“In a society dominated by non-Muslims,” Shariah lawyer Guialil R. Kanda, a lead Halal advocate in the city, said, “it’s a fact that employment is very difficult for Muslims.”
“Such problem can partly be solved only if our affluent brothers in Islam would engage in Halal food production,” he pointed out.
Kanda, an agricultural engineer, noted, “There are rich Muslims in the country that can invest in poultry and cattle production. But if you look at the Halal chicken in the market, it is produced by non-Muslims.”
San Miguel Corporation and Swift, two top producers of Halal chicken in Mindanao, are owned and run by non-Muslims. Foods produced by non-Muslims are certified by Ulama and issued Halal seals which inform Muslim consumers that such product is fit for their consumption.
Halal means permissible or fit for Muslim consumption. It is free of alcohol, pork or its derivatives. Haram is the opposite which means forbidden.
“Imagine how many unemployed Moros would be hired if Muslims businessmen would produce massive volume of chicken and beef,” he asked.
Kanda explained that production of poultry and cattle feeds, operations of poultry or ranch, slaughterhouse and abattoir, slicing and packaging, and transporting chicken meat and beef require manpower.
Sheikh Abdulbayan Laguialam, also a Halal advocate and acting chair of the Muslim Supreme Council for Religious Affairs in SOCSARGEN, complained the unavailability of Halal products in the market.
“In cities like GenSan, Davao and Cagayan de Oro, some Muslim consumers resorted to buying raw and processed meat products like beef loaf, beef sausage and corned beef that were not slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law “because there are no Halal meat products available.”
He said that followers of Islam are ordained to consume Halal foods. “When you eat or drink Haram, your prayer in 40 days thereafter would not be accepted,” he warned.
Laguilam noted that some canned goods have Halal seal but the name of the Halal certifier is not mentioned, “which makes the products ‘questionable’ if it is Halal or not,” he pointed out.
Kanda added that interested Muslim investors can even engage in producing Halal foods such as noodles, biscuits, sauce, sardines, canned tuna, bread, candies, dried or processed fruits for local consumption which may be exported specially to Muslim countries.
“The Philippines alone has a Muslim population between 8 and 9 million while there is an estimated 1.9 billion in the world,” Kanda revealed. “You add to that the number of non-Muslims who also consume Halal,” he stressed, “so just imagine how huge the market is for Halal.”
Kanda is a member of the board of trustees of the Muslim Business Forum and treasurer of the GenSan-based Halal certifying body, Mindanao Halal Authority. He is the field director of Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) in SOCSARGEN.
Laguialam is one of the Ulama (Muslim scholars) who participated in the formulation of Philippine National Halal Standards led by the Department of Trade and Industry with other line agencies such as the OMA and the Department of Agriculture. (Gandhi C. Kinjiyo / MindaNews)