It is not something that I like to touch on but I sincerely feels that the subject matter is important. At least Jamil Khir Baharom deals with the issue head on, and his answer is straight forward. I am talking about beer and specifically the commercially-sold "Halal beer".
Before we go any further into this, personally I have raised this question to one Ustaz way back in the 70's (whheeeww, I am a dinasour) and he shot me back with the question "Is it intoxicating?" to which I replied "How would I know?". You see back then, there is this Australian brewery which came up with "non-alchoholic beer" and that stirred me to ask the question which was never really answered.
Then, somewhere around the 2005, I chanced upon a real "non-alchoholic beer" sold openly in an Indian restaurant in Manchester (Yes, Manchester England). This time around, there is no-one around to ask except for a couple of drinking Malaysians so I just look at it and pass...
In 2009, I came face to face with a sidewalk cafe advertising "non-alchoholic beer" in Bangsar and my mind guessed that it should be all OK since it was sold in a Muslim enlclave of Bangsar, somewhere near the LRT station (hint). Look at it but still do not fall for it. 2011 and this time in an upcoming section of Shah Alam, the non-alchoholic beer were placed on tables in the trendy Zam Zam restaurant, a restaurant famous for its Mandey chicken/lamb. Some Muslims took it and openly drink it, maybe because of the word "non-alchoholic beer" or maybe they thought it was "Halal" beer. Whatever, they have their own reasons for consuming it.
Which comes to out point - What Jamil Khir Baharom did is RIGHT. He pointed out the reason WHY.You see, the manufacturer claimed that it contained only 0.01% alchohol whilst laboratory testing proved that it contacts 0.5% alchohol! Mind you that Muslims are forbidden from consuming alchohol!
Now that Jamil Khir Baharom has pointed out that these "Halal" beers are not Halal, then maybe it is time for me to make my rounds again to see whether these establishment will follow to Jamil Khir Baharom's statement!
And for those who stay in Shah Alam, why not take your dinner in Zam Zam restaurant (it's pricey but worth it) and see whether these cans are still there on the tables! Those near UiTM should also try the NasiArab restaurants in Section 7 and see whether these "halal" beers are still there or not!
Those in Bangsar should try the sidewalk cafe across UOA(?) building next to Bangsar LRT station. And try out those countless "Arab-styled" restaurants and see for yourself. Me? Maybe I will try the Arab restaurants along Jalan Bukit Bintang... :)
Now that Jamil Khir Bahaom has issued the statement, what is Malsysia's stand on this? In "Halal" beers HARAM? If it is, then is Malaysia's stand similar to those from the middle east? I dread the day when the Arabs openly consuming "non-halal Halal beer" whilst we are screaming hoarse to say that it's HARAM!
Whatever, not only alchoholic beers are HARAM, to compare Halal drinks to alchoholic drinks may also render the drinks haram (in certain cases). Moral of the story? Why should we try working around corners to justify HARAM to be HALAL? If it is HARAM, then it will stay HARAM.. as simple as that.
There will be smart Alecs out there with enough chemistry knowledge to work out how to get a diluted 0.01% alchohol drink. So, it is better to cut off now and declare it as HARAM. Get the shops to return the drinks to their agents and close the case. Or will someone come up with another grand biz idea "It's HALAL except in MALAYSIA"!
My last words of advise to Muslims - apa apa pun, sudah dikatakan arak itu HARAM, jadi HARAMlah dia, samada dalam kandungan yang kecil atau besar - wallahualam...
Thanks Jamil Khir Baharom for the brave answer, although it comes almost 40 years late for me... :) Or will one Halal hub issue a contrasting statement? KJ, You listening?
Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are...