Malaysia: World’s first Sharia-compliant airline revealed

Rayani Airlines makes its maiden flight

Kate Ng
Tuesday 22 December 2015 20:05
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Rayani Airlines cabin crew
Rayani Airlines cabin crew

The world’s first airline compliant with Sharia law has been unveiled in Malaysia.

Rayani Airlines, a new low-cost airline, says it strictly follows Sharia rules “based on guidelines by relevant authorities”, according to managing director Jaafar Zamhari.

Speaking as the firm launched its maiden flight , Mr Zamhari announced the rules include mandatory hijabs for female Muslim cabin crew, while non-Muslims must wear “a decent uniform”.

Prayers will be recited before the departure of each flight - while alcohol is strictly forbidden and any food and beverages provided will be halal, according to local news outlet Astro Awani.

The airline currently only provides domestic flights, but plans to expand its network internationally over the next year.

Mr Zamhari mentioned plans to introduce routes in the Middle East and flights for the Umrah and Hajj, which are annual pilgrimages taken by Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Plans for a UK-based sharia-compliant airline are also underway, with the launch of Firnas Airways set for next year.

Firnas Airways, founded by Bangladeshi businessman Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, seeks to combine a “Sharia-compliant approach to funding, alcohol and food with a more upscale cabin product than available to many Islamic destinations”, reports Bloomberg.

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Other airlines that comply with some Sharia laws include Emirates, which does not serve pork products on its flights, and Etihad, which has a travel prayer before take-off.

‘Sharia law’ refers to the legal framework based on the moral and legal code of Islam. Malaysia is a majority Muslim country, with over 61 per cent of the population identifying as Muslim.

According to an international Pew Research Centre poll of Muslims, 86 per cent of Muslim Malaysians surveyed agreed Sharia should be the official law of the land in their country.

The Malaysian government has long promoted the country as a “moderate” Muslim country – although conservative attitudes appear to be on the rise, according to a report by local news outlet Free Malaysia Today.

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