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Traces of impure substances in food overlooked

Published: 24/08/2011 12:52:00 PM GMT
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Many active Muslims, especially in the West, make assumptions on cerain issues. For instance, they will refuse to eat anything with the slightest additive or ingredient which may be of doubtful origin. What advice do you have for these sincere brothers and sisters?


Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

Allah says: “This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you .The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them” and says: “Forbidden to you (for food) are : dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah, that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless you are able to slaughter it (in due form), that which is sacrificed on stone altars...”

Allah says, describing His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures) , in the Torah and the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure): he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them...”

The sin that a person may receive from forbidding good and pure food is equivalent to the sin he gets if he legalizes forbidden food. However, to be pious and on the safe side, it is recommended to avoid things that are doubtful. A person could avoid them for himself only, but he may not advise others to do the same. If he does so without evidence, then he is wrong.

These days, there are numerous foods, drinks, medicines and other products, which are suspicious and could be included in the instruction of our Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said: “Whoever avoids suspicious matters keeps himself pure from things which could affect his religion and his behavior, and whoever falls into doubtful matters, invariably falls in forbidden things, just like a shepherd who pastures his sheep near private ground will invariably have his sheep stray into it.”

If certain food products contain unlawful or impure ingredients, then we may not consume them. However, if these unlawful additives are insignificant in quantity, then they may be overlooked.

It is well known in the Islamic law that impurity can be eliminated by adding more quantities or by it becoming obliterated or submerged. The Prophet (peace be upon him) made reference to this concept when he said: “Water will not become impure unless the impurity changes its smell, its taste or its color.” Even though there is weakness in the transmission of this hadîth, its meaning is true and a matter of scholarly consensus.

Obliteration of the unlawful material occurs when it loses its physical properties or its namesake is removed. This can be achieved by there being an overwhelming quantity of other substances, or by exposure to the sun or air, or by chemical processes, which is the most effective factor these days.

Scholars mention that impurity can be removed and impure items can be transformed into pure ones just as alcohol becomes pure when it is changed into vinegar, or just as impure substances become pure when they are incinerated and turn into ashes, or just as the body of a dog or pig becomes pure if it falls into a salt spring and become as salt itself.

By contrast, it is known that liquor, which is indisputably unlawful, used to be the pure juice of grapes, dates, or barley, which are indisputably lawful items. They became forbidden when distilled into liquor which is an intoxicant.

Our Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small amount of it is unlawful”. This means that any amount of an intoxicant is unlawful, because of the reason for its prohibition remains. However, if it is again transformed into vinegar, it becomes lawful by consensus.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today




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