JANUARY 6 — Recently some non-Muslims were not too happy with fastfood chain McDonald's for prohibiting non-halal food to be brought into their premises.
Generally people who frequent such outlets will not bring outside food — for it beats the entire purpose of eating in McDonald's; unless maybe and remotely milk products or baby food for infants or toddlers that tag along.
We all know that McDonald's food prepared in its outlets are certified halal by Department of Islamic Development Malaysia or famously known as Jakim. And that includes, by logic, McDonald's premises.
Had its premises not been shariah compliant, most probably it would not have got the halal certificate and status in the first instance.
And also be reminded that the halal certification is not a compulsion but rather an option McDonald's would have taken to cater for a bigger market in some countries.
Like any other eateries, there is no way Jakim would have forced McDonald's to get them to certify against their wishes.
Practically any business owner can apply for the halal certification and if they meet the requirements Jakim will provide — on the condition that they comply with the Islamic way of preparing food.
What baffles me is those that have politicised the issue of McDonald's reminding its customers to respect their business decision and marketing policy.
If you want to cut your birthday cake that is not halal or even bring in non-halal food into the party – why must you do so in McDonald's only?
There are many other options — one being that you can take away your favourite meals and feast on it somewhere else where a hybrid menu of halal and non-halal food is allowed.
There is no necessity to throw accusations at Jakim as though they had been “unfair” to the non-Muslim community by certifying McDonald's as a halal outlet.
In as much as the non-Muslims (and I cannot stress it more) do not wish to be told how they should conduct themselves in doing non-halal food and beverage businesses, likewise these people have no rights to denounce the actions of entities like McDonald's.
Just because McDonald's is swarmed by many non-Muslims, that does not permit any one of them to dictate how McDonald's regulates its premises.
For example, a restaurant run by a Hindu will definitely be offended if a customer brings in a beef dish into their premise and digs into it in full view of other non-beef eaters while other family members enjoy a banana leaf meal.
Or a strictly Buddhist run vegetarian outlet that forbids meat on their tables is visited by a customer that brings in a pork dish since he is not vegetarian like others on the same table with him.
On that note it will also be interesting to know that those professing the Sikh religion are strictly forbidden to eat halal-meat, consume alcohol or tobacco and gamble.
And yet many eat at McDonald's and dine openly in other halal eateries that serve meat which has been slaughtered the Muslim way.
They cook halal meat in their homes bought from the markets; even on occasions like Deepavali and Vaisakhi to entertain their Muslim brothers and sisters.
The problem is that Malaysians are born hypocrites. We condemn the actions of others while conveniently ignore our own shortfalls or practices.
The right to dine or otherwise in a halal certified premise is the absolute call by an individual. If you think that McDonald's was being too “extreme” in putting up their restaurant regulations, then by all means do not visit McDonald's any more.
Don't whine like a loser then still go have a Big Mac the next day. That is hypocrisy to the highest degree.
All organisations have their own business strategies and on top of all is netting the biggest market share where possible to maximise profitability.
McDonald's has its own, and one is that the halal status must have given them significant mileage. Likewise we have many Chinese-Muslim and Mamak (Indian-Muslims) restaurants sprouting all over the country and worldwide; heavily visited by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
No fuss on that... so leave McDonald's or others alone. No one can force down a halal burger down your throat if you do not do it yourself and go cut your cakes in some non-halal outlets if you are not happy. You will not be censured for doing so.