Question: Is it OK to eat a Filet-O-Fish sandwich from Mcdonald’s? They say their fries are 100% vegetarian and are cooked in vegetable oil, as well as the Filet-O-Fish. My husband wants to avoid it to be safe but I sometimes crave it because I came from a Muslim country where Mcdonald’s is halal.
Answer: Assalamu alaykum,
Thank you for your question.
I understand where you are coming from. Living in a Muslim country and then moving to a non-Muslim country means that everything you eat will be different. Even the produce tastes different. It will take time to get accustomed to this, but in sha Allah you will.
I believe your husband is a wise man. There are many issues these days with ingredients, food contamination, supporting fast-food franchises while Muslim mom and pop shops suffer. Everyone is responsible for making correct choices and none of this is lost on Allah. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah Almighty but that Allah will replace it with something better” [Musnad of Ahmad].
I was able to find the Filet-O-Fish ingredients online and pasted them below. According to what I see, you will have to contact them to ask about the source of their enzymes in the bun and the lipase in the cheese. The fries seem to be vegetarian.
Alaska Pollock fish fillets, toasted wheat crumbs, vegetable oil (canola, corn, soybean, and hydrogenated soybean oil), modified corn starch, water, flour (corn, wheat), color (paprika, turmeric), cellulose gum, salt, spices. Cooked in vegetable oil (high oleic low linolenic canola oil and/or canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid, dimethylpolysiloxane).
CONTAINS WHEAT, FISH.
Enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, yeast, vegetable oil (canola and/or soy), vegetable proteins (pea, potato, faba bean), sunflower oil, corn dextrose, corn maltodextrin, corn starch, salt, may contain and or all of the following in varying proportions: wheat gluten, dough conditioners (monoglycerides, datem, ascorbic acid, enzymes), vinegar. Toasted in the same toaster that also prepares other buns containing butter and egg. MAY CONTAIN MILK AND EGG.
MAY CONTAIN: SESAME SEEDS.
Soybean oil, relish (pickles, water, salt, vinegar, capers, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate, spice extractives, polysorbate 80), water, liquid egg yolk, onion, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard flour, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, parsley, calcium disodium EDTA.
CONTAINS: EGG, MUSTARD.
Processed Cheese Slice
Cheese (milk, modified milk ingredients, bacterial culture, salt, microbial enzyme, lipase), modified milk ingredients, water, sodium citrate and/or sodium phosphate, salt, potassium sorbate, citric acid, soy lecithin, colour (annatto).
CONTAINS: SOY, MILK.
Potatoes, high oleic low linolenic canola oil and/or canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavour (vegetable source), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain colour), citric acid (preservative), dimethylpolysiloxane (antifoaming agent). Cooked in vegetable oil (high oleic low linolenic canola oil and/or canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid, dimethylpolysiloxane).
Salt, silicoaluminate, dextrose, potassium iodide
After considering the ingredients, food contamination can be a problem. Please see this article specifically about that: Should I Eat at Restaurants With Food Cross-Contamination Problems?
Finally, your husband’s choice to avoid it altogether just to be safe is scrupulous and praiseworthy. Please listen to this podcast by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus about Setting Aside What Causes You Doubt. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Leave what causes you doubt and turn to what does not cause you doubt” [Tirmidhi]. This is the way of those who want closeness to their Lord and His complete pleasure without any doubtful matter coming in between them.
Supporting Muslim restaurants is also a tremendous act of worship. They need our support to succeed and to provide halal wholesome food to all Muslims and we need them to be sure we consume only the halal, instead of jeopardizing our religion. This makes strong Muslim individuals which make stronger Muslim communities, and hence a stronger ummah, by the grace of Allah.
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, ‘if only I had done such and such‘ rather say ‘Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).‘ For (saying) ‘If’‘ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.” And Allah knows best.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied Aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied Fiqh, Arabic and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.