Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Almost every Muslim is seriously concerned about what he or she eats. There is a complete code of dietary laws present in the Holy Quran for the followers of Islam. Some basic principles are described as all foods are permitted except those mentioned clearly in the Holy Quran. The most recent advancements of biotechnology in field of food industry like status of GMO’s, use of genes, enzymes, food additives or enhancer in food in Islam deduced by the Ijma or Qiyas. These if obtained from plant origin would be considered as Halal. If obtained from animals then Islamic Shari’ah put some restrictions about the animal that it should be permitted by Supreme law giver, and should be fit, clean and wholesome for health. The Muslim consumers should be particular and sensitive to the products they use for the Halal or haram issue. The recent advancements and impact of these advancements upon status of divine dietary law is very important. Reason for Muslims to observe these dietary laws are to follow the Divine Commandments.

“O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome on earth…..” (Quran 2:168)

Principle for Halal food:
Halal means permissible and lawful while Haram means prohibited. It is exactly opposite of Halal. In general, every food is allowed for Muslims except what is prohibited either by the Holy Quran or by the Hadith. These rules of Shari’ah (Islamic law) bring freedom of choice for people to eat and drink anything they like as long as it is not haram (prohibited).

Alcohol and other intoxicants are also prohibited as:

“O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance, and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed” (Quran 5: 90)

Blood, pork, and the meat of dead animals or those immolated to other than God are strongly prohibited. It is also ordered that Halal animals should be slaughtered while uttering the name of Allah at the time of slaughter.
“Eat of that over which the name of Allah hath been mentioned, if ye are believers in His revelations” (Quran 6: 118)

“And eat not of that whereon Allah’s name hath not been mentioned, for lo! It is abomination. Lo! The devils do inspire their minions to dispute with you. But if ye obey them, ye will be in truth idolaters” (Quran 6: 121).

Genetic modifications (Use of gene):
The status of the process of genetic modification is controversial. According to some Muslim scholars and jurisprudence the process of altering some physical traits or nature created by Almighty is sin as it is mentioned in Quran clearly.

“….assuredly I will incite them and they will cut the ears of cattle; and assuredly I will incite them and they will alter Allah’s creation.” And he who takes Satan for a friend beside Allah has certainly suffered a manifest loss.” (Quran 4:119)

So according to this verse the alteration is not permitted as God is Supreme Power and Creator and no one can or would interfere with His power. Here two thoughts arise:
• Either alteration is just for alteration purposes (No purpose except beauty like in cosmetics or face surgery)
• Or alteration is for some useful purpose (For welfare of humankind) but it does not harm nature or other creatures.
Genetic modifications are permitted by some group of thoughts as these things are not mentioned clearly in the Holy Quran or Hadith (Traditions of Prophet Muhammad) because these are recent advancements. By the Qiyas and Ijma with some limitations it is allowed. Genetic modifications that especially are an issue of concern can be categorized as:

• From animals to plants and vice versa
• From insects to plants
• From animals to animals

Gene products (Enzymes):
Enzymes can be taken from animals, plants and microorganism also. They can be Halal or haram depending upon the source. If the source is Halal then they are considered as Halal as long as animal is slaughter according to Islamic Shari’ah, if not then enzyme will be mashbooh (doubtful). For example pepsin/proteases and catalyses are extracted from cattle/pig’s stomach and bovine liver respectively.

Halal is the dietary laws for Muslims. So the food industry needs to understand the requirements for producing products for Muslim markets. It also needs to understand the import requirements of countries with Muslim populations, which cover religious as well as safety aspects of imported food. The Halal foods should be mentioned clearly by labeling the hidden food ingredients. The Muslim scholars need to infer opinions with the advancement of biotechnology.

Sources:
1. Khattak, J.Z.K., Asif M., Zubair, A., Hussain, M.W., Ghulam, A., Haider, K.K., Humaira, I., 2011. Concept of halal food &Biotechnology, Advanced Journal of Food Science and Technology, 3(5): 385-389.

2. Mathewson, P.R., 1998. Major biological sources of enzymes (Appendix C), in Enzymes, Eagan Press, St.Paul, MN, pp: 93-95.

3. Pickthall, M.M., 1994. Arabic text and English rendering of The Glorious Quran, Library of Islam, Kazi Publications, Chicago, IL.