ON/FILE: A Continuing Record of Groups, Movements, People, and Events Impacting Contemporary Religion

 Halalopathy is a new therapy suggested by Palestinian scientist Jawad Alzeer as a way to give Muslims the extra religious assurances they need about their medical treatments. A researcher at the Institute for Organic Chemistry at the University of Zurich and the lead auditor for a Swiss halal certification body, Alzeer has started publishing articles in academic journals for developing his vision—the most recent one in the Journal of Integrative Medicine (May). According to this article, if “the drug and [a] human’s belief are compatible, trust in the rationally designed drug will be synergized and placebo effects will be activated to initiate the healing process.” Halalopathy is described “as a new model to integrate mind, behavior and health.” The purpose is to “combine the value of religion with the benefits of modern science,” according to another article published in 2018 in the Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine.

Beside food, the halal certification system has found many other uses. This includes halal pharmaceuticals, even if its share of the market remains much smaller than standard pharmaceuticals. Estimates put the market for halal pharmaceuticals at $4.6 billion—compared to Muslim spending of $87 billion on all pharmaceuticals in 2017. But not all manufacturers are eagerly marketing halal medicines, since they do not want to deter customers of other faiths as well as non-religious ones. However, Alzeer believes not only that scientifically approved halal drugs could contribute to the recovery of patients, but that halalopathy would also resonate with the interest in personalized healthcare. He hopes to see halalopathic hospitals established in the future. Some Muslim doctors and scholars, such as Farah Naja (American University of Beirut), are supportive of holistic approaches to wellbeing, but are less comfortable with religious connotations and prefer to speak of “integrative health.” But other health professionals feel that the word “halal” in the concept is important and that it might indeed rapidly spread once launched. (Source: Middle East Eye, March 25)