Creative Destruction of Halal Certification (Bodies) by Blockchain Technology?

The fast growing global halal market is supported by strong economic fundamentals, new categories of halal certified products, more stringent requirements for ingredients and more Muslim countries developing halal certification systems. This is leading to a high demand for halal certification services.

The number of halal certification bodies (HCBs) worldwide is estimated at around 500 but the exact number is difficult to obtain because there is no international or Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) registration database of HCBs. High demand for certification services in combination with a decentralised form of accreditation by HCBs and inability to support the halal industry efficiently has shown cracks in the conventional halal certification model, which has become costly, inefficient and risky from a halal perspective. This raises the question of whether the current method of halal certification is sustainable or whether is there a better alternative.


Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology provides a digital public ledger containing stringed data blocks with information, similar to our DNA. Through blockchain technology a halal network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. It is not stored centrally but distributed on many servers throughout the world as cryptographic proof.

Blockchain removes the need for a trusted third party to ensure an independent assessment of the integrity of a product or its network, as the longest chain serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed. This technology could enforce end-to-end halal assurance and alignment based on specific halal market requirements, supported by automated smart contracts in its process execution and control.

A halal blockchain could provide full transparency of all halal supply chain transactions that have ever been executed. The blockchain has complete information about the addresses and their supply chain path right from source to the point of consumer purchase. Blockchains inject trust into a halal supply chain and value chain of a brand owner and the brand owner would be better able to guarantee halal integrity. They could also be integrated into wider sustainability and corporate responsibility systems to extend the brand market beyond Muslim consumers.

The halal certification process, which today can be a lengthy process, can be shortened as certification processes could be automated and compliance could be verified through blockchain technology. The HCB needs to be frequently updated, normally about twice a year, on the changes made in the past period to the halal assurance system. Currently this is a manual process, which could easily be replaced with a blockchain environment ensuring the halal assurance system is always up to date for blockchain participants including the HCB. Furthermore, introducing a new production process, new product variance, supplier halal certificate validity or a new or change of supplier could all be easily and automatically verified for compliance through blockchain technology.

In the event of a halal issue where the halal reputation of a brand is at risk through a possible contamination, risk of contamination or perception issues, blockchain technology could be of assistance in providing transparency, to immediately validate an issue and take action quickly when needed to isolate and solve the issue or crisis. As various halal crises have shown, time is of the essence in limiting halal reputation damage for companies. Therefore blockchain technology would allow for more effective risk and reputation management for brand owners.



Industrial supply chains are complex, involving Muslim and non-Muslim countries with different halal eco-systems that are not always well regulated and halal assurance cannot depend on the heart and conscience of a few Muslims involved.

Many ingredients are imported from non-Muslim countries. Meat is essentially haram and cannot be consumed without a Shariah method of slaughtering. For products where there is a possibility that ingredients are haram, including but not limited to meat, it is essential to obtain halal certification. For consumer products halal certification is essential not only for food but also for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, as it protects Muslims from consuming haram and impure things and will avoids baseless doubts, hardship and difficulty in consuming halal on day-to-day basis and the crime of extremism in Din.

Key activities undertaken by HCBs are providing (1) information; (2) testimony; (3) judgement or decree; (4) authority; and (5) general dealings and transactions. Providing information about the halal and haram must be done by two competent Muslims. For testimony and witness all schools of Islamic thought require this to be done by a Muslim, mature, of sound mind, just and a free person. For a judge this needs to be a Muslim, mature, sound of mind, just, free person, physically healthy, secure from slander, have the absolute power to issue a decree and not deaf-dumb or blind. For the supervision of Muslim affairs it has to be a competent Muslim. For general dealings and transactions this needs to be a reliable and proficient person not necessary a Muslim.



From a technology and brand owner point of view, blockchain technology could replace the role of halal certification. However, halal certification not only requires Shariah knowledge but also the act as witness, passing of a decision and compliance control of the company. From Shariah there are stringent requirements regarding the activities undertaken by HCBs in providing information, testimony, judgement or decree and authority, which cannot be blindly automated. Therefore replacing the role of the HCB by blockchain technology may not be possible from the Shariah point of view. On the other hand blockchain technology could make it easier for halal industries by making halal certification less difficult for them and in the event of a halal issue allows more effective halal crisis management and support from the HCB.

Halal blockchain technology could certainly assist HCBs in process improvements for new applications for halal certification, compliance control of company, adjustments and renewals and support a future migration from product to supply chain certification.

Unlike quality management or financial systems, the halal assurance system is often manual. This is a high risk for effective management of halal assurance for brand owners as well as HCBs. Using blockchain technology could integrate halal management systems for companies and even make them part of a wider mainstream sustainability certification process extending beyond the Muslim market.

To address issues of cost, risk and efficiency HCBs should embrace halal blockchain initiatives together with the halal industry and be part of halal blockchains in order to make halal certification more efficient, provide better control of complex halal supply chains, allow migration from product to supply chain certification and better support the halal industry in case of a halal issue and crises.

The full academic paper written by Prof. Dr. Marco Tieman and Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Williams can be downloaded for free from Islam and Civilisational Renewal.