Q. I am writing in concern with this organization's request for payment on certification of halal meats in different eating outlets. Recently, expression of disapproval on this matter was made in a discussion with a fellow Muslim, whose family member owns one of the food businesses/restaurant. I wasn't even certain that it was valid matter, although I have seen the halal certificates in different places before. The payment part was a bit astonishing. However, on speaking to my father about the issue he demonstrated that funding to your institute was needed as many other services are done with little or no money involved, such as the schooling for the boys’ and girls' schools. However, obviously as there are people who are unaware of the free or partially free services done by willing members of the institute, i would suggest that through some media of sorts; in a newsletter, on the website, or on one of the radio/t.v programmes, that services are announced with an appeal for donation towards sponsoring the children at the schools and for other services done.
I would like others to get the right impression about Darul Uloom standards, as I don't think the person I spoke with is the only one who bears such confusion and poor impression of this request for payment. (if this is valid) And, I am writing this message with the intention of bringing the matter to the attention of appropriate individuals, as well as, requesting some clarification on this matter and advice so we can bring some harmony amongst Muslims in our little country.
A. First of all, it must be known that the Darul Uloom is a charitable nonprofit Organization that is involved in rendering services to the entire Muslim public. The Institute is not subsidized by the Gov’t or any other body, local or international. Hence, it depends solely on the donations and contributions that are given by generous Muslims. A small school fee is charged to our local students for meals at the Institute. However, this adds to a meager amount which does not even cover the grocery bills, far less for covering the expenses for paying teachers, workers, utilities and general day to day maintenance fees.
The services provided by the Institute are many, and are offered to all students at both the boys’ and girls’ colleges and are free of charge. This includes local and foreign, as well as full time and part time students who are enrolled in the academic education (O’ and A’ level), Hifz course and the Alim course. (A small fee is charged only for meals).
The moon sighting (Hilal committee) services are offered free of charge to all Muslims, Masjids and organizations, (local and international). Counseling services, though it takes a lot of time and energy, are also offered free of charge to the entire Muslim public.
The department of Qaza also offers free services to the entire Muslim Public. This department deals with all matters affecting family life like marriage/ divorce issues, custody/ guardianship of children, settlement of land and property issues, inheritance cases, making of wills etc. etc. The Darul Ifta which is involved in giving religious verdicts and answering hundreds of questions online and offline, gives free services to all. In this way, these and many other services continue to be rendered free of charge to the public.
With respect to the fees that are charged for Halaal certification, these have come about on account of a necessity. Initially, no fee was charged for this service. However, as the work increased, it became very costly to meet the demands of those wishing to be certified as Halaal.
The need to charge a fee (which in reality is very small) is due to the considerable cost which is involved in rending this service. Some of these are:
Those in the Halaal Committee must use their vehicles on a daily basis to drive to different places throughout Trinidad in order to inspect food outlets, poultry depots, processing plants, companies, products etc. Many of these places are situated far away from the Darul Uloom in different remote areas. Besides undertaking a trip to inspect the premises/ products, the officers must undertake another trip to these same places to deliver the certificates, and also to make unexpected site visits to ensure that proprietors fulfill the requirement of providing ‘only Halaal’. Driving in this manner on a daily basis is indeed a cost to the officers.
In many cases, food outlets purchase foreign meats which have been certified by outside bodies. The Halaal Committee must then make phone calls to these bodies to verify the Halaal status of the products and meats. On many occasions phone calls have to be made repeatedly, in order to speak to specific individuals who are in charge of different departments. Making phone calls to foreign bodies on a regular basis, is also a cost to the Institute which is done for food outlets which seek to be certified.
Members of the Halaal Committee are sometimes required to travel to other countries in order to investigate the process of slaughtering etc. This has to be done so that the DUHC can obtain a first hand knowledge on what takes place. In the recent past, some of the members visited plants in Canada, America, Brazil and other South American Countries. This is also a cost to the Darul Uloom, which in reality, is not directly linked to the business of the Darul Uloom. Instead, all these different costs are directly connected to those establishments which seek to be certified as Halaal. Hence, it is only fair that they assist in offsetting part of the heavy cost that comes about in the process of Halaal certification.
The monies collected for these services are utilized in the Department of Halaal Certification, and is not used in other departments or services of the Darul Uloom.
No one should feel ‘bad’ to pay a small fee for the amount of work which is done to be certified. Indeed, the fee is extremely insignificant when compared to the large sums of money that are made by food outlets on account of our Halaal Certification.
It should also be known that all Halaal Certifying bodies through the world charge a fee for certification. This is only due to the heavy cost a halaal committee has to bear in rendering this service.
It is sad to know that those who show disapproval for this ‘charge’ are ‘most willing’ to pay all the taxes that are levied upon them in the ‘purchase and sale’ of products, which are much higher than the fee paid for an Islamic service.
And Allah Knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan