Many of us may have sweet tooth, fond of eating sweet foods like ice cream, jelly, yoghurt, or cheese cake. We know that the main characteristic of jelly is chewy, while ice cream is melting in the mouth when eaten. Probably this is one of the reasons why we can’t afford to avoid such foods. But, do you know what make the foods above have those characteristics?
It’s because they contain gelatin. Gelatin is extracted from collagen in some animals’ skin and cartilage. Those animals are cow, pig, and fish. There are much of nutrition we can get from gelatin, such as amino acid, vitamin, folate, phosphor, and calcium.
Each of this nutrition has good impact towards our bodies, so it means that we can get some benefits by consuming gelatin. Many studies show that the consumption of gelatin can maintain the health of our skin and hair, slow down the growth of cancer cell, improve the quality of sleep, maintain the quality of vaccine, and cure osteoarthritis.
Characteristics of gelatin are colorless, tasteless, melting in warm water, and changing its form to be jelly when cooled down. It can be obtained in the form of powder and transparent sheet, and usually used as thickener, stabilizer, and preservatives on foods.
Therefore, it is commonly used in food industry. Foods that often contain gelatin are ice cream, whipped cream, jelly, yoghurt, and butter. In addition, gelatin is also used in pharmacy, cosmetics, and photography industries. The products are medicine (capsule), supplement, shampoo, body lotion, mask, and hair spray.
According to Gelatin Manufacturers of Europe (GME), the percentage of gelatin use in each industry are 59% in foods, 31% in pharmacy, 2 % in photography, and the rest 8% in other sectors. Pharmacy places the second position for much medicine contains gelatin, especially those that are in the form of capsule.
Even though gelatin is close to our daily lives due to its usefulness, but there is doubt whether or not Muslim can consume gelatin in medicine or foods for most gelatins are extracted from pig’s bone and skin. Muslims are prohibited to consume anything sourced from this animal, as Allah has said in Surah Al-Ma’idah verse 3″
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ
“Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah…”
However, it’s no need to worry because there are also gelatins extracted from fish and cow’s flesh and skin. Indonesian National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) has assured the most gelatin used in industries, mainly medicine and foods, are cow and fish gelatin. It means that not all gelatin prohibited to consume by Muslim as long as we aware of some things below.
- There’s nothing wrong to consume gelatin extracted from the skin and bones of animals that are permissible to eat and have been slaughtered in prescribed manner. Cow and fish are animals which are allowed to eat according to sharee’ah Islam. Fish as sea creatures is halal to consume, and here’s reasons why sea creatures are halal in Islam. Then, it’s clear that Muslim can consume gelatin if it’s extracted from those animals.
- It is not permissible to use gelatin extracted from the flesh, bones, and skin of pigs and other haram animals. As mentioned above, Islam prohibits Muslim to eat pig and everything related to this animal. There is clear explanation about what makes food haram in Islam to know the reasons why pig is haram. To have a comprehensive understanding, you can also read effects of eating pork in Islam.
- It is also not permissible to use gelatin extracted from animals that have not been slaughtered in prescribed manner. Allah has explained that these animals are not halal even though they are actually permissible to eat. The matter is in the way the animals slaughtered. Whether it is slaughtered by saying the Name of Allah or not. Besides, it’s important to us to read things that are sunnah when slaughtering sacrificial animals and its verses.
فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ
“So eat of that (meat) upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned, if you are believers in His verses.”
- And the last thing we should remember is that before buying any medicine or foods containing gelatin, make sure first there is Halal logo on the packaging. We must be patient in checking the products and be firm to ourselves. Don’t buy them if there’s no Halal logo although we desire the products so much. We do it in the sake of alertness.
On the other hand, there is also an argument that pig gelatin is permissible to eat because it has turned into another substance that differs in its characteristics from which it is extracted. But, it is disputable.
There’s possibility that it hasn’t been changed completely, and it still contains the characteristics of the impure substance, which is pig. Thus, it’s better for us to choose the safest way by avoiding shubhat sources and understand rules of eating food in Islam so that what we eat becomes barakah.
This writing about whether or not Muslim can consume gelatin in medicine and foods can be such reminder for us to be selective in choosing products or food which are allowed by Islam. As Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam has reminded us in a hadith that was narrated by an-Nu’man ibn Basheer (ra),
عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، قَالَ: سَمِعْت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم يَقُولُ: “إنَّ الْحَلَالَ بَيِّنٌ، وَإِنَّ الْحَرَامَ بَيِّنٌ، وَبَيْنَهُمَا أُمُورٌ مُشْتَبِهَاتٌ لَا يَعْلَمُهُنَّ كَثِيرٌ مِنْ النَّاسِ، فَمَنْ اتَّقَى الشُّبُهَاتِ فَقْد اسْتَبْرَأَ لِدِينِهِ وَعِرْضِهِ، وَمَنْ وَقَعَ فِي الشُّبُهَاتِ وَقَعَ فِي الْحَرَامِ، كَالرَّاعِي يَرْعَى حَوْلَ الْحِمَى يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَرْتَعَ فِيهِ، أَلَا وَإِنَّ لِكُلِّ مَلِكٍ حِمًى، أَلَا وَإِنَّ حِمَى اللَّهِ مَحَارِمُهُ، أَلَا وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، وَإذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، أَلَا وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ”.
“I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor, but he who falls into doubtful matters [eventually] falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.” (Bukhari & Muslim)