I decided to go to a 2-day halal business course and learn what is “halal” in global and general terms before starting this blog. I’ve had a basic knowledge about Islam from living and working in Islamic country and mingling with muslim friends but when it comes to “halal” or “halal food,” I was always confused. Why is there halal butter and non-halal butter when butter doesn’t contain meat? Can I share my glass with a muslim friend which is washed with soap but might have been used as a beer glass in the past…? Is hand sanitizers containing alcohol haram…? and such. It seemed to me that everyone had different ideas on halal (besides pork and alcohol, of course), so I wanted to know more about the meaning of halal in general.
The first day was a lecture day and we learned basic ideas of islam and halal, halal certification and “local halal” certification, the situation of muslims living in Japan and muslim tourists, and about marketing as well. The lecturers besides from Halal Japan Business Association were from Nippon Asia Halal Association and Malaysia Halal Corporation. It was a really good opportunity to learn all these things from muslims who are actually living in Japan.
The second day was a field trip day. We went to the most famous monsque in Tokyo which is located in Yoyogiuehara, then went to Shinookubo to see halal shops. You can buy halal meat, halal canned food and retort pouch, all kinds of exotic spices, halal soy sauce, rice and a lot more in those shops. I remember there were more than 5 halal shops along the street. There is a small room used as a mosque on the upper floor of a small shop building as well. Our lunch was at a muslim friendly Tunisian restaurant called “Hannibal”. (I say “muslim friendly” because they serve halal food only but sells alcohol.) Shinookubo was a quite surprising place, I even saw a really expensive durian sold in a fruit shop!
I’ll write about local halal certification next time.
Halal Japan Business Association http://www.halal.or.jp