Interview with Dr Shuja Shafi on his attendance at the World Halal Forum in Malaysia
Thursday, 11 April 2013
Shuja Shafi, Deputy Secretary General of the MCB and the Chair of the Health
and Food Standards Committee spoke on the topic of halal healthcare and
medicine at the World Halal Forum in Malaysia on 3rd-4th April
Below is an interview with him about the growth of halal healthcare, how the
industry is developing and why it is important.
What was discussed at the World Halal Forum?
It is a great forum for discussing halal issues because they are placed in a
holistic context. The programme covered a diverse range of topics such as halal
ecosystems, investment, tourism, healthcare and medicine.
I had the opportunity to listen to a range of global experts in the halal
industry, and the forum offered the chance to network and bring ideas back to
I believe the conference has opened doors for co operation and more open
dialogue with a view to agreeing standards and ways of establishing national
regulatory mechanisms. This is particularly important for Muslims who are
minorities in countries like the UK so we can build on this momentum and get
the wider benefits of scale that joining with other countries brings us.
For example, having just issued new standards for pharmaceuticals (MS 2424) Malaysia
is keeping up with its declared objective of leading in all matters halal.
We hope the publication of these standards will pave the way for halal
medicines and vaccines which will benefit Muslims everywhere.
Does Islam have a history with healthcare and medicine?
Not many people know that the concept of the hospital as a place for the care
of the sick (bimaristan) was developed in the early Islamic era. The
characteristics of purpose-built hospitals were developed by the early Caliphs
as places open to all, and this fits with our understanding of the modern day
hospital. The major contributions and discoveries by Islamic physicians
and scholars in the fields of science and medicine are not often appreciated.
What did you speak about at the forum?
I looked to the future by asking
about "Paving ways for halal healthcare and medicine".
Modern day medicine embraces the
elements of a holistic approach to treatment using the triad of spirituality,
prevention and therapeutics (physical - medicine, surgery etc). In
caring for diverse groups, provision is made to address the needs of faith
groups; which means the infrastructure to practise halal healthcare and
The challenge for the Muslim community is to articulate their needs and devise
agreed halal standards for those services. Advances in the medical and
therapeutic fields are taking place at a very rapid pace. Society in
general and faith communities, particularly Muslims need to address this and
formulate a view with equal speed whether the developments are considered
halal. For example, if receiving blood transfusion, bone marrow or organ
transplantation is considered halal then the concept of donation should also be
promoted as halal.
These are the kind of issues that we need to address by putting mechanisms into
place to understand and develop halal healthcare.
How did you feel about attending the
I was truly pleased to be
attending the conference and, yes excited! Excited that I was able to attend on
behalf of our affiliates and bring a British Muslim voice to an important forum