OUM: Islam’s impact on the evolution of Malaysia’s culinary culture
This is cultural – Malaysian culture, especially of Muslim Malays, is closely related to Arabic culture. It’s not necessarily part of religious beliefs; for example, the Prophet Muhammad enjoyed lamb, but while lamb has its special characteristics, other meats also have their own advantages, so this is not an argument for why we should consume lamb.
There are misconceptions about the Prophet’s traditions that are related to culture. For example, the Prophet ate with three fingers, suitable for bread – but Malaysians can’t efficiently eat rice with three fingers. And in Malaysia, we have many local fruits, so there’s no need to import fruits from Arabic nations as long as our fruits are nourishing and pesticide-free.
EDKL: So halal practices have a much larger role to play in our diets.
DR UBAIDILLAH: In Malaysia, we have authorities like JAKIM, with authorities from the federal level to the religious departments, which coordinate halal issues such as furnishing halal certificates. These responsibilities are mainly on the states, because of Malaysia’s administrative structure.
Other nations also have their own certifications, but JAKIM’s certifications sometimes inspire more confidence and are more widely acknowledged, even in China, Australia or in Europe. So they make more effort to abide by the SOPs to obtain JAKIM’s halal certification.
The halal certification is not only for food, but also for cosmetics, medicine and more. But the focus is typically on food – if restaurants display JAKIM’s halal logo, this offers reassurance to Muslim customers to enjoy the food.
EDKL: Does confusion sometimes arise among the public about halal issues?
DR UBAIDILLAH: Sometimes. For example, non-Muslims might assume that Muslims can eat anything except pork. But it’s not just about the animal – it’s also about the slaughtering method. If a cow is not slaughtered according to Islamic practices for example, Muslims cannot consume its meat.
For some Muslims, they might request that ‘haram’ certificates be issued for non-halal food – but that’s difficult and a bit extreme. Non-Muslim restaurants have their right to serve what they want, without having to display a ‘haram’ certificate. We should preserve the sense of harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims, with mutual understanding among everyone.
EDKL: The issues we’ve discussed would certainly be part of the course that you lead at OUM.
DR UBAIDILLAH: The Bachelor of Islamic Studies is an open, distance-learning programme offered to those who want to pursue their studies in higher education in Islamic studies. It comprises subjects encompassing Islamic Law and Management. It is aimed to equip candidates with Islamic knowledge as well as exposure to management from the Islamic perspective.
This integrated curriculum is designed to help those who are working as administrators and managers in both government and private sectors, especially those who are attached to various religious institutions, including religious departments at state and federal levels. Graduates are eligible for positions in general and religious administrations in public or private religious institutions.
Open University Malaysia’s flexible-entry intake is currently underway, offering online programmes for diplomas and degrees in a wide variety of fields.
You can use your working experience to gain admission and graduate faster through APEL in OUM.
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