What Is the Ruling on Using Cosmetics Containing Raw Materials with Animal Derivatives? And Is There a Difference of Opinion on Their Purity?

Answered by Shaykh Muhammad Fayez Awad


What Is the Ruling on Using Cosmetics Containing Raw Materials with Animal Derivatives? And Is There a Difference of Opinion on Their Purity?


Praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon our Master, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Things are Pure by Default

It is established that the basic principle regarding things is permissibility and purity. Nothing is deemed forbidden or impure unless proven with certainty, as Allah has bestowed upon His servants the creation of everything on earth, as He said: “He is the One Who created everything in the earth for you.” [Quran, 2:29]

Salman (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was asked about ghee, cheese, and fur, and He said, “The lawful is what Allah has made lawful in His Book, and the forbidden is what Allah has made forbidden in His Book. What He has remained silent about is pardoned” [Hakim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, Bayhaqi, Abdul-Razzaq].

Transformation or Change of State (Tahawwul or Istihala)

Does transformation, which means the change of a substance into another with different characteristics, purify impure or contaminated materials, and does it change forbidden materials into permissible ones legally?

1) The Hanafis and Malikis, as well as the Hanbalis, according to one narration from Imam Ahmad, hold that the impurity of a substance is purified by transformation. This is because the ashes of an impure substance are not impure; the religious ruling of impurity is linked to that particular essence, which is nullified by its transformation. Thus, if bone and flesh become salt, they take the ruling of normal salt because salt is not bone and flesh.

Similar examples in Sharia are numerous: a blood clot is impure, but if it transforms into a chewed lump, it becomes pure. Juice is pure, but if it turns into wine, it becomes impure.

It is evident from this: the transformation of substance entails the removal of the attribute linked to it. [Ibn Abidin, Dasuqi]

(2) The original position among Shafi’is and the relied upon position for the Hanbalis is that the impurity of a substance is not purified by transformation. [Nihayat al-Muhtaj, al-Mughni, Rawdat al-Talibin]

Thus, some contemporary jurists such as Shaykh Muhammad Mokhtar al-Salami, in his research submitted to the Journal of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, stated that gelatins are of two types: animal and vegetable. The vegetable type is permissible without disagreement. As for animal gelatin, some of it is extracted from under the skin of pigs, and there is no disagreement on its impurity and the prohibition of its consumption; there is no necessity that calls for its use, as it is possible to do without it by using vegetable gelatin or animal gelatin extracted from cattle.

Using Cosmetics with Animal Derivatives

Based on this, what is the ruling on using cosmetics containing materials with animal derivatives like gelatin?

According to the first opinion, which is that they are purified by transformation:

  • Gelatin formed from the transformation of the bones, skin, and tendons of an impure animal is pure, and its consumption is halal.
  • Soap produced from the transformation of pork fat or dead animal fat becomes pure by that transformation, and its use is permissible.
  • Cheese is coagulated by the action of a dead animal’s rennet if the animal is of the type whose meat can be eaten, is pure, and its consumption is permissible.
  • Ointments, creams, and cosmetics that include pig fat are not permissible unless the fat has undergone a transformation and its essence has changed. If that has not been verified, they are impure.
  • Considering the apparent transformation of the material and the disappearance of its reality, its ruling is like the ruling of an impurity that has been submerged in a lot of water, and its effect has gone. It is even more the case if there is difficulty in avoiding it or a necessity to use it due to its widespread use and entry into materials used worldwide, and people are not equal in their acumen in what chemical compounds contain and their investigation.

With this, Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Usmani said: If the element extracted from the pig’s body undergoes a chemical process, changing its nature completely, its prohibition and impurity are removed. If its nature does not change, its prohibition and impurity remain because the change in nature affects the removal of impurity and prohibition, according to the Hanafis. [Majallat Majma‘ al-Fiqh al-Islami]

Avoiding Gray Areas

And finally, if a person avoids what he doubts to be forbidden out of scrupulousness and to avoid doubtful matters, he has done well.

Nu‘man ibn Bashir narrates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say (and Nu’man gestured with his fingers towards his ears): “The lawful is clear, and the forbidden is clear, and between them are doubtful matters not known to many people. Whoever avoids doubtful matters secures his religion and honor. Whoever falls into doubtful matters falls into the forbidden, like a shepherd who grazes around a sanctuary; he will soon graze in it. Verily, every king has a sanctuary, and verily, the sanctuary of Allah is His prohibitions. Verily, in the body, there is a piece of flesh which, if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Verily, it is the heart” [Bukhari, Muslim]

Abu al-Hawra’ al-Sa‘di narrates that he said to Hasan ibn Ali: “Tell me something you memorized from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that no one else has told you.” He said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say: ‘Leave what makes you doubt for what does not make you doubt.’ For certainty is tranquility and doubt is unrest” [Ibn Khuzayma, Ibn Hibban, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]

May Allah guide us to follow His commands, act upon them, avoid His prohibitions, and keep away from them.

[Shaykh] Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad.

Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad, born in Damascus, Syria, in 1965, pursued his Islamic studies in the mosques and institutes of Damascus. A graduate of the Islamic University of Medina in 1985, he holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Bahauddin Zakariya University in Pakistan.

He has extensive experience developing curricula and enhancing the teaching of various academic courses, including conducting intensive courses. Shaykh Awad has taught Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Quranic sciences, the history of legislation, inheritance laws, and more at several institutes and universities such as Al-Furqan Institute for Islamic Sciences and Majma‘ al-Fath al-Islami in Damascus.

He is a lecturer at the Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih Waqf University in Istanbul, teaching various Arabic and Islamic subjects, and teaches at numerous Islamic institutes in Istanbul. Shaykh Awad is a member of the Association of Syrian Scholars, a founding member of the Zayd bin Thabit Foundation, a member of the Syrian Scholars Association, and a member of the Academic Council at the Iman Center for Teaching the Sunna and Quran.

Among his teachers from whom he received Ijazat are his father, Shaykh Muhammad Muhiyiddin Awad, Shaykh Muhiyiddin al-Kurdi, Shaykh Muhammad Karim Rajih, Shaykh Usama al-Rifai, Shaykh Ayman Suwaid, Shaykh Ahmad al-Qalash, Shaykh Muhammad Awwama, and Shaykh Mamduh Junayd.