Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 2013-02-09
After months of deliberation between Jamiatul Ulama Kwa Zulu Natal’s leadership, the organization terminated their halaal certification and inspection services after almost 30 years. This prompted the South African National Halaal Authority (SANHA) to publish a newsletter which highlighted their views on the issue of Tanstaafl, a mnemonic for “there ain't no such thing as a free lunch”. The publication received criticism from some quarters.
Ml. Mohammad Saeed Navlakhi, the theological director of SANHA asked Radio Islam’s host Ml. Mohammed Kara on air, if he would be given sufficient time prior to commencing the interview after claiming to have being abruptly cut off in an earlier interview with Ebrahim Gangat at satellite station Channel Islam whilst attempting to clarify the contents of the newsletter.
Following the furore that erupted, Ml. Navlakhi told Radio Islam that they felt it was important to highlight the issue which SANHA had initially mentioned in 2007. This was when Jamiatul Ulama KZN echoed the sentiments that halaal certification was a commercial service and the organization would provide a service without charging a certification fee. Based on these sentiments, SANHA issued a flash newsletter in September 2007. In the newsletter (currently available on SANHA's website) titled “No fee freebie” SANHA reiterated that there is no such thing as a free service. “For every service that is rendered, there is a tangible cost that is attached to that service,” said Ml. Navlakhi.
Ml. Navlakhi reiterated that the article in no way meant to denigrate the Ulama of Jamiat KZN. It merely stated the facts, which was a bit harsh and made people uncomfortable which created certain perceptions that it was an “Ulama bashing” pamphlet. “In essence I think you’ve got to read the entire article in its context. An example was given, a live example was given, an example that people could relate to, that after a 5 year period an organization had to shut down purely because they were not able to financially sustain the service,” added Ml. Navlakhi.
In an earlier interview with Radio Islam, Jamiatul Ulama KZN’s spokesperson Ml. Abdullah Khan denied allegations that a financial crisis had resulted in the termination of the halaal services. “No it’s not a financial crisis. There’s nonsensical talk of a financial crisis. (From) 2007 until now Alhamdulillah the Muslim community has rendered tremendous support to the Jamiatul Ulama-KZN,” added Ml. Khan.
This statement was deemed implausible by Ml. Navlakhi. He said, “spin" and lack of credibility in that statement is because it was purely , you will not able to financially sustain the responsibilities, the financial responsibilities, the financial management of this huge service that needs to be rendered. There is a tangible cost attached to everything and in the absence of charging, they themselves on Voice of the Cape radio station mentioned that it was beyond their capacity to do so and in a letter sent to our Amir (chairman), post our announcement, that it was not sustainable.”
On the point of where SANHA refers to the termination of halaal certification as abrupt, Ml. Navlakhi said that in his opinion it was precipitous, but cited that the process of certification is a lengthy and arduous process. He said that the notification issued by the Jamiatul Ulama KZN was seriously delayed as far as public information was concerned.
When asked if SANHA stands to gain clients in KZN after the decisions of Jamiatul Ulama KZN to terminate its halaal certification, Ml. Navlakhi emphasized that the service of certification is not about the number of plants that an organization has or about the income that is generated. Instead, the service is truly about integrity and assurance where the consumer can buy a product that is certified halaal and consume it with confidence. “Halaal certification service is an absolute imperative, and I am not saying this, the world is saying this,” said Ml. Navlakhi.
On the point of Ml. Navlakhi’s interview on Channel Islam on (Thursday, 7th January 2013), where Ebrahim Gangat accused him of lambasting Jamiatul Ulama KZN in the manner The Majlis lambasts SANHA and likened this to Zionist type of behavior, Ml. Navlakhi said that he had no response to the accusation. “It’s not worth responding to that. Really it is totally uncalled for. The analogy is totally out of context and by no means can you…if you read any one article and there's one that’s been released by the Majlis today. Compare the article (of Majlis) to our flash news. It’s totally "chalk and cheese", you cannot compare it,” said Ml. Navalakhi.
When asked to clarify statements he made on Channel Islam about perceptions that the satellite station was anti-Jamiatul Ulama South Africa and anti-SANHA, Ml. Navlakhi reiterated, “Until I don’t have hardcore evidence…At the moment again yes it has created perceptions or strengthened perceptions.”
On the point of whether the chairman of SANHA Ml. Yusuf Patel was aware of the newsletter published by SANHA, Ml Navlakhi said that although Ml. Patel is not involved in the day to day operations of the organization, however when a notice is prepared for circulation it is sent to their constituency and immediate membership so they are the first to receive the newsletter. “Definitely it was sent out to him, definitely he is aware of it and I cannot believe he couldn’t be aware of it because it’s on the World Wide Web…I was actually taken aback when the presenter (Ebrahim Gangat of Channel Islam) mentioned that the Amir (chairman) has no information about such a leaflet being issued,” added Ml. Navlakhi.
Ml. Navlakhi in essence explained that the intention behind the newsletter was to point out that the closure of the Jamiat KZN’s halaal certification department proves that no fee halaal certification is untenable. And that it was not simply that they were terminating their service, but Jamiat KZN’s failed attempt at free halaal certification had resulted in many negative consequences which now have to be dealt with.
The controversial interview on Channel Islam created frenzy on social networks and some other platforms. Some people felt SANHA had it coming while others felt even if SANHA’s newsletter was harsh; speaking to an Alim in such a rude manner on air was unacceptable as Ml. Navlakhi was being instructed like a school teacher would to a school kid when Ebrahim Gangat said, “Ml. Navalakhi, you will listen to me till I finish,” and cutting him off, even if he was interjecting is unacceptable behavior for a Muslim radio station.
Many felt that the controversial interview had now caused the discussion to be distracted from the core issue and that SANHA's harsh tone in their newsletter could have been dealt with in a much better way. Many are tired of such controversies and feel people need to focus on the bigger challenges of the ummah.
In concluding his interview on Radio Islam, Ml.Navlahi urged towards the unity of this Ummah; a sentiment replayed by the statement quoted by host Ml. Kara: “When the sand grains get together, it becomes a vast desert and when the sea drops unite, they becoming a boundless ocean."