Halaal Gelatine – Should you know better?

In my opinion, the whole halaal gelatine issue is a sad reflection of how divided we are as Muslims. At the moment, there are 3 major Halaal “authorities” in South Africa, SANHA, MJC and NIHT.

SANHA approves only gelatine derived from Halaal animals as Halaal, while the other two certify gelatine derived from haraam animals as halaal. The reason given by MJC is that the gelatine undergoes significant change from its original state (bones) to make it irreversible.

My opinion is that this reason is dodgy and I seem to be in the minority on this one.

I have one question that no one at MJC / NIHT seem to have been asked. Why don’t they then certify gelatine derived from Pigs as halaal? Surely it undergoes the same process? Is there a difference between consuming a haraam cow and a pig? The hadith used to justify “significantly metamorphosed animals” mentions a donkey that dissolved into a salt-pan. Would NIHT/MJC certify gelatine derived from donkies halaal? (ok, that was more than one question)

Sounds dodgey to me.

17 thoughts on “Halaal Gelatine – Should you know better?

  1. Do you have any facts / links to back up what you’re saying (gelatine derived from haraam animals)? I really don’t think any halaal certifying body will mislead the ummah in that manner, it is a huge sin. How can anyone live with that?

    What I do know is that Sanha is in it for the money.

  2. Yes, see here: http://www.halaal.org.za/getArticle.php?id=11 (NIHT website). If you extract the important bits from the waffle, they’re explaining why they think Gelatine from haraam animals is halaal. Most of SA’s gelatine, including that in Beacon products, is from Davis gelatine. They use animals not slaughtered the halaal way. (http://www.vocfm.co.za/public/articles.php?Articleid=27988)

    The MJC also had a similar page, with the same explanation but the halaal pages on their site seem broken now?

    My thoughts exactly regarding the misleading, which is why I’m surprised this hasn’t been resolved after so many years.

    As for SANHA being in it for the money, I fear that money/consumerism might be the reason why the others have certified gelatine derived from haraam animals as halaal.

    I just thought that its important that we as muslims understand what it is we are eating regardless of whose stamp is on the product.

    Allah knows best.

  3. Do ICSA still exist..

    This is a very touchy issue apparently.. Esp wit the whole metamorphosis issue..
    I always maintain.. When in doubt.. Abstain !!!

  4. Slmz brother..nyc blog,.however,as a muslim,u being foolish 2 make a comment regarding swine gelatine..if that was the case,then wearing leather goods of cattle etc. that are not halaal would be not allowed..we are strictly prohibited 2 use ,let alone eat pig product..jazakullah,keep the gud syd goin

    • thanks bro!

      as for the swine comment, I’m of the opinion that when something is deemed haraam, then there are no grey areas, just a black line that one crosses. I.e. Eating a haraam chicken is as bad as eating pork. Ofcourse I may be wrong and if so, let me know with some supporting hadith perhaps?

      Swine aside, how about donkey gelatine?

  5. I understand,but in this case we not eating the animals flesh,but parts like hoovs and hair..thus,u can use hair of “haraam” cattle but not of swine,regardless of source..the Niht has a good website explaining this issue better..visit it,and speak 2 them..AND ALLAH IS ALL KNOWING

  6. Slmz again,.sister nafisa,i wouldnt make a comment regarding Sanha like that.HERES WHY.I use 2 share the SAME view like you..until my sister had 2 have her savoury company certified ..thats when i realised,sanha is the most stringent when it comes 2 halaal and contamination..its not merely a quick form u fill in and u done..its a quite interesting the way they make sure every thing is halaal and do checks.Just wanted 2 let u know after experiencing it 1st hand..and i do eat other “stamped foods” .jazakullah

    • You bring up another interesting point for me. There seems to be a distinction between halaal to consume and halaal to use. The Hadith NIHT uses regarding tanned leather illustrates my point exactly. Tanning leather of a haraam animal makes it halaal to use. I doubt anyone will enjoy eating a piece of leather? And so this Hadith cannot be applied to something which is edible?

      Also, its not only hooves and hair, in fact its mostly bones that they use to make gelatine.

      p.s. I also eat food certified by NIHT/MJC, except if it contains gelatine.

  7. I think We need the help of ulama who are not bious.perhaps setting a meeting with the halaal stamp people on this issue .But,a public attended one.

    • Good idea. If they can’t come to an agreement, at least the people witnessing will have both sides of the argument 1st hand and not via 3rd parties.

    • Slmz,

      Once again, I wish I’d done biology at school ;)

      Anyway, my understanding from reading the abstract and sifting through the paper, is that it is possible to identify the source (Porcine or Bovine) of the Gelatin based on marker peptides.

      I’m not sure how this relates to my argument though? Yes, of-course they will be different, the originate from different animals. And its great that we can differentiate between them, but unfortunately, we can’t differentiate through any analysis, which of these animals were slaughtered in a halaal manner. For this we need to establish a chain of trust, Muslim to Muslim, back to the slaughterer.

      Also, if these “marker peptides” remain, then is this “a complete metamorphic change”? Not sure I want to enter into that debate either, because complex things like that can usually be argued either way.

      Thanks for the paper though, very interesting.

      Yusuf

  8. In order to express myself better:

    Porcine derived gelatine is a topic of discussion among the Muslim

    community. Should it be considered as halal or haram?

    Until now, there has not been an agreement on a single view. Basically

    there are 3 main different opinions:

    1) Gelatin is only halal if the source animal is halal and also slaughtered

    in the Islamic way.

    2) Gelatin is only halal if the source animal is halal and slaughter method

    is not a factor.

    3) Gelatin is always halal no matter the source animal is halal or not.

    First view is of course the most conservative one and can be obviously

    defended by stating some Islamic rules. I don’t find the second view

    meaningful because it can be falsified even by the contradiction within

    itself. Third view was introduced by the support of some scientific

    arguments in relation to various hadiths.

    According to Islam, when something changes its composition until it can

    not be related to its source, it is considered as a completely different

    material. This is called istihala. A good example would be animal carcass.

    Carcass is considered unclean, but if it is burned and becomes ashes, or

    decompose and becomes earth, then it is considered clean. This can

    happen even with feces. It is very logical if we take in to consideration

    that every material on earth is always going through recycling and used

    again by a completely different being. [1]

    So, can we actually say that porcine derived gelatin is halal since it goes

    through chemical changes until it loses its swine characteristics

    completely? Well I mentioned this question because it is the basis behind

    the 3rd view. But in fact the question itself is scientifically incorrect.

    I made a research on this subject and found out that the fact is not like

    the question states it. If the assumption, “the porcine gelatin goes

    through enough chemical changes until it loses its swine character

    completely” was true , we should not be able to differentiate porcine

    derived gelatin molecule from others. The truth is we can. [2]

    Gelatin is not molecularly same material whether it is derived from porcine

    or bovine. Recent studies have proven that the porcine derived gelatin can

    still be identified by its source. Contrary to popular belief, it can now be

    detected even in a mixture of bovine and porcine derived gelatin. [3]

    In summary, we can say that the argument behind the view which defends

    porcine gelatin may be halal is not valid. Therefor, it is still a necessity for

    the halal seekers not to consume porcine derived gelatin.

    (Allah knows better.)

    Emre Metin

    References:

    1. Bazmool M. The Fiqh Principle of Istihala – Changing from impure to pure,

    (translated by Moosa Richardson and a fatwa given by Shaykh al-Albaani)

    2. Venien, A., & Levieux, D. Differentiation of bovine from porcine gelatins

    using polyclonal anti-peptide antibodies in indirect and competitive indirect

    ELISA. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 2005;39:418–424.

    3. Zhang G, Liu T, Wang Q, Chen L, Lei J, Luo J, Ma G, Su Z. Mass spectrometric

    detection of marker peptides in tryptic digests of gelatin: A new method to

    differentiate between bovine and porcine gelatin Food Hydrocolloids,

    2009;23:2001-2007

  9. JazaakAllah for the post and the explanation below.

    I agree with your classification of the different views. I think the key is in your statement: “According to Islam, when something changes its composition until it can not be related to its source, it is considered as a completely different material.”
    The paper you referenced, informs me that both Porcine and Bovine Gelatin contain peptide markers that relate them to their source. Hence, there is no istihala in the gelatin manufacturing process?

  10. Pingback: Yusuf’s blog supplemental » Blog Archive » Halaal Gelatine – Should you know better? (Part 2)

  11. The Islamic Viewpoint on Gelatin
    There are several methods mentioned in the juristic compilations by means of which impure surfaces and items may attain purity. One of the methods by virtue of which something impure attains purity is if the essence of the articleitem undergoes a complete transformation. This process is termed as Tabdeel-e-Maahiyat or Qalb-e-Maahiyat in the terminology of the Fuqaha (Jurists). Examples in this regard are illustrated in the compilations of the classical jurists. Hence, if alcohol goes trough a transformation and thereby turns into vinegar, it becomes pure and, therefore, consumable. Similarly, if an animal, even if it is a pig, falls into a salt pit, due to which it decomposes and consequently turns into salt then it will be permissible to consume it.

    Based on this principle the contemporary scholars state that if gelatine is extracted from the hides and skin of a haraam source (i.e. pork, or hides and bones of cattle which were not Islamically slaughtered) then if the raw material from which the gelatine was prepared undergoes a complete metamorphosis, it will become pure and thus consumable.

    Hence everyone is unanimous on the fact that if a complete metamorphosis does occur during gelatine manufacture then such gelatine will be Halaal.

    However, does a complete metamorphosis occur? Whilst some Ulama contend that a complete metamorphosis occurs in the process of Gelatine manufacture, thereby transforming Haraam raw material into a Halaal end product, the vast majority of the Ulama, however, are of the opinion that such required transformation does not occur and, therefore, they render gelatine derived from haraam sources to be unacceptable.

    Lennox Davis is one of the major gelatin manufacturing plants, which has several branches around the world such as in America, Australia, etc. One of its biggest branches is located in Krugersdorp, South Africa. Senior Muftis and Scholars have along the years visited this plant. Hence in August 1990, an Ulama group comprising of senior Muftis of the Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal had undertaken such a visit to the plant to closely inspect the Gelatine manufacture process.. Their findings were one of non-adequacy in passing a judgment of permissibility with regard to the Gelatin produced there.

    In the year 1997 another Ulama delegation visited the plant under the auspices of Mufti Muhammad Rafee Uthmani Saheb, the son of Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi Sahib (rahmatullahi alaih), the former grand Mufti of Pakistan. They concluded that a complete metamorphosis does not occur in the process.

    Similarly, Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmaani, an eminent contemporary scholar and also the son of Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi Sahib, states that he has undertaken various travels in order to acquire some verification on the Tabdeel-e-Maahiyat (transformation of skin and bones in consequence of chemical processes during gelatin production) issue and thathe has personally observed the different stages of Gelatin production. Hadhrat Mufti Sahib’s view is that the occurrence of Tabdeel-e-Maahiyat is questionable and unclear hence he is hesitant in issuing a positive verdict on this matter. However, if any proof of Tabdeel-e-Maaahiyat does surface in the future then the consumption of gelatin made from the skin and bones of a pig would also be permissible.

    No Complete Metamorphosis Occurs
    For the occurrence of a complete metamorphosis it is essential that the substance of the raw material undergoes a complete transformation. A partial transformation or a transformation in a few components or constituents of the haraam substance will be rendered as inadequate for it to be deemed as a metamorphosis in terms of the Shari’ah. Similarly, a mere name change does not necessarily imply that a complete metamorphosis has taken place. Hence the ascertainment of Tabdeel-e-Maahiyat is not based on a superficial change in the substance of the Haraam item. The inclusion of a haraam substance in a halaal item does not necessarily imply that the essence of the haraam substance has undergone a transformation. Only the experts in this field would be able to determine whether a transformation occurs due to a chemical process or not.
    Hereunder is a summary of a report that was furnished based on the findings of the Ulama that visited the Davis gelatine Plant from which the above-mentioned aspects could be understood:

    In the report furnished on their findings it had surfaced that the raw material utilized in the production thereof was solely from cattle hide which after undergoing various processes including filtration, evaporation, re-filtration, drying, grinding, blending, etc the end result of which is that a fairly pure collagen is left which is the main structural material of bone and connective tissue.

    This structural matrix which is left remains in the form of a sticky and jelly like substance and is in turn referred to as collagen protein or gelatin protein.

    There is no difference at all in the molecular structure of a hide, collagen protein or gelatin protein. In essence, gelatin is already existing in the hide; the only difference is that prior to filtration and discarding of unwanted constituents, it is called collagen and after filtration, etc, it is then known as gelatin. A mere name-change does not necessarily imply that a complete metamorphosis/transformation has taken place.

    This was briefly their findings from which it was evident that no Qalb-e-Maahiyat takes place in the entire process.

    Hereunder, are some further facts based on a more secular research on this issue from which one could determine that a complete metamorphosis does not occur during gelatin production. The facts are as follows:

    Gelatin is a protein which is most widely obtained from collagen derived from beef or pork skin and bones. Collagen is made up of three chains of linked proteins wound together in a tight triple helix structure. A special amino acid sequence makes the tight collagen triple helix particularly stable. Every thin amino acid is a GLYCINE, and many of the remaining amino acids are PROLINE or HYDROXYPROLINE.

    Collagen from livestock animals, like most proteins, when heated loses all structure and becomes de-natured. The triple helix unwinds and the chains separate but does not break down. A strand of collagen or Gelatin is up to 14000 molecules long. Usually the bottom, irregular shaped parts of the collagen break off and other proteins join.

    Denatured is not to be confused with the term “transformed”. Denatured in this case is when the collagen can no longer function as collagen. But it is still collagen. Hence the term is denatured and not transformed. For all molecules its shape is very important to its function and if it loses its shape it will lose its function but not its Substance.

    When this denatured collagen cools down, it soaks up all the surrounding water and re-wounds the chains in a right-handed helix, forming GELATIN.

    Some Facts:
     Gelatin is composed of 21.4% of GLYCINE.
     Collagen had 33% GLYCINE.

     Gelatin is also composed of 12.4% of PROLINE.
     Collagen had 24% of PROLINE.
     21% of Gelatin is GLYCINE, left over from Collagen. It isn’t newly formed or created.

    From the above, it could be said that at least 20% of the original Collagen still exists. If you add the 12% of PROLINE that would leave us with at least 30% of the original Collagen still existing in the Gelatin. And this is besides all the other Amino Acids which were part of the Collagen strands and which also forms part of the Gelatin like ALANINE (9%), HYDROXYPROLINE (11.9%), LYCINE (3.5%), and others.

    Hence, a total transformation would require the Amino Acid to break down into constituent elements but if it only rearranges at the Amino Acid level, there is no total transformation.

    An example of something that undergoes a total transformation is that of soap. Soap is usually made from the fat of animals. It is composed of three elements; Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen combined in a complex form. When you add Sodium Hydroxide to it you get a break down and transformation into Glyceryl.

    Based on the aforementioned findings of the Ulama and experts one can clearly determine that a complete metamorphosis does not occur during gelatine production since there is still part of the original animal still remaining after the formation of the end product, which is Gelatine.

    Hence, the final ruling on Gelatine would be:
    If it is manufactured from a Halâl source then there is permissibility in its usage, whilst if the source is Harâm or Mashqûk [doubtful] then it will be treated as Harâm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>