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Forbidden & Uncleaned Materials

Recommendations of the
8th Fiqh-Medical Seminar

Second Part : Frobidden and unclean ingredients or Substances
(Nagassah) in Food Stuffs and Medicine

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful


Skin Grafting

The use of unlawful or juridically unclean substances in Food and Medicine

General Recommendations

All praise is due to Allah, the provider of the Universe. Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet (pbuh) who was sent as a mercy to all creations and upon his family and hls companIons.

The Islamic Organisation for Medical Sciences is committed to continue the journey it undertook in addressing modern medical and health care issues from an Islamic perspective.

As part oftrns commitment a series of seminars has already been held. The Organisation felt the need for studying the issue of 'Skin Transplantation' and the means employed in the process, due to the critical importance it holds as a life saving means for those who need the treatment as a result of losing a great deal of their skin for one reason or another such as burning and so on.

The Organisation also felt the need for investigating the issue of 'Forbidden and unclean ingredients or substances in foodstuffs and medicine' due to the huge expansion and advancement in the technology of food and medicine, using materials in the process of production wrnch are suspicious of being unlawful on account of juridical uncleanliness.

So, by The Grace of Allah, the eighth annual Islamic medical
seminar was held in Kuwait during the period 22-24 Dhu-1 Hijjah 1415 H corresponding to 22-24 May 1995 CE, on the theme of 'Some medical issues: an Islamic perspective' incorporating the issues highlighted above and through the participation of the University of AI-Azhar, the Fiqh Academy in Jeddah, the World Health Organization's regional office in Alexandria, Egypt and of the Ministry of Health, State of Kuwait, under the auspices of His Royal Highness the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jabir Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.  

The participants to the seminar were a highly respected  gathering of leading specialists in Islamic law (fuqaha), modern medicine, pharmaceuticals and by scholars of other disciplines in Human Sciences.

The inaugural session was held in the grand convention hall at Al-Marzuq Centre for Islamic Medical Sciences and was opened with recitation from the Holy Qur'an followed by the speech of His Royal Highness the Emir, Patron of the Seminar, delivered on his behalf by his representative, His Excellency Dr. Abdul Rahman Salih Al-Muhailan, Minister of Health. This was then followed by speeches from Dr . Muhammad Al-Hbib bin Al-Khojah, Secretary General of The Fiqh Academy, Jeddah, Dr. Husain Al-Jaza'iry, repre- sentative of the World Health Organisation, and Dr. Abdur Rahman Al-A wadi, President of the Islamic Organisation for Medical Sciences. Dr. Yusuf Al-Qrdawi then delivered the memorial lecture on "The Lawful and the Unlawful in Islam".

The rest of the proceedings were pursued at Hotel Meri- dian. The first day was assigned for the study of 'Setting up Human Skin Bank' in which al] the relevant medical and Shariah specific aspects of 'Skin grafting' were presented. The second day addressed in depth the question of 'The use of unlawful and, juridicially unclean materials/substances in foodstuffs and medicine'. Differing views, thoughts, suggestions and proposals were carefully considered and exhaustively studied.

The third day was kept for concluding remarks and recommendations:

Firstly: Skin Grafting

1. Human beings, Muslims and otherwise, have an innate dignity. Honouring this dignity and protecting human life is one of the goals of Shariah. Skin grafting operations are, therefore, permissible. Indeed the process firmly concords with the very goals of the Shariah. There are, however, certain conditions to be fulfilled in the process which will be discussed later.

2. Skin is an organ just like any other. The general recommendations
of the Fuqaha in previous symposia about organ transplantation apply to it.

3. Skin Transplantation operations using skin from a human source is a necessity endorsed by the Shariah, subject, however, to the general Shariah principles of "necessity".

4. Patches of human skin obtained for transplantation from the person him/herself or another human, live or dead, are juridicially clean according to Shariah.

5. The permissibility ofhuman-to-human transplantation of skin
depends on the fulfilment of the following conditions:

a. The transplantation is the only effective method of treatment.
b. The harm, if any, caused to the donor, in case of donation, by the process of removal is within the standard acceptable limits.
c. The operation is promising i.e. the likelihood of success is far more than the that of failure.
d. The skin is not acquired by sale, intimidation or deception. However, if no volunteer is available then there is no objection to obtaining necessary skin in exchange for a price.

6. Skin grafts from an animal which is lawful to eat and is .., slaughtered according to Islamic specifications are lawful  in Shariah.

7. Skin grafts taken from a nonslaughtered animal carcass iii or from a living animal are unclean according to Shariah.  So their use is impermissible except in the case of necessity.

8. Grafts from pig skin are impermissible except for dire necessity and where no lawful alternative is available.

9. Setting up Human Skin Bank is permissible with the following stipulations.                                                                              
a. The bank is controlled by the state or by a reliable and trustworthy agency supervised by the state.
b. The stock is proportionate to the real or expected needs.
c. Surplus human skin remaining after operations is buried, as a mark of respect to human remains and are not thrown up with wastes.

Secondly: The use of unlawful or juridically unclean substances in Food and Medicine

General principles

1. Every Muslim is under obligation to abide by the rulings of Islamic Shariah, especially in the areas of food and medicine, which is conducive to a healthy life style in diet and therapy. Allah Almighty, out of His infinite Mercy and Providence to facilitate the pursuit and observance of His law, granted us concessions in cases of dire and ordinary needs which are recognised by the Shariah. These include: "Necessities overrule prohibitions".

The elevation of ordinary need to the status of dire need when indicated".

"The basic rule is that all things are lawful unless specifically prohibited. Similarly all things are juridically clean except those specified not to be. 'Prohibition of a food or drink need not mean that it is; juridically unclean".

2. Alcohol therefore is not juridially unclean, on the basis that things are inherently clean. This applies whether it is Ipure or diluted by water, giving preference to the view that the uncleanness of wine and other intoxicants or  alcoholic beverages is ideational rather than physical. Thus, There is no objection, from the point of view of  Shariah, in using alcohol as antiseptic or disinfectant of i wounds or surgical instruments.

Therefore there is no problem in using perfumes or scenti (Eau de Cologne) in which alcohol is used as a solvent forI volatile fragrant or aromatic substances or in using creams which contain alcohol.  But his ruling does not apply to wine and other alcohohc drinks, for their use is initially prohibited.

3. Since taking of alcohol is forbidden because it is intoxicant, and until alcohol-free medicines can be prepared, particularly for children and pregnant women, there is no prohibition to using medicines currently in production containing a very small measure of alcohol for the purpose of preservation or dissolving but not sedating, until an alternative is available.

4. Foods containing even a little amount of wine are prohibited, including chocolates and drinks or foods tinged with alcohol. "What intoxicates if given abundantly is prohibited at the smallest dose", as the Sharia rules. The rule of exceptional permissibility is not applicable here due to the lack of the factor of necessity.

5. It is permissible to take foods where a tiny amount of alcohol is used for the purpose of dissolving materials; which are insoluble in water such as colour makers,! preservatives and so on. The principle on which this permission is based is 'General Inescapable Necessity'.    (' Umum al-Balwa). This apart, it is also a factor that most of the alcohol added actually gets evaporated in the process ofproduction.

6. Foodstuff containing pig fat which does not undergo denaturation, such as some varieties of cheese, vegetable oil, skin oil/lubricant, butter, cream, biscuit chocolate and ice-cream, are prohibited, on account of the consensus of scholars on the uncleanness of the pig and impermissibility of its eating. Obviously, a situation warranting an exception due to "necessity" does not usually pertain.

7. Treatment of diabetes patients with insulin obtained from  a pig source is permissible because of "necessity" given that the relevant rules and principles of the Shariah, are observed.

8. "Transformation", i.e. the process that causes an object to change into another, totally different in properties and characters, turns the unclean, or what is deemed to be unclean, into a clean object, and therefore turns prohibited things into things permissible by the Shariah. On this account the following is concluded:

a. Gelatine made of unclean animal's bones, skin and tendons is clean and permissible for consumption.
b. Soap produced by treating and transforming pig fat or fat obtained from a dead animal turns into a clean  compound by the process of transformation and  therefore using this soap is permissible.
c. Cheese processed with rennet, obtained from animals which are dead but are permissible to eat, is clean and  eating it is permissible.
d. Ointments, creams and cosmetics which contain pig fat are all unclean. Their use is impermssible in Shariah except when transfonnation (of the material into one of totally different properties) is ensured.

9. All narcotic drugs/substances are prohibited and under no circumstanccs are they permissible except for specific medical treatment as determined by physicians. These substances are inherently clean themselves. There is no objection, however, to the use of nutmeg as an aromatic for food, in small amounts which do not lead to sedation or narcosis.

General Recommendations

1. The seminar recommends the necessity of utilising skins and bones of animals slaughtered Jslamically for the purpose of extracting gelatine in order to be used in foodstuffs and medicines as this will reduce imports and avoid sources that might bejuridically unacceptable.

2. The seminar recommends to authorities in Muslim countries to make sure that food and medicine manufacturers take into consideration the conditions and specifications laid down by Shariah in terms of raw materials and production processes.

3. The seminar recommends to authorities in Muslim I countries to obligate companies producing or importing preserved food to disclose details of preparations and ingredients contained in every pack or container of food in clear terms and in the national language.

4. The seminar recommends the necessity of holding a separate seminar to particularly deal with the issue of smoking in view of the risks it poses for public health.

Finally, all the participan ts requested his excellency Dr.Abdur Rahman Al-Awadi to send, on their behalf, letters of  thanks to His Royal Highness the Emeer of the state of Kuwait, Al-Sheikh Jabir Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister for supporting the Organisation and to the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister for welcoming the delet'ates to the Seminar.