Wherever you are in major world cities, you can always keep in touch with your home news; thanks to the internet. Though I was thousand of miles in Europe, I was only a click away from my beloved country.
I was at the end of my business trip in London last week when the issue of porcine DNA detected in a couple of sample of Cadbury chocolates arose. It sounded trivial when you are in a country where friends and business associates take you to chic pubs and restaurants belonging to Non-Muslims to eat and drink.
If you are to keep thinking on what is “halal” based on contamination by molecules of pork, I don’t think you can survive when you travel overseas apart from those Middle-Eastern countries.
Having studied and lived in Australia and England, I found such preoccupation to look for porcine DNA in foods is casting doubts and fear on some Muslims and this negative emotion will reflect on their negative behaviours of suspiciousness , distrust, misunderstanding and non-compromising attitude in many aspects of life: and what a life?
I recall the story of my Muslim sister-in-law, SJ who was the sole Malaysian representative to an UNDP-WHO conference in Shandong China in 1984. Being fluent in English and naturally active in discussions, she was nominated as the chairman of the working group representing Iran,Pakistan,Nepal,Afghanistan, The Philippines, Thailand, Korea,Fiji and others in Asia.
According to her during meals time, she was seated with her Muslim colleagues and were given “halal” foods which they all gobbled down heartily after working hard as it was a cool autumn in the month of October. However at the end of the conference, she was made to sit next to the Governor of Shandong at a high table during a farewell dinner. Her interpreter was not around then. She could not speak Mandarin and the Governor could not speak English.They communicated by sign language.
At the start of the dinner, a big tray of suckling pig was put in front of the Governor who proceeded to cut it and put a big chunk on SJ’s plate. Though she cringed, she was not about to embarrass the generous host, instead when the Governor wasn’t looking and busy talking to another guest next to him, SJ calmly transferred the meat to the plate of the Chinese person next to her and ate rice and vegetables on her “tainted” plate .
A few minutes later, Holy Cow! The Governor turned to face her and noticed the large red chunk of meat was gone, so he smilingly nodded and started to cut another chunk and happily put it on SJ’s plate prompting her to put up her right hand to say she had had enough…. hahaha, we all had a good laugh at her predicament when she was telling it.
She related the incident to Dr Siti Hasmah, the wife of Mahathir the ex-Prime Minister, who also had a mirthful laugh and in turn , related to my SIL on her experience on a visit to the Philippines during Imelda Marcos’s time when Malaysian officials told Tun Siti that virtually all foods served was tainted with lard at official functions.
I don’t think we have such a senior civil servant like my SIL anymore. Now we have an educated Muslim woman talking about cleansing their blood from porcine DNA accidentally taken with those Cadbury chocolates! See the video here ( ACCIN mahu Cadbury bayar kos tukar darah umat Islam) – ACCIN demands that Cadbury pay for the cost of blood cleansing for all Muslims.
The woman in the video went on to proclaim that if you eat pork your face would look like a pig and that your mind would be affected whence you become lazy to perform prayers. What kind of stupid arguments is that? But you’d be surprised many Malaysian Muslims would take her words without thinking.
The response is indeed out of proportion to the issue. Bloggers such as that of the former journalist and Minister of Information were dead set on total rejection and closure of Cadbury factory in Malaysia without giving a chance for the company to review its supply chain and correct the faulty processes. Their action goes against the forgiving nature of their Allah. In fact, it is stated that if Muslims don’t have anything else to eat except pork, they can eat it to stay alive in an emergency and if tainted foods are accidentally eaten, it is not a sin.
When I returned to Malaysia then I realised the full scale of the extreme response of some Muslims to this “tainted chocolate”. They even talk about going on a Crusade (jihad) on Cadbury and the social media is full of venom as all Hell Breaks Loose! If only they have the same sentiment about the widespread corruption in the country and about those damned suicide bombers!
All said, I take comfort in reading this piece written by a young Muslim in the Malaysian Insider on the label of Halal. Sadly, many young Malaysian Muslim fundamentals are unable to read and understand English.