This magazine is certified halal

Oct 03, 2019

IVON WIDIAHTUTI’S job is, on the face of it, straightforward. As an auditor at the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Assessment Agency (LPPOM), an organisation in the leafy city of Bogor, Ms Widiahtuti reviews the applications of companies hoping their products will be deemed halal, meaning that their consumption or use does not break any of the strictures of Islam. Lately, however, her job has acquired an absurd streak. Halal is a concept most commonly applied to diet, and Ms Widiahtuti spends most of her time considering applications from food and beverage companies which want to assure Muslim consumers that their products are free of pork and alcohol, which devout Muslims eschew. But some applications concern products that aren’t edible. As she lists the musical instruments and sex toys that she and her team have inspected recently, she giggles at the absurdity of asking: is this vibrator halal?

Ms Widiahtuti does not believe that CEOs are becoming more pious. But ordinary Indonesians are. The country is home to more Muslims—some 230m—than anywhere else in the world. They, in turn, consume more products that have been certified halal than Muslims anywhere else. Companies spy opportunity. The number of products that received ...

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