As South Africa looks to boost its appeal as a halal tourism destination, the recent debate around the popularity of “halal friendly” food outlets in the Western Cape has resurfaced. Once a restaurant has attained halal certification for its kitchen, there is a concern that some restaurants revert back to the selling of alcohol once a halal certification is issued. Head of the Muslim Judicial Council Halal Trust (MJCHT), Sheikh Achmat Sedick does not consider tge concept of “halal friendly” at all and says the body is however aware of the trend in the mother city.
Sedick says the Trust does not identify with the term “Halal Friendly”, adding that the concept thereof is something fairly new in the province. The idea of a halal friendly restaurant does not comply with the Shariah guidelines and principles of Halal and therefore, cannot be recognised.
However, the grey area, as explained by Seddick, is the fact that a large international Muslim community has been known for providing the option of alcohol in the same areas where food and socialising is offered. But Sedick said that back in South Africa, such standards will not be adopted.
“Halal friendly is a concept that has no legal reference in Shariah. The item is either Halal, Halal compliant or non-Halal.”
“Halal Friendly” basically refers to a situation or a facility that has a non-Halal operation within a Halal facility. We see owners allowing for interaction between the Halal and non-Halal areas, Sedick explained.
While there have been reports of halal- friendly restaurants displaying a halal certification, Sedick guaranteed that this is not at the hand of the trust he heads. Sedick believes that the term halal friendly should be scrapped completely but rather ‘halal compliant’.
“Wine is not conducive to any halal set-up, even if Muslims are not purchasing the alcohol. We want them to remove the wine. But more often than not, it is the non-Muslim owners who say that every food item is halal except the wine. And it is them who then regard themselves as halal friendly. This is a global problem. It goes beyond the borders of South Africa.
“As far as we are concerned, we don’t subscribe to those conditions. As soon as you serve wine, or even the presence thereof, the food outlet is considered non-Halal.”
Sedick urged the Muslim community to report restaurants and food outlets who state they are halal-friendly and display a halal certificate with the presence of liquor. While he admits these cases are uncommon, he reiterates the importance of rather reporting the matter to the relevant halal body as opposed to taking to social media.
According to Seddick, the Trust will respond to any and all reports on Halal matters. Pending an investigation within 24 hours of the report, the halal body will allow the owners to implement corrective measures in order to maintain an Halal certification or have it revoked.
In conclusion, Sedick says an article focused on educating and informing the Muslim community on the halal certification process and the so-called grey area that is “halal friendly” will be uploaded to the MJC Halal Trust website on mjchalaaltrust.co.za. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)