Muslim Judicial Council publishes financial records
MJC publishes Trust’s records
January 28 2012 at 03:05pm
By YAZEED KAMALDIEN
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) on Friday bowed to mounting public pressure to come clean, publishing its Halaal Trust financial records on its website.
Anti-MJC sentiment has been building since late last year after the body was linked to the scandal over the Orion Cold Storage company, which allegedly cleared pork – forbidden in Islam – as halaal or fit for Muslim consumption. Orion has denied the allegations.
Muslims have demanded answers from the MJC about its Halaal Trust (MJCHT), which has been accused of raking in millions from the sale of halaal certificates to businesses that sell products for the Muslim consumer market.
But on Friday, as the council moved to silence its critics, MJC spokeswoman Nabeweya Malick said they hoped their financial disclosure “can also result in good”.
The MJC statements show that the Trust earned R8 078 893 last year. Its expenses totalled R7 647 383, which meant it made a profit of R431 510.
“Public pressure has highlighted the fact that the MJC has not disclosed its finances. Now that it is published, it neutralises allegations that close to R1 billion had been made. It answers the questions of speculative voices,” Malick said.
She also hit out at those accusing the MJC of not having its books in order, saying that all profits went to educational projects.
“The MJC also has a farm in Philippi where it helps to eradicate poverty. Emerging farmers are trained to cultivate vegetables and feed their families.”
The MJC’s apologetic public meetings this week have, meanwhile, not deterred a range of splinter groups with knives out for the religious authority.
Muslims Concerned is one of the newly-formed small lobby groups. Founder
Allie Mohamed, who lives in Pelican Park, organised a protest on the corner of Jan Smuts and Klipfontein roads in Athlone on Friday.
His poster used the MJC acronym to spell out “Money Justifies Certificate”.
“The MJC loves wealth and they are selling out Muslims. They sell halaal certificates without inspecting the premises of companies,” he charged.
“How can we follow the MJC if they are lying? They had a meeting but offered no answers. They should say they made a mistake and are sorry.”
Mohamed was referring to Thursday night’s MJC public meeting at Darul Islam mosque in Surrey Estate, attended by nearly 1 000 people.
The MJC said it had called the meeting to offer an “explanation about the Orion issue”, and to explain “halaal processes”.
MJC president Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks apologised to the Muslim community for confusion from the saga.
But the attempt to restore the MJC’s credibility did not impress Mohamed, who called for a new halaal authority.
“We need this urgently so that we can know what is really halaal.”
Groups that have long been disgruntled by the MJC have also re-surfaced, with calls for the scrapping of the MJC or its trust coming this week from, among others, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad).
Pagad spokesman Osman Sahib said they had been in contact with local Muslim businesses and consumers to boycott any products bearing MJC logos. The group distributed a statement outside the MJC meeting on Thursday night, but did not disturb the gathering.
Its statement declared that “capitalist exploitation of Muslims must stop because the corporate clergy class have lost our trust and proved their incompetence”. The statement was co-signed by the newly-formed groups Friends of the Hujaaj, Muslim Consumer Council, Hajj Watch and the National Consumer Forum.
“All certification of halaal must be done by only one national regulator that is properly legislated… all these religious mafias and monopolies must stop,” the statement said, adding
“Islam is not a trademark” and “Muslim markets cannot be sold as a franchise”.
But Malick shrugged off the opposition, saying opposing groups had been around since the MJC was launched in 1945.
“They will take any opportunity or weakness that they think the MJC has to attack the organisation. Our advice to them is to contribute to build the community,” she said, warning that it was “tragic when Muslims break down structures built over years”.
“The best thing would be to get involved with the MJC instead of criticising it,” Malick added.
The MJC reiterated this week that it had stopped dealing with Orion after the allegations surfaced that the company had labelled pork as halaal. In a statement this week, Orion claimed it had been sabotaged by former associates.
Orion boss Patrick Gaertner said in the statement that a “former business associate” and “his brother-in-law” wanted to frame him for R1.2m. He made reference to “acts of sabotage” committed on its business premises, but said further business dealings “with the two saboteurs” had been “totally severed”.
What is halaal?
Moulana Shuaib Appleby, religious leader at the Loop Street mosque in the inner-city, explained that halaal is “that which is permissible to do or eat in Islam”.
“When we refer to food or beverages, the ingredients have to conform to Islamic law. These guidelines are from the Qur’an (Islamic religious text). The Qur’an states that alcohol and pork are haraam (forbidden) and so Muslims do not consume this,” said Appleby.
He said that other items which are haraam include all carnivores.
“Halaal and haraam are linked to spirituality. Whoever consumes haraam, that spiritual bond with Allah weakens. Even if someone prays and he has consumed haraam then his prayers will not be answered,” said Appleby.
“Halaal is consuming food and drink that is a benefit to the body and soul.”
Appleby explained that a halaal animal would be any fish from the sea or herbivores that are slaughtered “by a Muslim”.
“The animal is slaughtered by slicing the jugular vein and you must say the name of Allah.”