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Being united is not only a way of seeing.It is also a way of being.NSTP/ZULFADHLI ZULKIFLI

WE now have another reason to be polarised: boycott of non-Muslim goods.No prize for guessing where it all began. Yes, the anti-social social media. If you label it a polarising platform, you won’t be too off the mark.

What began as a Facebook entry to promote Muslim products morphed into a boycott campaign against non-Muslim products. One comment begets another, and then it is mania multiplied by many magnitude.News portals are not helping either.

Far-fetched allusions abound. One even hints at the boycott being a response to the rejection of khat calligraphy. Tenuous, but they try.

Nevertheless, this point needs to be made:boycotting goods made by non-Muslims is not the way forward.If Muslims want to be ensured that the products they consume meet the stringent halal requirements of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim),this cannot be denied to Muslims.

Because this is what the syariah insists. Things that are permissible for consumption or halalan thoyyiban as the syariah law labels it.

Sensing the doubt among some Muslims about the wholesomeness of some products, Jakim director-general Datuk Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim has seen it fit to put the matter to rest.

In a statement issued on Sunday,he hinted that Jakim’s competence cannot be questioned.

Reason:it has been managing the halal certification process since 1974. Today, Jakim’s halal brand has an international repute.

Given this, the right thing to do,instead of boycotting non-Muslim goods, is to get non-Muslims to manufacture products the halal way. Malaysia has a model in MS1500:2009: Halal Food - Production,

Preparation, Handling and Storage - General Guidelines (Second Revision). If an additional route to integration is needed, this is one where a Muslim consumer meets a non-Muslim producer.

To date, 60 per cent of halal product manufacturers are non-Muslim.More must be encouraged to do so.

According to Associate Professor Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil,deputy chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia, the campaign may have started as an innocent ‘Buy Muslim Products’ lobby by non-governmental organisations Ummah and Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia, but was hijacked by activists and non-governmental organisations.

Ummah chairman Aminuddin Yahaya has this to say: our NGO had no intention of boycotting non-Muslim products. The word ‘boycott’was never used in speech nor writing. Period.

All we wanted by starting the ‘Buy Muslim Products’ campaign was to try to help Muslim businesses from being left out. Noble aim, ugly consequences, we have to say.

Be that as it may, Azam says, given the demography of the country, ‘Buy Malaysian Products’ will be more appropriate. How can the nation be united if such a campaign is promoted, he asks.

Like we come together in political alliance in the shape of Pakatan Harapan or Barisan Nasional, we need to find ways to unite, he reasons. We can’t agree more.

Being united is not only a way of seeing. It is also a way of being. Colour can divide,if we want it to. Religion can do that too.Language is another if we will it to be.

It is all in the pair of lenses we don. A way of seeing can become a way of being.

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