On the momentous occasion of our pious predecessors establishing the forerunner of Jamiatul Ulama 100 years ago, the driving force was the enormous challenges facing the Muslim community at the time. Primary amongst the plethora of issues facing the community was immigration, education, establishment of Masaajid & madaaris, employment, financial & emotional support services, and social welfare relief.
Access to Halaal food was not an issue as mothers and sisters in that era stayed at home, blended their own spices, baked bread, used fresh vegetables obtained from their own garden patches and the door-to-door vegetable sellers, slaughtered their own home-reared chicken, purchased meat only from the local Muslim family butcher, cooked and served wholesome sit-down family meals. Even celebrations of weddings and auspicious occasions were held at residences with catering done collectively with support from family and friends.
In the late 1960’s, with more active participation by Muslim entrepreneur businessmen in the economy and demands by them to certify poultry products due to it becoming a staple protein in many South African homes, the Ulama of the time undertook the responsibility of providing Halaal certification services. This was a natural progression of the many societal challenges that the Jamiatul Ulama identified and responded to. The Jamiatul Ulama thus took the bold step of certifying poultry to ensure that Muslim traders have access to Halaal products.
In the 1990’s, Muslims faced new challenges in a South Africa liberated from the unjust apartheid system. The new democratic order saw the repeal of international sanctions resulting in a flood of imported goods, the opportunity to export products and the deregulation of the meat industry which allowed the importation and free movement of meat within borders of the country.
The new found freedom also accelerated the natural progression of urbanization and globalization resulting in changes in career choices, trade opportunities, consumer spending, two breadwinner families, shopping, eating trends, etc.
Exacerbating this was the swift technological advances in food production. Some three thousand substances are deliberately added to food and drinks to increase their desirability. Another ten thousand compounds and combinations of these can be used during processing, packaging and storing of these products. To address these challenges, there was a dire need for an independent, cohesive and national body that would be endorsed by the broader Ulama (religious Scholars), be above cultural, geographic and petty politics, not serve vested business interests, operate as a self-sustaining non-profit entity and apply the highest Shari’ah standards.
This heralded the formation of SANHA as that body in 1996, from the seed of service to humanity planted in 1923 and certification activities that it had subsequently pioneered. Alhumdulillah, today SANHA certifies almost 3000 companies, employs a staff of 140 people and maintains offices in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. It has also played a major role in cooperation and collaboration with Halaal Certification bodies worldwide. It hosts and participates in seminars and forums globally. SANHA also enjoys formal accreditation from several leading authoritative government departments as well as formal recognition from leading certification bodies globally. SANHA is a founder member holding an Executive position on the World Halaal Council.
The central code for existence in the life of all Muslims is the Shariah (Islamic law). Divine and sacred, it is the Law of Allah, the Creator of all and permeates the life of every Muslim. The consumption of Halaal food and transacting with Halaal commodities is an intrinsic requirement of the faith.
We salute our pious predecessors for their vision in identifying this need to provide a professional service thereby making Halaal products accessible to all. May Allah Ta’ala elevate them to the highest stages for their encouragement and ongoing support.
We are grateful to Allah Ta’ala for the privilege and honour of serving the Ummah and upholding the vision of our Leadership from seeds of thought to a harvest of benefits.