Malaysia is perhaps the only Muslim-country in the world that has a great blueprint to “halalize” everything, except its currency note. A Saudi wannabe, the country had declared Jihad (holy war) on Cadbury over pork-laced chocolate, which turned out to be a false allegation. It had launched the first halal airline – Rayani Air – only to go kaput, just 110 days into operation.
The obsession with everything porky among some Muslims in Malaysia also saw the calling for supermarkets to provide separate halal and non-halal trolleys. However, the country is quite adorable because it also practices selective Islamic teachings. For example, gambling is forbidden by Islam but Muslims can freely place their bets at 4D Sports Toto outlets.
Heck, even Mr. Hanif Omar, a Muslim and former Inspector-General of The Royal Malaysian Police for 20 years, has shamelessly accepted his role as the Deputy Chairman of Genting Berhad, the only casino operator in the country. Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council has declared cigarette smoking as forbidden too but Muslims happily puff them openly.
After Auntie Anne’s was forced to change the name of their product “pretzel dog” to “pretzel sausage”, apparently to avoid confusion among Malaysian Muslims who laughably could be led to think they actually would be eating a dog, McDonald’s joins the “porkyphobia party”. McDonald’s latest notice to its customers – “Birthday Cakes Have To Be Halal”.
McDonald’s says it generally practices a “no outside food allowed” policy but it makes the exception for cakes for birthday parties. However, the cakes have to be halal so that the fast food chain can maintain its halal certification in the Muslim-majority nation. Customers were flabbergasted as McDonald’s has brought the “halal (permissible)” and “haram (forbidden)” matters to a new level.
Unless McDonald’s possesses sophisticated machines, something like the airport x-ray machines to detect forbidden materials, chances are the poor partygoers (generally innocent kids) at McDonald’s would have to wait until the cows come home before the cake could be certified to be absolutely “100% halal”, and be slaughtered (*grin*).
The point is – there’s no way to be sure that the birthday cake is halal, even if the cake was baked by a Muslim. At best, McDonald’s can only “assume” or “guess” that the cake is halal because the person who brought it is a Muslim. But the ingredients used to make it could be tainted with porky substance or DNA along the supply chain.
Of course, if a Muslim bought the cake elsewhere and didn’t bake it herself / himself, the chance of the cake being non-halal is greater. In the same breath, if a non-Muslim brings a home-made cake, one’s assumption is the mouth-watering cake is definitely not innocent. It makes the whole idea of holding a birthday party at McDonald’s quite silly and ridiculous.
However, should McDonald’s be penalised since the American hamburger and fast food restaurant chain was under the notorious JAKIM’s (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) instruction to carry the extreme measure of targeting birthday cakes? Yes, JAKIM was so extreme that the agency plays its fair share of converting some Muslims into extremists.
The cash-rich JAKIM was so extreme that even the Sultan of Johor – Sultan Ibrahim – had demanded the agency to explain its expenditure and justify its demand for RM1 billion in 2016 annual allocations to allegedly better combat “extremist” ideologies like the Islamic State (IS), liberalism, pluralism, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Obviously, Sultan Ibrahim was concerned that the agency was promoting hardline Islamism through its programmes, which in turn was slowly steering Malaysia towards Islamic conservatism. Over time, JAKIM has indirectly given itself powers that appear like they no longer under the jurisdiction of Sultan of each state, making the Malay Rulers like toothless tigers.
So, here’s the chicken and egg situation – McDonald’s is forced to ensure birthday cakes are halal due to JAKIM’s extremism, but JAKIM has gotten to the current notorious state because majority of the Malay Rulers appear to be not interested in controlling JAKIM. That was why Sultan Ibrahim had reminded JAKIM that the Conference of Malay Rulers was the highest authority on Islamic matters.
But if JAKIM was pampered and given special privileges by the Prime Minister Department to create havocs, especially in the current situation where Prime Minister Najib Razak’s position is heavily shaken by his corruption and money laundering allegations hence badly need to play religion and racial cards, could the Sultans control JAKIM to begin with?
Still, the madness of McDonald’s requiring birthday cakes to be halal must be stopped. Actually, if McDonald’s fully enforces its “No Outside Food” policy, there won’t be any birthday party and therefore, the halalness of birthday cakes does not arise at all. But McDonald’s knew by allowing birthday party, they would make profits from the sale of foods and drinks to the partygoers.
Hence, it was all about money that has gotten McDonald’s to issue the ridiculous halal policy. And that’s where the gravy train starts. If everyone boycotts McDonald’s, its pocket would be hurt, resulting in lesser revenue to be taxed by Najib administration, which in turns will have lesser money to be allocated to JAKIM. After all, McDonald’s is owned by billionaire Vincent Tan.
Yes, Vincent Tan, a super-kafir by JAKIM’s standard, purchased Malaysia’s McDonald’s franchise and bought Sports Toto lottery agency in the 1980s, two favourite hangout places frequently visited by Malaysian Muslims. And where is JAKIM when we need them the most to boycott Sports Toto betting outlets and shops selling cigarettes?
With lesser tax, let’s see if Najib administration still keeps quiet about letting JAKIM out creating chaos. With lesser money at its disposal, let’s see if JAKIM has the same appetite forcing halal certificates to birthday cakes. With lesser customers, let’s see if McDonald’s has no choice but to retrench some of its 12,000 employees, over 85% of whom are Muslims.
Amusingly, neither JAKIM nor McDonald’s are concerned if currency notes tendered by customers are halal. If they could go to the extent of micro-viewing the birthday cakes, surely they should consider macro-viewing the Ringgit notes. It’s easier to smell for porky Ringgit notes (and demand halal-certified notes) than to scan for forbidden substances in a birthday cake.
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