Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Should we avoid foods that have a realistic chance of being contaminated with both lawful and unlawful ingredients?
Eating food from restaurants that have a reasonable possibility of contamination between lawful and unlawful ingredients would be a matter of personal, religious scrupulousness and piety. Basic religious observance would entail avoidance.
Usually, a judgment of impermissibility cannot be made on any particular item without actually knowing whether or not it, specifically, has been contaminated. But if contamination is established to be consistent enough, or its likelihood is very high, consuming such food would be effectively impermissible. The legal maxim is: “What is normally the case is as if actually the case.”
The Duty of Upholding Caution
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not.” [Tirmidhi] In another tradition (hadith), he told us (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Whoever leaves doubtful matters has exonerated himself and his religion.” [Muslim] Elsewhere, the Blessed Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) described a man who is disheveled, unkempt, raising his hands to the sky, but “, so how possibly could he be answered?” [Muslim]
The general ruling of upholding scrupulousness (wara‘) is that it is recommended (mustahab), unless the cause for such caution is realized or likely, actually or effectively — the latter being the case in question. In such scenarios, the need for caution would be far more imperative. Anybody who cares about their faith and practice would do well to read the remarks of the early Muslims regarding doubtful food and partaking of it. What goes into your stomach eventually manifests on your limbs in terms of the quality of your works.
It is normally when mere whimsical desire (hawa) prevails that such food is consumed. Otherwise, there are, fortunately, plenty of alternatives and nobody is obliged to eat at such places. Ask Allah Most High to provide you with something better and a more wholesome alternative. [Qari, al-Mubin al-Mu’in li Fahm al-Arba’in]
And Allah knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan, and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.