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['Aalim Network QR] Gelatine/Beef Fat

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\

Salaamun alaykum, 
	The following question on gelatine and beef fat was kindly 
answered by Moulana Rizvi.  He has provided an extensive discussion on 
the question of gelatine, and Agha Khui's fatwa on this matter.


Mustafa Rawji
Moderator, ABDG-A
Question 1:

What is the ruling on Gelatin?  Can gelatin derived from cows and pigs be 

Answer RE: Gelatin

On the queston of gelatine, I am quoting what I have written in January 1989
in the Shama newsletter produced in Vancouver, BC. I have just added few
comments to further clarify the issue.

A. What is Gelatine?

Gelatine is an animal protein substance having gel-forming properties, and
is used primarily in food products. It is derived from collagen, a protein
found in animal skin and bone. This means that gelatine can be derived from
animal skin or animal bone.

B. The Basic Rule of the Shari`ah:

The shari`ah rule about animal skin differs from that of animal bone:
        SKIN: Animal skin or anything made from it can be considered tahir
	     (pak) only if the animal had been slaughtered Islamically.
        Consequently, the gelatine derived from animal skin would be
considered najis unless we know that the animal had been slaughtered
Islamically. [Those present-day mujtahids who consider the animal
slaughtered unIslamically as tahir but haram -- their opinion does not
affect this answer that much because in their opinion, even if that animal
skin is tahir, it is still haram for consumption by human beings.]
	BONE: Animal bone is considered tahir even if the animal had not
been slaughtered Islamically. Bones have been exempted from the rule of
maytah [i.e., an animal slaughtered unIslamically or died by itself].
However, this does not include the bones of pigs and dogs. (See Minhaju
's-Salihiyn [vol. 1, p. 109 and vol. 2, p. 336] of the late Sayyid al-Khu`i
and al-`Urwatu 'l-Wuthqa, p. 20-21)
        Consequently, the gelatine derived from animal bones (other than
pigs and dogs) is tahir even if the animal was not slaughtered Islamically.

C. The Practical Problem:

        Having stated the above, we are faced with a practical problem: The
labels on food products do not specify whether the gelatine was derived from
animal skin or animal bones. So what should we do? Can we assume that it has
been derived from animal bones and consider it tahir or not?
        When I sent this question to the late Ayatullah al-Khu`i in December
1989, he replied: "Yes, it can be considered tahir." This answer is based on
the shari`ah principle that if an item can originate from two sources: one
pak and other najis -- in cases of ambiguity, you can assume that it is pak.

D. Accepted that it is tahir; but is it also halal?

        There are some people who would not be satisfied with the answer of
Ayatullah al-Khu`i and pose the following question: "Accepted that it is
tahir (pak); but is it halal for consumption as food item?" In my question
to Ayatullah al-Khu`i, I gave the example of cheese and sweets with
gelatine. It is quite obvious that I was asking the late marja` about eating
those items, and not just touching and feeling them!!!
	However, to satisfy those who would like to see the words "halal and
religously eatable," I will quote a detailed answer of the Ayatullah
al-Khu`i to three questions sent to him from London.
        Q. Is gelatine derived from dog or pig tahir?
           Is gelatine derived from halal animals (like cows, goats, etc)
		but not slaughtered according to shari`a tahir?
           Is gelatine derived from non-halal animals other than dog or pig,

        A. "If a najis or haram matter from any category whatsoever changes
into another than its original category, then it is considered tahir as long
as it did not come into contact with another source of najasat. And the rule
for gelatine in all the three cases is same as what we have mentioned above.
	"But in case the gelatine does not change, then:
           "If it is derived from parts of dogs and pigs or an animal which
feeds on human excrement and has not been quarantined, then it is haram
and najis.
           "Similarly, [it is haram and najis] if it is derived from those
parts of the maytah which are other than its bones.
           "But if the gelatine is derived from the bones of other than dogs
and pigs, and has not become najis because of a secondary najasat, then it is
permissible to eat it and eat whatever has been mixed and submerged into 
        The last paragraph of Ayatullah al-Khu`i's answer fully supports
what I had written in Shama in Janaury 1989.

E. Issue of Istihalah in Gelatine:

        In the first part of Ayatullah Khu'i's answer, he says: "If a najis
or haram matter from ANY CATEGORY whatsoever changes into another than its
original category, then it is considered tahir as long as it did not come
into contact with another source of najasat." This is based on the rule of
istihalah -- chemical change which makes a najis item tahir (mutahhirat).

        To know if such a change occures in the final product known as
gelatine, we have to refer to the experts of food industry. After my article
was published, a brother from Minnesota, USA, was kind enough to send for me
a copy of an hand-out distributed by General Foods (the manufacturer of
Jell-o, the gelatin dessert). A paragraph in that hand-out, in my opinion,
clearly gives the expert's view about the chemical change (istihalah) which
takes place in manufacturing of gelatine. While reading the below quotation,
keep in mind that these people do not have the slightest clue about the
issue of istihalah in our shari`ah! It says:

        "It is interesting to note that during manufacture of gelatin,
chemical changes take place so that, in the final gelatin product, the
composition and identity of the original material is completely eliminated.
Because of this, gelatin is not considered a meat food product by the United
States government. The plant is under supervision of the Federal Food and
Drug Admininstration. If the government considered gelatin a meat food
product, the plant would operate under the Meat Inspection Branch of the
Department of Agriculture." (From General Foods Corp. New York.)
 If this is not istihalah, then what is it?

        In final conclusion, all types of gelatine is tahir and halal.
        For those interesting in reading my 1989 article on 'RENNET, PEPSIN
& GELATINE' may contact my office at:
        Islamic Education & Information Centre,
        135 Sheppard Avenue East, North York,
        Ontario, Canada  M2N 3A6
        Tel: (416) 223-2162     Fax: (416) 223-2528

Question 2:
	A change in the state of a najis substance is deemed to make it
halal.  Can you elaborate on this?  What level of change is required?  Is
beef fat or other animal fat used in cookies/dougnuts/cakes/fries deemed
to have been transformed so as to make it halal? 


	You are talking about istihalah which we have mentioned above in
answer to question no. 1. Istihalah means change or more precisely, a
chemical change which places the item under a list which is different from
its original grouping. The examples you have mentioned do not qualify for
istihalah; and are, therefore, still najis and haram. 

On details on the issue to taharat and najasat, see my "RITUAL & SPIRITUAL
PURITY" available from IEIC whose address and tel. # have been given under
answer no. 1.

Yours in Islam,

Sayyid M. Rizvi

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