What is the ruling for a Muslim on consuming gelatin in foods and medicines?

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In a statement of the Islamic Fiqh Council, Qaraaraat al-Majma‘ al-Fiqhi al-Islami, Muslim World League (p. 85), it says: It is permissible to use gelatin extracted from permissible substances and permissible animals that have been slaughtered in the prescribed manner, and it is not permissible to extract it from haraam sources such as the skin and bones of pigs and other haram animals and substances.

It is prohibited to consume foods that contain substances derived from pigs or unIslamic slaughtered animals unless the nature of these substances has transformed into other forms during chemical processing and the like. In this case, it becomes permissible for consumption.

Traditional scholars of the four schools of thought talked about how rulings of things could change if the actual substance changed into something else. An example of this that we can all easily understand is how we all know grapes to be permissible, but when they are transformed into alcohol, then they become forbidden. When that same alcohol becomes vinegar, then it becomes permissible. So here we have one substance going from permissible to prohibited back to permissible.

The ruling on consuming gelatin after it has been introduced into the manufacture of food and medicine depends on whether the gelatin was transformed after being introduced into the manufacturing and chemical change process.

If, after manufacture and treatment, the gelatin has turned into another substance that differs in its characteristics from the impure substance from which it was extracted, then there is nothing wrong with eating it or using it. However, suppose it has not been changed completely and still retains some of the characteristics of the impure substance from which it was taken. In that case, consuming it under any circumstances is not permissible because it is part of the pig or impure substance.

Our scholars referred to many chemists and specialists in the field of chemical change and transformation to seek their input on this matter and found it clear that they differ concerning the issue of gelatin. Some of them say that transformation in the case of gelatin is complete, and others say that this is not the case.

In conclusion, since this issue is not settled with the specialists and jurists, It is highly recommended that Muslims avoid eating, using, or selling products that contain animal gelatin since it is mainly extracted from pigs.

As for consuming medicine containing gelatin, If equivalent medicine alternatives exist, then Muslims should opt for them instead. However, if no equivalent medicine alternatives exist and because of the overwhelming presence of gelatin in some medications and vitamins, consuming these products will be regarded as a necessity and excusable.


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