Muslim states urged to invest in Halal sector



 Islamic scholars and businesses must speed up Halal or Islamic certification as technology advances or risk losing a market worth over $600 billion, Malaysia's prime minister warned on Monday.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the world's population of 1.6 billion Muslims are a “captive market” for Halal products -- those deemed permissible under Islam.

But rapid advancement in technology, such as genetically-modified food, are challenging definitions and standards over what can be deemed Halal, he said.

“There needs to be a 'Musyawarah' or meeting of minds among Muslim jurists, scientists and business leaders on how to further develop the global Halal industry,” Abdullah told the opening of the World Halal Forum here.

“If not, we will run the risk of being left behind and miss out on the lucrative potential offered by the Halal sector,” he said in a keynote speech.

“If Islamic judgements cannot be made quickly and accurately on the questions that industry poses, then Hlal integrity may become obsolete and eventually falter. We cannot and must not allow this to happen.”

Applying Halal standards stretches beyond food to include products such as cosmetics, which may contain animal-derived ingredients, and conditions under which products are prepared and stored.

“I would like to call on the leading Muslim nations in particular to increase their investments in the Halal sector,” he said.

Mainly Muslim Malaysia is trying to position itself as a global hub for the Halal industry and organisers of the World Halal Forum said some 900 participants from 40 countries had registered for the event.—AFP

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