Pioneering Halal Da’wah in Riau Islands Facing Heavy Challenges

Riau Islands Province (Kepri) is a gateway for foreign tourists, the number of foreign tourists who come to visit this area reaches two million people in a year. Many of them are asking for halal food and products in the Riau Islands region. On this reason, the Riau Islands Province LPPOM MUI was formed around 1996.

The halal da’wah movement in Riau Islands Province was not as smooth as it is today. At that time, the Central LPPOM MUI invited representatives from several provincial level MUIs to attend halal auditor training. Unfortunately, the invitation did not get a good response. Many administrators of the MUI and Islamic organizations of the Riau Islands Province were reluctant to take part in this training while asking, “What is Halal Auditor training?” and “What is the importance of halal certification?”.

Khairuddin Nasution, B.Ac., SE. who at that time was active in the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI) was one of the people asked to attend halal auditor training. Having intention of developing halal da’wah, he can continue to be active in the Riau Islands Province LPPOM MUI until now. Since 2016 until now, Khairuddin has served as the Director of LPPOM MUI in the Riau Islands Province.

Admittedly, at that time halal preaching was still a pilot. Therefore, many people wonder about the urgency of halal certification, such as “Right, the majority of the population in us are Muslim, so why question the halalness of the food?”

“It is clear, this pilot effort is very tough, and faces many challenges. It can be said that in that early period, no company wanted to apply for a halal certification process,” said Khairuddin.

Halal Da’wah Strategy by Establishing Synergic Collaborations

“To raise awareness of the company to participate in the halal certification program, we have established a synergistic partnership. Namely by moving together with friends in Islamic organizations of the Riau Islands such as: DMI, Al-Jam’iyatul Wasliyah dan Gerakan Pemuda Al-Wasliyah, Persatuan Mubaligh Batam and Persaudaraan Mubaligh Riau Islands Province to intensify the halal da’wah, through informal studies, ta’lim, religion lecture, Friday Bulletin, also regularly performs radio programs, including  send letters to companies so that they want to take part in the halal certification program to ensure that the products they produce are guaranteed halal,” he continued. 

In order to achieve the goal, a strategy arranged by forming small groups of 5-6 people from Islamic mass organizations in which Khairuddin was active. “Alhamdulillah, my wife works for a company that has around 3000 employees. We designed it, my wife’s company held several events at intervals, such as birthdays, family gatherings, management meetings, etc. Because of course it requires food products, such as snacks and catering”.

Then the group of friends as the Event Organizer (EO) went to the food product producer, catering and hotel companies to order their products, but first asked whether they already had the MUI halal certificate (SH) or not. His party emphasized that the EO requires the company to be purchased the product to have an MUI SH. Then he explained the steps taken in developing the halal certification process in Riau Islands.

His wife also holds a part of the canteen for the daily consumption of employees, and requires that the catering company that will apply for a cooperation contract per year to serve the consumption must have a halal certificate.

As a result, many food producers, hotels, and catering companies then apply for halal certification to LPPOM MUI, and this continues and always increases from time to time. So that the echo and movement of halal socialization is increasingly widespread, Alhamdulillah.

Demanding Very Heavy Struggle and Sacrifice

Halal da’wah, including auditing activities in the halal certification process carried out by Khairuddin, the auditor of the Assessment Institute for Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics Indonesian Council of Ulama (LPPOM MUI) of Riau Islands Province (Kepri), demands struggle and very heavy sacrifice. They even face the risk of unexpected dangers. Moreover, since 2014, he has been entrusted other greater responsibilities since appointed to be the Director of LPPOM MUI Riau Islands Province.

Therefore, the journey of grief seems to have become a daily menu. The struggles often happen when carrying out assignments outside Batam, due to the difficulty of reaching the small islands scattered throughout the Riau Islands, while transportation facilities are very inadequate to reach the area, resulting in Khairuddin and his team often getting lost to a place of business that will be audited in the process of halal certification.

In fact, “I once audited to the Anambas area during the north windstorm season. Travel using small aircraft transportation, the Foker type. On the way, the plane shook, nearly crashing 200 feet, being hit by a strong storm. The atmosphere you feel is really very tense,” Khairuddin said in a trembling tone.

Even so, the joy he experienced made him more aware of the environmental and cultural conditions of the areas that were scattered throughout the Riau Islands. You can also have the opportunity to taste a variety of typical Malay foods that have never been encountered before.

Riau Islands is a province bordering Vietnam and Cambodia to the north; Malaysia and West Kalimantan Province in the east; Bangka Belitung Province and Jambi Islands in the south; Singapore, Malaysia, and Riau Province in the west. This province is a large archipelago province in Indonesia. As a whole, the Riau Archipelago consists of 4 districts and 2 cities, 47 sub-districts and 274 sub-districts / villages with a total of 2,408 large and small islands of which 30% are unnamed and populated. The area is 252,601 km², about 95% of which is ocean, and only about 5% is land.

Not only Da’wah Bil-lisan

Fighting for and developing halal da’wah is considered very important to Khairuddin since it is not only in the form of verbal preaching, but also da’wah to meet the basic needs of the people in everyday life. It is clearly that food consumption is a vital need that cannot be left behind in life. So that Muslims, especially, can get inner peace, by consuming food products that are guaranteed halal with MUI halal certificates.

In addition, the obstacles faced are also heavy, due to the lack of support from the regional government, making it very difficult to reach small areas scattered in Riau Islands. Even though the government should actually support the halal certification process for micro and small industry entrepreneurs. Moreover, in the face of invasion of imported products from outside, especially several neighboring countries that are directly adjacent to the Riau Islands Province. (USM)

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