Halal is an Arabic word used to describe products that are lawful and permissible under Shariah law.
For instance, halal-certified beauty products must not contain components like porcine ingredients, or any ingredients derived from animals that have been improperly slaughtered under Shariah principles.
Products that do not follow these rules are considered impermissible, or haram.
However, Mohamad Faisal Ahmad Fadzil, managing director of Malaysia-based halal brand Tanamera, believes that using permitted ingredients are just one part of the halal concept.
“Halal is one part of it and toyyiban is another. In fact, they are two that should be a part of one,” Faisal explained to CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
What exactly is toyyiban?
According to Faisal, toyyiban simply means having the right intentions. “When you have a halal product, but you are involved in unfair practices like bribery or child labour; no matter how halal the product is, it is still haram.”
In a less extreme example, Faisal elaborated that cosmetic companies must produce products that are safe and do what it says on the label.
“In my eyes, to put out a product that doesn’t work is not halal. Some people might disagree, but if you want to make a halal product, you must go all the way, that means looking into the ethics of it. Your product must work, must be safe and you cannot take advantage of your staff and consumers.”
Recently, due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Tanamera has been experiencing a surge of orders and demands for its halal plant-based and alcohol-free hand sanitisers.
Faisal revealed that the company issued a firm notice to its distributors that they were not allowed to raise the prices of its hand sanitisers, because to do so would be not be in line with the toyyiban aspect of halal principles.
“When situations like this happen, people get desperate and we should not be trying to take advantage of their fears,” said Faisal.
Faisal lamented that the concept of toyyiban has very limited exposure compared to halal.
“Honestly, nobody is talking about it. But we should be, especially now when everyone is making halal everything. Halal clothing, halal cars, halal tourism… It’s becoming absolutely ridiculous. We talk a lot about halal ingredients and materials, but must we stop there? Shouldn’t it be bigger than that?”
He continued: “To me, toyyiban is such an important part of the halal ecosystem. It’s not just about the ingredients. Companies that want to be halal should take it into account. If not, its just a soulless practice.”
Certified and regulated
Faisal believes that recognising toyyiban with a certification is possible, citing the Fairtrade International certification as an example.
“How different are [Fairtrade Standards] from the toyyiban part of halal? All you need is someone to take action to start the certification.”
He noted that previously, companies and consumers placed emphasis on product and ingredients but today they are concerned about issues like animal welfare and environmentally friendly practices.
“Technically all this has nothing to do with the product itself, but it has become a very important part the marketing and communication.”
In the future, Faisal hopes the halal certification would come to mean more than just the ingredients used.
“Halal should incorporate everything from fairtrade, eco-friendly, sustainable practices. It should all be part of toyyiban.”