Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I gifted someone a body lotion that I later learned contains glycerin. I contacted the company and was unable to confirm whether this glycerin is indeed animal or vegetable sourced, both are possible. Is this item permissible to use? This person does not read English and so would otherwise not be able to read the ingredients list themselves. Is it my obligation to tell them that there may be an animal ingredient in the gift I gave them and so it may not be halal to use?
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam, I pray you’re well insha’Allah.
The default ruling of most items is that of purity. If you’re unsure whether the glycerin is pure or impure, you assume it is pure and permissible to use, though it is a good idea to take precaution when possible, by ascertaining the exact ingredients or finding an alternative.
Taking back a gift
In regards the gift, while it would not be binding on you to tell them that you’re not sure about the ingredients, it would be best if you do. There is nothing wrong with you explaining the situation to them.
However, what I would suggest is that you buy them another similar gift as a replacement, perhaps something even nicer, as this will save any embarrassment on your behalf as you’re not taking away their gift, which can be very awkward, but replacing it with something better. They will appreciate this, alongside the fact that you don’t want them to use something doubtful.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.