A Guide for Consuming Various Meats, Foods, Alcohol, Animal By-Product Ingredients, and Cosmetics

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

1. Is it permissible to eat foods with ingredients that come from animals that are not butchered in a halal manner (i.e. Kosher gelatin, mono and diglycerides, whey, etc.)?

2. Is it permissible to use products like soap, face wash, lotions, etc., which also contain animal by-products from an animal not slaughtered in a Halal manner? Some soaps even use fat from pigs… is it still permissible to use such soaps for cleanliness?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

A good site for information on halal and haram foods is: http://www.halaal.co.uk

The article and information mentioned below is taken from there.

Haraam Animals
Halaal Animals
Takeaways & Eating Out
School/Airline & Hospital Food
Processed food & E numbers Tabdeel-e-mahuyat
GM Foods
Glossary of terms


It is incumbent on every Muslim to ensure he/she consumes only what is Halaal and pure and to ensure that all the requirements of Thabeehah have been strictly adhered to when purchasing meat. Unfortunately, the Muslim Community is so gullible, whenever any sign or label is attached to a product as Halaal, even if the Company is non-Muslim they will accept and purchase the product.

Haram Animals

The following categories including any product derived from them or contaminated with them have been prohibited.

• Meat of dead animals [carrion].

• Meat of strangled animals, preventing their blood from flowing

• Meat of dead animals through beating

• Meat of dead animals through falling from a height.

• Meat of dead animals killed by [the goring of] a horn

• Meat of animals devoured by wild beasts

Blood that flows forth as distinguished from blood adhering to flesh or organs food on which any other name has been invoked beside that of Allah. Meat of swine [pig] including all its by-products. Intoxicants including all types and varieties of alcohol or intoxicating drugs. Carnivorous animals, like lions, wolves, dogs, cats. Birds of prey, such as eagles, vultures, falcons. Reptiles, like snakes, crocodiles, turtles. Mules and Asses. Pests such as rats and scorpions. Procreative organs of animals.

Halal Animals

Halaal animals for Muslims are cattle, calves, sheep, goat, camel, deer, poultry, rabbit, game-birds, fish, etc. These animals will only be considered Halaal when slaughtered according to the Islamic method.

Thabah, the Islamic method of slaughtering animals.

The Islamic system of slaughtering is a system ordained by Allah Ta’ala, the Creator of the animal being slaughtered. The Qur’aan mentions:

So eat of [the meat] on which Allah’s name has been pronounced [slaughtered by invoking His name] if you have faith in his signs [Surah Ma’idah: Verse 18]

The Consideration

Islam has adopted many measures to ensure humane treatment to animals.

• The animal should not be cruelly transported, handled and dragged to the place of slaughter.

• The animal should preferably be fed before slaughter.

• The animal should be laid down as calmly as possible and not be blindfolded during slaughter nor slaughtered in the presence of another animal.

• When bringing the second animal for slaughtering the blood of the first animal should be washed away from the spot.

• The knife should not be sharpened in the presence of the animal while it has been laid down ready for slaughter.

• The animal should not be stunned before slaughter.

• The animal should be slaughtered as quickly and professionally as possible.

• The animal should not be skinned or dismembered while there is some movement in the body.

This humane system can never satisfy the demands of commercial enterprise. The Islamic System is too slow to make money. Way must be made for an easy mechanical or electrical system conducive to material gain labelling Islamic Thabah as inhumane.

Objection to Stunning

Stunning entails the shooting of a 10cm [4 inch] steel pin or bolt into the skull or head of an animal. This causes brain haemorrhage and sometimes results in blood oozing out of the animals mouth, if the voltage is high. On occasions more than one bolt is fired into the animals head to bring about unconsciousness. Over time this causes death to the animal before slaughter, Whilst stunning, brutally renders the animal immobile, Thabah brings about immediate unconsciousness followed by death within seconds.

Method of Thabah

The animal is slaughtered with a sharp, prepared knife. The person doing Thabah must be an adult well versed with the laws and method of Thabah. He invokes the name of Allah [Takbir] verbally before each slaughter and with each uninterrupted movement cuts the Hulqum [trachea (windpipe) and oesophagus (gullet)] and the Wudjaan [both the jugular veins], immediately causing death to the animal. The combined circumference of the jugulars, the two major blood vessels make the neck the ideal place to cut and bleed the animal, which is thereafter skinned and dressed. Whilst ostensibly it may appear cruel as many animal rights group claim, it is painless and this is to be considered for the welfare of animals. The process of bleeding is pain-free and can be confirmed by any blood donor.

Cutting and Cleansing of Halaal Animals

All equipment used for cutting, hanging, and slaughtering the animal need cleansing in the Islamic way. These items should not be contaminated with Non-Halaal items, if this happens they need to be re-cleaned.

Storage of Halaal meat at Suppliers, Slaughters, and Site Freezers Halaal meat needs to be stored separately from other meat. This can be achieved in a number of ways;

• Separate storing facility.

• Meat is stored in a separate compartment within the same facilities.

• Loose meat should be packed and stored in an isolated corner of the facilities so that no kind of contact is made with other meat or anything


• Label, where appropriate, all Halaal meat when stored in the same facility.

• Ensure that handlers are versed in contamination and understand Halaal.

Contamination of Meat

Once the meat is slaughtered in the Halaal manner this does not certify that this same product will be consumed Halaal. The Halaal diet entails that the product, whether from the slaughter house or any other source, remains Halaal throughout the processing, storing, cooking and serving stages. An item can become Haraam if during these procedures it is contaminated by Haraam items.

Certification and Site Appraisal

The certification for Halaal meat supplied by slaughterers and suppliers, although sufficient for governmental institutes as proof of authenticity, can easily be misused. Any site Appraisal for Halaal suppliers needs to be done by an expert on Halaal procedures and should be done without prior notice and open access.

Takeaways and Eating Out

Many people eat take-away nowadays and this is something the Muslim Community will have to live with in the future. Muslims are however urged to exercise great caution when eating in non-Muslim outlets as there is either very little or NO awareness regarding Halaal. A vegetarian Pizza or Fillet-o-fish can be contaminated by utensils or even filtered oil!

School/Airline & Hospital Meals

In order for any meal to be considered Halaal, it is necessary that the entire process from the raw source; meat, ingredients to preparation; cooking, freezing, storage and dispatch to consumption be strictly monitored and supervised by authorised Muslim personnel. If Islamic requirements are not followed, it would not only be incorrect and unethical but illegal to make any claim that this food is Halaal. Even if such food bears the Halaal logo!

Our recommendations to you, the Consumer, the Muslim Abattoir, the Muslim Butchers is;

Insist that your butcher is certified by an expert authority, or in turn is supplied by an Abbattoir certified by an expert authority. Unfortunately, a large number of Haraam meat arrives from abroad, which is much cheaper than local meat, many unscrupulous butchers take advantage of this and sell it to their customers. To do this for financial gain is indeed lamentable and a sad day for Muslims when we cannot even trust our butchers anymore!

Muslim Abattoirs and Butchers must liase closely with Ulama versed in Halaal supervision, even if this means paid personnel.

As long as Muslim Countries import meat and goods from non-Muslim countries, they have the responsibility to inform food producers about Islamic rules and regulations in food.

Muslim Countries should recruit trained Muslim personnel whose specialty is food and it’s Halaal availability.


All Fish are permissible for Muslims. There is, however, difference of opinion among Jurist regarding the permissibility of other marine life, like prawns, crayfish etc. There is no requirement to slaughter marine animals.


All plants are permissible for Muslims, except when fermented to contain alcohol, intoxicants or ingredients otherwise harmful to humans. Certain species of wild mushroom are poisonous for human consumption, hence it should be avoided. The Vegetarian Society has done the Muslim Consumer a great favour by campaigning for their symbol to be displayed on products. This means that there is NO animal content in that particular product but a product can still contain alcohol, making it Haraam. Please check Islam forbids the eating of insects, when preparing vegetables examine them carefully especially lettuce, parsley, watercress, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli and beans. Soak or wash before consumption. As most farmers become more conscious of the hazards of pesticides the occurrence of infestation is on the increase, and all vegetables should therefore be thoroughly washed before use.


Cheese is made using rennet, an enzyme which can be animal or microbial, to coagulate the curd. This rennet is a mixture of two enzymes, chmosin and pepsin, both derived from calves stomachs. Hence if the rennet is derived from pig it is Haraam for Muslims, whilst the rennet from animals slaughtered through Islamic Thabeehah is Halaal, The rennet from non-Thabeehah animals is Mashbuh as per the ruling of the Hanafi Madhab.


During cheese making, a coagulum is formed by clotting milk with rennet. When the coagulum is cut, a watery liquid known as whey is released and drained off leaving the curd to be salted and further processed into cheese. Whey contains water, fat, protein, lactose, minerals and lactic acid. Some of the products made from whey are cream, butter, cheese, drinks, syrups and powder.

Islamic Law regarding Rennet

The rennet extracted from the stomach of a Halaal animal who is slaughtered in accordance to Islamic Thabah is unanimously Halaal for consumption. But if the animal was not slaughtered in accordance with Thabah then the Honourable Sahibayn hold the view that although the rennet itself is Halaal it would be Haraam to use because of its contamination with impurity in the stomach. Rennet is fluid or viscous hence it would be impossible to purify, therefore such rennet would remain Haraam. The Noble Imam Abu Hanifah does not regard the moisture found in the stomach of such animals as impure and holds such rennet as Halaal.

The difference of opinion between Imam Abu Hanifah and his students, the Sahibayn, results in the issuance of a Fatwa [legal opinion] whereby it is permissible to use rennet [in the form of cheese etc.] for consumption. Whilst according to Taqwa [piety] abstinence would be desirable. As far as possible buy cheese suitable for vegetarians. Whey will come under the same ruling as rennet because of being a by-product of cheese.


Gelatin is not a naturally occurring protein, but is derived from the fibrous protein collagen, which is the principal constituent of animal skin, bone, sinew and connective tissue. A very complex chemical procedure is undertaken to extract the gelatine from its raw stage and make it usable for consumption and otherwise. A detail follows on how gelatine is extracted from animal hides in 8 different stages to form the final product.

Raw Material

Raw materials intended for medicinal use and food production are generally skin and bone of pig or calf. Some plants use animal tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage’s and hooves. In the case of animal hides, the prime source of gelatine, leather tanneries wash them in lime solution and chemicals are added to dissolve the hair from the surface. The hides are then sent through various machines which remove traces of meat from underneath the hide and then split the hide horizontally into a number of thin sheets. The top sheets are used in leather production as it has the grain pattern on the surface whilst the bottom layers, known as split hides, are used in gelatin production.

Chemical Treatment

Animal hides are preserved in lime solution [pH 13-14] The hides are chopped into pieces 6-8 inches in size and allowed to soak in caustic soda solution. Approximately 1% strength is used, reducing a little in the warm summer months. The soak in caustic soda lasts about 2-3 weeks which has the effect of breaking down [denaturing] the protein, enabling it to be extracted into hot water.


Following the soak, the hide pieces are pumped into special washing equipment. Acid is added to acidify the hides [pH 1.5-2.0] and then washed to remove impurities and salts for 8 hours.


The washed hide pieces are pumped into large extraction tanks where hot water is added and temperature maintained at about 50c. The hides break down slowly in the slightly acid solution [pH 3.0-3.5] to form gelatine. This is drained off once at certain strengths and then fresh hot water is added at a higher temperature to give another extraction. 3 further extractions are made, producing gelatines of different physical properties, [e.g. setting strength and viscosity].


The gelatine solution drained from the heated hide pieces is then purified. The first stage is filtration and the final stage is through a 2 micron filter to give a solution of high clarity. The gelatine is then de-ionised in order to remove excess salts not removed during washing.


Following purification, the gelatine solution is evaporated in large vacuum evaporators to a strength of about 30%.


Before drying, the Gelatine is sterilized to remove all bacteria. The conditions used are standard in the Food industry – 140c at 4 seconds minimum.


The Gelatine solution is chilled to make it set, and then placed in a drying tunnel for 2-3 hours. It leaves the tunnel dry, and is broken into granules for storage purposes.


Gelatine is commercially available in sheets, shreds, flakes or coarse powder. It is white or yellowish, has a slight but characteristic odour and taste and is stable in dry air but subject to microbial decomposition if moist or in solution. It is insoluble in cold water but swells and softens when immersed gradually absorbing 5 to 10 times its own mass of water. In hot water it dissolves to form a thick colloidal mucilage which forms a jelly on cooling. Gelatine varies widely on quality and is usually graded in jelly strengths.


In its raw form it is used for the treatment of brittle finger nails and other non fungal defects but proof of efficiency of such treatment is lacking. It is also used in the preparation of many pastes, throat pastilles, vaginal pessaries and rectal suppositories. Gelatine is the main ingredient in all hard and flexible capsules. Many older tablet formulations still contain gelatine as a binding agent. The most important value in therapy is as an easily digested adjuvant food-when supplemented, it is very widely used for various forms of malnutrition, gastric hyperacidity and ulcer, convalescence and general diets of the sick.

Edible Gelatine is used throughout the food industry, for example in confectionery, ice-creams, jellies, chocolates, sweets, jams, pastries, desserts, dairy products and the meat industry. It acts as a stabilising and smoothing agent in foods. Gelatine is also used in the manufacture of rubber substitutes, adhesives, cements, lithographic and printing inks, photographic plates and films, matches, sizing papers and textiles.

Islamic Law Regarding Gelatin

If the source of Gelatine is derived from a Halaal source then its usage is permissible, whilst if the source is Haraam or Mashqook [doubtful] then it will be considered Haraam. The hide matrix or gelatine protein is basically a piece of skin, which is hydrollised, washed, melted and extracted, purified, evaporated, sterilized, chilled, dried and granulated for further shelf life and easy use. Alkaline treatment tends to remove amide groups present on certain amino acid residues on the collagen protein chains resulting in a lowering of the isoelectric point and consequently an alteration not a transformation of the chemical and physical properties of the protein occurs. Despite the above method of changing a raw product into gelatine under tremendous chemical pressure still retains much of its chemical equation. The collagen triple helix structure is lost during this procedure but the resultant Gelatine product retains the original coil structure. The aspect of Tabdeel-e-Mahiyyat does not take place.

Muslims should avoid choosing Haraam and doubtful ingredients. If a comparable medication is available in tablet or liquid form it would be advisable to ask for them instead of taking capsules. In the area of food we have such a vast selection of products whereby foregoing a certain brand containing Gelatine should pose no problem. In the UK it is a legal requirement to list ingredients in products and a reference to this guide will indicate what can be consumed or not. Muslim countries as well as local associations should provide finances to initiate and promote research to develop alternate forms to Gelatine to overcome this problem.


Alcohol is an Arabic derivation of alghul meaning ghost or evil spirit. An Arab Alchemist by the name of Jabir Ibn Hayyan, known to the west as Geber, first distilled alcohol in 800 AD. He suggested the name for its most effective result. The prohibition of alcohol in Islam is found directly in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammed, Peace be upon him. liquor are cursed by Allah, but all those who deal with them directly or indirectly. It was reported by Anas, a Companion of the Prophet, that Muhammad, peace be upon him said:

Allah’s curse falls on ten groups of people who deal with alcohol.

The one who distills it;

The one for whom it has been distilled;

The one who drinks it;

The one who transports it;

The one for whom it has been brought;

The one who serves it;

The one who sells it;

The one who utilizes the money from it;

The one who buys it and the one who buys it for someone else.

From this it is clear that alcoholic beverages in all varieties and forms are unlawful for Muslims. This includes all types of wines, liquors, fermented beverages, pure alcohol and the like. There are many reasons why alcoholic beverages have been prohibited in Islam.

Alcohol is an abomination and handiwork of Satan, preventing the remembrance of Allah. It prevents and/or delays Muslims from performing their daily prayers. Even if they pray they will not understand the meaning and significance of what they are doing and saying. Those who drink Alcohol will be denied Paradise . Those who drink Alcohol are considered by Islam to be similar to those who worship idols, something totally prohibited in Islam. At the time of drinking Alcohol a person is not considered to be a believer.

Alcohol is the mother of evil in society. Muslims believe that the Prophets of Allah did not taste alcoholic beverages and that Alcohol was prohibited in the original scriptures of other divine revealed religions.

Alcohol brings Allah’s curse on those who drink it as well as on those who plant or cultivate its raw materials, produce, sell or deal with it and those who participate in drinking parties.

Alcohol is responsible for a large number of road accidents. Alcohol causes many broken families, Because of Alcohol homicide, rape and other offenses are committed.

Islamic Law regarding Alcohol

If it is known with certainty that medicine or food contains Alcohol derived from one of the four sources [Ashribah Arba’] raw grape juice, processed grape juice, dried grape (raisins) juice and date juice then such medicine and food are not permissible.

Medicinal Alcohol

Regarding medicine if on the authority of a competent doctor, no alternative medication is available, then the usage of such medicine in limitation and necessity will be allowed. In these circumstances Hanafi Fiqh allows Tadawi bil Haraam [medicine from Haraam sources]. If it is known with certainty that alcohol derived other than the four sources have been used as ingredients in medication or food then according to Imaam Abu Hanifa and Imaam Abu Yusuf Rahmatullah Alayhima. It will be permissible to use such medication providing it does not intoxicate.

Food Alcohol

However food containing this ingredient will not be permissible to consume whether it intoxicates or not, providing Halaal and pure food is freely available. If Halaal food is not freely available and this food containing alcohol, as one of its ingredient in some form or other, is the only food available and it is extremely difficult to abstain therefrom. Then in such circumstances both, Imaam Abu Hanifa and Imaam Abu Yusuf allow the consumption of such food providing it does not intoxicate. It should be remembered that this second type of alcohol if used as an ingredient in food and medicine is not permissible. The ruling is on the Fatwah of Imaam Muhammad but because of [Umoom Balwa, public predicament it] will be allowed following the ruling of the Shaikhain, Imaam Abu Hanifa and Imaam Abu Yusuf.

Another solution to the problem can be to inquire from a specialist in the field of medicine and nutrition when alcohol, used in this manner, remains in its original state in the final product or undergoes significant chemical changes causing it to lose its original properties. If it is transformed after the process not remaining as alcohol then all the Imaams agree to it’s usage and consumption, citing the case where wine turns into vinegar losing all its former properties thus making it permissible for Muslims because of the change to the original properties of wine.

Shampoos and Deodorants

This area is very complex. Alcohol generally refers to ethyl alcohol commonly known as Ethanol, a liquid generated by the fermentation of sugars from cane, forming the intoxicating element of all fermented liquors. The chemical structure of Ethanol is C2 H5-OH. The entire alcohol family have one or more Hydroxyl OH group. Benzyl alcohol despite being part of this group is used as a preservative in baby products and can never be used to ferment liquors. There is a clear distinction between ethanol and other types of chemical alcohol, hence it would be permissible to use deodorants and shampoos containing alcohol except ethanol and the alcohol derived from grapes or dates, which is in itself Najas [impure] making the body as well as clothing impure!

Processed Foods and E Numbers

Food additives are added to food to make it safer, keep it longer, stop the growth of bacteria, mould, and stop food going stale. They also aid processing as emulsifiers, raising agents, preservatives and improve food in terms of colour, taste, texture and nutritional value. Additives increase the variety of food available to consumers keeping prices down, allowing safe delivery of food to urban populated areas and create alternatives to traditional food like meat substitutes for meat, low fat products for butter and yoghurt and sugar free drinks for diabetics. The ‘E’ numbers were introduced to make it easier for EEC countries to come to a uniform system of regulating the additives industry.

The E Numbers are divided into 9 categories

Permitted Colours Numbers 100-180

Preservatives Numbers 200-290

Permitted Anti-oxidants Numbers 300-321

Emulsifiers and Stabilisers Numbers 322-494

Sweeteners Numbers 420-421

Solvents Numbers 422

Mineral Hydrocarbons Numbers 905-907

Modified Starches Numbers 1400-1442

Miscellaneous Additives Numbers 170-927

The use of additives is strictly controlled by law. They may not be used in food unless they are on a approved Government supervised list, proving their safe and effective usage. Once approved by the EC it is then given an ‘E’ number and is constantly monitored by local Government and the EEC. EEC directives require all food to list ingredients of the various products used because additives being so complicated by way of understanding leave alone pronouncing would have ingredients look like a chemist’s dictionary. We are publishing a list of numbers, some of which are Haraam and some of which are doubtful, because of its doubtful nature Muslims have to refrain from them as well.

E120 Cochineal (Carmine of Cochineal Carminicago, C.I.75490

Derived from the cochineal beetle, Dactilopius Coccus.

E160a Alfa-Carotene, Beta-Carotene, Gamma-Carotene.

E471 Mono and Di-Glycerides of fatty acids.

When Glycerol is used one has to find out the source whether animal or synthetic.

E472[a-e] Lactic acid esters of Mono-and Di-glycerides of fatty acids. Prepared from esters of Glycerol.

E473 Sucrose esters of fatty acids prepared from Glycerol and Sucrose.

E474 Sycroglycerides prepared by reaction of Sucrose on natural triglycerides Derived from palm oil, lard, etc.

E475 Polyglycerol esters of Fatty acids. Prepared in the laboratory.

E476 Polyglycerol esters of polycondensed fatty acids of castor oil [polyglycerol polyricinoleate] Prepared from Castor Oil and Glycerol esters.

E477 Propane-1,2-idol esters of fatty acids [Propylene Glycol esters of Fatty acids] Prepared from Propylene Glycol.

E478 Lactylated fatty acid esters of glycerol and propane-1,2-idol. Prepared from esters of glycerol and Lactic acid.

E542 Edible Bone Phosphate Degreased steam extract of animal bone. Used as an anticaking agent preventing particles sticking together.

E570 Stearic Acid Naturally occurring fatty acid found in animal fats and vegetable oils. Used as anticaking agent.

E572 Magnesium Stearate Prepared synthetically from commercial stearic acid.

E631 Insine [Disodium Phospate, Sodium and Inosinate] The Disodium Salt of Inosinate Acid which can be prepared from insect or fish extract.

E635 A mixture of disodium guanylare and disodium inosinate. Same source as 631.

E640 920 L-Cysteine Hydrochloride and L-Cysteine hydrochloride mono hydrate. A naturally occurring amino acid manufactured from animal hair and chicken feathers.

All other ‘E’ number additives at the time of publication are Halaal, because of the ruling of Tabdeel-e-Mahiyat [See the article below], except the following:

E473 E474 E475 E476 E477 E478 E542 E570 E572 E631 E635 E640 E920

Tabdeel-e-Mahiyat [Change in the Original Properties of a Substance]

Tabdeel-e-Mahiyat is the total transformation of something whereby the original substance retains NO properties of its former state and differ completely from it in application. One must understand that to include everything and anything under this analogy or cite modern food production techniques does not necessarily satisfy the condition of Tabdeel-e-Mahiyat. A classic example is Gelatin, a thickener used in food derived from skins, tendons, ligaments, bones, to produce a gelling agent. However some remnant of the original product still remains in the final packaged product making it impure and improper for use despite the great chemical changes it underwent. Hence this will not be considered Tabdeel-e-Mahiyat or Halaal. The example given by ‘Allamah Ibn Aabideen in his Fatawa Radd-ul-Muhtaar on Nutfah [a drop of sperm] which is impure and changes after conception into ‘Alaqah [germ cell or clot] also impure but fertilizing into a Muzqah [embryonic lump] which is pure.

The second example quoted by him is of ‘Aseer [grape juice] which is pure but ferments and changes into Ghamr [wine] becoming impure and thereafter can further change into Khal [vinegar] which is pure again. Vinegar is prepared by two successive microbial process. The first being an alcoholic fermentation [which is Haraam] and the second an oxidation of alcohol by aceto bacter, when its molecular structure is changed and it ceases to be an intoxicant. Other varieties of vinegar are produced from beetroot, tarragon and alcoholic spirits. In vinegar the intoxicating factor is destroyed by the microbial process of oxidation hence it becomes permissible. Islam permits any variety of vinegar to be used as a condiment or preservative. In both cases the original state undergoes tremendous changes making the final product something altogether different. Soap also undergoes tremendous changes from its original substance, hence all soap will be permissible to use for Muslims.

‘Allamah Ibn Aabedeen says: We recognize that the changing of the original state of a substance is necessarily followed by the change in the qualities of the substance. We now come to the point whether the cause for the changes in the substance is purity or public predicament. Allamah Ibn Aabedeen rules that the actual case is public predicament and cites the example of soap made from impure oil which is pure because of public predicament. Fatawa

Mazahir ul Uloom vol.1 page 84-85 Fatawa Ibn Aabideen [Shaami] vol.1 page 217-218

GM Foods

What is GM Food

Genetic Modification involves a gene from one living creature being isolated and spliced onto the DNA of another plant or animal to give it a new characteristics

Multi-biotechnological companies claim they will give us better and more nutritious food, reduce the use of pesticides and save the world from hunger and eradicate poverty, but this has to be addressed by the first world countries in relation to third world countries to balance the equation. The advocates for GM foods present them as risk free, unthreatening, unharmful to the environment or humans. They compare this with cross-pollination, hybridisation and cross-breeding in cattle, yet this was only carried out within established species barriers: corn with corn, horses with horses and so on. Modern GM is substantially different making instant changes and allowing genes from totally diverse species to be used.

What are the risk factors

The BSE disease in cattle is pale comparison to what GM experiments have done. A soy bean given a Brazil nut gene to boost its protein level caused allergic reaction to people with nut allergies. Fish geneticists produced a super salmon which was deformed. These products did not reach the market or media because their faults were easily spotted, but complex changes could take time to show up like BSE.

How damaging is it to health and environment

Once foreign genes are inserted into food, they disturb the chemical functioning of that food. This could produce in itself unseen health risks in the form of new allergies, toxins and health hazards. Genes inserted into crops to give them antibiotic resistance can be passed on to bacteria in humans, causing antibiotics to be ineffective and drug resistant. Many wildlife groups fear that GM crops will lead to a further intensification of agriculture, combined with increased pesticide usage that would step up the alarming decline of habitat. Even in conventional breeding, farm animals are very often pushed beyond their limits, undermining their health. GM in animals will also speed up this process.

Government Regulations

GM food is well regulated in UK but this cannot be said of other countries. Most companies developing GM foods want to introduce and legalize it as quickly as possible, but without adequate research or precautions.

Regulatory bodies should carefully look at potential problems such as risks, allergies or the transfer of toxins. Public awareness and the campaign of information must be made to people at all levels. The public should demand that ALL GM foods are clearly labeled. They have a right to know what they are eating and a right to choose. Many organizations are calling for a ban on their current development and research. If the introduction of GM foods goes wrong it will make BSE seem like a joke!

Islamic Law regarding GM Foods

The modification of crops is nothing new, plant breeders have been doing it since agriculture began. We urge Muslims to exercise caution with regard to GM foods, as there will be nothing to lose by holding back until scientists know more about the long-term effects of GM foods. When there is product that has no genetic modification it is safer to select that product than a GM product. Islam teaches caution to its followers and the injunction of eating wholesome food, GM foods These types of products may not be Haraam but are best avoided. The introduction of animal genes into food plants presents considerable ethical difficulties for Muslims and members of other religions which forbid the eating of certain animals and more so for Vegetarians, who do not eat any animals or its by products. These types of products fall into the category of Haraam.

Glossary of Terms

Fisq : To carelessly, unmindfully contravene the Laws of Islam

Halaal : This is a term meaning something permissible and lawful in the Islamic faith. This term can be used both in the materialistic and spiritual aspects. The term Hillat is also used in this respect. The term Halaal should not be misunderstood as relating to dietary needs only, but is used in a much wider sense for all things permissible.

Haraam: Haraam is the term opposed to Halaal, meaning not allowed or non-permissible. Just as Halaal is used in all aspects of Islam and not restricted to diet so is Haraam. A Haraam item can also be referred to as

Non-Halaal: Muslims are not allowed to do, use or consume any thing Haraam.

Hulqum: The wind pipe, part of the upper gullet and esophagus leading from the mouth and upper nasal passage, through the front of the neck, to the lungs.

Mubaah: Refers to that which is neutral or indifferent, which may be avoided or consumed. This principle applies to all matters of the Shariah not forbidden or reprobated.

Makruh Tahreem: Refers to that which is strongly prohibited by the Sunnah, though not to the extent of Haraam, but still deserving of retribution. This is closer to Haraam

Makruh Tanzeeh: Refers to that which is mildly prohibited by the Sunnah. This is closer to Halaal

Mushtabah: This is the grey area between Halaal and Haraam. Islam instructs its followers to refrain from doubtful matters, in order to safeguard their Faith.

Mathbuh: The animal which is slaughtered according to the Shariah

Nahr: This is the Sunnah method of slaughtering a camel, which is standing and the front legs are bent at the knee and thereafter tied. The blood carrying vessels are cut at the bottom of the neck, nearest to the chest.

Taahir: To be clean and free from all impurities by Islamic Law.

Tayyeb: Good, pure, wholesome and nourishing food

Thabah: The Muslim method of slaughter, where the animal is laid down on it’s right side and the blood carrying veins are cut. This method is Sunnah for birds, cattle, sheep and goats.

Tusmiyyah: The verbal pronouncement of the name of Allah, when making Thabah or commencing any good deed.

Wudjaan: There are three [main] large veins of the neck that return blood to the heart from the head and face. Wudjaan refers to two of the jugular veins. Thabah requirements is that two of the veins must be cut during slaughter to allow the quick outflow of blood.