Try it! Have a conversation with someone regarding what is halal, and what is not, especially when it comes to deciding whether we can eat at a certain restaurant or patronise a certain stall. This conversation will probably quickly turn from whether or not this is halal, to who is responsible for this?
And what if the stall has a MUIS halal logo, but you observe that the stall has some doubtful practices, then I suppose MUIS should be responsible for this? But let's say the stall is Muslim owned - the responsibility of ensuring that the food served is halal then falls on the Muslim owners, right? So, what about the instances where you find yourself in the supermarket among rows and rows of products deciding on what to buy to prepare dinner? Who bears the responsibility then?
Whether we like it or not, as Muslims, what we do in public tends to assure other Muslims that it is alright for them to do the same. As much as we say "my life is my life, and what I do with it is between me and Allah SWT" that is not entirely how it works, is it? Think about it - if you see a tudung-clad lady observing her hijab, getting food that has no indication of its halal status (read: IIao IIao Yoghurt, Marble Slab Creamery, Churros 101) wouldn't you be inclined to think that it's ok to eat from there too? So if you end up buying something from that food place that you think is halal when in actual fact the food contains something non-halal (read: lard in vanilla ice cream), then who is responsible for your haram consumption? It can't be the unsuspecting tudung-clad lady you saw who could have just been drinking ice water while waiting for her friend, right?
Let's take this a step further - What if the one serving you in that non-halal certified, big franchise company in Singapore (Read: Starbucks) is a Muslim? You know for sure he didn't get the supplies for the food and he probably also didn't prepare the food. All he did was to take your order, and serve it to you at your table. Should he then be responsible for the food you are eating? While you guys are pondering this, here's our little campaign video about halal or not if you haven't seen it yet:
Not long after all the postings and the sharings of this video, we got a facebook message from one of our viewers:
"Salam, nak tny korg ni. Starbuck halal ke? Psl i nmpk ada minah tudung kerja kat starbuck. I really confuse lah."
Translation: Hello, I want to ask you girls, is starbucks halal? I saw a tudung lady working there, so I am really confused.
Our answer? Halal is first and foremost a personal responsibility, before it becomes a shared responsibility. It is your own personal responsibility to learn about halal, and be able identify what is alright and not alright for Muslim consumption. If you doubt, don't consume, no matter what other people say. Go for classes and talks, read articles and do your research about the food you are going to eat. Find out if ice cream is really just ice cream, or does it really contain lard which can be used for the sake of making it flavourful and more creamy? If you begin to say no to doubtful F&B practices while raising awareness amongst your friends, then soon, these businesses will surely have to comply to clearer, halal standards.
I'm not sure what the Hukm is for a Muslim working in a non-halal establishment serving non-halal food. Yet for whatever reason that they do so, I've met a few nice ones who do keep a look out for other Muslims that enter their food establishments. Upon ordering, they would advise me on which cakes contain alcohol or which dinner items contains meat so that I can be mindful of what I order. But then again, I have to assume that they took the initiative to tell me because I wear the hijab. So, if you don't wear the hijab, they might not take the same initiative because they might not be aware of your religious observances.
Still, these are for the people that have taken it upon themselves to be responsible for the halal consumption of their Muslim friends, despite their own circumstances. So when push comes to shove, let's ask our Muslim selves: Am I responsible if my Muslim friends eat something which I am also eating? Whether your answer is yes, or no... The follow up question would be: Should I let it then be served to them, and then let them make that decision themselves.
If you were to ask me, I would feel responsible if what I was doing in public caused another person to do the same - because we are one community. Since we all need each other, then no one should see himself or herself as an isolated-self right?
But that's just me; I would love to hear your thoughts too. So help us by doing our survey, ok?
halalfoodhunt.com is a website listing verified Muslim-owned or Halal Certified food businesses. We started out educating halal foodies on how to know if a food is halal or not when there are no halal certifications. As we received so many enquiries on whether a food business is halal or not, we created halalfoodhunt.com, while letting halal foodies know about the myriad of options open to them! It is a website created and self-funded by local Singaporean Muslims for the Singaporean Muslim community.
If you like what we do, get yourself a FRIENDS Card! The FRIENDS Card allows you to get exclusive deals, invites and savings of between 10-20% at over 60 halal food businesses in Singapore, for only $18/year, including halal restaurants, cafes, bakeries including online e-commerce businesses in Singapore. We want to encourage foodies to explore eating at new halal places. So if you like what we do and want to support us, get a FRIENDS Card for yourself!