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CRUCIBLE: UP Halal Forum

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(Welcome remarks, “UP Halal Forum: Harmonizing Roles, Addressing Challenges, and Moving Towards a Common Direction,” organized by UP-Institute of Islamic Studies and UP-Center for Integrative Studies-Islamic Studies Program, held at the Institute of Small Scale Industries, University of the Philippines Diliman, 25 June 2024.)

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 11 July)—Today, there is an increasing interest in three interlocking areas of Islamic Studies; namely: Shari’ah, Islamic Finance, and Halal.

These areas have gained traction in terms of enhancing social and economic benefits amongst proponents and consumers as there is also an interest in understanding and deepening of Islam’s foundation and spiritual dimensions.

The first deals with a domain called Muammalah, that form of relation in Islamic legal system pertaining to social, economic, and political transactions.

The second is in the realm of ibadah, that area where religious and spiritual systems are being strengthened amongst believers in Islamic faith.

These two domains cohere in what we refer to as dinu l-Islam. The word din is generally translated as religion. But since it is a concept rooted in Western tradition, the word religion could hardly capture the universal and nuanced meaning of the concept of din.

In our view, the closest word to din is system. That is to say that the two domains mentioned above are actually contained in a broader frame of dinu l-Islam, which is traditionally known as Religion of Islam; but following our construction, it can be viewed as the Universal System of Islam.

We are happy to note that in the Philippines there have been strides in Muammalah regime, particularly in developing a wider space of cultural and legal pluralism towards Muslim Filipinos and Bangsamoro. It has been shown with the passing of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, Charter of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Halal Trade Industry Law, Bangsamoro Organic Law, and Islamic Banking Law. I should not forget that, very recently, the Insurance Commission has already issued a circular allowing insurance companies like PruLife UK to offer or open a window on Takaful.

All these laws show that the domain or space of Muammalah are now increasing. These provide a good prospect in the pursuit for more robust intervention with our advocacy on Shari’ah, Islamic Finance, and Halal industry.

It necessitates that we have to continuously collaborate and engage in more discussions. We have to identify milestones in our engagement about Halal so that we are able to identify as well problems and challenges; how we could address them and how we could move in concert towards a common direction.

This is the rationale why we have been engaged in activities like today. We already had the Halal Landscape Webinar during the pandemic with relatively random participants and presenters. Except for the Department of Tourism, at that time there were no presenters from government agencies. We thought we had to reinforce our initial findings in that conversation. That is why we hold the UP Halal Forum today.

The other part was our engagement with Hajj. By the way, we are happy with the good news about the recently concluded Hajj coming from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. Last year, we conducted a multi-sectoral engagement on Hajj, including the Office of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin. We also sent copies of our Hajj proceedings to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

With respect to our advocacy on Shari’ah, I represented the UP and Institute of Islamic Studies in the recent Shari’ah Coordination meeting organized by the Supreme Court through the Offices of Justice Marvic Leonen and Justice Jaapar Dimaampao about SC plans on Shari’ah Bar and Shari’ah Review and other related concerns.

During the meeting presided by Justice Leonen, I took the liberty to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the Supreme Court as such plans and programs on Shari’ah promote legal pluralism in the country, which is crucial for more inclusive and meaningful national development.

So, please hang on, we have lots of issues to talk about Halal and other related concerns. We have two sessions—one in the morning and another one in the afternoon.

The first part will be a presentation of research on Halal among UP units. The second part will be a presentation of government agencies engaged in Halal industry. The third part will be a presentation of NGOs about their advocacies on Halal.

In the afternoon, we will have more conversation on Halal in terms of determining problems and challenges and finding ways to address them so we could move towards common goals.

The final part will be a synthesis of Atty. Mehol Sadain, who is our expert on Shari’ah and Philippine Law. He is also the lead consultant of BARMM on tri-justice systems. He is in the position to articulate a framework on how we could move forward to develop the Halal program as he was also the former Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Julkipli Wadi is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines.]

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