To know what is halal pharma, you would need to understand halal. Some of you may know about halal, and some of you may not. The first thing we need to establish is that men did not coin the phrase halal. Halal is a word from the Holy book, i.e. the Quran. In the Quran, it mentions how Allah commands the Muslims to eat what is good for you and leave the forbidden. Halal and Toyyib are very important to Muslims, which each carries the meaning of lawful and wholesomeness, are core values that are upheld by the Islamic Law.
In the context of food, most food is allowable with a few exceptions such as all derivatives from the pig, animals that are not slaughtered according to the Islamic law, poisonous animals, and dangerous animals. There is also khamr or alcohol, where the Muslims can’t drink nor can they have it in their food.
Some may wonder how is this connected to medicines; the answer is simple. Halal encompasses hygiene, sanitation, safety and as mentioned consumables must be allowable and permitted in Islam for Muslims. Therefore, ingredients, in this case, plays a role where producer and manufacturers must ensure their ingredients are halal, moreover have no traces of alcohol, gelatine pig based and other non-halal substance. The importance of ingredients in Halal medicines is just as necessary as in halal food because they are consumable. In Islam, anything that is consumable should be halal for Muslims.
We can notice that healthcare has evolved tremendously over the years. Consumers have more options to choose from in deciding the types of medicines available at their local pharmacy stores from over-the-counter (OTC) products and health supplements, as well as healthcare practitioner for ethical prescription medicines. The questions that people would generally have when it comes to medications are; how safe are these products, do they have any side effects and most importantly what sort of ingredients are used in the medicine? There are many questions especially when it comes to medications, and at times you rely on the good advice from your pharmacist and healthcare practitioner to recommend the best to suit your ailments or to boost your general wellbeing.
The same concept applies to a Muslim who is buying medicines at the pharmacy, the number one question at times would be, is it safe for consumption and are the ingredients halal? With halal pharmaceuticals made available in the market, the decision-making process is more straightforward for the Muslim consumer knowing it is halal. Halal medicines are where the ingredients and method of producing them are halal and in compliance with Shariah principles.
The notion that halal medicines are only for Muslims is entirely not true. There is no segregation when it comes to halal medication, as it is indeed suitable for all. Halal pharma is a Muslim patient’s rights to have medicines according to their dietary and religious obligation. Take halal food as an example; we understand that halal food is safe for consumption, ingredients used are halal and the best part of it all, anyone can eat halal food. The same analogy applies to halal pharma, where halal certified medications not only benefit Muslims, but everyone can take them because of the Wholesomeness (Thoyyiban) aspects of:
- Safe for consumption and use
- Hygienically processed
- Quality standard of production and ingredients materials
- Assurance of product efficacy
Promoting a healthier body, soul and mind are in line with the teachings of Islam to encourage Muslims to appreciate life and take good care of themselves. It has been said that according to the Prophet Muhammed p.b.u.h, he believed that Allah had sent a cure for every ailment. This highlights the importance of enhancing the quality of healthcare while assuring there is access to ALL as stated in many Hadiths mentioning guidelines for a holistic approach to health.
Today halal pharma is doing just that, reviving the Islamic approach to medicine and innovation to ensure Muslims can practice a holistic way of life according to Shariah and the Quran. Malaysia realised the need to have a standard guideline regarding halal medicines for pharmaceutical companies in the country. The MS 2424:2012 (P); made public in 2012, was developed by The Department of Standards, Malaysia as a guideline for halal pharmaceutical companies. The standard needed to differentiate between halal pharma and conventional pharma in producing medicines for Muslim. It also specifies guidelines, which state the importance of halal ingredients permitted under Shariah law.
Muslims today are somewhat more modern; however, they are more in tune with their religion more so now and are going back to basic. They accept modernisation, but they don’t agree as a Muslim their values must follow how the world works towards modernisation. They are the drive behind demanding better innovative halal medicines to suit their lifestyle as a Muslim, and this will benefit everyone who prefers to consume halal pharmaceuticals.
Allah the Almighty has said: “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you..” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:172)