Section 3: Chemical Changes & Gelatin

Precious Provisions

taught by Yasir Qadhi

Section 3: Miscellaneous Issues

Chemical Changes (Istihaala)

 We are going to mention a few issues here that are often forgotten in the books of halaal and haraam, such as the issue of alcohol in food or gelatin.

If you change something that is haram chemically so that it is not the same, is it pure? There are two opinions:

  1. Malikis, Shafi’ees and Hambalis: It does NOT become pure, except in two circumstances:
    1. Tanning in leather, using dead animals.
    2. Wine changing to vinegar by itself. Vinegar is a byproduct of wine. That is why wine is always sealed with that cork – otherwise it’ll become vinegar over time.In Sahih Muslim, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “What a good condiment is vinegar.” [Muslim] That shows that it is halal.

      These scholars said that the vinegar was allowed as long as it happened by accident, not when someone purposely made it vinegar. The reason they said this, they may have said this so that Muslims wouldn’t get into the business of wine. FYI: Red Wine Vinegar will not be haraam, unless the wine was added to it. The reason the bottle reads “Red wine vinegar” is because red wine was the intermediate state before it became vinegar.

    3. Hanafi, Dhahiri, ibn Taymiyyah, every single Muslim body of scholars at this time[1]: Chemical changes do purify.
      1. What happens to a dead body?  It decomposes and becomes fertilizer. We know najas becomes tahir for a fact now.
      2. What gives you the right of making vinegar and leather exceptions? That is the rule. The very fact that a chemical change has occurred and we can use those things shows that any chemical change can make najas tahir.
      3. The change of the name. How can you apply the ruling? Allah prohibited pig, but He didn’t forbid the fertilizer that comes from it.

Bottom line when dealing with products that come from najas sources: we have to find out if a chemical change has occurred or not.

The Most Common Example: Gelatin

jelloIt is a substance on the outer layers of bones. Gelatin gives a type of shape and body – just like in jello. Jello is nothing but flavor with gelatin. This is the most common and the cheapest way to get it.

The following three gelatins are clearly halaal:

  1. Fish gelatin (usually what Kosher gelatin is)
  2. Vegetable gelatin
  3. Chemically manufactured gelatins

The cheapest way to manufacture gelatin is to do it from bones. However, as of yet, it is primarily made from the bones of cows and pigs. This is problematic: does a chemical change occur? Even if it is from a pig, it would be halal if you follow the second opinion. If you are a Shafi’ee, you can take the beef gelatin (regardless of chemical changes or not).

In north America, majority of the gelatin comes from cows or pigs. YQ has asked a researcher who did a paper on gelatin and it is pretty obvious that a chemical change DOES NOT occur. They take the bone, put it in a solvent, boil it so that the gelatin is transferred to the solvent to make into a powder. That final powder is basically bone, to be simplistic, and therefore it is haraam.

If something is taken directly from a pig and then is chemically changed, it would have become halal.

Very Small Quantities

see the post on Muslim Matters: of Mice and Men

next up inshaAllah: men’s hijaab 😀

[1]OIC is the largest body of Muslim scholars at the time

In YQ’s opinion, the majority of the products labelled as haraam

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4 Responses to Section 3: Chemical Changes & Gelatin

  1. ummz says:

    assalaamu alaikum,
    Thanks for posting.

    “Red Wine Vinegar will tnbe haraam”

    Please clarify the misspelling here.

  2. ummibraheem says:

    oops! jazakAllah khayr for noticing that sister! I have no idea how that happened…although I see other typos as well now. InshaAllah when I have time I’ll go back and correct them 🙂

  3. Hisham says:

    JazakAllah khayr. Are you able to link references you make, such as to YQ asking a researcher?

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