BISHKEK - Noticing an increasing demand for healthier halal products, Kyrgyzstan plans to issue uniform standards and to form a National Halal Association to boost Muslims trust in their products and get a wider share of the halal industry.
"Unfortunately, many of our people naÃ¯vely believe that, if they buy some product with Arabic writing on it, it must mean it is halal," Kyrgyz Grand Mufti Rakhmatullah haji Egemberdiyev told Central Asia Online on Thursday, May 16.
"But this is not the case."
For years, the Islamic Centre's Certification Committee had the sole authority to issue halal certificates in Kyrgyzstan based on Malaysian standards.
Recently, Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan (DUMK) started to issue its own certificates making a new conflict for Kyrgyz Muslims.
To resolve the conflict, Kyrgyzstan plans to issue uniform standards and to form a National Halal Association.
"We sense the full support and understanding of the state," said Myktybek haji Arstanbek, spokesman for the Eurasian Union for Halal Standardization.
The new certification body will be responsible for testing meat to detect the presence of pork.
It will also help the country expand its halal certification system, applying halal standards across more branches of the economy, particularly pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
Moreover, a halal product of insulin for diabetics, one of more than 500 products sold in Kyrgyzstan that usually contains pork, would also save many believers from this dilemma.
"Almost all of them have various additives that include components of pork and alcohol. â¦ In these circumstances, how can a vendor, even if he is Muslim, guarantee the candy he's selling?" Arstanbek asked. Economy Growth
The new halal standards allow Kyrgyz authorities to compete with Malaysia for a bigger share of halal industry worldwide.
"We will help the development of this standard in every way, because the halal industry today is one of the most promising industries ... of many countries," Berdimamat Adanbayev, chief of the Technical Regulations Department within the Economy and Anti-Monopoly Ministry, said.
In the long term, Kyrgyzstan could become an exporter of halal products, observers say.
"We could offer high-quality products for the meat and food-processing industries," Deputy Foreign Minister Askar Beshimov said.
"Arab businessmen take halal certification very seriously, and they quite often back out ... when they learn that most of our goods lack halal certificates."
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Along with halal food, other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Halal food is consumed not only by 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims in the $2 billion global industry.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net