://www.halaal.org.za
), and ICSA (http://www.islamiccouncilsa.co.za
Besides these four there are many other minor Muslim initiatives trying to establish themselves to take a bite from the lucrative halaal trade. Most of the food parcels you buy from the shops bear the stamp of either one of these halaal certifying companies and many restaurants serve halaal food. Each one of these halaal certifying companies accumulate millions of rands annually simply by providing halaal certification for food, cosmetic and other products.
For example, an auditing report by Nkonki KZN, dated 1 September 2011, shows that SANHA's revenue for 2010 was R9 615 988, and for 2011 it was R11 221 289 for the year ended on 28 February 201 (Richards 2012:30). According to Malaysian state minister Abdul Malik Kassim “Global Halal products market is estimated at US$2.3 trillion” which is not limited only to the food market. According to Tony Naidoo's research article, Hoodwinked by halaal, Rainbow Chicken, for example, pays over R320 000.00 a year for only its KZN operation. Unilever pays over R65000.00 for its Durban plants” (n.d.).
All these astronomic halaal certification expenses are indirectly projected on the consumers. Every time when we buy a product which bears the halaal mark, we are paying an indirect halaal surcharge.
Because of the fact that almost all the food products and many restaurants in South Africa are already halaal certified, it is almost impossible for us not to buy halaal products and avoid paying the halaal surcharge. In other words, we are all indirectly forced to buy halaal food and pay a halaal “tax” every time we buy food which is our very basic need to survive.
The halaal trade is an Islamic trade system which operates according to the principles and regulations of the religion of Islam. It regards and respects only the religion of Islam. In principle, it benefits only the Muslims. Because of its lucrative nature, Muslims gladly participate in it and support it.
However, in a country like South Africa where Muslims constitute only about 2% of the population, stamping all the food products as halaal and forcing all the non-Muslims to pay for the halaal certification is not only unethical but also unconstitutional.
About 98% of South Africa is not Muslim, but all of us are forced to buy halaal food and pay a surcharge to enrich the 2% Muslim population. None of the non-Muslims benefit from the astronomical halaal income but we are all forced to buy halaal products and support the halaal trade.
Muslim halaal authorities claim that they use their income for charity and religious work. Very well, but what religion are they supporting and propagating? Our Christianity or their Islam?
It is absolutely ridiculous to think that 98% non-Muslim South Africans will be very happy to give millions of Rands from their hard-earned money for the islamization of our country. It is even more ridiculous to think that 98% of non-Muslim South Africans will be desperately demanding to eat food offered to the Muslim god and prepared and sold according to Islamic religious regulations.
However, worse than all of that is the fact that we have millions of very poor people in this country who can only buy very basic food. Please tell me how ethical is it that the halaal trade is taxing even these very poor people every time when they buy food.
Our government does not tax the unemployed and the poor but Muslim halaal trade does. Even if you are about to starve to death and have only R7 to buy a pack of bread you still have to pay your halaal tax (surcharge) as you buy your bread so that they can get even richer while our people get poorer. Please tell me, doesn't this halaal trade look like an oppressive trade system, sucking the blood of the entire nation to benefit only the Muslims and force Islam on the whole nation.
If you are not Muslim you cannot benefit from it, however, whether you are Muslim or not you have to pay your halaal tax. Even if you are the poorest of the poor you still have to pay it.
A Biblical Analyses of Halaal Food Trade
What does the Bible say about the halaal food trade? Of course, if you do a word search in your Bible for “halaal” you will find nothing. However, if you start searching and studying the concept of eating the food offered to idols then you will quickly bump into Paul's argument in 1 Corinthians 8:1-10. It seems that Paul does not want to make a huge issue of eating the food offered to idols. He simply says that “we are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we
do” (1 Cor 8:8, ESV). Based on a simple reading of this passage many Christians choose to be
Based on a simple reading of this passage many Christians choose to be ignorant on the halaal food issue. However, we need to understand that the nature of halaal food trade is not an exact equivalent of what Paul was writing about in a predominantly pagan society. Paul's teaching was to a small group of believers who were living in a predominantly pagan Roman Empire.
We, however, live in a predominantly Christian South Africa where there are thousands of churches, Bible schools, seminaries and about 75% of the population claim to be Christian. The Muslim community, which is the reason for halaal food, is only about 2% of the population. In other words, our current situation is not an equivalent to Paul's situation but an opposite. As the Christian majority of South Africa, instead of influencing the marketplace
with the Gospel and offering our food to the only true God Yahweh, we have been both allowing and funding the worshippers of Allah to offer most of our food to their god and take total control of our market. How sad! As
How sad! As Christians, we are called to be a blessing to our community and country by influencing them with the love and knowledge of God. We are called to proclaim the name of God and offer both ourselves and all we have to Him. Allowing and funding our food to be offered to any other so-called god, whether it be Allah or Buddha, is absolutely unbiblical in its core. If our Muslim citizens, who are only about 2% of our population, want to eat halaal food
they are welcome to offer their own food to their own god, at their own expense.
However, as the Christian majority, we have the constitutional right and the biblical responsibility to reject halaal food and declare the name of our God Yahweh over our food, our markets and our country. As Christians, we are also called to uphold the truth and defend the weak.
Halaal trade in our country is done in a very deceptive and oppressive manner. Consumers are forced to pay for something which they did not ask for and about which they are not informed. Rich, poor, Christian, non-Christian, all are forced to pay for the halaal trade surcharge. It is our biblical responsibility to bring this matter into the light of the truth and do all we can to defend the poor and the weak.
Most genuine Christians prefer to eat food which is not offered to any so-called god. But prefer to offer themselves, their lives, their food and all they have to the only true God, Yahweh.
Although the consumption of halaal food is not a sin, it does not honour the name of God either.
The nature of the halaal trade is unethical and oppressive. Judge for yourself: Will you continue to be a victim of the halaal trade and support the islamization of our country?
Kassim AM 2012. The global market potential of Halal. An online presentation. Accessed from: http://www.halalrc.org/presentations.php
. 31 May 2012.
MJC 2012. Muslim judicial council web site. Accessed from: http://www.mjc.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&I…
. 30 May 2012.
Naidoo T. (n.d). Hoodwinked by halaal. An online article. Accessed from:
. 30 May 2012.
Richards A. 2012. Introduction to halal organizations and islamic davah activities in South Africa. www.incontext.webs.com
. 05 April 2012.