LILONGWE – The issuance of halal certification has become a battleground for Malawi biggest two Islamic groups, with each saying it has the sole right to give halal food certification in the southern African country, Malawi 24 reported on Sunday.
“The Halaal Department of the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) is the only mandated Halaal Certifying Body in Malawi and holds the trademarks of the words,” an official statement of MAM read.
Currently, MAM gives certificates to restaurants and hotels among others if they are offering halal foods and drinks that can be consumed by Muslims.
On the other hand, Sheikh Omar Matola, the founder of the Tawheed Islamic Foundation (TAIF) said: “Halal is a religious word in nature and must be used by any person or organization in the country and all over the world.”
He recalled the fact that other Muslim activities such as the Hajj pilgrimage are managed by different organizations simultaneously.
“Another vivid example is the usage of the word Hajj in Malawi … etc,” Matola explained.
“There are a lot of travel agencies that are dealing with issues of hajj and no one has an exclusive right over the word hajj and usage of it. The same applies to the word Halaal, zakat.”
Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” The term is commonly used for meat, but it also applies to other food products, cosmetics, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals which mustn’t be derived from non-halal sources like pork.
Halal also applies to any other consumed and edible materials which mustn’t be harmful to human health. For example, Islam considers wines, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, E-cigs, hookah and other unhealthy things to be non-halal.
For something to be considered halal, the animal from which it came from must be well-treated, raised in a humane and healthy way, and slaughtered according to Shari’ah for hygiene reasons.
Islam is Malawi’s second largest religion after Christianity. In 2008, the governmental surveys and the CIA Factbook indicated that 12.8% of the population are Muslims.
However, according to the Malawi Religion Project run by the University of Pennsylvania in the US, approximately 25% of Malawi’s population in 2010 was Muslim, concentrated mostly in the Southern Region.