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Of Mice and Men – The Cheese Factor

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Shaykh Yasir Qadhi explains why he disagrees with the recent claims that Doritos are haram.

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi explains why he disagrees with the recent claims that Doritos are haram.

I admit: I am cheesed off. Totally, that is.

Recently, I returned from one of the largest Muslim conferences in North America. While at the convention, I had placed my son Ammaar in the day-long seminars meant for the younger children. When Ammaar got back to the hotel room, the first thing he said as he barged into the room, his eyes wide open in amazement as is his wont, ‘Baba, Baba! Do you know that Doritos and Cheetos are harām?’ I groaned internally, knowing the basic source of this ‘fatwā’, and asked, ‘Why do you say that?’ to which he replied, ‘The auntie in our class said so!’

Sigh………. One more important lesson in fatherhood: make sure you teach your children that much of what they learn in ‘Islamic’ school is not necessarily ‘Islamic’.

As all of us are so (painfully) aware, of recent there has been a flurry of e-mails in Muslim circles regarding popular products, such as Doritos, that use cheese manufactured from porcine rennet. Since these products are sprinkled with such cheese, concerned Muslims have automatically concluded that the aforementioned products must be totally harām, and thus unceremoniously boycotted. Putting aside the nutritional value of such products, such a (cheesy) attitude, although commendable due to its sincere intentions, also betrays a fundamental lack of knowledge regarding halāl and harām foods. Before jumping the gun, it would behoove Muslims to do a little more research and consider the matter from all angles.

In this article, it is my intention to examine the issue in a more academic manner. However, for those who don’t have the time to read it, then to cut a long story short, the strongest opinion appears to be that cheese, in all of its commonly available varieties (except those that actually contain pork as an added flavoring) is absolutely and totally halāl.

In order to prove this point, first we’ll discuss how cheese is actually manufactured. Then, we’ll look at the Islamic perspective on animal rennet and, finally, the ruling on cheese derived from it. As a disclaimer, please note that this is, firstly, a very cursory look at the issue, both from a chemical and an Islamic point of view (although I do feel it is comprehensive despite its brevity), and, secondly, represents only the opinion of its author.

The Manufacture of Cheese

Cheese is a product formed by coagulating milk using a substance called rennet, and an acidification process. Milk from any animal may be used, although of course the most common ingredient is cow’s milk, followed by goat’s milk (some more exotic cheeses are found in cultures that use milk from reindeers, camels, and llamas, to name but a few). Hundreds of different flavors of cheese may be produced, depending on what type of milk is used, whether the milk was pasteurized or not, the butterfat content of the milk, the type of rennet, the addition of specific enzymes and flavoring agents for taste, the acidification process, and the length and environment in which the cheese is aged.

No one knows when man first ‘discovered’ how to make cheese. The origins of cheese pre-date recorded history, and all ancient civilizations, including the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, are known to have been cheese producers and consumers. One of the folktales regarding the ‘discovery’ of cheese involves an Arab nomad who wished to carry milk across the desert. Finding no container other than an goat’s stomach, he transported the milk in it, only to discover at the end of his journey that the milk had been separated into curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach!

Rennet is, therefore, an essential component of manufacturing cheese. Traditionally, only animal rennet was used in the manufacture of cheese. However, due to the high demand of cheese and the cost and difficulty associated with the production of animal rennet, more and more companies are turning to other sources for rennet. The two primary types of rennet besides animal rennet are: vegetable rennet, and synthetic rennet manufactured in laboratories from various fungi. It is safe to state that in modern times most cheese is manufactured from non-animal rennet, but the percentage of animal rennet is still quite high. (In one of the cheese manufacturing plants that I visited in Holland, a mixture of synthetic and animal rennet was used; another one I visited in Vermont used only vegetable rennet).

It goes without saying that any cheese manufactured with rennet not taken from animal sources does not raise any fiqh controversy, hence the discussion at hand will focus on cheese manufactured with animal rennet.

Animal Rennet

Rennet is a complex natural enzyme that is produced in mammalian stomachs to digest milk. Animal rennet is typically extracted from the inner linings of the stomachs of young animals, usually cows or pigs. It is the younger animals who need this rennet to fully digest their mother’s milk; older animals do not yield as many necessary enzymes, hence if older animals are used, more stomach lining must be used to produce the same quantity of rennet.

In order to extract the rennet from the stomach linings, a chemical process is used in which the linings are dissolved in a mixture of acid and other solvent. This facilitates the transfer of the enzymes from the stomach linings to the solvent. The final stage involves neutralizing the acid. At the completion of this process, the rennet is available in a viscous liquid form. It is this form of rennet that is actually added to the milk for the coagulation process.

Of interest to note is that most of this final viscous liquid is actually solvent (water, salt and acid remnants); typically less than 1% of the liquid used is actual animal enzyme. The amount of rennet solvent needed for the manufacture of cheese is quite insignificant – as an example, in the factory that I visited in Holland, a small beaker of solvent rennet was added to a large vat of prepared milk.

The Islamic Ruling on Animal Rennet

From an Islamic perspective, animal rennet can be divided into three categories:

Firstly, the rennet derived from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with the Sharīaah. There is no difference of opinion that such rennet is completely pure.

Secondly, the rennet derived from permissible animals (e.g., cows, sheep and goats) that have not been slaughtered according to the Sharīaah – for example, a cow that has been killed by a means other than ritual slaughtering (zabh). With regards to this second category, there is a difference of opinion amongst the classical scholars (manifested in the four madhabs) regarding the permissibility of such rennet – the opinion of Abū Hanīfa, one of the two opinions narrated from Ahmad (and the one chosen by Ibn Qudāmah), and the opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah, was that such rennet was pure, hence the cheese derived from it would also be considered pure. Other scholars, including the relied upon position in the Shafī’ī and Mālikī schools, is that such rennet is impure, and the cheese derived from it also impure. Many later Hanafīs, disagreeing with Abū Hanīfa’s view on this matter, also claimed that such rennet is impure (for some modern fatwas, the reader is referred here).

Thirdly, the rennet derived from impermissible animals, such as pigs. There is no significant difference of opinion that such rennet is impure, as the source of it is impure. Just like the meat, milk and bones of such animals are impure, similarly the rennet derived from their stomachs is also impure. Rennet of the second category would be permissible for Muslims to produce, buy, or sell if they followed the opinion that it is pure (and this is the correct opinion insha Allah). However, since porcine rennet is Harām, it is impermissible for Muslims to manufacture or sell such rennet, based on the Hadīth, “When Allah prohibits a matter, He prohibits its price” [Narrated by Ahmad]. The ‘price’ in this Hadīth means buying and selling the product.

Having said that, this ruling [viz., that porcine rennet is impermissible to sell or consume] should not be confused with another one: buying, selling and (most importantly) eating cheese manufactured with porcine rennet. Most Muslims simply do not understand that the two rulings are not necessarily identical, hence the confusion.Thus, to reiterate, cheese manufactured with animal rennet of the second and third categories is what is at dispute here. This article will not discuss the ruling of the second category of rennet in detail because, as shall be seen, if cheese from the third category is shown to be Halāl, then ipso facto cheese from the second category will also be considered permissible.

The Islamic Ruling on Cheese Derived from Porcine Rennet

There are two issues which need to be considered in order to derive the Islamic ruling on cheese: firstly, does the rennet undergo a chemical transformation when it is extracted from its source, and secondly, the quantity of rennet vis-à-vis the other ingredients. Both of these issues have a direct and immediate effect on the permissibility or impermissibility of such cheese. [Of interest is to note that although this article is specifically about cheese, these two foundational premises may be extrapolated to derive rulings on all substances and food items.] The first issue, that of a complete chemical transformation, is called in Arabic istihāla. Istihāla basically answers the question: If an impure substance undergoes a complete and total chemical transformation into a pure substance, is that sufficient to consider it to be pure? The classic example used by the early scholars is that of vinegar derived from wine: if left in the right circumstances or agitated in a specific manner, any bottle of wine will undergo a chemical transformation and become vinegar. This resultant vinegar is completely harmless and does not intoxicate.

Classical scholars differed over the issue of istihāla – the Hanafīs and Ibn Taymiyyah claimed that it made the final product pure, whereas the other three madhabs generally did not consider the resultant product pure if the process was intentionally done by human intervention. There is no verse or authentic hadīth that explicit supports either side – both groups base their opinion on sound reasoning and various reports from the Companions. (Also refer to this very beneficial article by a contemporary scholar on a closely related issue and a hadīth that plays an indirect role in this matter). Due to the fact that there is nothing explicit in the Divine Texts on this issue, and taking into account that a chemical transformation does indeed completely alter a compound (as anyone with a basic knowledge of chemistry will attest to), I follow the first opinion, which states that istihāla does indeed make the resultant product pure. Most of the modern fiqh academies also adhere to this first opinion.

The relevance of this issue to that of rennet is as follows: if animal rennet undergoes a chemical transformation during the extraction process, then even if its source was porcine, the extracted solvent would be considered permissible and pure by the first category of scholars. (Of course the second group of scholars would not be concerned with this issue, and would consider porcine rennet impure even if a chemical transformation occurred.)

Unfortunately, in my (limited) perusal of this subject, I could not verify whether the extraction process causes a chemical change in the rennet or not; however, from what I did read it would appear that no chemical change occurs and the extraction process is merely concerned with the transfer of the animal enzymes from the lining of the stomach into the liquid solvent. (Any information from specialists in this area would be greatly appreciated). Therefore, if the situation is that no chemical change occurs, then this issue is moot, and we move to the next one.

The next issue is really the crux of the matter. It concerns the quantity and residuum of an impure substance when mixed with a pure one. Now, there is pretty much unanimous agreement amongst the scholars that an extremely minute quantity of an impure substance, when added to a large quantity of a pure one, will not make the final substance impure. For example, if a glass of urine is thrown into an average-size lake, no scholar would consider the entire lake to be impure. Although the overall principle is a matter of agreement, there is no clear consensus on exactly how much impurity would affect a pure substance. So the real issue here is how to define what constitutes a miniscule quantity versus what would constitute a significant quantity. But the basic point is agreed upon: if an extremely minute quantity of an impurity is totally dissolved in a much larger quantity of a pure substance, such that the impurity does not leave any discernable presence (this is called istihlāk), the resultant substance will still be pure.

This fiqh principle is primarily derived from the famous hadīth, “When water reaches two qullas (a specific quantity of water), it will not become impure” [Narrated by Abū Dawūd]. Another evidence is the hadīth of the ‘Well of Budā’ah’.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah writes, commenting on the hadīth of the two qullas, “So when it is clear that the water being asked about was of a large quantity – two qullas – and a large quantity is not affected by impurities, but rather is dissolved in it, this shows that the ruling [of whether something is pure or not] is dependant on whether the impurity is carried [by the pure substance], meaning that its presence is obvious, and in this case it will be impure. But if it has been completely diffused in the pure substance, then it does not have any residual effects [and the substance is pure]. So, with regards to these oils, and milks, and sweet and sour drinks, and other substances that are pure, since any impurities [contained in it] have been completely consumed (istihlāk) and altered, then how can the pure that Allah has permitted be considered impermissible?! And who is there who has said that if a quantity of impurity mixes with a pure substance such that it is totally consumed by it (itsihlāk) and altered in it, that the substance will be impermissible? Rather, there is nothing to suggest this from the Quran, or the Sunnah, or unanimous consensus, or analogy. And that is why the Prophet (saw) said, in the hadīth of the Well of Budā’ah, when he was told that menstrual pads and dog carcasses and impurities fall into it, ‘Pure water is not made impure by anything’” [Mukhtasar al-Fatāwa al-Masriyyah, p. 20; also see Majmū’ al-Fatāwa vol. 21, p. 502].

Other scholars also give similar rulings. For example, Ibn Hazm claimed that if an impure substance is dissolved in a larger quantity of purity, to such an extent that the final product does not carry the name of the impure substance (i.e., such that the impure substance will not be a significant part of the final product), then the impermissibility that was initially applied to the impure substance will be removed from the final product, since the final product is not called that impure substance. As an example, he states that if a drop of wine were to fall into water, no effect is demonstrated, and the same applies for all other substances as well [al-Muhallā, vol 7, p. 422].

And this is the opinion of many modern fiqh bodies as well. The European Council for Fatwa issued a fatwa (Number 34, issued in Jumad al-Akhirah 1419 A.H.) stating that any impure substance added to pure food items does not make the food impure if either: (a) the substance underwent a complete chemical change (istihāla), or (b) was totally used up and dissolved in the food item, such that its traces became negligible (istihlāk). Based upon this principle, since the quantity of animal rennet in cheese is very insignificant, it would then follow that even if the rennet used to manufacture it was impure, the final cheese would be completely and totally pure. There would be no difference whether impermissible bovine rennet or porcine rennet was used. Since the quantity is so trivial, it is considered to be completely used up (istihlāk) by the pure elements, such as the milk, which makes up the bulk of the cheese. (See below for a more detailed look at the quantity of rennet involved in the manufacture of cheese).

Statements from the Classical Scholars Regarding this Issue

To the best of my knowledge, there is only one explicit hadīth about cheese. Abu Dawud, in his Sunan, has a chapter on eating cheese, in which he narrates a hadīth in which some cheese was presented to the Prophet after the Battle of Tabuk. He called for a knife [to cut it up], said bismillah, and ate of it (al-Sunan of Abū Dawūd, ‘The Chapter of Foods’, # 3819). This is quite an explicit hadīth on the permissibility of cheese manufactured from impure rennet, since no Muslim would have been present at Tabuk to manufacture the cheese. Hence, this hadīth appears to state that the Prophet ate cheese manufactured by idol-worshippers. The chain, however, is not the strongest of chains, and in fact appears to be weak (compare with the mursal narration found in both the Musannaf of ‘Abd al-Razzāq # 8795 and the Musannaf of Ibn Abī Shaybah # 24417). Also, if anything, this narration could only be used directly to support the permissibility of cheese manufactured from the second type of rennet mentioned above, and not porcine rennet, as the Arabs did not eat pig.

Of the famous Imams, we have the report where Imam Aḥmad was asked about eating cheese, to which he replied, ‘It may be eaten from anyone,” meaning regardless of who made it. And he was explicitly asked about the cheese made by the Zoroastrians, to which he responded, “I do not know; but the most authentic hadīth narrated in this regard is the hadīth of ‘Amr b. Sharahbīl, in which he said that ‘Umar was asked about cheese, and he was told that the rennet from dead animals is used, to which he said, ‘You say the bismillah yourself, and then eat.’ And Imam Ahmad also said, “Isn’t most of the cheese we eat manufactured by the Zoroastrians?” [See: al-Mughni, v. 13, p. 352; also al-Inṣāf, v. 27, p. 264].

Thus it is quite explicit that Imam Ahmad considered cheese to be permissible regardless of its source, as the Zoroastrians are not of those who mention Allah’s name at the time of sacrifice, yet the cheese manufactured by them was considered permissible. (It should be noted that, as is typical with the Hanbalī madhhab, there are other opinions narrated as well – but this is the one that is considered stronger within the madhhab).

Amongst the Companions themselves, we find some references to eating cheese, as Imam Ahmed referred to. Both the Musannafs of ‘Abd al-Razzāq and Ibn Abī Shaybah have entire chapters dedicated to cheese. In them, we find that although some of the classical scholars, such as Sa’īd b. al-Musayyab and Sa’id b. Jubayr, were hesitant to eat cheese if it was known that a dead animal (mayta) was used in its preparation, the majority of such scholars saw no sin in this regard. Ibn ‘Abbās is reported to have held the view that there is no problem with cheese that originates from Jews and Christians (Musannaf of ‘Abd al-Razzāq, # 8789). Both ‘Umar b. al-Khattāb and his son ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Umar allowed the eating of cheese, without regards to their origin. ‘Umar is reported to have said, when asked about it, “Eat, for it is only milk or whey,” (Musannaf of ‘Abd al-Razzāq, 8787), and his son said, “Nothing comes to us from Iraq that is more beloved to me than cheese!” (ibid., # 8790). A son of ‘Alī b. Abī Tālib, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyyah, said, “Eat cheese regardless of its source” (ibid., # 8793). In my humble opinion, some of these narrations (such as the last one of ‘Umar) show that the Companions hinted at the small percentage of impurities in cheese and that it was not so consequential as to cause the entire product to be impure. Also, as Ibn Taymiyyah points out (see following quote), those who allowed the cheese were more aware of its manufacturing process than those who prohibited it.

And my favorite scholar, Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah, wrote, “As for the milk and rennet of dead animals, then there are two well-known opinions about this issue. The first of them is that it is pure, and this is the opinion of Abū Hanīfa and others, and one of the two opinion of Ahmad. The second opinion is that it is impure, and this is the opinion of Mālik, and Shāfi’ī, and the other opinion from Ahmad. Based on this difference of opinion, they then differed regarding cheese manufactured by the Zoroastrians, for the animals sacrificed by the Zoroastrians are considered impermissible [to eat] by the vast majority of scholars of the past and present, so much so that it is said that the Companions unanimously agreed on this ruling. Hence, if they made cheese – and cheese is made from rennet – then these two opinions will apply. But the stronger opinion is that their cheese is indeed permissible, and that the rennet and milk of dead animals is pure. And the proof for this is that when the Companions conquered Iraq, they ate the cheese of the Zoroastrians, and this was something common and well-known amongst them. As for what has been narrated of the disapproval of some of them in this matter, then there is a problem with it, since it is of the opinion of some of the people of Hijaz [i.e., Arabia]. And the people of Iraq were more knowledgeable of this, as the Zoroastrians were in there land and not in the land of the Hijaz. What makes this matter even clearer is that Salmān al-Farsi, who was the governor of ‘Umar b. al-Khattāb over al-Madā’in (in Iraq) and was active in calling the Zoroastrians to Islam, was asked about fat and cheese, to which he responded, ‘The halāl is what Allah has made permissible in His Book, and the ḥarām is what Allah has prohibited in His Book. And whatever He has remained silent about has been forgiven.’ And Abū Dawūd also reported this as a prophetic hadīth. Of course, it is understood that he was not being asked about the cheese of the Muslims or Ahl al-Kitāb, for that is a clear-cut issue; rather, the question was about the cheese manufactured by Zoroastrians. This shows that Salmān gave a fatwā for its permissibility…” (Majmū’ al-Fatāwā, vol. 21, p. 102-103). Note here that Ibn Taymiyyah is not talking about rennet derived from pigs but rather rennet derived from cows and sheep that have not been slaughtered according to the Sharī’āh (i.e., the second category of rennet in the tripartite division given above). However, his quote can be used here in the general context of the permissibility of cheese, regardless of its source. Also, in other fatāwā (some of which were quoted above), Ibn Taymiyyah clearly shows that he ascribes to the view that istihlāk of a impure substance in a pure material does not make the entire material impure.


Although it is healthy to note that many Muslims are very concerned about the laws of the Sharī’ah, before jumping to any hasty conclusions it is essential that these laws be understood and studied.

The primary issue that needs to be considered when it comes to the permissibility or impermissibility of cheese, in this author’s humble opinion, is the quantity of animal rennet that exists in it. Consider the following: In a crude experiment, 2 square centimeters of a prepared calf’s stomach lining was immersed in 30 grams of water to produce the initial rennet solvent. After the extraction process, the remaining linings were removed via a fine sieve, and then one teaspoon of the solvent rennet (i.e., around one-seventh of the initial solvent) was then mixed with approximately five gallons of prepared milk to produce around five pounds of cheese. Someone with a little more time than myself may easily work out the precise percentages and the final quantity of animal rennet in an average slice of cheese, but from these numbers it is pretty clear than a very insignificant quantity of actual animal enzyme ends up in the final cheese. To quote only one reference, Wikipedia states that 1 kg of manufactured cheese contains about 0.0003 grams of rennet enzymes. Again, that’s one kilogram – imagine how much rennet would be present in one slice, and now imagine how much would be in a corn chip that has only been coated with dried cheese.

Such a miniscule quantity of impurity (i.e., less than 0.00003 %) simply cannot make the entire product impure – a drop of najas blood that falls into a ten-gallon container of water is actually more concentrated than the amount of rennet enzymes in cheese.

Hence, to conclude, it is the humble opinion of this student of knowledge (and of many great ‘ulamā) that cheese, regardless of how it is manufactured or who it is manufactured by, is permissible. [The only exception would be if other impure additives of a sufficient quantity were incorporated in the manufacturing process – such as bacon flavored cheese.]

So go ahead Ammaar – eat away! Oh, and pass the dip…

Note: Please feel free to disseminate this article per: Online — please do not copy and paste the whole article, rather add excerpts with proper reference to the original here. Print, non-profit distribution — the entire article can be printed with proper reference to MM at the top. There are two reasons for this: (a) The comments provide more insight and clarification so we want to encourage people to read them as well, (b) any changes and correction will be made within this article and by keeping one main source, it will avoid uncorrected versions at multiple locations. JazakumAllahkhair– MM

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Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.



  1. Avatar


    July 9, 2007 at 11:43 PM

    The whole mouse-and-cheese thing is making me twitchy… hands off the Doritos, people, they’re MINE!

  2. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 12:52 AM

    I like cheese on my burgers and cheese steaks. Sheikh Yasir Im hoping the cheese pizza you ate at my store is halal right?
    Its a mixture of whole cheese, skim cheese, and cheddar cheese.

  3. Avatar

    mootsie tootsies

    July 10, 2007 at 2:19 AM

    Sheikh Yasir,
    My husband and I gained much from your lectures at this recent convention Alhamdulillah. On the long drive home, we listened to your amazing series on du’a.
    I do have a question about saying AMIN at the end of making a dua. I believe you mentioned it is something unique to the Muslims? Then why do the Christians say it?

  4. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 2:34 AM

    wow shaykh yasir, never knew you loved doritos that much. ;)

    asalaamu alaikum

  5. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 6:36 AM

    Hope to see more from you, Sheikh Yasser.
    Jazakum Allaah khair.

  6. Avatar

    Muhammad Alshareef

    July 10, 2007 at 9:07 AM

    May Allah ta’ala reward you for clarifying what so many people are confused about.

    As I read the entire article I kept thinking:

    1. How blessed students of knowledge are because they can reassure the laypeople (not Frito Lay) regarding that which is permissible.

    2. :P Cheeze Whiz! :)

    Barak Allahu feek Sh.Yasir.

    – Muhammad Alshareef
    AlMaghrib Institute

  7. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 10, 2007 at 9:11 AM

    Takbir! Allah hu Akbar!

  8. Avatar

    Mahin F Islam

    July 10, 2007 at 9:29 AM

    Hmm….Sh. Yasir showing he still have remnants of his old school science background. BTW…What’s really interesting is that Altaf Husain (the Yasir Qadhi clone) mentioned how Doritos were haraam at the MSA Central Zone Conference this year and got everyone who was sleeping through his lecture to wake up. So the Original Yasir Qadhi refutes the Cloned Yasir Qadhi on the fiqh of Doritos.

  9. Amad


    July 10, 2007 at 9:36 AM

    asa… its tough to clone YQ…

    If there is one imp. point that hopefully we will all absorb, regardless of our agreement with the content, is that people need to be careful when going out on the limb with regards to halal and haram. That’s just one area that, as laymen, we have no right to step into.

  10. Pingback: Mujahideen Ryder’s Blog - Not the average Muslim blog… » Shaykh Yasir Qadhi: Doritos is Halal!

  11. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 10, 2007 at 10:01 AM

    Is cheetos also halal!

    • Avatar

      M sis2

      July 17, 2016 at 8:38 PM

      I think they are not because you see the cheetah on it that is a animal and animals are sometimes enzymes but there are 2 kinds of enzymes plant enzymes and animal enzymes but scince Cheetos is original bag has an animal on it it is not halal because animals are enzymes and the cheetah is an animal and there are some not halal chemicals in the cheese and the chemicals in it are kinds like cultures and a lot of things come from a lot of places and if you disagree on this eat it and see what will happen you will do everything a bad way so like if you know how to pray you won’t get up and pray for no reason because my mom is a doctor and someone came to her and said because I ate a kind of Cheetos after that I didn’t get up to pray and my dads friend is friend is the boss of the medical urgent care and actions of the medical assistance so that’s how I know all of this information

  12. ibnabeeomar


    July 10, 2007 at 10:09 AM

    can we lay the dunkin donuts, skittles, and marshmallows to rest also? :)

    if not.. i might have to start making new halal products to sell at conventions like halal organic milk, halal ice cream, and zabihah lassi :)

  13. ibnabeeomar


    July 10, 2007 at 10:10 AM

    forgot to say jazakallahu khayr for the article, it was quite informative

  14. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 10:24 AM

    while we’re at it why don’t we discuss the whole halal meat issue and what truly is encompassed under it so we can really beat the dead horse no more :)

  15. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 11:44 AM

    Alhamdulilah, finally some credible clarity!

    Although…if you think about it…..Doritos aren’t exactly whats best for health and welfare so we probably shouldn’t eat them anyways….

    *cough Al-Maghrib-Rizq-Management-Bonus-Section-Physical Health*

    (waits for backlash)

  16. Amad


    July 10, 2007 at 12:31 PM

    I should add that Sh. Yasir does not believe in the permissibility of eating meat in America that is not dhabihah (halal or kosher). So, people should not confuse the two issues and conflate them as one. Completely different set of textual evidence and fiqh.

    This is also an important point because some people may dismiss the conclusion reached in this post as just another “arab” opinion and that YQ probably believes meat is halal too in America. And that is NOT the case.

    P.S. We are not going to turn this thread into a discussion about the meat issue, so please refrain from that topic. That is one dead horse that we have to just live with. FYI, I am not a muqallid of YQ in this one ;)

  17. Amad


    July 10, 2007 at 12:39 PM

    Sh. YQ, since you are basing your conclusion really ultimately on the quantity aspect, what is the opinion of the madahibs on this? Is there a consensus that a very minute proportion does not make the rest of the substance haraam?

  18. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 1:07 PM

    Great article, jazakum Allahu khairan for this info and giving us an insight into the thought processes that are involved in contemporary issues.

  19. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 1:14 PM

    Wow! It seems the shaykh hit a sensitive spot when he mentioned food.

  20. Avatar

    Altaf Husain

    July 10, 2007 at 1:22 PM

    May Allah ta’ala reward you for this comprehensive, articulate, and insightful clarification. Alhamdulillah, just reading it has made me hungry :)
    Your brother in Islam,
    -Altaf Husain

  21. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 1:22 PM

    Jazaak Allaahu kharain

    Who would have ever thought cheese Doritos would be inspiration for an article

    Maa shaa Allaah..

  22. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 1:29 PM

    Jazakum Allahu Khair for the article. I always held that animal rennet is halal from dhabiha or non-dhabiha permissible animals. I will have to disagree about the pork rennet though. Although, the sheikh makes a good case using the quantity ruling regarding pure and impure substances, this ruling does not apply when impure substances are *intentionally* put into pure substances. Water is a different case because it is flowing and self-purifying by nature.

    Those who don’t agree with the impermissibilty of it should at least practice wara’ (caution of falling into haram) in this matter and stay away from pork rennet. Seriously, eat an apple or something.

    Wa Allahu ‘alam

  23. Pingback: Of Mice and Men - The Cheese Factor–

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    July 10, 2007 at 1:49 PM

    U have no idea about how happy i am hehe (i luvvvvv cheetos and doritos :)

    Oh yeah, i volunteered for two hours in kids seminar on Saturday and met your kids, Yusuf is soo adorable and not to mention how he was so over protective of his lil sister :) (i gave her chocolate so she would stop crying but yusuf made me call ‘mom’ to get the permission first -lol)

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    Mahin F Islam

    July 10, 2007 at 2:22 PM

    One should be careful not to let one’s love for Doritos just follow Sh. Yasir’s reasoning without thinking about it. That may constitute ‘phatwa shopping’. It’s OK to disagree and I think he would have no issue with us disagreeing w/ him as long as we have our sound basis for disagreement. (correct me if I’m wrong Yasir Bhai)

    As for myself..I could care less b/c I never liked Doritos.

    • Avatar


      August 29, 2015 at 9:14 AM

      I agree its not about liking or disliking , but if we are following strict Zabiha rules n issue is animal rennet which my husb confirmed with Doritos company by calling they admitted using pork n beef products in there manufactures . So I would still stick to it that it’s not okay to eat these. I usually check all products before consuming from muslimsconsumergroup website and it’s pretty authentic with reference and most confirmed resources. JazakAllah

  26. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 2:55 PM

    Is this the same reason why some people eat gelatin?

  27. Amad


    July 10, 2007 at 3:16 PM

    The gelatin issue is more based on the istihala (change of property) than on quantity… wallahualam.

  28. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 4:06 PM

    As a hanafi, I already knew this, but to keep in line w/shafi’s/maliki’s i stayed away from it because of its questionability of source. Even alot of hanafi scholars say that the change that gelatin goes through is not enough of a change to amount to a transformation to a pure substance.

  29. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 6:24 PM

    Yes, in my family my dad prefers that we not buy or eat anything with gelatin in it…

  30. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 6:35 PM


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    July 10, 2007 at 6:47 PM

    Interesting. jazakAllaahu khairan

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    July 10, 2007 at 7:00 PM

    Oh and Ibn Abee Omar, my aunt called the Skittles company and (at least in the US), they do not use pork gelatin in it. It’s some other animal gelatin…

    • Avatar


      June 29, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      a lot of skittles now are gelatin free.. look at the ingredient again.. they’ll even write seprately “Gelatin-free” :)

  33. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 7:21 PM

    Thanks for clarifying this issue. On a follow-up note, does this mean that it’s permissible to eat foods cooked with alcohol (such as cooking sherry, etc.) since the alcohol content is low relative to other ingredients AND since the alcohol undergoes a chemical change? Just wondering if the same rule applies? :0)

  34. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 7:31 PM

    Sheikh, Allah swt says in the Quran to eat HALAL AND TAYYIB, i wonder if all the junk food we eat is tayyib??

    If you can make comments on what does tayyib imply, ill appreciate it, JazakAllah Khair

  35. Pingback: Chill yo Islam yo » Blog Archive » doritos are halalujah!

  36. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 10, 2007 at 10:16 PM

    – Jazakum Allahu khayran Ustadh Muhammad AlShareef and Ustadh Altaf Hussain for your kind comments.

    – Of course people have the right to disagree, and of course if someone does agree it should be due to the evidences presented, and not due to one’s culinary preference :)

    – The issue of gelatin typically has to do with the istihala issue. Therefore for me this issue needs to be resolved by scientists, not scholars. I’ve asked many chemists/ biochemists/ pharmacists, and it seems the jury is out on this one – but to be honest most of them have told me that they would not classify the change as chemical. Hence if this is the case porcine gelatin would be najas.

    – The issue of alcohol that has been added to cooked food as a flavoring and burned off is a more detailed one, but yes these two principles would still apply in my humble opinion. There is also the added issue of whether alcohol is najas or not (major difference of opinion in our times; not a major one in previous times), if it’s not najas then different rules will apply in cases where its used in food. Again that is a different topic.

    – The brothers who wanted to avoid cheese out of wara’ (extreme piety) are indeed commended for such a view, but I must admit that I find this a bit skeptical. Establishing wara’ in relation to cheese is good, and I do not mean to put anyone down, but the way I view it, living in the West one compromises on so many issues of far greater evils. In my humble opinion the evils associated with even opening a checking account in an interest-bank (yes, I have a bank account) are far worse than many of these high-level wara’ matters. While it might be a type of daroorah to have a bank account, really if you think about it there are indeed ways that you could live with a very minimal amount in the current account and the rest safe in cash in safety vaults. But who amongst us will do this? Additionally, I believe that pretty much most companies that we would work for would have more haram in them than the percentage of rennet in cheese, and yet none of us is that picky when it comes to ascertaining where the money of his paycheck comes from (and neither does the Shari’ah require such precision – walhamdulillah!!). The point is that to be selective in where to apply wara’ seems to be missing the point – but that is just my opinion and you are free to disagree, and I pray that Allah rewards you for it. Also please do remember that wara’ in and of itself cannot be used to make anything makruh, much less haram.

    – I know that some scholars (without any explicit evidence from the Quran or Sunnah, I must add) differentiate between a najas being intentionally added vs. one that just ‘falls in’, but I find this differentiation to be illogical. In the end of the day, I personally don’t see why that should have an effect on the verdict of the final product – it is either pure or impure! But, yes, for those who stick to a particular madhab and hence cannot go beyond the rulings of its scholars, I do understand that even a percentage as trivial as .00003 simply does not matter in the face of a legal opinion within the madhab.

    – Amad generally speaking there is agreement on the principle that an extremely minute quantity of an impurity would not affect a large quantity, but under this principle some madhabs add other conditions, and are more stringent in defining what constitutes ‘trivial’. As some of the comments above illustrate, its not that simple.

    – One also notices that even amongst the Companions and early generations, there was some ikhtilaf. A point that I mentioned in passing, but can now be extrapolated to our situation, is that those Companions who were more knowledge of the manufacture of cheese (such as Salman and Ibn Umar) generally allowed it. And I would add that even in our times, those scholars who are more aware of the chemical processes and quantities involved (such as most modern fiqh academies, and also the very scholarly and Western-educated Dr. Nazih Hammad, who specializes in food matters, and the European Academy of Fiqh, etc…) are more lax than ulama who have never really studied these procedures or are aware of how cheese is made. For them, the mere mention of ‘pig’ or ‘alcohol’ makes anything and everything haram – but if this principle were really taken to the extreme and the percentages neglected, then many many food items, including coke and vanilla flavored products, would be considered haram.

    – With regards to a product that is not nutritional being haram, really this is an extreme statement. By all means live a healthy lifestyle, and if you wish to avoid foods that are fatty or high in cholesterol or this or that, then do so. But don’t read the word ‘haram’ into these matters. Most people don’t realize the severity of this word!! The Quran itself strongly chastises those who make haram what Allah has made halal. The pure is that which Allah has made halal, and the impure is that which He has made haram, as per the text of the Quran (Surah Maidah).

    Hope that clarifies some issues. And once again, I iterate: this is just an opinion. Feel free to follow what others say. But I would advise brothers and sisters to use the intelligence that Allah has blessed us with, and realize that scholars – all of them – are but human, and their own prejudices and contextual backgrounds are bound to affect the fatwas they give, just like my own prejudices and background shape my understanding of the issue.

    In the end, truly Allah knows best…


  37. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 10:44 PM

    this may be one of the signs of qiyamah when, in comparison to who passed before, an unlearned men becomes sheik and starts giving fatwa..

  38. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 10, 2007 at 11:23 PM

    Jamal – What exactly are you implying?

  39. Avatar


    July 10, 2007 at 11:28 PM

    yeah jamal, who are you pointing finger towards ?

  40. Avatar

    Abdullah Syed

    July 10, 2007 at 11:53 PM

    I am still skeptical :)

    That desi in me.

  41. Avatar

    Abdurrahman Kandil

    July 11, 2007 at 12:31 AM

    Thank you Sh. Qadhi for this insightful article! I have a few questions though:

    Impurity: What does this mean in Islam?

    – Other than pigs, what other animals are considered impure? Are ANY products derived from pigs impure (Can I play with a football that’s made from pork leather)?

    – I’ve heard many people say that alcohol is also impure or ‘najis’. What are the views on that issue? Can I clean my hands with ethanol in the lab? Check out this article about Muslims refusing to use anti-bacterial gels in hospitals because they contain alcohol: (,,2-2006600358,00.html).

    Sh. Qadhi, you mention two main Islamic principles in his article:

    Principle 1: “Istihāla basically answers the question: If an impure substance undergoes a complete and total chemical transformation into a pure substance, is that sufficient to consider it to be pure?…I follow the first opinion, which states that istihāla does indeed make the resultant product pure.”

    Principle 2: “If an extremely minute quantity of an impurity is totally dissolved in a much larger quantity of a pure substance, such that the impurity does not leave any discernable presence (this is called istihlāk), the resultant substance will still be pure.”

    Using your reasoning in this article, can we assume that gelatin-containing products and foods cooked with wine are halal (since pork-derived gelatin is chemically altered (principle 1) and the amount of alcohol in foods cooked with wine is very small because most of it is burned off in the cooking process (principle 2)?



  42. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 2:48 AM

    JazaakAllah khair, Shaykh Yasir.

    Just for this post, I’m thinking about holding a BBQ for you when you come to Chicago, insha’Allah; with cheesy cheeseburgers served just for you (and Ammaar, too). Maybe with some cheesecake?

    Oh, and we can’t forget the Doritos =P.

  43. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 5:03 AM


    I have just read Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani’s “Ahkaam Adh Dhabaa’ih”, and I strongly believe we have many issues to address regarding the meat we consume, so much so that we have operate abattoirs like how the jews run their slaughterhouses. Forgive me for posting this here, but I would really love to discuss certain matters regarding this with Bro Yasir Qadhi, is there any way I could reach him? jk.

  44. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 5:26 AM

    so can we eat mcdonalds?

  45. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 7:23 AM

    JZK – I have some confusion on category 2 – rennet from unislamically slaughtered animals.

    An argument I read for allowing this rennet was that they classified the rennet to be ‘alive’ in and of itself as it is an enzyme – and by it acting to make cheese by itself after it is separated from the animal’s stomach – shows that it is still ‘alive.’

    Thus the issue was not with the way the animal was slaughtered, but whether the source of the rennet (the animal) was non-porcine, as the porcine rennet would be najas as of the source – as everything from and about the pig (and dog) is najis; wheras the animal rennet from a calf/lamb/etc would have been fine as the rennet did not ‘die’ when the animal was slaughtered – and their host animal source was tahir – so they were tahir.

    That being said, whilst the minuteness of the amount of rennet in proportion to the amount of the cheese is a more flexible argument, the classical opinions seemed to use the fact that the rennet was tahir (as no pigs were eaten by the arabs – nor by it seems the zoroastrians from your article – and the rennet was from halal animals.)

    Did the previous scholars draw a distinction between cheese from porcine and non-porcine rennet – i.e. did they approach the issue from a different angle to one of insignificant amount?

  46. Avatar

    Lamia Kadir

    July 11, 2007 at 8:11 AM

    ASA Sheik,
    Jazak’Khair for the science lesson, am ashamed I transiently believed all I heard without critically thinking it out. And to think I spent 4 years in med school…..

    Your sis, L. Kadir

  47. Amad


    July 11, 2007 at 8:54 AM


    Abdurrahman Kandil: Sh. YQ has already alluded to the gelatin issue.

    McDonalds, etc., regarding the issue of meat in the West: it is a COMPLETELY different topic, with different ahkaam and different conclusions. As I have already mentioned, YQ does NOT believe that non-zabihah (non-dhabihah) meat is halal in America… so no McDonalds cheesburgers for Sh.Yasir.

    Please let’s stick to the topic and not conflate the variety of the issues. One issue at at time inshallah!

    Br. Osman, you can email us at info at muslimmatters //dot// org, and we’ll pass your questions to YQ.


  48. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 9:47 AM

    Another issue for which I haven’t received a satisfactory answer as of yet, is the issue of verifying the permissibility of food before consuming it. How far do you have to go? An example will hopefully clarify. Suppose I go into a non halal restaurant and order black bean soup from the menu. The menu does not indicate that it contains any forbidden substance, but say in actuality it contains broth made out of pork. Since I knew it was a non halal restaurant am I obliged to eat only from halal restaurants (plenty of which are nearby), since there is a risk that I may be consuming haraam. Or conversely, do I take the approach, that since the food I am consuming, apparently seems not to contain any haraam ingredient, assume it is halaal. Perhaps the latter approach is recommended (not sure about this), but if I take the former approach, is this blameworthy (meaning is it makrooh or haraam)? An answer to this question will greatly reduce the dilemma that many Muslims in the West (I suspect ) are facing.


  49. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 10:24 AM

    Brother Sheeraz made excellent question, that I had in my mind as well. How much investigation are we supposed to do, to find if meat was slaughtered properly, to find if water is pure (tahir). I remember someone telling me, that he went to islamic fundraising dinner, and few people did not eat even fish (not talking about crab/lobster etc, normal fish), saying we do not know how it was cooked! I mean it was muslim event, and its fish, but they apparently need to know whole life history of fish, before they can eat it.

  50. Avatar

    ExEx Blogger

    July 11, 2007 at 11:03 AM

    Maa-Shaa-Allah, as expected from a magnum-cum-laude of Medina university, Shaykh Yasir gave it so hard.

  51. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 12:11 PM

    Regarding food cooked with wine added:

    *Note the intent of this link is not to link readers to a fatwa website. Rather, the link contains research performed by the MAYO Clinic on food cooked with wine.

  52. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 11, 2007 at 12:28 PM

    Love the note, SaqibSaab.

  53. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 12:53 PM

    JazzakumAllahu khayr Shaykh Yasir.

    In regards to your comment/question about gelatin, I was able to find the following statement from Kraft Foods:

    Also, if anyone has a subscription to this service (or wants to donate generously for the Ummah ;-) ) then this article is available and might answer a lot of in depth questions:

  54. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 1:14 PM

    This is the correct link from Islam Q&A that SaqibSaab was referring to:

    Also, the North Carolina Physicians Health Program makes reference to the same Mayo Clinic study here:

    Exploratorium makes their own statement about this issue:

  55. Avatar

    Sabih Ahmad

    July 11, 2007 at 1:43 PM

    Assalamualaikum Brother Yasir Qadi.

    First off, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed your speeches at the convention, I gained alot of Islamic Knowledge from listening to them.

    About the Doritos topic, after hearing about what you posted, I went straight to the phone and called the Doritos headquarters itself. I asked them, what they have in the Dorito chips, and they told me to name a specific variety. I named the Nacho Cheese, and I was told that it contains the pork enzyme. When my older cousin called, she received the same information, and they told her there was a mix of beef and pork in every variety, dosen ‘t that make it automatically haraam? I haven’t read your whole article yet, but this is the discussion me and my cousin were having. Inshallah I will take the time right now to read the article and fully understand what your saying.


  56. Amad


    July 11, 2007 at 1:48 PM

    ASA Sabih, yes, they use the enzyme that could be of bovine origin. That is the whole premise of the article.

  57. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 1:52 PM


    Did you mean that the whole premise of the article is even if the enzyme is porcine then it is still permissible?

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    July 11, 2007 at 1:55 PM

    Correction to my previous post:
    “Perhaps the latter approach is recommended (not sure about this), but if I take the former approach, is this blameworthy (meaning is it makrooh or haraam)?”

    This should be read as:
    “Perhaps the former approach is recommended (not sure about this), but if I take the latter approach, is this blameworthy (meaning is it makrooh or haraam)?”

    My apologies.

  59. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 2:29 PM

    Assalaam-u-Alaikum Wa-Rahmatullahi Wa-Rabakatuhu
    what about pepsi
    they include pork in it ?

    • Avatar


      January 31, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Pepsi does not contain pork. However Allah swt has told us to eat from the good things..and scientifically also we know it has much harm than benefit. Add to it the controversy of contributing funds to the Israeli armed occupation in Palestine..So I left drinking Pepsi and coke.. And I advise you also..It’s not good for health.WallAhu taala Aalam

  60. Amad


    July 11, 2007 at 2:47 PM

    pepsi include pork? No.

  61. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 2:56 PM

    Excellent, excellent, Yasir Qadhi. The rules are somewhat different, but kosher and halal certifiers often work together on these issues. Anything that lessens the confusion is a boon to manufacturer, retailer, and consumer alike.

    As for myself, I buy Utz brand Nachos, Party Mix, and cheese curls because these products are certified kosher by the Orthodox Union AND they taste delicious. (Herr’s “Nachitas” are also kosher, but not to my taste.)

    On the gelatin issue, products made with kosher gelatin (derived from fish, I think) are available: certain flavors and brands of Jell-O and marshmallows are made with it. One just has to look for the stuff.

  62. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 3:21 PM

    In my humble opinion the evils associated with even opening a checking account in an interest-bank (yes, I have a bank account) are far worse than many of these high-level wara’ matters.

    You are treating modern currency as if it is real money. Real money, the money discussed in the Torah and the Koran, is gold and silver, isn’t it? Paper dollars and base-metal tokens are just units of credit, and the amount of credit a given quantity of gold and silver buys varies from day to day. So why worry about an interest-bearing account if it is denominated in dollars, rather than gold or silver?

  63. Amad


    July 11, 2007 at 3:27 PM

    Solomon, timely entry! I have always had a few questions in mind about kosher:

    I had an instructor once who was an orthodox Jew, and he used to bring special kosher pizza to share with me… awesome dude… In any case, he told me that as far as gelatin pills, the Torah forbid that it touch your mouth (I am going off memory, so excuse any mistakes), so he would wrap it up in a little piece of tissue to swallow it. Does that ring a bell? What do Jews do about medicine and other pills that you may not have a choice on? Are there similar principles w/regards to change of characteristic?

    As far as everyday stuff, if it has a K or a U on it, does that mean that it will for sure not have any bovine products? And will be based of kosher other-than-pig animal meat/bone?

    Look forward to hearing more…

  64. Avatar

    ruth nasrullah

    July 11, 2007 at 4:19 PM

    I know it’s going off base, but I’m curious about kosher food, too. It’s always my second choice if I really really can’t get my hands on halal – for instance, I bought kosher chicken broth when I couldn’t find halal. Is that appropriate?

  65. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 4:43 PM

    the Torah forbid that it touch your mouth (I am going off memory, so excuse any mistakes), so he would wrap it up in a little piece of tissue to swallow it

    Gross. That must really do a number on the esophagus.

    What do Jews do about medicine and other pills that you may not have a choice on?

    I consider the matter of what to do if prescribed medication with porcine and other non-kosher ingredients is controversial enough to consult with one’s rabbi for guidance. The general principle, I think, is to do what’s necessary to reasonably preserve one’s life and health.

    If it has only a “K” on it, that is a symbol added by the manufacturer only, not a certification. It’s all right for some breakfast cereals.

    Bovine = cow meat or product, at my level it must be kosher-processed to be acceptable, and must carry the hechsher of a reputable kosher-certifying organization. No food I know of can be certified kosher if there is any pork product in it.

    The “change-of-characteristic” rule is something I’ve never heard of before. I don’t think it exists in the laws of kashrut. Even if an egg has a single bloodstain on it, that renders the contents inside non-kosher.

  66. Amad


    July 11, 2007 at 4:51 PM

    oops i meant pork.. not bovine…

    I have heard all Jello is kosher. And what does a K symbolize if not kosher?

  67. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 7:46 PM

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu everyone

    Wow…so sheikh Yasir’s kids were in the kids sessions….I’m surprised someone didn’t keep one of them lol! Not funny…on a serious note, it would be interesting to get some insight on how a learned person educates his children….idea: It would be AWESOME if ANY Ustadh og Al Maghrib wrote up a bit about how they raise their children…how they deal with issues, when they teach to day life..reallly awesome…I’m sure others would agree…

    i did read the article…really good masha allah la hawla wa la quwata illah bullah!

  68. Avatar


    July 11, 2007 at 9:38 PM

    lol! Doritos would generate so many responses. subhan Allah :)

  69. Avatar

    Karam Kim

    July 11, 2007 at 11:50 PM

    Assalaamualaikum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuhu.

    I’ve listened to your lectures.
    It’s jewelry to me.
    As one of many admirers of yours, I have to confess that I love you Sh.Yasir Qadhi in Allaah.

    Thank you for your excellent article.
    Your article consists of mainly two parts.
    And I want to ask you a question for each part.

    1. Helping the one who use pork.
    : If they make cheese by porcine enzyme, that means they earn money by using pig.
    It’s same thing with Jewish case. Jewish used to make candle by pig fat and they earned money by using pig. According to one Hadeeth, the Prophet(sallalaahu alaihi wasallam) forbade buying the candle made from pig fat.
    What I mentioned above is not food matter, but from the Hadeeth it can be concluded that it’s forbidden to make money from pig.
    If you say it’s Halaal to buy and eat Dorito made from porcine-added cheese, doesn’t mean that you allow them to make money by pig? In the Quran Allaah forbides us to help Munkar. What can you say if someone says to you that your statement eventually help Munkar(making money by pig) or what’s forbidden by the Prophet(sallalaahu alaihi wasallam)?

    2. Matter of quantity
    I agree with you regarding quantity matter in general. But let me differ from you in one perspective.
    It’s right to say small quantity of najas(A) doesn’t make water(B) impure. B exists without A. In other words, B doesn’t contribut anything to the existence of A. B has nothing to do with A. In this case, in my humble opinion, we can apply quantity rule that you’ve mentioned.
    But can we still say that porcine enzyme(A) doen’t make the cheese(B) impure because of its small quantity? In this case, B CAN’T exist without A. Thanks to the B, A can exist. B is essential to the existence of A. That is, this case is not the matter of quantity. It’s matter of ingredient. This case is totally different from small najas and water. Water can exist without najas, but cheese can NOT exist without enzyme. Therefore, I think we can NOT apply quantity rule to this case.

    I’m not sure whethere I can get reply from you or not, ut it would be great honor for me to get some words from you. Please know that you’re my role model, and I always want to see you in person. Because I reside in Korea, it’s not easy, but who knows?

    May Allaah bless all of us. Ameen.

  70. Avatar

    Karam Kim

    July 11, 2007 at 11:57 PM

    My mistake:
    But can we still say that porcine enzyme(A) doen’t make the cheese(B) impure because of its small quantity? In this case, B CAN’T exist without A. (Thanks to the B, A can exist. B is essential to the existence of A.)
    -> Thanks to the A, B can exist. A is essential to the existence of B.

  71. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 9:24 AM

    I think Karam raises an interesting question in point 2. Is it correct to make analogy (qiyas) between consuming water mixed with a drop of urine and consuming cheese containing pork enzymes. The two cases though similar are different in some regards (as Karam described above). Another question which comes to my mind is that water is consumed in its liquid form while cheese is solid. Perhaps analogy should be restricted to liquids and not be extended to solids. My point is that a scholar’s conclusion on this issue will differ depending on the what he considers a valid qiyas. And derviving the qiyas involves ijtihaad. Just some thoughts. Allah alone knows best .

  72. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 10:40 AM


    EVen if you were to restrict it to liquids, it would include the cheese manufacturing process, as the rennet is added as a liquid, into a larger vat of liquid.

  73. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 10:58 AM

    Maverick correct, but what I was referring to was in the end of the day you’re eating a slice of cheese, which is different than drinking water. The point I’m trying to make is “Is it a better approach to be liberal or conservative in one’s qiyas?”. What is the stronger usool? One may argue that the ahadith refer only to water and do not apply to other cases (a very restrictive approach). Therefore all other cases need a different proof.

  74. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 12:27 PM

    Sheeraz, personally I take the opinion that if there are two halal choices in front of me, but one is more easier [liberal] than the other, then I take that one, since Allaah said in the Qur’an that He desires ease for us … so only in situations where there are two halal and legitimate choices, I’ll take the easier one.

    Not to be mistaken for picking and choosing between the different madhaa’hib to suit my desires. That, I don’t do.

  75. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 1:46 PM

    “…Wikipedia states that 1 kg of manufactured cheese contains about 0.0003 grams of rennet enzymes.

    Such a miniscule quantity of impurity (i.e., less than 0.00003 %) simply cannot make the entire product impure ”

    It’s actually even more minuscule: 0.0000003%
    (.0003 grams is .0000003 kg, so .0000003/1)

  76. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 12, 2007 at 2:07 PM

    Salaam Alaikum

    – Br. Jamal – this fatwa is not being given by a minor student of knowledge such as myself, but rather is the fatwa of many scholars and Fiqh Academies of our times, amongst them the European Fiqh Council.

    – The issue of alcohol being najas is another topic altogether. The majority of scholars claimed that it was, a small minority (and this minority is growing in our times) claimed that it is not.

    – Br. Fulaan – yes your comments are on the mark. I tried to allude to this in the article but did not want to go into too much detail. The controversy in most classical fiqh works is whether rennet ‘dies’ and hence is najas, or whether the death of the animal has no ruling on it. Ibn Taymiyyah and others opined that a dead animal’s rennet (and milk) does not take the ruling of its meat. From my readings, I have only noticed later scholars bring up the istihlak issue in specific reference to cheese. The concept of istihlak is clearly discussed in classical works, but I do not know of any works that then use this principle for cheese. However, most modern medical researchers with Shar’i knowledge bring this up as the main point in claiming cheese is permissible. Allah knows best why most classical scholars did not use this principle in their times…

    – Br. Sheeraz, again this is a different topic. There are no doubt levels of piety, and there is also extremism in over-verifying! Personally, if a dish ‘appears’ to be vegetarian or seafood, I assume it is. In some fancy restaurants I ask if any wine will be used to prepare the seafood, but otherwise I don’t go into too much detail. If someone were to do that I’m not saying that’s not allowed…

    – Solomon2, thanks for your comments. The ruling on paper money takes the same rulings as gold as silver because, in our times, they have taken the place of gold and silver. There is no significant difference of opinion amongst modern scholars that paper money takes the rulings of classical dinars/dirhams.

    – Karam, the rulings of Islam would not apply to insignificant quantities. Our buying Doritos does not drive the pig industry! Really no scholar would consider Doritos haram for such an issue.
    Your second issue is valid if the Sharee’ah were to take into account the effect of a substance on another. But for the most part it doesn’t. It looks at the quantity, regardless of what effect that quantity has. The final product, as long as it is pure, contains a very insignificant quantity of najas. This is all that the Sharee’ah is concerned with.

    – The rennet is added as a liquid to a liquid. The issue of cheese being solid would not affect what I mentioned earlier.

    – bdr, well I’ll be! I can’t believe I overlooked that. So you’ve actually increased the potency of my argument by 1000 % (or is it 10,000 %?) :D


  77. Avatar

    Ahmad AlFarsi

    July 12, 2007 at 4:41 PM

    “It’s actually even more minuscule: 0.0000003% (.0003 grams is .0000003 kg, so .0000003/1)”

    Assalaamu alaykum,

    Actually, what Sh. Yasir originally had (0.00003%) is the correct percentage. True, 0.0003 grams is 0.0000003 kg, and the final ratio is 0.0000003/1… however, since 0.01/1 is 1%, then 0.0000003/1 is 0.00003 %, as was mentioned in the original post.

    Just so we have our numbers straight :)


  78. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 6:42 PM

    Subhan Allah, I didn’t read the whole thing (but I’m gonna soon, in sha Allah)…but what stood out for me from this entire page is this:

    “- Br. Jamal – this fatwa is not being given by a minor student of knowledge such as myself, but rather is the fatwa of many scholars and Fiqh Academies of our times, amongst them the European Fiqh Council.”

    May Allah increase you in ilm and in emaan shaikh Yasir, can’t wait to see you again this Saturday, in sha Allah :)

    On the article, I’m actually very strong against eating cheese from a non-Muslim store, but now my shunning of cheese will be mostly related to my culinary preferences :)

    I think a few of my friends would be vindicated by this, but its all good, walhamdulillah!

  79. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 7:23 PM

    Wow JKK to Sheikh

    mASHAaLLAH from all these responses it would be fair to say Our Ummah really loves cheese, now we have the verdict just watch the waistline huh maybe will stick to low fat cheesE!

  80. Avatar


    July 12, 2007 at 8:48 PM

    Just for comparison: in kosher products, it isn’t necessarily the quantity of non-kosher ingredients that matters, but whether or not their presence changes the character of the food. Even a very small amount of rennet suffices to change milk into cheese, so rabbis have decreed that rennet must be added to the cheese culture by an observant Jew, and if animal rennet is used it must originate from a kosher-slaughtered animal.

  81. Avatar

    Nirgaz Abdullah

    July 13, 2007 at 12:12 AM

    Salam Brother Yasir!

    Nashville Sisters give our salams and look forward to our next class if you come back to Memphis.

    Great Article, and JazakAllah Khair…I had already put those forwarded articles about the chips in my trash file.
    Honestly, if I were to listen to every fowarded article about what is “Haram” or “Halal” I would only be left with water. And who knows that might be next weeks email…”Bottled Water no longer Halal”…lol


  82. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 1:34 AM

    Subhan Allah…I have been following this issue in real life and on the web for several weeks and their are 2 responses I see:

    1. Jazakum Allahu Khair for telling me, I will never eat Doritos again.

    2. Are you sure? You want to make everything haram! I’ll have to do some more research (chomping noises heard after eating more Doritos).

    Group #1 is very Sahaba-like and I respect you for that. Hearing and obeying and staying away from doubtful matters.

    Group #2. Wow, how disappointing. I mean come on — celebrating in the post comments that the shiekh made a fatwa that corresponded with your desires! And still asking about McDonald’s.

    Now, this is a real trivial issue to me but it has big implications and that is why I must say something. It is trivial to me because I barely eat chips and, when I do, I eat Kosher-certified Kettle chips that are healthier and taste better. Also, Frito Lay still has non-porcine and even Kosher products to select from:

    But of course, your favorite bag isn’t on there is it.

    The fact that Frito Lay has a section on their website called “Seasoned Products Made Without Porcine Enzymes” makes it significant. It is upsetting that Frito Lay is more concerned about this than some of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Especially when there are alternatives.

    The reason I say this has big implications because it really is a sign of the weakness of our faith. I am not talking about the difference of opinion on the matter but more of the reaction.

    Really bros and sisters we need to step it up! When will we eat halal over non-dhabiha? When will we start eating kosher over non-kosher enzymes? When will we take the extra effort to free ourselves of any blame as the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “He who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and honor blameless.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

    I know, I know you’re saying: the halal meat store is “not clean”, it’s just cheese, or their is a difference of opinion, or this is a fiqh issue.

    No this is not a fiqh issue. This attitude is not a fiqh issue. Our hearts are not pure.

    Everyone always going back to fiqh. We have completely taken Zuhd (Asceticism) and Wara’ (Leaving doubtful matters) out of our vocabulary. It is something that we read about in stories and no longer possible I guess.

    The prophet (peace be upon him) forbade us from drinking out of gold and silver and sitting on silk cushions and said these are not for the believers in this world. We always think about the technical fiqh and never think why. We use analogy for porcine rennet but never for our iPhones and luxuries. Wake up!

    Let’s start making sacrifices really. And I’m not talking about cheese I’m talking about dunya. Wassalamu Alaikum.

  83. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 1:38 AM

    masha’Allah, this article is awesome

  84. Avatar

    'Abdil Kareem

    July 13, 2007 at 3:02 AM

    salaamun ‘alayk Abdullah,

    You state, “The reason I say this has big implications because it really is a sign of the weakness of our faith.”

    I understand why you’re upset; however, you have no reason to be. You seem to be upset and concerned because your impression of debates such as these, debates that deal with “trivial issues” as you label them, are an excuse for Muslims to dig up any excuse they can find to follow a lax opinion that is in accordance to their desires.

    I say you have no reason to be upset since these “trivial matters” are, in fact, addressed by the Quran, Sunnah, Sahaabah and the Ulamaa of the past and present. So how can one claim that they are trivial? And if in fact they have been addressed by said sources, and there’s sufficient evidence from them to lead to such detailed conclusions as are available today, then rather than getting upset and calling it a “weakness of faith,” shouldn’t you be appreciative of the vastness and comprehensiveness of our religion; or in the least, be appreciative of those who expend their efforts to reveal the works of the scholars of past and present?

    Lastly, your implication that the iPhone and other luxuries fall under forbidden indulgences of this world is severely flawed. Granted, it’s important to “think about” the technical fiqh as well as the “why” behind such rulings; however, many people conclude (based on their own whims) with a “why” that, in reality, opposes the technical, yet manifest teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.

    All praise is due to the One who sent us the clearest of Books, the most knowledgeable of Teachers, salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, and the minds we can (and should) use to comprehend their lessons.

    wassalaamu ‘alaykum.

  85. Avatar

    Karam Kim

    July 13, 2007 at 3:26 AM

    Yaa Sheikh Abdallaah!

    Your post made my heart totally comfortable.

    Since there’s no clear message from the Quran and the Sunnah about this matter, I’ll stay away from that, doubtful matters.

    Reason matters, but faith also matters, even more than that.

    May Allaah bless and guide all of us. Ameen.

  86. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 3:28 AM


    To Yasir Qhadi, I came across this in an email about why doritos are haram:

    “other Enzymes such as Lipase and finally dairy flavors containing Enzymes, if the rennet is from microbial and above mentioned are not from Halal source then cheese will not be Halal. The culture medias are made with milk, whey and lactose (Haram if made from pork rennet, Haram media, pork enzymes), dried autolyzed brewer’s yeast (by product of beer) and Pancreatin (Haram if from pork).”


    Can you clarify this please? I assume that the same prinicple applies here to these other enzymes and ingredients?

    Jazakallah kahyr.

  87. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 4:08 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum ‘Abdil Kareem. Akhi you missed my point. You are looking at it from a fiqh perspective as I mentioned. I am talking about this attitude that you describe as “an excuse for Muslims to dig up any excuse they can find to follow a lax opinion that is in accordance to their desires.”

    You might see it otherwise but I find this to be a real problem with the umma. If people’s conclusions were based on pure fiqh I would have no issue with that. But when you have people posting celebration comments you know yourself that is not the right attitude. My issue isn’t with fiqh as you think, it is with the Muslim attitude.

    I didn’t say those luxuries were forbidden. Be fair. But once again you keep going back to the fiqh. This is my exact point. We have no concept of Zuhd in the dunya and Wara’ in our daily lives. These are the treasures that the prophet Muhammad (may Allah send peace and blessings upon him) lived by and the sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them) and all the scholars (may Allah have mercy upon them) that we read about. Everyone is familiar with fiqh but none of us try to emulate these great people in how they lived. I know, I know it’s not obligatory to do so…

    May Allah guide us all to what is best. Ameen.

  88. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 8:10 AM

    Mr. Abdullah, I openly and very happily celebrate bounties of Allah for making this religion easy. My zuhd tells me to be happy praying qasr while traveling because I know that what my prophet (PBUH) did and making it longer would not give me any further reward. My zuhd tells me to enjoy what Allah has make halal for me. My zuhd tells me to see the example of sahabi Omar(RA) when he was accompanying a man and water fell on that man from roof, and he started asking people if this water was “tahir” (pure), and Omar forbade people to answer him, as it would make only things difficult for me. My Zuhd tells me not to act like jewish people who asked so many questions about halal and haram that made their religion of just dos and donts and left spirituality out of it.

    Verily the best spirituality is that of prophet Muhammad PBUH, who married women, fast some days, break other days, sleep sometime in nights, and wake for tahajjud. He did not go out into jungles for leaving dunya.

  89. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 13, 2007 at 12:00 PM

    Shaykh Yasir, when you say “an extremely minute quantity of an impure substance, when added to a large quantity of a pure one, will not make the final substance impure.” Doesn’t that only apply to water?

  90. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 12:35 PM

    Just a FYI – I called Master Foods USA today (the manufacturers of Skittles, Starburst, Snickers etc) to check on the origin of the gelatin.

    Without talking to anyone (and anyone can call and see for themselves at 800-551-0683, option 2 and 2 again) there is a recording about gelatin in their products and it states clearly in one sentence: “Gelatin in our products is derived from beef”. I guess a lot of non-swine eating folks are suddenly calling in so they felt the need to put a recording about it ;-)

    I thought I’d post this in case anyone was wondering about it.

  91. Avatar

    Bilal Azam

    July 13, 2007 at 3:24 PM

    I just spoke to FritoLay and they said ONLY the list given on the following link does not have pork

  92. Amad


    July 13, 2007 at 3:32 PM

    Bilal, pls read the post… We are well aware of this background.


  93. Avatar

    Bilal Azam

    July 13, 2007 at 3:38 PM

    Oh my bad… i thought from the original post that He was referring to the second category and termed the third one haraam…
    Personally i wud never eat anything that has pork in it no matter how little the quantity..

    Sorry about the misunderstang again

  94. Avatar

    Guidance Seeker

    July 13, 2007 at 4:10 PM

    Assalamoalaikum Sh Yasir,

    Jazakallah Khair for such detailed and informative article. Based on this and what you mentioned about the companions eating cheese from Zoroasters, it would make beef or any non-pork gelatin halal for us to eat?

    I am quite sure I know the answer to my own question but out of extreme fear ask for clarification to avoid pitfalls of my own shortcomings.

  95. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 8:14 PM

    Wow Yasir that is pritty cool…
    I liked your explanation of ketab al tawheed, I was in Medina the last month and half andi found the same format you had. ((Oh and i made dua for you too)).

  96. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 8:22 PM

    Assalamu alaikum brother “My zuhd tells me” Hassan. Allah making the religion easy and zuhd are 2 completely separate things. I take full advantage of dispensations in the deen without regret. Zuhd is living a humble life. Zahids usually don’t say “my zuhd tells me”. I never said go to the jungle. Qasr is not zuhd. Combining and joining your prayers is easy so of course people are going to do it. Praying tahajud until your ankles swell is not so easy.

    Asking questions about the source of things is wara’ anyway and not zuhd. I do agree with you about excessive questioning as mentioned in your story. However, notice that Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) *prevented* him from asking. This is the opposite of the situation today. People are asking and others are answering. Some questions are legitimate others excessive. When it comes to things that are repeated constantly, people should ask. People aren’t asking about water dropping from a random roof they are asking about things that might occur every day. Some people eat Doritos or non-dhabiha meat every day so their is nothing wrong with these type of questions — they are actually commended.

    I am going to post some hadith from An-Nawawi’s collection that will clarify what I’m trying to say:

    The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

    “Truly, what is lawful is evident, and what is unlawful is evident, and in between the two are matters which are doubtful which many people do not know. He who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and honor blameless, and he who indulges in doubtful things indulges in fact in unlawful things, just as a shepherd who pastures his flock round a preserve will soon pasture them in it. Beware, every king has a preserve, and the things Allah has declared unlawful are His preserves. Beware, in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.”

    The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:
    “Leave that about which you are in doubt for that about which you are in no doubt.”

    The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:
    “Verily Allah the Almighty has prescribed the obligatory deeds, so do not neglect them; He has set certain limits, so do not go beyond them; He has forbidden certain things, so do not indulge in them; and He has said nothing about certain things, as an act of mercy to you, not out of forgetfulness, so do not go inquiring into these.”

    Wassalamu alaikum.

  97. Avatar


    July 13, 2007 at 10:40 PM

    Masha’Allah, brother Abdullah you are true “zahid”, I could not have imagined being replied in such humble and decent way, and for husn-az-zan of others, by thinking best of others and understanding the way of speech was meant to make a point rather than talk about my personal level of taqwa. Jazak-Allah.

  98. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 11:42 AM

    As Salaamu Alaykum brother,

    You can choose to argue this point and you can choose to eat cheese made from pig stomachs (albeit a very minute amount of “pig stomach”), but please don’t try to convince others . . . Keep it simple . . . when in doubt . . . . leave it alone.

    Thank you,


  99. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 2:20 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    While I don’t necessarily appreciate a non-Hanafi scholar telling Hanafis about their school’s jurisprudence, that definitely an awesome and well-researched fatwa. InshaAllah, it will create demand for fatwas based on strong proofs from the sources of legislation and an objective analysis of the legal question proposed.

    May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) reward Shaykh Yaser and others like them who take it upon themselves to elucidate the matters of the deen for the Ummah. Ameen.


  100. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 5:40 PM

    Nice, jinnzaman. =)

  101. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 6:14 PM

    While I appreciate the sentiments for the “Zuhd” line of defense, I do find it a bit odd, besides the fact that Sheikh sahib has already addressed it :) Yaani, why is that so many people’s Zuhd (esp. desis) ends on the halalness of food? Its like that old joke “Me and my girlfriend only heat zabihah”…

    In the areas of priorities and the areas of doubts, there are SO many issues that we can start with that are MORE doubtful and MORE important in our daily lives than consuming 0.0000003% pork enzyme, which may or may not be in its original state.

    Now, I am sure the countering point will be, “we should do as much as we can”. Sure. But why always start with food, and why with my Doritos?? LOOK around us, is that really something so important to concern ourselves with, esp. when the mountain of evidence from a fiqhi point of view is in its halalness favor? Allah has made this deen easy, so when we have completed all the faraid and stayed away from all the confirmed haraams, then I am sure everyone will be glad to talk about the ‘near harams’, or in this case the ‘remote, unlikely, near-impossibility haram’.

    And whoever has kids can agree with me that doritos are an important source of nutrition for them ;)


    JZ: good comment! And in this matter, i think the opinion is closer to ‘original-hanafi’ than others…

  102. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 6:56 PM

    Salaam, Amad bhai I agree, I had a friend who would give speeches on how eating doubtful food is like breaching covenant with Allah, while he did not use to pray except Jumuah. And there are people who would do wara in food, yet have no wara in hurting/insulting other muslims.

  103. Avatar

    The Wahhabi Misanthrope

    July 14, 2007 at 6:59 PM

    I’m no. #100.

    Food. Controversial.

  104. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 8:01 PM

    To add to what br. Amad said, listen to this shair (couplet) in Urdu (I will transliterate it here):

    Tumhari dawat qabool mujh ko, magar yay kheyaal rakhna
    Bear [sharab] kisi bhi brand ki ho, magar chicken fried halal rakhna!

    SubhanAllah, although I have never encountered such a person, they are out there. May Allah guide them. On a serious note, I agree there are more important things but if someone can’t bring himself to eating chips still, let it be. Don’t belittle him and tell him that he should do others things first. On the flip side, those who still won’t eat it, I say at least don’t condemn those who would eat it based on this article and the evidence provided, and don’t question their intentions or zuhd because if you don’t know thier intentions, then as Muslims you must believe that they have the best intentions.

  105. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 8:13 PM

    Sorry, I should be considerate and translate the couplet. Here it goes:

    I accept your invitation but bear in mind
    Any brand of bear is fine, but keep chicken fried halal!

  106. Avatar


    July 14, 2007 at 9:56 PM

    Abdullah, you quoted the haadith which states in part:

    “Truly, what is lawful is evident, and what is unlawful is evident, and in between the two are matters which are doubtful which many people do not know…”

    That matter is referring to doubtful things which one does not know the true nature of. Which is why we were told in the Qur’an to ask those who know, if we do not know ourselves.

    Specifically regarding this issue [Doritos] the issue is not doubtful as it was before, because Shk. Yaser clarified it.

    So why make things difficult for people?

  107. Amad


    July 14, 2007 at 9:57 PM

    ASA… just to be clear, I am not belittling anyone. I am sure Br. Abdullah believes sincerely in this matter inshallah and may Allah reward his wara’ in it. But I would say that the lives of many other Muslims revolve around the intricacies of halal and haram food, discussing it in their home bought on mortgage. I think there is a lot more doubt and much more need for wara in matters of bank interest (as again Sh YQ said) than doritos :) Oh, and let’s not start on the mortgage tangent now!
    P.S. Ibrahim, love the couplet!

  108. Pingback: Unbranded » Blog Archive » To eat or not to eat …

  109. Avatar

    Abdul Malik

    July 14, 2007 at 10:22 PM

    Shaykh yasir, what is your stance on processed food which have geletine?

  110. Avatar

    R Carter

    July 15, 2007 at 3:02 AM

    assalamu alaikum,
    Shaikh yasir,
    the proof you stated for the amounts, isn’t that to decide whether water was najis or not for the prurpose of wudhu and ghusl.
    how are we using that to prove that we can consume a very minute amount of pork, if it has not been chemically altered that is.
    thank you

  111. Avatar


    July 15, 2007 at 9:59 AM

    Salaam3laikum, I disagree but respect your opinion though I feel each individual should learn and make their own conclusions.
    1. Posting your opinion in such a short analysis opens a whole new door for ppl to accept halal based on your two arguments, chemical change and negligible traces. Wine to vinegar ie rice wine vinegar changes the composition of the substance, chemical change through fermentation over wood in time, same with the OH with ethanol not being intoxicating. But rennet from pig is an additive, and you cant intentionally add a teaspoon to 19L of water, once its manufactured it might not be significant, but its still necessary for the final product. Why cant u do with an alternative and use bacterial culture. Same applies to cooking with sherry, most might burn away, and its cooking alcohol which is slightly different, but its still has intoxicating effects with similar properties, eventually leading to using beer instead. I cook, i know how it adds to the food, thats why they use it, same reason why they use rennet, but why use it when u have an alternative? Why not avoid what is bad to safeguard yourself? And bringing the issue of living in the west and having haraam all around you is weak, that gives more reason to stay firm. I use to open windows in the winter because my roomates would cook bacon, true im not consuming it and its a little portion of the total air i breathe but its there and i am willing to suffer a little in the cold to avoid what is disliked by the Prophet (peace be upon him). When water reaches two quallas, the impurity of the lake is negligble refers to a logical reasoning, then reason with me. Dont u still prefer taking a shower before and after swimming in a pool? The najis is usually accidental, not imposed as in the case of rennet. It all comes down to taqwa.

  112. Avatar

    Omar AbdulKayyum Garcia

    July 15, 2007 at 10:00 AM

    From my limited understanding of Fiqh, if it derived from a pure sustance then became impure then later transformed to pure then the final product is pure. as in the case of alcohol which its origin is fruit. However if the original product is impure then transform to impure its later product its impure. as in the case of Pork related products.
    Why is pork used in the first place?
    its even haram to touch it.

    So if we wanted to make halal pork rennet, first we must hire a kafr to slaughter the animal and make the porcine rennet then make it go through the chemical transformation or add a small amount to our halal product, (make sure is an insignificant amount) so that we may consume it. (being that were are not supppost to buy and sell such haram produt, the Kafr who provided us with the insignificant amount of the rennet, in going to have to go unpayed, poor Kafr)

    Please escuse the sarcasume, just trying to make a point.
    note: this comment is only a personal view, it must not necceraly be taken as a fatwa.

  113. Avatar


    July 15, 2007 at 11:08 AM


    The amount of energy people are expending over whether Doritos are halal or not could probably be used to liberate Jerusalem from the Zalimoon many times over.

    If you want to follow this fatwa, alhumdulillah, if you don’t want to, alhumdulillah.

    The Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) respected ikhtilaaf on matters, why can’t we?

    Everyone just back off and breath and make wudhu and pray two nawafil and ask yourself whether this is that great of an issue to bicker about.


  114. Avatar


    July 15, 2007 at 4:48 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I would like to address a few arguments people make:

    1. “Since this issue is so trivial, it’s not worth talking about.”
    2. “I know people that eat dhabiha but commit other sins.”
    3. “This is not a doubtful matter.”

    1. Like I said before, this is a trivial issue that has big implications. Because I personally know people that chase lax opinions and become lax Muslims. First it’s Doritos, then non-dhabiha meat, and then music, etc. Plus, even though you might consider what you eat to be something trivial it is something you do EVERYDAY and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about the dua of someone who eats something haram, “so how can he be answered?” [Muslim]

    I am not trying to make things difficult on people as some people suggest. If I was, I would say chips or cheese are forbidden entirely. All I am saying is it is better to stay away from these couple of bags of chips! It is just a couple of bags and you are the one’s making a big deal because it’s your *favorite* one.

    2. This is irrelevant because rulings are independent of the actions of people.

    3. Allah did not order us to eat cheese but He did order us to avoid pig. According to this fact, it our responsibility to AVOID pig as the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) commanded us to. Remember the hadith says about the forbidden things “avoid them” not avoid them as much as you can.

    Doubtful matters and fiqh are 2 completely separate issues. Fiqh has 5 categories (obligatory, recommended, halal, disliked, and forbidden). There is no doubtful category. Doubtful matters is related to faith and not fiqh. A sheikh can make a ruling on something and say it is halal and it can still be doubtful.

    Remember, the very fact that there is difference on an issue can make it doubtful. When people say “sheikh Yasir proved it” this is incorrect because he states himself that it is his humble opinion. With all due respect to sheikh Yasir, him having an opinion on the issue does not remove it from being doubtful.

    So all I am saying in conclusion is what I have been trying to say since the beginning: This is a doubtful matter. Whoever stays away from it will get rewarded and “keep his religion and honor innocent”. You will not get rewarded for eating Doritos.

    The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

    “Truly, what is lawful is evident, and what is unlawful is evident, and in between the two are matters which are doubtful which many people do not know. He who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and honor blameless, and he who indulges in doubtful things indulges in fact in unlawful things, just as a shepherd who pastures his flock round a preserve will soon pasture them in it. Beware, every king has a preserve, and the things Allah has declared unlawful are His preserves. Beware, in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.”

    Wa Allahu ‘alam

  115. Avatar


    July 15, 2007 at 4:58 PM

    This is a very well written article and clarifies the matter.

    Thank you for all your hard work and research

  116. Avatar


    July 15, 2007 at 8:20 PM

    assalaamu alaikum Brothers and Sisters and Shaykh Yaser Qadhi,

    Jazakum Allahu Khairan, that was beautiful mashaAllah… and of course, very informative.

    fi aman Allah,
    amat Al-Adl

  117. Avatar

    Karam Kim

    July 15, 2007 at 10:38 PM

    Mr. Abdullaah. I don’t know who you are. But I can guess you are very decent, noble Muslim. Really, I respect you. How can I get in touch with you? My email is

    Anyway, let me share with all of you my personal feeling. This is my first time to visit this kind of website. As a seeker of knowledge, my final conclusion now is that I’m NOT going to visit this website again for the protection of my faith…

    I spent too much time reading the article and following responses. It’s more than 3 hours. 3 hour is long. For 3 hours, I could enjoy reading authentic articles written by for example, Sheikh An-Nawawi, Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah, Sheikh Ibn Baaz, etc.(Rahimahumullaah) It’d add up my level of knowledge and Imaan.

    But what did I get from reading this article and all the responses? Nothing but a little new knowledge, and bitter feeling that even a popular, respectable seeker of knowledge like Yasir Qadhi can be a source of debate.

    Actually after all of this, my Imaan has been decreased because of my unnecessary doubt of the authenticity of the author.

    I should stick to studying Islaam and performing acts of worship. To dive into the debate is not very healthy in seeker of knowledge point of view.

    And my respectable sheikh, Yasir Qadhi.
    Your article, which “represents only the opinion of its author” is not just a opinion anymore. Your opinion is actually FATWAH to most of them. Please take this into consideration before your writing.
    In my humble opinion, it’s better if your article focuses on less controversial issue.

    May Allaah forgive our sin and make us pure as we were born. Aameen.

  118. Avatar

    Bint Bashir

    July 16, 2007 at 9:28 AM

    Brothers and Sisters

    Both sides of the argument are very clear here and the evidence has been presented for you to make a choice; if you want to eat doritos or not, i dont think this should be made personal amongst us.

    Each individual is entitled to their own opinion and will be answerable for such. This article is not about Fatwa shopping, it is an expression of an opinion if you do not agree then simply do not eat the cheesy doritos…. The BBQ ones are just as tasty :)

    And if you feel that opinion is fine then cheesy flavour it is.

    And Allah knows best

  119. Avatar

    Abu Ahmad

    July 16, 2007 at 3:10 PM

    As-salamu alikum,
    I wanted to know if you can give a small explanation about the permissibillity of using vinegar. I know this kind of ties into the cheese issue as it deals with some istihala. I also wanted to know if it is permissible to use balsamic vinegar. Jazakum Allahu Khiran.

  120. Avatar

    Umar Mirza

    July 16, 2007 at 3:12 PM


    I am rather disturbed by what was written in the article. This is the matter of najasat. The inner lining of the animal’s stomach that was extracted for its enzymes! Come on, How do people not see that the animal was not slaughtered according to shariah. Do you all really think that the Frito Lays follows shariah law? The point that was made comparing water was a great one but unfortunately Br. Yasser didn’t understand its premise and decided to use it to reinforce a shaky article. To make the assumption you can eat Doritos after reading this article is wrong. Not only will Br. Yasser have to answer for his actions but so will you all. If you do decide to eat this form of chips then please do it based on what your own opinion is and not because you think br. Yasser has said its ok too. Please do not condemn him. At the time of Qayamt god will ask you why did you eat haram? What will you say? Brother Yassers told us too! Also in the article under “Statements from the Classical Scholars” was unfortunately the worst thing I have ever heard. To think that the leaders of our religion would say such ignorant things as “Both ‘Umar b. al-Khattāb and his son ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Umar allowed the eating of cheese, without regards to their origin. ‘Umar is reported to have said, when asked about it, “Eat, for it is only milk or whey,” (Musannaf of ‘Abd al-Razzāq, 8787), and his son said, “Nothing comes to us from Iraq that is more beloved to me than cheese!” (ibid., # 8790). A son of ‘Alī b. Abī Tālib, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyyah, said, “Eat cheese regardless of its source” (ibid., # 8793).” Wow what a statement. Eat cheese regardless of its source! The leader at the time of our religion said to eat something regardless of its origin. Are you kidding me! How does the leader of the faithful say such a blasphemes comment. This is why you should follow the teachings of the holly prophet (PBUH) & his family.

    The messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said: “I am leaving for you two precious and weighty Symbols that if you adhere to BOTH of them you shall not go astray after me. They are, the Book of Allah, and my progeny, that is my Ahlul-Bayt. The Merciful has informed me that These two shall not separate from each other till they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise).”

    • Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, pp 662-663,328, report of 30+ companions, with reference to several chains of transmitters.
    • al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, Chapter of “Understanding (the virtues) of Companions, v3, pp 109,110,148,533 who wrote this tradition is authentic (Sahih) based on the criteria of the two Shaikhs (al-Bukhari and Muslim).
    • Sunan, by Daarami, v2, p432
    • Musnad, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v3, pp 14,17,26,59, v4, pp 366,370-372, v5, pp 182,189,350,366,419
    • Fadha’il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p585, Tradition #990
    • al-Khasa’is, by al-Nisa’i, pp 21,30
    • al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar Haythami, Ch. 11, section 1, p230
    • al-Kabir, by al-Tabarani, v3, pp 62-63,137
    • Kanz al-Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Chapter al-Iti’sam bi Habl Allah, v1, p44.
    • Tafsir Ibn Kathir (complete version), v4, p113, under commentary of verse 42:23 of Quran (four traditions)
    • al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, by Ibn Sa’d, v2, p194, Pub. by Dar Isadder, Lebanon.
    • al-Jami’ al-Saghir, by al-Suyuti, v1, p353, and also in v2
    • Majma’ al-Zawa’id, al-Haythami, v9, p163
    • al-Fateh al-Kabir, al-Binhani, v1, p451
    • Usdul Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al-Sahaba, Ibn al-Athir, v2, p12
    • Jami’ al-Usul, Ibn al-Athir, v1, p187
    • History of Ibn Asakir, v5, p436
    • al-Taj al-Jami’ Lil Usul, v3, p308
    • al-Durr al-Manthoor, al-Hafidh al-Suyuti, v2, p60
    • Yanabi al-Mawaddah, al-Qundoozi al-Hanafi, pp 38,183
    • Abaqat al-Anwar, v1, p16
    My brothers and sisters please use common logic it doesn’t take a doctor, scientist specialist to tell you if you should eat something or not. Think about the basic fundamentals of Islam, think about what makes things pure and impure and when you are stuck then look towards the Quran and the teachings of the prophet and the examples of the truest for set by his Ahlul Bayt.


  121. Amad


    July 16, 2007 at 3:55 PM

    Wow Umar, you are worried about cheese, when you should be really worried about the Shia’s disrespect and hatred of the sahabah!

    So, I would rather eat a million doubtful doritos than to be doubtful about the Prophet’s most beloved wife, Aisha (RD) or his most beloved man, Aisha (RD)’s father Abu Bakr. Or the second most beloved man, Umar (RD) or the third most beloved man, Uthman (RD), followed in 4th position by Ali (RD).

    The najasat of the Shia thought with regards to the Sahaba far exceeds any najasat that may be present on some chips. Talk about misplaced priorities!

    Finally, please don’t quote selective Sunni sources out of context when you otherwise deny their their veracity. That is called dishonesty…

  122. Avatar

    Umar Mirza

    July 16, 2007 at 4:23 PM

    Brother I think you misunderstood my point. I am not sure what you mean by shia thought nor did I imply that. I am talking about common knowledge. What are you so angry about. This is not a shia sunni sahaba debate. USE UR COMMON SENSE for once and forget what a shia is what a sunni is what a whabi is. Everyone will go before god it will not matter what you are. You will answer to him. My point is that those transaltions can be wrong. How can our leader say oh dont worry just eat it you dont need to know where it came from. Also i didnt quote selective sunni sources these are our books that we look to for transaltions on matters. It wasnt just one book it was many. If you like i can find you more books. The ironic thing is not one of those books were written by shias. We need to stop hating them. They are not the problem. Ignorance is the problem. Hatred for what we dont completly understand is the problem. We are not the only sect in Islam we are taught to learn and understand before we judge. Dont look at the comments of a few ignorant shias that might have said things about companions. Look at the grass roots of what a shia is. No one in this forum has made a comment based on shia perspective so dont make this a battle of sects. If you would like more information on other sects i can provide you with it. I can provide you with proof of shias in the Quran, i can provide you with literature from shias, sunnis, whabis, ismalis, Ahmadis etc. It is wise to learn all in order to understand the truth.

  123. Avatar


    July 16, 2007 at 4:38 PM

    Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyyah (son of Ali) is Ahlul Bayt as well.

  124. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 16, 2007 at 10:55 PM

    Salaam Alaikum

    It is really amazing reading some of these comments – I agree with Br. JinnZaman’s statements. It’s just an opinion (again, I’m only propagating a fatwa from higher authorities that I agree with, I’m not the ‘source’ of this fatwa), if you want to follow it fine, if not that’s fine as well. But to think this will lead you to greater sins is rather ridiculous…

    In any case, just to respond to some of the more academic issues:

    – No, this ruling (of istihlak) does not just apply to water used for wudhu. Rather it applies to all liquids. Gases are not considered najas, and solids do not diffuse najas, so if any najas falls on a solid it can be removed and wiped/washed away. This ruling only applies to liquids, and not just water. Read the quote of Ibn Taymiyyah again, as just one example.

    – I have not researched gelatin from a chemical perspective. However, I follow the Hanafi position on istihlal, hence if it is confirmed that a chemical change occurs I would consider it permissible. As I pointed out earlier from my own limited research I am getting contradictory responses regarding gelatin. Hence, for now I avoid it.

    – This opinion does NOT imply that we should abandon trying to change Frito Lay’s policy of using porcine rennet. I am only stating that the product, as is, is permissible to consume. However, if we can pressure them into using bovine or bacterial rennet, no doubt that would be better; my only point is that the produce as it is is permissible to consume.

    – This issue might be a ‘doubtful’ matter to some people. For them, if they wish to avoid it, I am hopeful that Allah will reward them. But remember that the hadeeth itself says that ‘…many people do not know it’ (i.e., many people do not know the rulings on each and every ‘doubtful’ matter). This implies some people – the scholars – are indeed aware of the rulings on these matters. Hence, for a scholar to conclude that this item is permissible would then imply that for him (and those who follow him) the matter is not doubtful anymore!

    Lastly, I reiterate, this is just an opinion. There’s no need to get so emotional or accuse others of anything – if you agree with it alhamdulillah, and if you don’t alhamdulillah!

    And for the record I’m not that big of a fan of Doritos myself – I can’t even remember the last time I bought a packet!


  125. Avatar

    Muhammad Farooq

    July 17, 2007 at 11:00 AM

    As Salaam O Alaikum wrt wbkt,
    Dear Respected Br. Qadi,

    It looks like you are trying to drive our youth in the direction where they want to go, instead of protecting them from the mashbooh things, correct me if I am wrong that the Hadith about Halal and Haram –there are few things which are halal and few things are haram and few things in-between- so if muslim(s) will back off from those (in-between) things they will protect their Iman.

    Jazakallah Khair
    Was Salaam

  126. Amad


    July 17, 2007 at 12:24 PM

    ASA, ok, please read this CAREFULLY before placing any more comments.

    If your comment relates to something already discussed or answered, is just an opinion or “I believe” or “I think” OR it relates to “its doubtful so we should stay away from it”, then we have already covered it and it does not add any more value to this topic. So, comments similar to the last comment from Brother Muhammad, with all due respect, would be moderated in the future.

    We should also make an effort to learn the etiquettes of questioning a person of knowledge. If we do not agree with an opinion, the last thing we should do is to question the aalim/talib-ul-ilm’s sincerity or intentions.

    If we don’t like an opinion, as Br. Jinnzaman said, then we are not being forced to follow it. To say things like “we want to drive youth in the direction they want to go” as if chips is the biggest “haram” for our youth to be worried about, is not only inaccurate but insulting (because it questions the very motive of the author).

    So, if you would like to talk FIQH, then bring forth something that is FIQH, AND that is not been already addressed. If you would like to tell us about what you “THINK” or “BELIEVE”, then I am sure you’ll have plenty of people who will listen to you (just not here). And without evidence, our opinions in matters of deen amount to nothing.

    Finally, our scholars, students of knowledge are more important than the world’s supply of doritos combined :) So be CAREFUL about what you say!

  127. Avatar


    July 17, 2007 at 2:15 PM

    salaams all,

    The point of the post and ensuing discussion was to inform and research the permissibility of certain foods, but judging from the way the discussion deteriorated, it seems that maybe we need some posts and discussion on respect (adab). I say this while being in complete agreement that evidence (Daleel) can and should be either presented or demanded and disagreement (Ikhtilaaf) or a difference of opinion is definitely valid. Nevertheless, respecting and honoring the individuals amongst us who dedicate themselves to the pursuit and propagation of knowledge is a necessary quality and from the teachings of our Deen.
    This reminder (naseehah) is first and foremost for myself and then anyone who wishes to heed.

    Jazakumullahu khairan.

  128. Avatar


    July 17, 2007 at 4:47 PM

    subhan Allah, i’m amazed and very upset at the lack of adaab shown by some people here. its a fiqhy matter, differences of opinion in fiqh have existed since the times of the sahaba!

    to paint a man of knowledge (and his students know his knowledge, wAlhamdulillah) as having some sort of hidden agenda when writing about cheese is blasphemous. may Allah guide us all.

  129. Avatar

    Ardit Kraja

    July 18, 2007 at 2:35 AM


    Dear bro Yassir

    I see you have a lot of knowledge about islam. I had a discussion the other day with some people that say that there no ijma about the autenticity of sahihejn, sahih Bukhari dhe Sahih Muslim. Can you discussed in a detailed manner? I know the opinion of Ibn Hajer but i wanted some detail in the matter.


    p/s i read the comments made about this article. Pretty disturbing…one fiqh issue is made a matter of aqidah!!!?

  130. Avatar


    July 18, 2007 at 2:59 AM

    Assalaamualaikum Shaykh,
    JazakAllah khair for this article.
    Someone mentioned above that skittles and starburst and what not are made from beef gelatin. Is beef gelatin permissable though?
    Does it depend on what opinion you follow in terms of eating the meat of ahle kitaab?

  131. Avatar


    July 18, 2007 at 10:21 AM

    I am glad you took your time out to clarify that issue. I have a question though: Are “Rice Crispy Treats” that contain marshmellows and “gelatin” haram?… I had problems in high school with that issue. Are Marshmallows haram?

  132. Avatar

    Mohammed Ishaq

    July 18, 2007 at 10:54 AM

    Dear Brothers and Sister in Islam,
    As Salaamualaikum wrhamtullahi wabarkatuhu,

    I agree with Brother Muhammad, and want to know why other people are so concern about his statement, he quoted a Hadith only.

    We know you said if you want to beleive it’s fine other wise it’s okay…but in Islam you have to follow the rules of Prophet (Sallaho-Alihe Wasalaam) and there is noway we can say if you want to follow it’s okay or if you don’t it’s okay too, there is no dual path in Islam. If you please provide the reference, from Quran-O-Sunnah and not from the other Sheikh’s or Madhab’s opinion, with my little understanding (Alhmadulillah) I know what Sheikh Baz rahumullah and Sheikh Al-baany rahumullah said about this Fiqh or thoughts. Please clarify. For all who cares! We all are students here and want to learn about Islam, and there is no one in the world except RASOOL or Prophet who were Masoom or error free. I apologize for being harsh in statement but walahi I respect Sheikh and his thought.

    Jazakallah Khair`

  133. ibnabeeomar


    July 18, 2007 at 11:56 PM

    br. mohammad ishaq,

    [quote]but in Islam you have to follow the rules of Prophet (Sallaho-Alihe Wasalaam) and there is noway we can say if you want to follow it’s okay or if you don’t it’s okay too, there is no dual path in Islam. If you please provide the reference, from Quran-O-Sunnah and not from the other Sheikh’s or Madhab’s opinion, with my little understanding (Alhmadulillah) I know what Sheikh Baz rahumullah and Sheikh Al-baany rahumullah said about this Fiqh or thoughts.[/quote]

    shaykh yasir has presented a researched opinion propagated by the scholars based upon evidences from the quran and sunnah.

    i don’t think there is a hadith that says “nacho doritos are halal” or “do not go near the nacho cheese doritos” (if you find such a narration please let us know), so with that being the case, scholars – such as shaykh bin baz and al-albaanee (al-baany is not a scholar but rather the capital of the state of new york) must interpret the texts and apply them to current situations.

    there may not be a ‘dual path’ but there is room for ijtihaad on issues, and scholarly differing amongst opinions, especially fiqh.

    i will give you an example – the hadith of when the prophet (saw) told the sahabah not to pray asr until reaching banu quraydah, some took this literally and prayed asr after its time when they arrived, and some took it to mean that they needed to hurry but still stopped and prayed. while its true one opinion may technically be the correct one and the other wrong, the prophet (saw) rebuked neither of the 2 opinions. he also said that when the scholar gives a ruling he gets 2 rewards, and if wrong he gets 1.

    the tone of the comments on this post has saddened me quite a bit, if we can’t differ with adab on an issue of fiqh about cheetos and doritos, how do we expect as an ummah to surmount bigger challenges facing us?

    whoever said that this is pushing the youth down the wrong path etc etc .. is that for real?? or some kind of joke??

    we need to realize things aren’t black and white, and our opinion is not always right, and maybe down the road our own opinions will change.

  134. Avatar


    July 19, 2007 at 4:27 PM

    ya rab wahid al ummah al islameyyah

    subhan allah, we need to come together as muslims. because if we are going to argue and hate people because of a minor opinion then we are not going to get anywhere with the kafirs. brother is right, we are not supposd to be arguing about it, if you like it, take it; if u don’t, don’t. just dont make a big deal of it.


  135. Avatar


    July 19, 2007 at 5:58 PM

    (al-Sunan of Abū Dawūd, ‘The Chapter of Foods’, # 3819)

    According to the searches I did, The ‘9’ should be a ‘0’, simple typo.

    Book 27, Number 3810:

    Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar:

    The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) was brought a piece of cheese in Tabuk. He called for a knife, mentioned Allah’s name and cut it.

  136. Avatar


    July 20, 2007 at 12:24 AM

    “The next issue is really the crux of the matter. It concerns the quantity and residuum of an impure substance when mixed with a pure one. Now, there is pretty much unanimous agreement amongst the scholars that an extremely minute quantity of an impure substance, when added to a large quantity of a pure one, will not make the final substance impure. For example, if a glass of urine is thrown into an average-size lake, no scholar would consider the entire lake to be impure. Although the overall principle is a matter of agreement, there is no clear consensus on exactly how much impurity would affect a pure substance. So the real issue here is how to define what constitutes a miniscule quantity versus what would constitute a significant quantity. But the basic point is agreed upon: if an extremely minute quantity of an impurity is totally dissolved in a much larger quantity of a pure substance, such that the impurity does not leave any discernable presence (this is called istihlāk), the resultant substance will still be pure.”

    I don’t understand this. Isn’t there a hadith that says that whatever is prohibited in large amounts in also prohibited in small amount?

    Please clarify.
    Jazakallah Khair

  137. Amad


    July 20, 2007 at 9:26 AM

    Isn’t there a hadith that says that whatever is prohibited in large amounts in also prohibited in small amount?

    I believe you are referring to the hadith where the Prophet (S) talked about Khamr (alcohol): “Of that which intoxicates in a large amount, a small amount is haram” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

    First of all, this is different from the issue at hand, since it is talking about alcohol, not cheese.

    Secondly, what you implied is a misunderstanding of the hadith. Below is part of an answer from Ibn Uthaymeen. The crux of the matter is that even if there is a small percent of alcohol in a drink, but you could never get intoxicated even if you drank huge quantities of that drink, then it does not become haram. As I mentioned, apparently coke/pepsi may have trace amounts of alcohol as well. This concentration is so low that the body metabolizes the alcohol faster than it is consumed, meaning that it can have no intoxicating effect. I don’t know that exact percent, perhaps someone can comment on that (I remember a # like 0.1% or something). Also see this answer from Islamtoday. So, again, large dilutions change the conclusion of haram/halal in this issue.

    Some people think that the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, a little of it is haraam”, mean that if a small percentage of an intoxicant is mixed with a large amount of a substance that is not intoxicating, then it is haraam. This is a misunderstanding of the hadeeth. “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, a little of it is haraam” means that if a lot of something will cause intoxication, and a little of it will not cause intoxication, then a lot or a little are both haraam, because you may drink a little that does not cause intoxication, then you may be tempted to drink more and become intoxicated. But if something is mixed with alcohol but the alcohol is a small amount and does not have any effect, then it is halaal and does not come under the ruling of this hadeeth. Al-Baab al-Maftooh, 3/381-382.

  138. Avatar


    July 20, 2007 at 4:52 PM

    if we are going to argue and hate people because of a minor opinion then we are not going to get anywhere with the kafirs.

    I will say that I found this argument offensive three different ways:

    1) It implies a scholarly argument must involve hatred.

    2) In an argument about how to best follow the will of G-d, the comment drops all pretense of holiness and resorts to

    3) a naked appeal to religious chauvinism.

    The irony of abdelrahman’s comment is that it was the only one in this thread that made me feel revulsion. Yet invoking this argument may have been what saved a National Geographic journalist from being murdered by Osama Bin Laden in 1989.

    Is this what Islam is supposed to be about, cynically invoking Allah to gain power and dominion? What else am I supposed to see in abdelrahman’s comment?

  139. Avatar


    July 20, 2007 at 5:05 PM

    Solomon2, you can see his comments “going to get anywhere with the kafirs” as I saw it, which means to invite them with good manners and etiquettes to religion of Islam, and explain its fundamentals. Unless that itself is offensive, to be called to accept other religion.

  140. Avatar


    July 20, 2007 at 5:24 PM

    Hassan, I did not interpret the comment that way, but instead as an appeal to submerge differences and forget about the will of G-d until the “kafirs” had been dealt with. I still think that is the most sensible interpretation. Why would the discussion in this thread prevent “invitations”?

  141. Avatar


    July 20, 2007 at 5:41 PM

    I could be wrong, but thats how I understood it. and still do so. Hopefully the person who wrote that comment can clarify it.

  142. Amad


    July 21, 2007 at 12:26 AM

    I have to say that I did not find Abdelrahman’s particular comment pleasant either. It does seem to smack of some of what Solomon alluded to, even if the brother did not intend it that way. We have to be particularly careful about using terminology in an open discussion that may have some offensive “baggage”.

    Let’s turn this around for argument’s sake and assume that someone on a right-wing Christian site says this, “if we are going to argue and hate people [among us Christians] because of a minor opinion then we are not going to get anywhere with the Muslim unbelievers”… I don’t think as Muslims, we would particularly appreciate this statement. If so, we should not indulge in the same thing for others.

  143. Avatar


    July 22, 2007 at 8:47 PM

    i think the differences in opinions in Islam are a blessing.

    Therefore, if you are convinced by the article and reasoning, chomp away. Nacho Cheese, Cooler Ranch….pick your poison.

    On the other hand, if you are not convinced, or if you still consider it doubtful, slice your own potatoes and fry ’em yourself. Or go to whole foods and buy a bag for $8.50. Or better yet, eat carrots smothered in skippy peanut butter.

    I think one of the traditions we have lost, is disagreeing with one another respectfully and without getting emotional. I think every opinion above has merit from the perspective it is given. Again, disagreement in these matters is a MERCY from Allah (SWT) designed to make things easier for all of us.

    Pass the chips.

  144. Avatar


    July 22, 2007 at 8:51 PM

    my bad, ibnabeeomar made my exact point , much more elegantly, which i didn’t read until after my post.

    i was craving cooler ranch after all that reading and jumped the gun a bit.

  145. Pingback: Are Dorritos Halal? Yasir Qadhi explains .. - LI Islamic Forum

  146. Amad


    July 24, 2007 at 9:19 AM

    On Comment Deletions: Please READ BEFORE posting anything on this thread

    A few comments have been deleted on this thread for the following reasons:

    The comments make it obvious that the commentators have either not read the entire post or have not read the comments.

    1) Yes, we KNOW that Frito Lays may use enzymes from a pork source. That is the WHOLE point of the post, otherwise why even study the issue? In fact, I called Frito to confirm the same, so mentioning your call/confirmation is redundant and moot.

    2) Repeating the “Leave the doubtful” mantra: Again, this has been ALREADY addressed. No one is forcing you or anyone else to eat the chips. The fiqh addressed in the article is trying to remove the doubt, so if it doesn’t do the job for you, don’t eat it! But, please do not patronize others.

    Bottom-line: we will continue to remove the comments along these lines, not because we don’t like you or we think you are not being sincere… but because it does not add anything to the discussion here. If it has been already said, your repeating it won’t change anything.

    jazakumAllahkhair. Wasalam.

  147. Avatar


    July 24, 2007 at 10:18 AM

    Wow, I didn’t realize there are rules to posting here. yes, I read the article, however, I disagree with it and thought this was a place to voice my opinion in that regard. I thought that an INDIVIDUAL could post HIS/HER OWN opinion as if this were an open forum. I didn’t realize that the opinion had to contain certain favorable or supportive language. I don’t know how someone adding that they crave Cool Ranch Doritos adds anything to the discussion either, but it is clear that you all were looking for people who agreed with you and your position. May Allah forgive you for your rudeness–yes your posting was rude. I guess there is no marketplace of ideas in the Islamic community. I’ll make sure never to post here again and make sure that everyone in the community where I live knows that there is an agenda to your website that is no longer hidden. This site is not for free thinking individuals. I’m sure you’ll be delighted in knowing that I’m taking my opinions elsewhere.

  148. Avatar

    Ahmad AlFarsi

    July 24, 2007 at 10:51 AM

    Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah AF,

    I don’t think any MuslimMatters member said that anyone HAS to (even in the slightest) agree with the article!

    The only thing anyone was asking was for people to display the proper ADAB when posting… of course you can disagree, but you must do so with the proper etiquette.

    If you mean to say that this website has a hidden agenda of promoting good manners towards students of knowledge, in particular, and towards our brothers and sisters, in general, well, that agenda is not hidden… we are pretty open about that. Furthermore, it should be perfectly understandable that, in an intellectual discussion, once a point has been made, there is no purpose in simply repeating the point over and over again… in order to contribute to the discussion, before making a point, one should scan over the previous comments to make sure that he is not simply repeating what has already been said.

    Moreover, the fact that this post now has 143 comments indeed testifies to the fact that several people have been given an opportunity to voice their own individual opinions regarding this matter.


  149. ibnabeeomar


    July 24, 2007 at 11:15 AM

    AF you can voice your opinions but with proper manners. there’s no need for unnecessary sarcasm, especially if the point is redundant of other points made, or if your point is something that looks like it was posted without even reading the article.

    this is not a hidden agenda, but common etiquettese of discussion of ANY kind ANYWHERE.

    also jazakallahu khayr for the free publicity you are giving the site in your community :)

  150. Avatar


    July 24, 2007 at 12:03 PM

    Oh, don’t worry, there’s no sacrasm in that message whatsoever. I meant every word. My post (that were removed) were well thought out and voiced an opinion that, while disagreeing with the opinion held in the article, had a right to be posted along with the other commentators. Perhaps I should have said, YAY DORITOS, PASS ME SOME. It must be nice to pick and choose which opinions get put out into the atmosphere. My posts did not contain any vile, vulgar or cruel language. I simply disagreed with your speaker. But, I guess I’m not allowed to disagree. Yet, it’s the same argument Muslims make about the mainstream media–that our voices are not being heard because our opinions are not necessarily favorable, but critical of the majority. Must be nice for those who are so censored around the world to turn the tables on others and become the censorer. Take care.

    P.S. Your comment has been published just to prove the point. Your previous comments were not removed due to sarcasm or vulgarity, rather they were removed because they did not add anything to the topic. When you are at someone’s “house”, it is common courtesy to accept their “house-rules”. I stated the guidelines clearly for future comments. It is not a problem that you disagree, but if you want to add to the discussion, bring forth proofs/evidences, in other words bring forth some fiqh. Otherwise, what you said has already been said enough times. Wasalam, -Amad

  151. Avatar


    July 25, 2007 at 8:18 AM

    Oh, how nice of you to publish my comments. By the way, I’ve read plenty of comments in this thread and others that do not contain any Fiqh whatsoever. In fact, most of them do not–they are mere responses to the article. Just as mine was a mere response to the article. So, your sudden requirement that posting contains Fiqh is nothing more than a smoke screen But, if containing Fiqh is a requirement in your “house”, then you may go through and feel free to remove every posting in this thread that does not contain Fiqh. I was not speaking from Qu’ran or Hadith, or saying that “the Prophet (SAW) said this or that about what we should do”, so Fiqh was not required. I was speaking from my own experience and they way that I live my life. There are dietary laws/restrictions in Islam and each Muslim has a way of incorporating those restrictions into their life. Mine will not be the same as the person sitting next to me at Jumuah. Still, I was not trying to impose my own dietary habits upon your readers. But, for some reason my comments aroused something in your moderators, some offense. Nevertheless, if you have “house rules” make them applicable to everyone’s opinion, not just the one’s you like.

  152. Avatar


    July 25, 2007 at 11:22 AM

    It’s been over 2 weeks since the comments started. Since the discussion is now leading to more fitnah than productive discussion, why not close the discussion out? At some point every opinion and point of view will have been discussed and will lead to repetition and counterproductive arguments. I recommend the moderator sees when it’s best to cut his losses and close the blog (if that’s possible) and move on to another topic.

    It’s sad to see how ugly this discussion is getting…

  153. Avatar


    July 25, 2007 at 11:23 AM

    “Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest.”

    Bukhari + Muslim

  154. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 25, 2007 at 12:42 PM

    Salaam Alaikum

    Seeing how the comments degenerated is quite disheartening. I do believe these comments are symptomatic of a greater problem amongst the Ummah: the lack of proper etiquette in disagreeing with one another. Yes indeed, we do have far bigger problems than Cheese Doritos, and these comments are just one illustration of that!

    One last point before we close this post: there were many questions about meat and gelatin.

    With regards to the meat issue, insha Allah it is my intention to write a long article or series of articles on this topic. It is amazing that (as far as I know) no one has really produced an academic work on this topic despite its importance. To cut a long story short, based upon my research I consider it impermissible to eat meat that has not been ritually slaughtered (dhabh). And of the conditions of dhabh is to mention the name of Allah. Hence, the commonly available meat here would not be considered permissible (although kosher qualifies).

    With regards to gelatin, I have done some preliminary research. From what I have read, it appears that no significant chemical change occurs in the extraction process – and this is also the opinion of a number of experts in biochemistry whom I’ve asked (one of whom wrote a paper on this topic). Additionally, I contacted some companies and it appears that the quantity of gelatin in ‘average’ food items (such as desserts or sweets that use them) is not insignificant – sometimes close to ten percent. Hence, my initial response (barring some more chemical information regarding istihlal of gelatin) would be that food which is manufactured from gelatin that was derived from any animal source would not be permissible (unless we know for certain that the animal has been slaughtered properly).

    And Allah knows best.

    And with this we’ll close comments for this post.

    If you have anything of significance to add, you may e-mail the webmaster and it will be forwarded to me insha Allah.

    Jazak Allah to all those who sincerely participated in this discussion…

    Yasir Qadhi

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  166. Avatar


    March 3, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    i urge you to study all the ingredients that are in Doritos chips. You will think twice before you have Doritos again. These are the foods that are  being consumed on a daily basis and killing us in the long term.

  167. Avatar


    March 6, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Doritos, like many other things on grocery store shelves, aren’t even food. It’s food-like stuff. Unnatural and devoid of nutrition. Therefore, even if not strictly haram, should definitely should be avoided.

  168. Avatar

    Lynn Muhammad

    March 7, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Wow! I love cheese. I found this article was very informative. After reading it I was hungry, I just came from the refigerator and saw a package of cheese. And words like manufactured, chemical solvants, acid remnants, pig linnings (chitterlinks), impurities quickly came back to me. Allah gifted us with wonderful bodies/temples so His pure word could be poored in. I am going to think more about what I mix up with His pure word/truths from the Holy Quaun. Cheese and Dorito, uhm? I think that I will eat an orange.

  169. Avatar

    Ahmed Baseer

    March 8, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    the companies who manufacture Doritos, Cheetos, Skittles, baby formula Enfamil say they have pork/animal enzymes during the process.   i have no idea why a muslim would not avoid them?  i mean the company is telling you it uses it.   it seems shaikh knows more about the process than the company that manufactures it.

    • Avatar


      June 23, 2012 at 11:34 PM

      i think he’s saying even if it does contain porcine rennet, it does not matter on the basis of negligibility of amount. suggest you read the whole article, if you had opted to stop at the conclusion provided in paragraph 5.

  170. Avatar

    Lynn Muhammad

    March 8, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    As Salaam Alaikum, May peace be unto you! I am begining to say this to myself, more and more. It seems that I have forgotten the purpose of food, which is to nourish my body to keep it healthy. And I would add, in order to serve Allah and to be fit to be at His service. Eating pig/pork or its by products is not allowed for Muslims or anyone who wants to be healthy. Pork, Doritos, Cheetoes, Skittles, ciggaretts and most of all Enfamil are not health producing products. Really, what are we doing to ourselves? Most importantly why are we doing it? It would appear that we are submitting to an unhealthy ways of live? Who do we submit to, Allah the giver of life or the companies that lead us towards death? It is absolutly important that we follow the way of Islam, and all that is written, yet if it happens not to be written, it’s OK to follow common sense.

    In the article that Bro.Yasir wrote he talked about how his son was speaking about how Dooritos are HarA m. Out of the mouths’ of babes: I want to thank his son for sharing this. Our children are so precious, so much so that rather there is pork in the junk food or not, or in the Enfamil or not, we should not be feeding it to them because it’s ‘junk’ food. The Holy Quran say ‘Read, in the name of thy Lord’. So it is OK to read the lables on the bags or cans. And if what the lable’s ingredents say, is full of unhealthy stuff, we can choose not to eat it. Satan makes wrong so fair seeming. Just say, ‘No’, to the ‘Drug’ and Food Commissions sanctions of foods that are not good for our children and our selves. And say; As Salaam Alaikum to ourselves in our actions by eating healthy. I think this will help our community.


    PS- I still have not touched the cheese in the refrigrator, still thinking abou it.:) It’s Tillimuk, the package says that it does not contain any animal rennett. Are there any Hala places in Seattle that sale Hala cheese? This is going to be a trail for me. Oh, Please! not the cheese!

  171. Avatar


    March 15, 2012 at 2:29 AM

    I could think of it as being haram if it was an animal rights issue..  Animal linings being destroyed and what not..horrific.  But lets get serious here. ..God isn’t going to send you to hell for eating Doritos!

    God:  And that bag of Doritos…yes…Qasim, that is why you are going to hell…Doritos..!

    Qasim: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Doritos.


  172. Avatar


    March 15, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    So, does that mean all the desserts and food items that contains “alcohol” is halal too just because alcohol cooks out? and I am sorry to say you drink 1 sip of wine or a whole glass it’ll still be haraam and the same way if you eat one bite of NON zabiha halal meat or a whole plate of it, it’ll still be haraam.

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  176. Avatar


    March 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    This question has been debated by the past 1,400 years of Islamic scholars (who knew way more hadeeth and who understood the deen way more than anyone today) and Alhamdulilah, we don’t need modern scholars “reinterpreting” fiqh according to isolated, extreme-minority opinions. 
    We don’t even have all of the ahaadeeth available to us today. (We don’t even have 100,000 hadeeth.) It’s impossible to say that the rulings by the mujtahid imaams and their students were wrong. There are some rulings in each of the four madhaahib that we do not (with the current availability of hadeeth) have any evidence to; does this mean the rulings are wrong? No, it just means that the evidences once existed but we don’t have access to them today.
    Even the greatest scholars of the Ummah such as Imam Nawawi (RA) followed (did taqleed of) a single maddhab (the Shafi’i maddhab). Hafiz ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (RA), one of the greatest hadeeth scholars amongst the muta’akhkhireen (later generation) followed the Shafi’i maddhab. Ibn Rajab (RA) followed the Hanbali maddhab. Imam Suyuti (RA) followed the Shafi’i maddhab. Mulli Ali Qari (RA) followed the Hanafi maddhab. In short, the greatest scholars of the past 1,400 years followed a single maddhab.
    For comprehensive evidence and information about this topic, please refer to a book (available online for free) entitled The Legal Status of Following a Maddhab by Mufti Taqi Uthmaani.
    JazakAllahu khairan, and may Allah (SWT) guide us all and accept all of our good efforts, ameen.

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  178. Avatar


    April 26, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    Salamu alaikum, thank you so much brother Yasir for the wonderful expose on cheese and cheese making. I was recently in Norway and brought back with me my favorite
    brown cheese (brunost). This wasn’t the first time I ate this cheese but for some reason this time around I tried to check online if the cheese was permissible and to my confusion and worry I found in some writings about the rennet and how it works and about how the cow/goats weren’t slaughtered in halal way, etc. etc.
    Concerned I contacted the manufacturers of the cheese asking about what they put in their cheese. A lady returned to me and said animal rennet was indeed used and that the product was not halal certified. That decided for me and I quickly got rid of several bars of cheese that were lying in my fridge. Thought better safe than sorry. The only problem was that I already gifted a friend of mine with the same cheese earlier and I was worried. Should I tell or not? What if she already ate it? What if she still has some left in the fridge? Especially since I realized there was a divided opinion as to the permissibility of the rennet I thought well let her enjoy it. But I was still concerned thinking that perhaps I was sinning hiding a vital information? And was worried sick the last few days until Allah showed me your article this morning….and now I can relax back and not worry about my friend’s cheese consumption.
    JazaAkallahu khyran!

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  181. Avatar


    June 23, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    very informative, thank you. i have generally considered cheese as permissible, particularly when on business trips overseas where I cannot choose where to stay and halal restaurants are often far away – though would definitely prefer the vegetarian ones over the non-vegetarian ones if i could. this is even after i came to know that cheese is manufactured with rennet, because i figured when there’s no option, a little bit of rennet in cheese is better than non-halal meat, to get protein from. it’s useful to now know how much rennet we’re really talking about here – very very small indeed!

  182. Avatar


    June 29, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    salam’alaykum. I apologize that this comment comes only now as I just stumbled upon it. I would like to ask Ustadz Yasir about whey. Since whey is a by-product/waste from the manufacture of cheese, then based on the principles of istihala and istihlak, can it thus be concluded that whey is also halal regardless of whether the rennet used was from non-dzabihah or porcine origin? Jazakumullah khayran.

  183. Avatar


    June 30, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Salam’alaykum. Sorry this comes a little late. This question is posed to Ustadz Yasir. Since whey is a by-product/waste from the manufacture of cheese, could it thus be concluded also, by the principles of istihala and istihlak, that whey is permissible regardless of whether the rennet used was of non-dzabihah or porcine origin? Jazakumullah khayran.

  184. Avatar


    August 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    It sounds to me like the fatawa by Ibn Taymiya and Ibn Hazm regarding the whole “a small amount of impurity doesn’t make a large amount of pure substance impure” thing, were talking about when this happens by itself or maybe without knowing. Does it apply to when manufacturers intentionally add that impure substance systematically, and knowingly? Does that mean I can purposefully add a sip of wine to my 20 gallon (random number) reservoir of water without any consequences?

  185. Avatar


    August 31, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    you have way tooooo much time on your hand to write this long article, i want this info but next time try to make it short, especially for our younger readers- thanks

  186. Avatar

    Yasser Masood

    September 21, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    Salam, dear brothers, at what percentage would we say it’s haram, for instance we should refer to the Islamic concept of haram seeping through halal and finally overtaking it, e.g. how Prophet Nooh’s followers got misguided, there are other examples, e.g. the hadith on Shirk and the dark-brown ant, though these aren’t related to this food, the concept holds; no one has time to figure out what level of percentage is halal, is 0.03% okay at some point. I would leave this kind of food for the sake of classifying it as mutashabihaat, plus, what are Muslims doing in the West, how difficult is it to launch your own Halal brand of products and market it in such a rich market? InshAllah, and Allah Knows Best.

  187. Avatar


    July 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    I don’t agree with this guy. i think common sense is all you need to see through what is halal and what is haram. The example of vine itself proves him wrong. the origin of vine is from a halal food chemically changed into haram alcohol. alcohol is the only haram part including the rotting of fruit which give rise to germs even though they are killed by alcohol later. but the rennet from a pig or a dead animal has haram origin. these animals are infested with germs and worms and all the dirty things you can think of. no matter how you try, a building built on faulty foundation will never be safe.
    May Allah guide us all to the right path.

  188. Avatar


    August 19, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    What about whey? Because I saw the fatwa from AMJA that says “Whey is one of the constituents of milk, and it is halal to obtain it from animals whose meat it is permissible to eat.” How do we know the whey in Doritos and Cheetos are halal to eat? I saw it in the ingredients twice on both of them

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  190. Avatar


    December 14, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    I asked a question to this Islamic website ( that issues which foods are halal and which are not. Their site mentioned that cheese doritos are haram. So I sent them this article. Their reply is below:



    This is very old article may be 3-4 years and was published on some other website. Br. Yasir Qadhi is only Islamic scholar with chemical engineering and in opinion has no propre education in food science and never work in food industry so he does not how cheese and snack are made. I responded to his article bringing the requirements for Halal cheese.

    So please do not pay any attention this article.

    Why Cheetos and Doritos SNACKS are not Halal in Canada
    There is no kosher symbol on the package of Cheetos and Doritos. This makes them Non Halal because they can add any Haram Hidden or Processing aid ingredients without mentioning under the ingredients statement. Cheese used in Cheetos and Doritos are not Kosher certified and not Halal. Sine these products are not under Halal or Kosher certification then Frito Lay can use non kosher certified flavors or colors. There is no restriction for Frito Lay to make Cheetos or Doritos on their own lines or on co-packers line where pork containing products are made. This exposes a great possibility of cross contamination of pork containing ingredients.

    All these snacks are very attractive to adults and children but there is a Hadith which says that Allah will not accept your dua for 40 days if a Muslim eats intentionally a bit of Haram food. So MCG recommend Muslims not consume above snacks.


    The following things have to be Halal in order for a cheese to be considered Halal: 1. Ingredients used to make the Mother Starter Culture growth Media ((if whey used, it has to be made from non animal rennet, Lactose is also from non animal rennet, yeast extract has to be from baker’s yeast). 2. Ingredients used to make the Bulk Starter Culture growth Media ((if whey used, it has to be made from non animal rennet, Lactose is also from non animal rennet, yeast extract has to be from baker’s yeast). 3. Starter Bacterial culture are Halal if they obtained from milk source and not from meat source, usually in practice they obtained from milk. 4. Milk Coagulating Enzyme, such as Microbial rennet used to coagulate milk or Rennet obtained from Zabiha slaughtered calves 5. Fat Hydrolyzing Enzyme, such as Microbial Lipases 6. Dairy ingredients such as Non Fat dry milk solid or cream or dry milk added 7. Artificial color such as artificial blue or green color is added to neutralize natural yellow color in curd for Asiago or Blue cheese 8. Media to grow mold Penicillium roquefortti providing blue color in blue cheese 9. Harmless plant based enzyme is added for curing or flavor development and growth media for biological curing agent used on the surface of Brick cheese 10. Flavoring, hydrolyzed lactose, whey for cold packed cheese food, gelatin(if it is used then it is not Halal) is allowed in cream cheese but most manufacturer use gums instead of gelatin. 11. Cheese must be Kosher certified(if kosher certification meets Halal requirements) or the starter culture bacteria, rennet, media upon which the culture bacteria grows has to be kosher certified or use of microbial rennet or Lipase or whey is made from using culture bacteria obtained from milk source, microbial rennet or milk is used as a media.

    Visit us at: if you have any further questions or concerns.

  191. Avatar


    August 14, 2015 at 6:49 AM

    I have gained from this article. May Allah bless you. I was looking at the Doritos ingredient list and noticed whey in it. Is whey, made using any kind of rennet, halal?

  192. Avatar


    January 22, 2016 at 1:42 PM

    Jazakhallahu khairan sheikh. I benefited a lot from this article.

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  194. Avatar


    August 19, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    For those who would like to continue eating their doritos/cheetos, here’s a list of their products that do not contain porcine. It was last updated on July 19, 2016. Hope your favourites are on the list!

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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf And The Question of Rebellion In The Islamic Tradition

Sepoy rebellion, Shaykh Hamza
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In recent years, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a notable Islamic scholar from North America, has gained global prominence by supporting efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to deal with the fallout of the Arab revolutions. The UAE is a Middle Eastern autocracy that has been the chief strategist behind quelling the Arab revolutionary aspiration for accountable government in the region. Shaykh Hamza views himself as helping prevent the region from falling into chaos by supporting one of its influential autocratic states.

However, more recently, he has become embroiled in another controversy because of comments he made regarding the Syrian revolution in 2016 that surfaced online earlier this week and for which he has since apologised. I will not discuss these comments directly in this article, but the present piece does have a bearing on the issue of revolution as it addresses the question of how Islamic scholars have traditionally responded to tyranny.

Thus, in what follows, I somewhat narrowly focus on another recent recording of Shaykh Hamza that has been published by a third party in the past couple of weeks entitled: “Hamza Yusuf’s response to the criticism for working with Trump administration”. While it was published online at the end of August 2019, the short clip may, in fact, predate the Trump controversy, as it only addresses the more general charge that Shaykh Hamza is supportive of tyrannical governments.

Thus, despite its title, the primary focus of the recording is what the Islamic tradition purportedly says about the duty of Muslims to render virtually unconditional obedience to even the most tyrannical of rulers. In what follows, I argue that Shaykh Hamza’s contention that the Islamic tradition has uniformly called for rendering obedience to tyrannical rule—a contention that he has been repeating for many years—is inaccurate. Indeed, it is so demonstrably inaccurate that one wonders how a scholar as learned as Shaykh Hamza can portray it as the mainstream interpretation of the Islamic tradition rather than as representing a particularly selective reading of fourteen hundred years of scholarship. Rather than rest on this claim, I will attempt to demonstrate this in what follows. (Note: this article was sent to Shaykh Hamza for comment at the beginning of this month, but he has not replied in time for publication.)

Opposing all government vs opposing a government

Shaykh Hamza argues that “the Islamic tradition” demands that one render virtually absolute obedience to one’s rulers. He bases this assertion on a number of grounds, each of which I will address in turn. Firstly, he argues that Islam requires government, because the opposite of having a government would be a state of chaos. This is, however, to mischaracterise the arguments of the majority of mainstream scholars in Islamic history down to the present who, following explicit Qur’anic and Prophetic teachings, opposed supporting tyrannical rulers. None of these scholars ever advocated the removal of government altogether. They only opposed tyranny. For some reason that is difficult to account for, Shaykh Hamza does not, in addressing the arguments of his interlocutors, make the straightforward distinction between opposing tyranny, and opposing the existence of any government at all.

A complex tradition

Rather than support these tyrannical governments, the Islamic tradition provides a variety of responses to how one should oppose such governments, ranging from the more quietist—opposing them only in one’s heart—to the more activist—opposing them through armed rebellion. The majority of later scholars, including masters such as al-Ghazzali (d. 505/1111), Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795/1393), and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449) appear to have fallen somewhere between these two poles, advocating rebellion only in limited circumstances, and mostly advising a vocally critical posture towards tyranny. Of course, some early scholars, such as the sanctified member of the Prophetic Household, Sayyiduna Husayn (d. 61/680) had engaged in armed opposition to the tyranny of the Umayyads resulting in his martyrdom. Similarly, the Companion ‘Abdullah b. Zubayr (d. 73/692), grandson of Abu Bakr (d. 13/634), and son of al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam (d. 36/656), two of the Ten Companions Promised Paradise, had established a Caliphate based in Makkah that militarily tried to unseat the Umayyad Caliphal counter-claimant.

However, the model of outright military rebellion adopted by these illustrious scholars was generally relinquished in later centuries in favour of other forms of resisting tyranny. This notwithstanding, I will try to show that the principle of vocally resisting tyranny has always remained at the heart of the Islamic tradition contrary to the contentions of Shaykh Hamza. Indeed, I argue that the suggestion that Shaykh Hamza’s work with the UAE, an especially oppressive regime in the Arab world, is somehow backed by the Islamic tradition can only be read as a mischaracterisation of this tradition. He only explicitly cites two scholars from Islamic history to support his contention, namely Shaykhs Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899/1493) and Abu Bakr al-Turtushi (d. 520/1126), both of whom were notable Maliki scholars from the Islamic West. Two scholars of the same legal school, from roughly the same relatively peripheral geographic region, living roughly four hundred years apart, cannot fairly be used to represent the swathe of Islamic views to be found over fourteen hundred years in lands as far-flung as India to the east, Russia to the north, and southern Africa to the south.

What does the tradition actually say?

Let me briefly illustrate the diversity of opinion on this issue within the Islamic tradition by citing several more prominent and more influential figures from the same tradition alongside their very different stances on the issue of how one ought to respond to tyrannical rulers. Most of the Four Imams are in fact reported to have supported rebellion (khuruj) which is, by definition, armed. A good summary of their positions is found in the excellent study in Arabic by Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Dumayji, who is himself opposed to rebellion, but who notes that outright rebellion against tyrannical rule was in fact encouraged by Abu Hanifa (d. 150/767) and Malik (d. 179/795), and is narrated as one of the legal positions adopted by al-Shafi‘i (d. 204/820) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855). As these scholars’ legal ideas developed and matured into schools of thought, many later adherents also maintained similar positions to those attributed to the founders of these schools. To avoid suggesting that armed rebellion against tyrants was the dominant position of the later Islamic tradition, let me preface this section with a note from Holberg Prize-winning Islamic historian, Michael Cook, who notes in his magisterial study of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong that “in the face of the delinquency of the ruler, there is a clear mainstream position [in the Islamic tradition]: rebuke is endorsed while [armed] rebellion is rejected.”

But there were also clearly plenty of outliers, or more qualified endorsements of rebellion against tyrants, as well as the frequent disavowal of the obligation to render them any obedience. Thus for the Malikis, one can find Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi (d. 543/1148) who asserts that advocating rebellion against tyrants is the main position of the madhhab; similarly among later Hanafis, one finds Qadi Abu Bakr al-Jassas (d. 370/981); for the Hanbalis, one may cite the positions of the prolific scholars Imam Ibn ‘Aqil (d. 513/1119), Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201), and in a more qualified sense, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali. Among later Shafi‘is, I have found less explicit discussions of rebellion in my limited search, but a prominent Shafi‘i like the influential exegete and theologian al-Fakhr al-Razi (d. 606/1210) makes explicit, contrary to Shaykh Hamza’s claims, that not only is obeying rulers not an obligation, in fact “most of the time it is prohibited, since they command to nothing but tyranny.” This is similar in ways to the stance of other great Shafi‘is such as al-hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani who notes concerning tyrannical rulers (umara’ al-jawr) that the ulama state that “if it is possible to depose them without fitna and oppression, it is an obligation to do so. Otherwise, it is obligatory to be patient.” It is worth noting that the normative influence of such a statement cited by Ibn Hajar transcends the Shafi‘i school given that it is made in his influential commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari. Once again, contrary to the assertions of Shaykh Hamza, there is nothing to suggest that any of the illustrious scholars who supported rebellion against tyrannical rulers was advocating the anarchist removal of all government. Rather they were explicitly advocating the replacement of a tyrant with a just ruler where this was possible.

Al-Ghazzali on confronting tyrants

A final example may be taken from the writing of Imam al-Ghazzali, an exceptionally influential scholar in the Islamic tradition who Shaykh Hamza particularly admires. On al-Ghazzali, who is generally opposed to rebellion but not other forms of opposition to tyranny, I would like to once again cite the historian Michael Cook. In his previously cited work, after an extensive discussion of al-Ghazzali’s articulation of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong, Cook concludes (p. 456):

As we have seen, his views on this subject are marked by a certain flirtation with radicalism. In this Ghazzālī may have owed something to his teacher Juwaynī, and he may also have been reacting to the Ḥanafī chauvinism of the Seljūq rulers of his day. The duty, of course, extends to everyone, not just rulers and scholars. More remarkably, he is prepared to allow individual subjects to have recourse to weapons where necessary, and even to sanction the formation of armed bands to implement the duty without the permission of the ruler. And while there is no question of countenancing rebellion, Ghazzālī is no accommodationist: he displays great enthusiasm for men who take their lives in their hands and rebuke unjust rulers in harsh and uncompromising language.

Most of the material Cook bases his discussion upon is taken from al-Ghazzali’s magnum opus, The Revival of the Religious Sciences. Such works once again demonstrate that the Islamic tradition, or great Sufi masters and their masterworks, cannot be the basis for the supportive attitude towards tyrannical rule on the part of a minority of modern scholars.

Modern discontinuities and their high stakes

But modern times give rise to certain changes that also merit our attention. In modern times, new technologies of governance, such as democracy, have gone some way to dealing with challenges such as the management of the transition of power without social breakdown and the loss of life, as well as other forms of accountability that are not possible in absolute autocracies. For their part, absolute autocracies have had their tyrannical dimensions amplified with Orwellian technologies that invade private spaces and facilitate barbaric forms of torture and inhumane degradation on a scale that was likely unimaginable to premodern scholars. The stakes of a scholar’s decision of whether to support autocracy or democracy could not be higher.

Modern scholars like Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1345/1926), someone who Shaykh Hamza’s own mentor, Shaykh Abdullah b. Bayyah (b. 1353f./1935) considered a teacher until fairly recently, has advocated for an Islamic conception of democracy as a possible means to deal with the problem of tyranny that plagues much of the Muslim world. He is hardly the only scholar to do so. And in contrast with some of the scholars of the past who advocated armed rebellion in response to tyranny, most contemporary scholars supporting the Arab revolutions have argued for peaceful political change wherever possible. They have advocated for peaceful protest in opposition to tyranny. Where this devolved into violence in places like Libya, Syria, and Yemen, this was generally because of the disproportionately violent responses of regimes to peaceful protests.

Shaykh Hamza on the nature of government

For Shaykh Hamza, the fault here appears to lie with the peaceful protestors for provoking these governments to crush them. Such a conception of the dynamics of protest appears to assume that the autocratic governmental response to this is a natural law akin to cause and effect. The logic would seem to be: if one peacefully calls for reform and one is murdered in cold blood by a tyrannical government, then one has only oneself to blame. Governments, according to this viewpoint, have no choice but to be murderous and tyrannical. But in an age in which nearly half of the world’s governments are democracies, however flawed at times, why not aspire to greater accountability and less violent forms of governance than outright military dictatorship?

Rather than ask this question, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf appears to be willing to defend autocracy no matter what they do on the grounds that government, in principle, is what is at stake. Indeed, in defending government as necessary and a blessing, he rhetorically challenges his critics to “ask the people of Libya whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Yemen whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Syria whether government is a blessing?” The tragic irony of such statements is that these countries have, in part, been destroyed because of the interventions of a government, one for which Shaykh Hamza serves as an official, namely the UAE. This government has one of the most aggressive foreign policies in the region and has been instrumental in the failure of representative governments and the survival of tyrannical regimes throughout the Middle East.

Where do we go from here?

In summary, Shaykh Hamza’s critics are not concerned that he is “supporting governments,” rather they are concerned that for the last few years, he has found himself supporting bad government and effectively opposing the potential for good government in a region that is desperately in need of it. And while he may view himself as, in fact, supporting stability in the region by supporting the UAE, such a view is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the evidence. Given his working relationship with the UAE government, perhaps Shaykh Hamza could use his position to remind the UAE of the blessing of government in an effort to stop them from destroying the governments in the region through proxy wars that result in death on an epic scale. If he is unable to do this, then the most honourable thing to do under such circumstances would be to withdraw from such political affiliations and use all of his influence and abilities to call for genuine accountability in the region in the same way that he is currently using his influence and abilities to provide cover, even if unwittingly, for the UAE’s oppression.

And Allah knows best.

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Can Women Attend The Burial Of The Deceased?

A short survey on what leading scholars and the four schools of law (madhhabs) have to say on the issue

Quran at graveyard, woman attend burial
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A few weeks ago, my brother passed away, may Allah have mercy on his soul. By Allah’s grace, his funeral was well-attended by many friends, relatives, and students of his, including a number of women. In this context, someone asked me about the Sharia’s guidance regarding women attending the burial of the deceased, and in what follows I consider what leading scholars and the four schools of law (madhhabs) have to say on the issue. The short survey below is by no means exhaustive, something that will need to be left for a much longer piece, but I hope it can be considered representative for the purposes of a general readership. 

This is not a fatwa, but rather a brief outline of what past scholars have argued to be the case with some suggestions as to how this might be understood in modern times. Finally, I should note that this is a discussion about accompanying the deceased to their final resting place (ittiba‘/tashyi‘ al-jinaza) after the conducting of funeral prayers (salat al-janaza). Accompanying the deceased on the part of women is considered more contentious than simply attending the funeral prayer, so in general, jurists who permit such accompaniment would allow for attending the prayer, while jurists who do not permit accompaniment of the deceased may be more reluctant to permit prayer. Whatever the specific cases may be, I do not go into this discussion below.

Key positions and evidence

In brief, I have been able to discern three general positions regarding women accompanying the deceased until they are buried: 1. A clear majority of scholars indicate that women are permitted to attend the burial of the deceased, but it is generally discouraged (makruh). 2. Some scholars permitted elderly women’s attendance of the burial unconditionally. 3. Others prohibited all women’s attendance unconditionally.

Overall, it is clear that most schools have permitted women’s attendance of burial, with most of these scholars discouraging it for reasons we shall consider below. The notion that women should not attend the burial of the deceased will thus clearly be shown to be a minority position in the tradition, past and present. Being a minority position does not mean it cannot be practiced, as we will consider in due course. The evidence from the Sunnah is the main legal basis for the ruling, and I shall now consider the most authentic hadiths on the matter.

The general rule for legal commands is that they apply to both genders equally. Accordingly, in a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) strongly encouraged attending the burial of the deceased. That the ruling for women would be one of discouragement (karaha) rather than of encouragement (istihbab) would thus necessarily arise from countervailing evidence. This may be found in another hadith narrated by both of the earlier authorities. This short hadith is worth quoting in full: 

(‏متفق عليه‏) قالت أم عطية: نهينا عن اتباع الجنائز، ولم يعزم علينا

In translation, this reads: Umm ‘Atiyya said, “We were prohibited from following the funeral procession, but it was not insisted upon.”

Interpreting the evidence

The Sharia’s ruling on this matter hinges on how this hadith is understood. On this point, scholars of various schools have adopted a range of positions as outlined earlier. But on the specifics of how the wording of the hadith should be understood, it is worth considering the reading of one of the towering figures of hadith studies, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449). In his authoritative commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari entitled Fath al-Bari, he glosses the phrase in the aforementioned hadith “but it was not insisted upon” as meaning, “the prohibition was not insisted upon.” He adds: “It is as though she is saying: ‘it was discouraged for us to follow the funeral procession, without it being prohibited.’”

The hadith has, however, been interpreted in various ways by the schools of law. A useful summary of these interpretations may be found in encyclopedic works of fiqh written in recent decades. In his al-Fiqh al-Islami wa-Adillatuhu, the prolific Syrian scholar Wahba al-Zuhayli (d. 1436/2015) notes (on p. 518) that the majority of jurists consider women’s joining the funeral procession to be mildly discouraged (makruh tanzihi) on the basis of the aforementioned hadith of Umm ‘Atiyya. However, he adds, the Hanafis have historically considered it prohibitively discouraged (makruh tahrimi) on the basis of another hadith in which the Prophet reportedly told a group of women who were awaiting a funeral procession, “Return with sins and without reward.”

Al-Zuhayli inclines towards this ruling despite noting in a footnote that the hadith he has just mentioned is weak (da‘if) in its attribution to the Prophet. However, he also adds that the Malikis permitted elderly women to attend the burial of the deceased unconditionally, and also young women from whom no fitna was feared. What constitutes fitna is not generally specified in these discussions and perhaps needs further study, but one contemporary Hanafi defines it as “intermingling with the opposite sex,” and thus suggests that where there is no such intermingling between members of the opposite sex, it is permissible for young women to attend funerals and burials.

Another valuable encyclopedic source for learning about the juristic rulings of various schools and individual scholars is the important 45-volume al-Mawsu‘a al-Fiqhiyya compiled by a team of scholars and published by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments a quarter of a century ago. In its section on this issue, it notes that the Hanafis prohibitively discourage women’s attendance of the funeral procession, the Shafi‘is mildly discourage it, the Malikis permit it where there is no fear of fitna, and the Hanbalis mildly discourage it. The reasoning behind these positions may be found in the Arabic original, and ought to be made available in English by Muslims in the West investing in translating such voluminous works into English. 

From the above, we may gather that of the four schools, only the pre-modern Hanafis prohibit women’s attendance of funeral processions. I have already indicated one example of a modern Hanafi who moves closer to the position of the less restrictive schools in this issue, but it is worth highlighting another. Shaykh Nur al-Din ‘Itr (b. 1355/1937), one of the greatest Hanafi hadith experts alive today, in his commentary on the hadith of Umm ‘Atiyya writes that the report indicates that women’s attending a funeral procession is only mildly discouraged (makruh tanzihi). Additionally, in a footnote, he criticises a contemporary who interprets the hadith as indicating prohibition and then proceeds to cite the less restrictive Maliki position with apparent approval.

The fiqh of modernity

In none of the above am I necessarily arguing that one of these positions is stronger than the other. I present these so that people may be familiar with the range of opinions on the matter in the Islamic tradition. However, this range also indicates the existence of legitimate difference of opinion that should prevent holders of one position from criticising those who follow one of the legitimate alternatives with the unfounded charge that they are not following the Qur’an and Sunna.

Furthermore, there are often interesting assumptions embedded in the premodern juristic tradition which modern Muslims find themselves out of step with, such as the assumption that women should generally stay at home. This is clearly an expectation in some of the fiqh literature, and in modern times, we sometimes find that this results in incoherent legal positions being advocated in Muslim communities. We find, for example, that in much of the premodern fiqh literature, Hanafis prohibit women from attending the mosque for fear of fitna, while we live in times in which women frequently work outside the home. As one of my teachers in fiqh, the Oxford-based Hanafi jurist Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, once remarked in class, is it not absurd for a scholar to prohibit women from attending the mosque for fear of fitna while none of these scholars would prohibit a woman from going to a mall/shopping centre?

This underlines the need for balanced fiqh that is suited to our times, one that allows both men and women to participate in spiritually elevated activities, such as going to the mosque and attending funerals while observing the appropriate Islamic decorum, so that the rest of their lives may be inspired by such actions. The answer to modernity’s generalised spiritual malaise is not the shutting out of opportunities for spiritual growth, but rather its opposite. This will only come about when Muslims, individually and communally, invest more of their energy in reflecting on how they can faithfully live according to the Qur’an and Sunna in contexts very different to those in which the ulama of past centuries resided.

And God knows best.

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Reflections on Muslim Approaches to the Abortion Debate: The Problem of Narrow Conceptualization

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question.

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“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes’ is what certain Muslims would assert… This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth.”

Shaykh Abdullah Hamid Ali in A Word on Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

“The golden mean is kind of a summit, and it is a struggle to get there. The ego does not want balance because you have to think and make sacrifices.”

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in Paradigms of Leadership (6)


A few months ago, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law House Bill 134, or the Human Life Protection Act, which prohibited all abortion in the state of Alabama except in cases where it was deemed necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the mother. The bill additionally criminalized abortion or any attempt to carry it out in situations deemed non-necessary. A motion to exempt rape and incest victims from this law was defeated in the Alabama state senate, which give the state the (dubious) distinction of possessing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in America. This move by Alabama to place extreme restrictions on abortion followed a spate of similar legislative moves by other states, such as Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

This escalation in anti-abortion legislation occasioned intense debate within the Muslim community.[1] Muslims who self-identify as progressives chanted the familiar mantra of “my body, my choice” to affirm a notion of personal rights and bodily autonomy in defending a woman’s right to choose. The ideological underpinnings of this view are extremely problematic from a theological perspective, and the practical policies arising from it that sanction even late-term abortions contravene the near-consensus position of classical jurists and is rightly seen as an assault on inviolable human life. For this reason, this essay will not pay any particular attention to this view.

Several people pushed back against this permissive attitude by arguing that abortion is essentially prohibited in Islam in all but the direst of situations, such as when the life of the mother is at genuine risk. This opinion has a sound precedent in the legal tradition and is the mainstream view of some of the legal schools, but it has often been presented in a manner that fails to acknowledge the normative pluralism that exists on the matter in the shariah and rather perniciously presents these alternative opinions as ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. Similarly, those who favour the more lenient view found in other legal schools are often seen characterizing the stricter opinion as ‘right-wing’ or reflective of the Christianization of Islamic law. Despite having legal precedent on their side, both groups engaged the abortion question in a manner that was rather superficial and fundamentally problematic.


Did Jurists Only Permit Abortion in ‘Dire’ Circumstances?

I will begin this essay by offering a corrective to the mistaken notion that classical jurists only permitted abortions in cases of necessity, an assertion that has become very common in current Muslim discourse on abortion in America. One need not look much further than the Ḥanafī school to realize that this claim is incorrect. Though there are opinions within the school that only permit abortion before 120 days with the existence of a valid excuse, the view of several early leading authorities was that abortion was unconditionally permissible (mubāḥ) before this period and/or prior to the physical form and features of a fetus becoming clearly discernible.[2] In his encyclopaedic work al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, Burhān al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 616/1219) presents two main opinions on abortion in the school:

(i) It is permitted “as long as some physical human features are not clearly discernible because if these features are not discernible, the fetus is not a child (walad)” as per Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand. Some scholars asserted that this occurs at 120 days,[3] while others stated that this assertion, though incorrect, indicated that by discernibility jurists intended ensoulment.[4]

(ii) It is disliked because once conception occurs, the natural prognostication is life and so the fetus is granted this ruling at the moment of conception itself. This was the view of ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Qummī (d. 305/917-18).[5]

The first opinion of unconditional permissibility was not a solitary one in the school. It was forwarded by many of the foremost Ḥanafī authorities, such as Ḥussām al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 536/1141),[6] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī (d. 575/1175),[7] Jamāl al-Dīn al-Ghaznawī (d. 593/1196),[8] Zayn al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 666/1267),[9] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī (d. 683/1284),[10] Fakhr al-Dīn al-Zaylaʿī (d. 743/1343),[11] Qiwām al-Dīn al-Kākī (749/1348),[12] Jalāl al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī (d. 767/1365),[13] Kamāl ibn al-Humām (d. 861/1457),[14] Muḥyī al-Dīn Jawīzāda (d. 954/1547),[15] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī (d. 1088/1677),[16] and several others.[17] The reasoning underlying this view was that prior to a specific period (whether defined by days or by fetal development), a fetus is not a ‘child’ or ‘person’.[18] Therefore, no ruling is attached to it at this stage.[19]

Another opinion in the school, and one that has gained wide acceptance amongst contemporary Ḥanafī jurists, argued that abortion prior to 120 days was disliked and sinful unless carried out with a valid excuse. This view was most famously expressed by Fakhr al-Dīn Qāḍīkhān (d. 592/1196) in his Fatāwā and subsequently supported by the likes of Ibn Wahbān (d. 768/1367),[20] Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563),[21] and Ibn ʿĀbidīn (d. 1252/1836).[22] These sources, however, do not define or fully flesh out what constitutes an excuse, sufficing mainly with a single example as illustrative of a case where abortion would be permitted, namely when a woman ceases to produce milk on account of pregnancy and her husband is unable to provide an alternative source of sustenance for their child and fears his or her perishing. Cases of rape, incest, adultery, and other possible excuses are not discussed by most of these authors, and it is not clear whether they would have deemed these valid excuses or not.[23]

The Ḥanafī school, therefore, had three main opinions on the issue: unconditionally permissible prior to a specific time period; unconditionally disliked; and conditionally permissible prior to a specific time period. Of the three, the first view seems to have been the dominant one in the school and held by multiple authorities in virtually every century. The view of conditional permissibility was also a strong one and notably adopted by several later jurists. It is also the view that has gained currency among modern Ḥanafī scholars who are generally not seen forwarding the view of unconditional permissibility.

Some Contemporary Views on Abortion

A wide range of opinions is also found in the discourse of contemporary jurists. Shaykh Muṣṭafā Zarqā (d. 1999) presented a gradated scheme where abortion prior to 40 days was permitted without a “severe excuse”, which included “undertaking necessary travel where pregnancy and giving birth would prove a hindrance, such as for education or for work that requires a couple to move.”[24] He also considered financial strain arising from a child as a valid excuse during this limited time period. According to him, the threshold for a valid excuse would become higher as the pregnancy proceeded beyond 40 days.

Muftī Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī (d. 1996), one of the foremost scholars of the Deobandī school, permitted abortions when conception occurred out of wedlock (zinā).[25]

Muftī Salmān Manṣurpūrī states emphatically that the basis is that abortion is impermissible unless there is a valid excuse before 120 days, such as the life of the mother being at risk, serious consequences to her general health, an actual inability to bear pregnancy, clear harm or danger to one’s current children, and adultery, but not fear of economic difficulty nor the decision not to have children.[26]

In Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya, Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq states that a fetus diagnosed by medical professionals with an incurable and serious disorder that will prove to be an extreme burden on the child and its family is permitted to abort prior to 120 days as per the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Mecca.[27] Elsewhere, he divides pregnancy into three stages. The first stage is when the general form and facial features of the fetus take shape but prior to the formation of its limbs. At this stage, it is permitted to carry out on abortion with a valid and established excuse, such as the fetus suffering from a “dangerous hereditary disease”, “physical abnormality/deformity”, the life of the mother being at risk, or reasonably-established fear of the mother’s “physical and mental health” being impacted. The second stage is when the limbs of the fetus are clearly formed and discernible, and the third stage is after 120 days. In both these stages, the respected Muftī rules that abortion is not permitted except in cases of necessity, such as saving the life of the mother.[28] The permission to abort the fetus is also extended to cases of rape.[29]

Mawlānā Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī (d. 2019), a founding member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, India, argued that the permission to carry out an abortion before ensoulment (even after discernibility) is not simply restricted to cases of necessity (ḍarūra) but includes cases of need (ḥāja), which broadly includes “any situation that entails bodily or psychological harm for the parents or the child and is a cause for continual distress.”[30] Examples of valid excuses include “danger to the general health, mental health, or life of the mother”, pregnancy resulting from rape or fornication (so long as it is not someone who has engaged in the latter habitually), the strong possibility that the child will be born with serious physical abnormalities or defects as determined by a medical professional, and the genuine inability of the parents to raise and maintain/sustain more than one child without it negatively impacting their current children.[31]

Mawlānā Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī states, “Essentially, abortion is impermissible in Islam, and there is no time period in which it is acceptable to abort a fetus. However, this impermissibly has degrees. In the first scenario (i.e. post-ensoulment) it is a grievous sin and categorically prohibited; in the second scenario (i.e. pre-ensoulment but post-discernment of limbs) it is lesser than this; in the third scenario (i.e. before features/limbs become discernible) it is relatively less severe than the previous two.” He then goes on to rule that abortion is not permitted for the following reasons: not desiring more children; conception out of wedlock; or being physically or mentally unable to care for a child, since others may be able to do so. Excuses that permit abortion before ensoulment include a doctor concluding with reasonable-surety that the child will suffer from a dangerous hereditary disease, physical abnormalities, and deformities, and the life of the mother is at serious risk.[32]

There are stricter views than some of those mentioned above, especially from non-Ḥanafī scholars. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, taking the Mālikī school as his basis,[33] has argued that abortion before 40 days is prohibited “with rare exception.”[34] This view of impermissibility is also held by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī although he allows for a dispensation to be given to victims of rape.[35]

Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya also deems abortion at all stages of pregnancy to be sinful to varying degrees except in situations where the life of the mother is at risk.[36]

Shaykh Wahba al-Zuhaylī (d. 2015) ruled that abortion was impermissible from the moment of conception “except in cases of necessity” such as being afflicted with cancer or an incurable disease.[37]

Framing the Problem: Basic Levels of Engaging the Law

The discussion so far makes one point quite evident: there are an array of opinions on the issue of abortion ranging from the extremely restrictive to the more permissive. Though ‘difference of opinion’ (ikhtilāf) has generally been viewed as one of the outstanding and unique features of Islamic legal discourse, it is precisely the range of views that exist in the tradition on abortion that partly plays a role in the problematic approaches to the issue seen amongst certain Muslims. It is not so much the differences themselves that are the issue, but the manner in which particular opinions are selected by individuals who subsequently propagate them to the community as binding doctrine.

To better understand this, one can broadly identify four basic levels of engagement with religious law applicable to Muslim leaders and scholars in the West in the context of the abortion issue,[38] which often overlap with one another: (a) personal, (b) academic, (c) fatwā, public preaching, and irshād, and (d) political.

(a) The Personal

The ‘personal’ level concerns an individual’s own practice where he or she can follow the legal school (or trusted scholar) of their choosing or decide on the rulings that govern their lives when possessing the ability to do so. This level does not directly concern anyone but the individual himself.

(b) The Academic

The ‘academic’ level in the current context refers primarily to a process of study, reflection and deduction, and research to arrive at a personal conclusion regarding some aspect of the law that is undertaken in conversation with a guild of peers and not the general population. Such academic activity is often theoretical, abstract, and conceptual, and even when it addresses more practical concerns, it constitutes a general articulation of an opinion, not an individualized responsa, that others engage with as members of a scholarly class. This scholarly class includes the ʿulamā’ and others whose input is relevant to a particular issue.

(c) Fatwā, Irshād, and Public Preaching

The realm of fatwā is exclusively for a qualified scholar. Here, the scholar enters most directly into the practical implementation of a legal ruling. Fatwā does involve an academic process, and it is often conveyed by a jurist as a universal ruling in accordance with his academic conclusions. However, the practice of fatwā is commonly understood as an answer directed by a qualified jurisconsult (muftī) to an individual (mustaftī) who requires guidance on a particular religious matter. The jurisconsult providing said individual with an answer is now tasked with translating the abstract, theoretical, and academic into a practical solution, which requires taking into account the circumstances of the questioner.[39]

The delicateness of this matter has led some scholars to compare the relationship of a jurisconsult with the questioner to that of a doctor and his patient.[40] Indeed, the answer that a scholar provides a questioner may not be fully in accordance with the theoretical and abstract conclusions the former has reached in an academic setting, it may disregard an opinion that the jurisconsult otherwise deems a valid legal interpretation because its application is not appropriate in the specific case at hand, it may be strict or lenient, in accordance with the legal school of the scholar or a dispensation from another, and it may be inapplicable to anyone but the questioner. Further, a fatwā is non-binding (unlike a judicial court ruling) and does not negate other valid opinions or peoples’ choice to follow them. This is important to note in contexts where a fatwā is issued to communicate a universal rule.

In many cases, the answer that is provided to a person is not presented as a fatwā but merely a form of religious advice or irshād. Though there is presumably a difference between these two concepts, they are sometimes indistinguishable in a Western context. Irshād has a seemingly less formal quality to it, and it can be offered by a non-scholar though the prerequisite of sound knowledge still remains. Like fatwā, the proffering of religious advice and guidance can assume a more public form and have an academic flavour to it. The articles written by non-scholars on the blogosphere, lectures and speeches delivered by speakers, and religious counsel extended to others falls within this general category of irshād. For those in leadership roles, the public nature of their work means that high standards are required even here when it comes to addressing and conveying religious issues of a complex or delicate nature.

(d) The Political

If the issuance of a fatwā and providing religious advice is a delicate matter, the process of forming, advocating for, and/or enacting laws on the political level is far greater in this regard. Such laws are made in the context of human societies and affect large swaths of people who objectively vary in their circumstances – individual, social, religious/ideological, and economic. Unlike a fatwā or irshād, once a law has been settled upon by the state, it becomes binding upon an entire population and any reasonable alternative ceases to hold validity in practice at least until the law is reviewed and amended. Exemptions are only tolerated when affirmed by the law itself. Further, law interacts with and influences society in complex ways. This is true for all forms of law, not just ones that are state-enacted.

A core question in legal philosophy is what the law ought to be or what makes a law good. The ‘good’ is a moral concept and might be described as one that is essentially contested in so far as people differ over its conception and the criteria for its application. Some emphasize the consequences of a rule (consequentialism), while others favour a deontological moral ethic or one that is virtue-centred. Each of these families of theories subsume within them further particular theories that differ with one another. There are also considerations of fairness, equity, distributive justice, enforceability, practicality, and/or efficiency that those evaluating the law might assign significant value to. These notions of morality and the good influence policy-making and legal systems.

How do Muslims approach this issue? Islam is viewed by Muslims as a comprehensive moral and philosophical system where the moral value of an act is determined by the divine will. It is the commands and prohibitions of God that render an action good or evil, and under this divine command theory, revelation is the primary source for moral knowledge.[41] However, this legal notion of moral value is not as straightforward as it sounds since a significant number of legal rulings are probabilistic in nature and differed upon. Consequently, the moral value attached to these rulings lack a decisive character, which engenders a plurality of moral outlooks. This pluralism is an indelible feature of the tradition itself creating a paradox whereby Muslims can affirm that good and evil are known through revelation, while recognizing that differences concerning moral judgments are part of the moral vision of revelation itself.

This raises important questions regarding the political approach a minority Muslim population in the West might take regarding the abortion issue. Should Muslims seek to accommodate a pluralism justified by tradition and avoid commandeering the state to coercively impose laws that negate the right of people to follow an acceptable and mainstream Islamic legal opinion?

Should Muslims simply support restrictions on abortion practices that contravene the consensus position of Islam? Or should Muslims seek to promote an opinion, or some combination of opinions, among those found in the legal schools on the basis of a reasonably defined criteria that assesses the issue holistically from the perspective of the theological, legal, ethical, and the public good?

Indeed, there are many classical opinions whose validity scholars did not accept, others that were prima facie valid but not put into practice, and classical jurists themselves erected systems to keep a check on legal chaos resulting from people being allowed to arbitrarily follow any opinion with a basis in precedent. Yet, Muslim societies always tolerated differences of opinion, and for most of its history, people living in these societies had recourse to various scholars from multiple legal schools. Unlike the centralizing and homogenizing tendencies of the modern nation-state, Islamic law was centrifugal and operated on a grass-roots level to produce self-governing societies. In many periods, this diversity was even found in judicial settings where courts were established for each of the legal schools. This was extended to non-Muslim populations living under Islamic governments as well who were accorded a high degree of autonomy. While this might strike some as a thing of the past, a nostalgic yearning for a bygone era, there are many lessons the community can draw from the attitudes and approaches of past societies.

In a political context, the notion of the ‘public good’ (maṣlaha) is particularly relevant given the scope and consequences of legislative actions, but it is a notoriously complicated one to pin down and, like the ‘good’, might be described as essentially contested. Even the basic question “who will this law or opinion impact, and in what manner” takes one into a complex maze of considerations and perspectives that demand careful attention and thought. It is hard to imagine any informed answer to this question without the input of a variety of experts. While Muslims are not quite in a position to craft legislation, influential religious activists and scholars who advocate for specific legislation and/or discourse on it to the wider community should keep the above points in made for any advocacy that proceeds in the name of religion is one that must be approached with care and seriousness.


Identifying the Problem: Beyond Personal Preferences, Emotions, and Selective Madhhab Picking

With this framework in mind, it is now possible to identify a major problem in current American Muslim discourse on abortion, which is that it does not meaningfully engage any of the levels described above save the personal. The distinction between these various engagement contexts is hardly recognized. Most public discourse on abortion promotes one traditional opinion over another based not on a rigorous standard that is grounded in revelation, theology, legal theory, ethics, the public good, and a keen awareness of human nature, the individual, political, social, and ideological currents and factors, historical trends, and the challenges of the contemporary world, but seemingly on personal opinions based on little more than a reaction to a perceived ideological threat, individual proclivities, or pure taqlīd. The mainstream opinions of the legal school simply act as tools of legitimation for one’s personal view.

The Problem of Imposition

On a personal level, this is not a problem per se, and people have their reasons to select certain views as opposed to others and even vociferously promote them in some limited capacity to friends, colleagues, or family over a session of tea or a short-lived social media feud with random individuals. However, for those in positions of leadership and influence, this cannot be the basis for a fatwā, general communal irshād, or public advocacy impacting millions of people. The imposition of the personal onto these areas in this manner is both ill-advised and potentially harmful. Even the conclusions reached by a scholar on the basis of sound academic research may be put aside in these contexts, i.e. fatwā and political activism/legislation, when the scholar feels that competing considerations and interests demand so. Thus, a scholar may believe in a reading of revelation that is extremely restrictive on abortion but recognizing the probabilistic nature of his interpretation and the variety of individual circumstances, the ethical norms of ease and warding off hardship, profound societal and economic changes, complex and strained community and family structures, the advice of other experts, and the general public good chooses not to advocate for this view as a matter of policy to be implemented as law or provided to a specific individual as a legal edict.

The Sunna Imperative for Leniency, The Lack of Depth of the Lenient

It is often forgotten that a peculiar response by some classical jurists to the degenerated state of society was not in toughening up legal prescriptions but relaxing them: “Our time is not one of avoiding the doubtful (shubuhāt), meaning if a person only avoids the impermissible, it is sufficient.”[42] This was an ethical consideration influencing the judgment of the jurist who saw it not as compromising religion nor a dereliction of his duty but part of the guidance of the sunna itself where facilitating the affairs of people was deemed important.[43] As Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad states commenting on the instruction of al-Birgivī (d. 981/1573) not to give the laity the more difficult opinion on an issue validly differed upon:

This, of course, is a Prophetic counsel. The ego doesn’t always like giving people easy options because we assume it is because of our laziness or some kind of liberal Islam. For al-Birgivī it is taqwā to give the ordinary Muslims the easier interpretations… but nowadays, we tend to assume that the narrower you are, the less compromises you make, the more the West will be angry and, therefore, the better the Muslim you must be.[44]

The Prophetic counsel that Shaykh Abdal Hakim refers to is known to many: “Make things easy and do not make them difficult.” This attitude of facilitating matters for people, granting them leniency, and not repulsing them with harshness and difficulty is a part of Islam. As Imām al-Shāṭibī stated, the removal of hardship (rafʿ al-ḥaraj) is a decisively established foundational principle in the shariah.[45] From this foundational principle arises some of the most important legal and ethical principles in the Islamic tradition, such as hardship necessitates ease, there is no harm nor reciprocating harm, harm is lifted, the lesser of two evils, taking into account the consequences of an act, custom as a source of law, and more. In fact, some jurists opined that when the evidence for an issue was contradictory or conflicting, the more lenient opinion was to be given preference due to the generality of revelatory texts affirming ease in the shariah.[46]

But there is a problem. Many of those who promote and relay the lenient Ḥanafī opinion of unconditional permissibility approach it in a manner that lacks substance. On the academic plane, even basic questions regarding this position are not addressed or understood, much less entertained. Take, for example, the difference between the statement of Ḥanafī jurists that abortion is impermissible after the physical features of the fetus become discernible and the statement of others in the school that this impermissibility comes into effect after a 120-day period. Are these the same? Who in the madhhab held these positions? Is there a clear preference for one or the other? How was discernibility understood? What features needed to be discernible? Did discernibility refer to what is normally observable by humans or to what is discernible by modern embryogenesis? How have contemporary jurists addressed this issue? Then there is the matter that one is hard-pressed to find a single contemporary Ḥanafī jurist who favours the view of unconditional permissibility. What does this reveal about this opinion and the possibility of critically evaluating past opinions that fall within the scope of differences of opinion?[47]

These questions largely fall within the parameters of an intra-school discussion and do not even begin to address the broader social and political considerations mentioned earlier.

Here, the sheer fact that there were over six-hundred thousand abortions reported in America in 2015, the latest year for which statistics exist from the CDC, should be alarming to people and cannot be callously dismissed.

Though the overwhelming majority of these occurred well within a 120-day period (≤13 weeks’ gestation, which is measured from the first day of the woman’s last menstruation and not from the day of conception), most of those who obtained these abortions were unmarried women who did so in non-dire circumstances.[48] The culture of sexual freedom out of which the abortion movement emerged and its ideological grounding in notions of bodily autonomy and personal choice cannot be ignored in this discussion.[49] Nor can the devaluing of family and motherhood,[50] the practice of female foeticide, the increasingly materialistic outlook of society, and its mechanistic view of human beings.

Additionally, some Muslims seem largely oblivious to the fact that abortion politics link to many other issues that have little do with abortion itself, such as assisted suicide or end-of-life care. In a famous district court case on assisted suicide, Compassion in Dying vs. Washington, it was Planned Parenthood vs. Casey that was cited as an important precedent to rule that a ban on physician-aided suicide was unconstitutional.[51] Clearly, it is not sufficient to make simplistic appeals to leniency to justify promulgating an opinion that leads to such wider consequences. Abortion, in other words, cannot be treated as a ‘stand-alone’ issue with little or no relation to a broader philosophical outlook that downplays a sanctity of life ethic.[52]

Thou Shalt Make No Exceptions, But Should We?

Many of the issues highlighted in the previous paragraph raise serious theological and ethical concerns for Muslims and should push them to reflect on the type of society they wish to create and sustain in America. Is the abortion movement today in line with the moral vision envisioned for society by God and His Prophet (blessings upon him)? Clearly not. But while the seriousness of this crisis cannot be understated, a core question, at least in the context of this debate, is often missed: if it is misplaced and dangerous to forward the most lenient opinion in this context, in what way does the strictest possible position on abortion where exemptions are not even extended to victims of rape and incest ameliorate the current situation? Or to put it differently, how do these social and ideological problems make the strictest possible opinion on abortion the most appropriate one to adopt for the individual and society?

The answer to this question is not usually satisfactorily provided. Generally, such a view returns to a genuine moral belief one holds regarding a fetus being an inviolable living person. This moral belief may be grounded in a preferred reading of revelation, simple adherence to a specific legal school, a reaction to a perceived ideological battle framed in the language of pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal inclinations, or, as is usually the case, some combination of these factors. But the no-exception view is at least initially a personal view one holds, which is then forwarded as a broad religious and political solution. One may wonder why this is an issue. After all, why shouldn’t a person forward what he or she personally believes to be the Islamic ruling on an issue?

Certainly, this is expected especially when it concerns human life, but as stated earlier, it is problematic when that personal view, which it should be noted in this case lacks a decisive legal/moral character from a religious perspective, moves into the realm of fatwā and public advocacy without taking into account the many considerations required to make an informed decision in these areas. This is in addition to the fact that those who hold this view feel perfectly within their rights to tell others to set aside their personal moral views permitting abortions precisely in view to a broader context.

Here, it is worth sharing the response given by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī when he was asked about abortions for Bosnian Muslim women who were raped during war. After mentioning that his basic view is that abortions are impermissible “from the moment of conception” and “this is what we give preference to”, he states:

However, in cases of need, there is no harm in taking one of the two alternative views (i.e. permissibility before 40 or 120 days), and whenever the excuse is more severe, the dispensation will be more established and manifest, and whenever it is before the first 40 days, it is closer to dispensation.

We know that there are jurists who are very strict on this matter and do not permit abortion even a day after conception… but what is most preferable is a middle path between those who are expansive in granting permission and those who are excessively strict in prohibition.[53]

This is, of course, how knowledge and fiqh operate. They do not merely float around in the world of the abstract but address a complex world of real people, which in the context of fatwā, irshād, and politics often requires setting aside individual feelings and personal adherences to particular legal opinions: “Know that this ikhtilāf [between scholars] may be a reason to provide facilitation and ease, which is one of the higher aims of the shariah affirmed by the unequivocal text of the Qur’an and sunna.”[54]

Too often, many of those who vociferously promote the strictest view on abortion address the issue on the level of the abstract and then transfer it to the practical realm with little further thought. Take, for example, the argument that Muslims should oppose the legalization of abortion because a majority of abortions are due to economic anxiety or a feeling of unreadiness, which in turn return to the increasingly materialistic outlook of society and crumbling family structures.

This materialistic outlook and erosion of the family must be remedied. However, no justification is ever furnished as to why a no-exception abortion stance is the best method to address this social problem, and there is almost no focus on the individual. It never crosses the mind of the proponents of this view that it is the very fact that society is materialistic to its core and the family lay in ruins that causes economic anxiety and feelings of unreadiness to be felt much more palpably and intensely by young, unmarried, pregnant women.

Web MD

By largely confining their analysis and presentation of the issue to ‘materialism’, ‘decay of family’, ‘feminism’, etc., proponents of the restrictive view (inadvertently) divert attention away from the lived realities of people. This leads to neglecting the more concrete conditions and circumstances people are subject to, such as poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, poor health, psychological issues, sexual abuse, incarceration, social inequality and stratification, and the varying abilities of people to cope with life pressures and struggles. This focus away from the individual produces an unsympathetic, even antagonistic attitude, where the solution favoured is uncompromising and rigid. The ethical is erroneously conflated with strictness even though it might entail leniency in recognition of individual and social conditions.

To take one example where these broader considerations come into play, take the issue of pregnancy resulting from rape. Though statistics regarding rape are inconsistent because the crime is so underreported, it is safe to say that hundreds of thousands of women are victims of rape every year with tens of thousands of these rapes resulting in pregnancy (approximately five percent).[55] A significantly high number of rape victims are under eighteen with many actually being under the age of twelve.[56] Victims of rape spend many weeks simply recovering from physical injuries and managing mental health symptoms, which can remain with them for years. Beyond the physical and psychological symptoms common after rape, if a rape victim decides to carry her child to term, she is forced to go through a lengthy and exhausting process to prosecute her rapist in a criminal court and contest custody in a family or dependency court.

The political and legislative context makes matters even more difficult. Not every state has legislation in place allowing for parental rights to be terminated for a rapist. Most states that do have such legislation in place require a criminal conviction of rape beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of evidence possible, with several also requiring a civil court conviction by clear and convincing evidence that conception resulted from rape.

Some states require the rape to be of the first-degree, which is varyingly defined.[57] Generally, the chances of obtaining a conviction of first-degree rape are slim. Not only do rape crimes go unreported in a majority of cases,[58] there are numerous hurdles in the criminal justice system that disadvantage rape victims at every stage of the process, such as ‘rape myths’ that influence police, investigative officers, jurors, and judges.[59]

In most cases, a rapist will plead guilty to lesser crimes in order to avoid prolonged jail time, which would potentially allow him to gain parental rights in states requiring first or second-degree rape convictions for such rights to be terminated.[60] In view of this, one can state that the suggestion by some Muslims that abortion should not be permitted even in such contexts because a woman can simply put her child up for adoption is seriously misinformed and potentially harmful.[61] Is the correct solution in this context to support the most restrictive view on abortion?

Conclusion: Refining our Conceptualization & The Bigger Picture

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question. This issue, like many others, cannot be properly addressed through a narrowly defined law, politics, or clash of ideologies narrative, especially at the level of individual fatwā, communal irshād, or political activism, advocacy, and legislation.

Nor can the wider community be shown direction on this issue, or have a course charted for them, merely on the basis of narrowly-informed personal opinions and proclivities neatly presented in the classical opinions of our choosing. Our approach must address the issue through real fiqh, namely deep understanding, where the question of abortion is tackled with an academic rigor that is cognizant of lived realities and is grounded in the ethics and guidance of revelation.

Today in America, a crisis we face is of an activism not based in, or guided by, real scholarship, and a scholarship that is wanting, uninspiring, and disconnected from those it seeks to guide. The first step scholars must take on this issue is to gain a proper and thorough conceptualization of the issue. No sound and effective conclusion can arise without such a conceptualization. This is true for any issue we find ourselves dealing with.

On the level of addressing the broader community, this is not an issue to be decided by an individual but a collectivity of minds coming together to exchange ideas and opinions. The laity should understand that American Muslims will not reach an agreement on this matter, and nor should we demand that they do. People will continue to forward different opinions and solutions. The progression of time will likely result in a plurality of acceptable views emerging within our context. This should not be met with confusion.

Muslims once lived in an age of ambiguity where opinions were confidently held but differences embraced. Today, we live in an age of anxiety, people with confused identities, threatened by modernity and various ideologies, so much so that “the only form of Islam [we] can regard as legitimate is a totalitarian, monolithic one” as Shaykh Abdal Hakim once remarked. Let us avoid this, allow for different perspectives, but demand higher standards from those who seek to guide us and speak on our behalf especially when the matter veers into a space that impacts people and communities in a very real way.

Finally, and most importantly, Muslims must break out of the mindset that social problems can simply be legislated away or solved through polemical battles waged on the internet against pernicious ideologies. The political and social are intimately intertwined, but it is all too common to see many Muslims neglecting the latter while imagining that the activities they are engaged in to address the political are actually meaningful and impactful. In fact, it is often detached from the real world, a mouthing of clichés and idle moralizing on social media platforms that elicits rage and fails to yield actual solutions on the ground. If television altered the meaning of being informed as Neil Postmann asserted, social media has undoubtedly taken things a step further by altering the meaning of ‘taking action’.

The erosion of family, the decay of morality, the rise of materialistic outlooks, the loss of higher purpose and meaning, and the devaluing of life must be addressed more directly through education, the creation of a real community, the nurturing and training of leaders who embody knowledge and wisdom, and the erection of structures that support peoples’ faith and anchor them in times of crisis. It should not be forgotten that these non-legal institutions play an important role in shaping behaviours and promoting social mores.

Muslims should learn from the many conservative Christian activists who, contrary to popular stereotypes, demonstrate an acute awareness of the struggles and anguish that many women contemplating abortion experience. As the prominent pro-life activist Frederica Mathewes-Green states:

This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child.

If you were in charge of a nature preserve and you noticed that the pregnant female mammals were trying to miscarry their pregnancies, eating poisonous plants or injuring themselves, what would you do? Would you think of it as a battle between the pregnant female and her unborn and find ways to help those pregnant animals miscarry? No, of course not. You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.” Something is creating intolerable stress, so much so that animals would rather destroy their own offspring than bring them into the world. You would strive to identify and correct whatever factors were causing this stress in the animals.[62]

It is this realization, which arises from a perspective that looks beyond abortion as simply an ideological battle between ‘the feminist’ or ‘the liberal’, that generates a sense of empathy within many conservative Christian activists who are then motivated to assist women in concrete ways.

Take the example of Embrace Grace, a Texas-based non-profit organization, which describes its purpose as “providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women and their families who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy” and to “empower churches across the nation to be a safe and non-judging place for the girls to run to when they find out they are pregnant, instead of the last place they are welcomed because of shame and guilt.” Christians have set up hundreds of pregnancy care centers across the United States, which, despite issues of concern, provide resources and services to pregnant women. Various churches have set up support groups for single mothers and mothers-to-be, while the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) has set out to confront systemic injustices in society that lead women to seek out abortions, such as poverty.[63]

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad said reaching the golden mean requires that we think and make sacrifices. It is time for leaders, thinkers, and scholars in our community to begin thinking more deeply and contemplatively about the issue of abortion in its various contexts, and it is time for our community to sacrifice their time, wealth, and energies in providing concrete solutions and remedies that demonstrate a true concern for both the unborn and the women who carry them.

God alone is our sufficiency.

[1] References to Muslims in this article should be primarily understood as referring to people in positions of leadership and influence. In this article, I discuss some of the technical aspects surrounding the legal debate over abortion, but my intent is to simply provide a brief overview of this aspect of the debate in order for a general audience to appreciate some of the complexities of the topic.

[2] Though the term fetus technically refers to the unborn after 8 weeks of gestation, many use it to refer to the unborn throughout the period of pregnancy. I will be using the latter convention for the sake of simplicity.

[3] al-Ḥasan ibn Manṣūr al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, on the margins of Fatāwā Hindiyya (Bulāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Amīriyya, 1310 A.H.), 3:410.

[4] Ibn Māza himself framed the ruling in terms of ensoulment. He stated that jurists differed on the permissibility of abortion pre-ensoulment with some permitting it. He then cited the text of Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand, which only speaks of discernibility. Qāḍīkhān mentioned how the discernibility of physical features and limbs was “determined” by some as occurring at 120 days. Kamāl ibn al-Humām and others correctly pointed out that observation proves otherwise but proceed to state that the connection made between discernibility and ensoulment shows that scholars intended the latter when expressing the former. Ibn ʿĀbidīn, however, questioned this. I agree for several reasons: firstly, many jurists make no reference to 120 days or ensoulment when presenting this ruling; secondly, discernibility and ensoulment are clearly different stages during the pregnancy, a fact that was known to classical scholars who sometimes applied different terms to these two stages, such as taṣwīr/ṣūra and takhlīq/khalq; and, thirdly, most Ḥanafī rulings premised on determining personhood rely on the discernibility criterion. Given this, there are two possible views in the Ḥanafī school regarding the period before which abortion is permissible: before some of the physical features of the fetus become discernible or prior to ensoulment at 120 days. Additionally, there was discussion in the Ḥanafī school on the features that were to be given consideration when assessing whether a fetus was a ‘person’. These discussions are highly significant in modern debates for if the criterion for personhood is discerning a particular physical form on the basis of observation, this potentially broadens the scope for modern Ḥanafī understandings of the concept of personhood and how/when it is established. I hope to address these issues in a separate paper. See Maḥmūd ibn Aḥmad ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī fī al-fiqh al-Nuʿmānī, ed. Nuʿaym Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 2004), 8:83-84; al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, 3:410; Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 1:201.

[5] Ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 8:83-84. It is worth noting that al-Qummī did not say fetus is a life at conception but that it has begun a process that concludes with life.

[6] Ḥussām al-Dīn ʿUmar ibn Māza, al-Fatāwā al-Kubrā (Istanbul: Rāghib Bāshā #619), ff. 96b.

[7] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī, al-Wajīz (Istanbul: Koprulu #684), ff. 116a.

[8] Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, al-Ḥāwī al-Qudsī, ed. Ṣāliḥ al-ʿAlī (Lebanon: Dār al-Nawādir, 2011), 2:326.

[9] Zayn al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al-Rāzī, Tuḥfat al-Mulūk, ed. Ṣalāḥ Abū al-Ḥajj (Amman: Dār al-Fārūq, 2006), 290.

[10] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī, al-Ikthiyār, ed. Shuʿayb Arna’ūṭ (Damascus: Dār al-Risāla 2009), 4:153.

[11] ʿUthmān ibn ʿAlī al-Zaylaʿī, Tabyīn al-Ḥaqā’iq Sharḥ Kanz al-Daqā’iq (Multan: Maktaba Imdādiyya, n.d.), 2:166.

[12] Amīr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Kākī, Miʿrāj al-Dirāya (Istanbul: Koprulu #619), ff. 395b.

[13] Jalāl al-Dīn ibn Shams al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī, al-Kifāya Sharḥ al-Hidāya, on the margins of Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:373.

[14] Kamāl ibn al-Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:372-73.

[15] Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn Ilyās Jawīzāda, al-Īthār li-Ḥall al-Mukhtār, ed. Ilyās Qablān (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Irshād, 2016), 4:98.

[16] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī, al-Durr al-Mukhtār (Lebanon: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2002) 197.

[17] I am usually disinclined to list names of jurists in this manner when relating who held a specific legal opinion. One reason for this is that it creates the mistaken illusion that every one of these jurists came to this conclusion on the basis of their individual ijtihād when it may in fact simply be an exercise in taqlīd. Thus, one finds that most of these authors merely relate verbatim those who preceded them without any additional comments. However, it still indicates that these jurists accepted the ruling in question as the position of the school without qualms.

[18] When does a fetus qualify as a ‘person’ or a ‘human’? What are the necessary and sufficient features for personhood? Does personhood correspond to the beginning of life? If not, when does life begin? How is this connected to ensoulment? When does ensoulment occur? When does a fetus have moral standing? What is the nature of this moral standing over the course of a pregnancy? These are central questions in classical and modern debates on abortion. Sometimes, one finds that ‘person’, ‘human’, ‘life’, and related terms, are not properly defined, which is a problem given that conclusions regarding abortion are often premised on their proper conceptualization. Further, when attempts at proper definition are undertaken, people naturally come to different conclusions. For example, some modern pro-life philosophers argue that ‘persons’ are individuals of a rational nature and a fetus has no capacity for sentience, at least not until mid-gestation. Conception, therefore, cannot mark the beginning of a person. Yet even here, some scholars note that the fetus is a potential person. Therefore, it has some moral value and standing, but others counter with a “person-affecting restriction” that argues that merely potential people possess no moral claims. Some people work under material assumptions regarding the nature of the mind and opine that a moral person must be a ‘self’ and a necessary condition for something to be a self is some form of electrical brain activity. The bioethicist, Baruch Brody (d. 2018), also relied on this criterion of brain waves in his conception of personhood. Jane English presents a range of features or ‘factors’ that she views as being found in typical conceptions of a person: biological, psychological, rationality, social, and legal. There are religious conservative thinkers who define being human on the basis of genetics. John T. Noonan stated, “The positive argument for conception as the decisive moment of humanization is that at conception the new being receives the genetic code. It is this genetic information which determines his characteristics, which is the biological carrier of the possibility of human wisdom, which makes him a self-evolving being. A being with a human genetic code is man.” Many religious conservatives also maintain that there is no moment during pregnancy that can be identified as conferring moral significance on the unborn, i.e. it possesses moral standing before birth and after. Thus, brain waves, sentience, quickening, viability, physical human form, etc., are given no consideration as points at which moral standing is affirmed for the fetus and prior to which it is denied. For important early works on this topic see John T. Noonan, The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970); Jane English, “Abortion and the Concept of a Person,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5, no. 2 (1975): 233-43; Baruch Brody, Abortion and the Sanctity of Life (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1975); Stephen Buckle, “Arguing From Potential,” Bioethics 2, no. 3 (1988): 226–253; Mary Anne Warren, Moral Status: Obligations to Persons and Other Living Things (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); Richard Warner, “Abortion: The Ontological and Moral Status of the Unborn,” Social Theory and Practice 3 (1974). The literature on this is vast.

Classical jurists of Islam were guided fundamentally by revelation in their answers to these questions, but they still had substantial disagreements. Some identified a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, others as potentially so, yet others as a person only when its physical features became discernible, while some seemingly assigned no status to it at any fetal stage prior to ensoulment. When it came to ensoulment, the majority said this occurred at 120 days, while others said 40 days. Some equated ensoulment with personhood, while others distinguished between them. There were other conceptual frames utilized in discussions concerning the fetus as well, such as dhimma and ḥuqūq, being ‘animate’ or ‘inanimate’, a constituent part (juz’) of the mother or a separate self (nafs), and so forth. This occasioned a degree of ambiguity regarding the moral standing of the fetus at various stages of pregnancy. For example, Imām al-Ghazālī prohibited abortion at all stages of pregnancy but stated that the sin of doing so is less severe in earlier stages than later ones. Some jurists deemed it permissible to undergo an abortion due to a minor excuse in the first 40 days, requiring a more serious excuse from that point up until 120 days, and impermissible in all but the direst of situations following ensoulment. The fetus, therefore, seems to have a diminished moral standing at the beginning of the pregnancy and full moral standing post-ensoulment even in the eyes of jurists who affirmed personhood from conception. This is also reflected in rulings concerning financial compensation (ghurra) and expiation (kaffāra) owed by someone who causes a woman to miscarry. Meanwhile, many Ḥanafīs seemed to have assigned no moral status to the fetus before it had a discernible human form. The moral standing of the fetus was also influenced by the manner of conception with some jurists suggesting that a fetus conceived out of wedlock was not similar to a fetus that was conceived through a religiously sanctioned relationship. Besides revelation, observation played an important role in these determinations, as did the specific legal traditions jurists operated within. Today, science and embryology have guided the conclusions of many scholars, which has raised questions regarding the epistemological and interpretive value of the former. There is arguably a need to go beyond limited legal conceptions of personhood and life and engage in deeper theological and philosophical discussions on this matter.

[19] This ruling was consistent with several others in the school regarding whether a miscarried fetus is named, shrouded, and washed, whether a miscarriage concludes the waiting-period of a pregnant woman, and even whether a fetus is resurrected in the next-life. These rulings, among others, returned to whether the miscarried or stillborn fetus was actually considered a child/person, which in turn related to the formation and discernibility of its physical features. I believe this strengthens the view that discernibility of physical features was the main criterion for personhood in the Ḥanafī school. For some of these rulings see Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī, al-Aṣl, ed. Mehmet Boynūkālin (Beirut: Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 2012), 1:296, 4:415, 481, 5:144. This interconnectedness of legal doctrine, or its organic unity, is expressed in a famous aphorism, “The law is a seamless web.” These discussions are also present in the other three legal schools.

[20] Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Wahbān, ʿIqd al-Qalā’id wa-Qayd al-Sharā’id, ed. ʿAbd al-Jalīl al-ʿAṭā (Damascus: Maktabat al-Fajr, 2000), 195.

[21] Zayn al-Dīn ibn Nujaym, al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq (Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-ʿIlmiyya, 1893; reprint by H.M. Saeed, n.d.), 3:215.

[22] Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 2:388-89.

[23] The Hidāya mentions that a child conceived out of wedlock is still muḥtaram and so cannot be aborted. Imām ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī mentions that this only applies to a fetus that has reached the stage of post-discernibility. He then goes onto state that the fatwā position in his time is that it would be permissible pre-discernibility and post-discernibility. See Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghinānī, al-Hidāya Sharḥ Bidāyat al-Mubtadī maʿa Sharḥ al-ʿAllāma ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī, ed. Naʿīm Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 1417 A.H.), 3:25.

[24] Muṣṭafā Zarqā, Fatāwā (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 2010), 285.

[25] Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī, Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyya (Karachi: Idārat al-Fārūq, 2009), 18:321.

[26] Sayyid Muḥammad Salmān Manṣurpūrī, Kitāb al-Nawāzil (Muradabad: al-Markaz al-ʿIlmī lil-Nashr wa’l-Taḥqīq, 2016), 16:248-81.

[27] Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq, Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2015), 6:756.

[28] Ibid., 6:755.

[29] Ibid., 6:763.

[30] Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī, “Khāndānī Manṣūbabandī,” in Jadīd Fiqhī Mabāḥith (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān, 2009), 1:332.

[31] Ibid., 1:331-32.

[32] Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī, Kitāb al-Fatāwā (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2008), 6:218-226

[33] The relied-upon position in the Mālikī school prohibits abortions almost entirely even if done prior to ensoulment, which Mālikī jurists opine as occurring at 40 days.


[35] Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara (Cairo: Dār al-Qalam, 2005), 2:541-50.

[36] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā wa-Fiqh al-Aqaliyyāt (UAE: Masār lil-Tibāʿa wa’l-Nashr, 2018), 577-78.

[37] Wahba al-Zuhaylī, al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa-Adillatuhu (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1985), 3:557.

[38] The delineation and explanation I have presented here should not be seen as a comprehensive exposition of the concepts being discussed. Rather, it should be seen as a basic explanatory framework to understand the problem I wish to highlight in the next section. I have intentionally left out many details surrounding fatwā, siyāsa, taqlīd, etc., for the sake of the average reader.

[39] Muḥammad Kamāl al-Dīn al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ fī Rasm al-Muftī wa-Manāhij al-Iftā’ (Deoband: Ittiḥād Book Depot, n.d.), 61-62 in the Takmila; Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 28-29, 230.

[40] al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ, 28.

[41] ʿ Abd al-Malik ibn Yūsuf al-Juwaynī, Kitāb al-Irshād ilā Qawāṭiʿ al-Adilla fī Uṣūl al-Iʿtiqād, ed. Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqāfa al-Dīniyya, 2009), 210-11. This is admittedly a simplification of a very complex debate on the role of reason, its meaning and limitations, its relationship to revelation, deontological vs teleological theories of Islamic normative ethics, and more. These were issues of fundamental debate between the great theological schools, namely the Ashʿarīs, Māturīdis, and the Muʿtazila.

[42] Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥusayn Bīrīzāda, ʿUmdat Dhawī al-Baṣā’ir li-Ḥall Muhimmāt al-Ashbāh wa’l-Naẓā’ir, ed. Ilyās Qablān & Ṣafwat Kawsa (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2016), 2:415.

[43] This is also seen in the tradition of rukhas, or dispensations, and ḥiyal, or legal stratagems/loopholes.

[44] From his Paradigms of Leadership (6) lecture series.

[45] Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā al-Shāṭibī, al-Muwāfaqāt, ed. Mashhūr Ḥasan (Cairo: Dār Ibn ʿ Affān, 1997), 1:520.

[46] For reference to this see Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273-75.

[47] One might state that these people are simply engaging in a form of taqlid. This is fair, but there is still a level of diligence and rigor expected from anyone who wishes to publicly opine on a matter of such nature.


[49] Take the following statements made by Judith Thomson in her well-known defence of abortion, which continues to be loudly echoed by the pro-choice movement: “My own view is that if a human being has any just, prior claim to anything at all, he has a just, prior claim to his own body” and “No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body.” The violinist analogy she forwards, among others, expresses this point quite clearly. See Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1, no. 1 (1971): 48, 54.

[50] The sociologist Kristen Luker noted over three decades ago that pro-life and pro-choice activists were mainly divided due to their differing views on the meaning of sexuality, motherhood, and the role of women. See Kristin Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood. Berkeley (California: University of California Press, 1984), especially Ch 7.

[51] Compassion in Dying v. Washington, 850 F. Supp. 1454 (WD Wash. 1994). This was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997.

[52] The phrase ‘sanctity-of-life’ has featured prominently in theological, political, and biomedical ethical discussions related to abortion and end-of-life questions. Some members of congress, for example, have tried repeatedly to introduce a ‘Sanctity-of-Life Act’ to protect the unborn. However, the origins, meaning, and application of the phrase remain unclear and heavily debated. For a basic overview see the edited volume Sanctity of Life and Human Dignity (Boston: Springer Dordrecht, 1996).

[53] al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara, 2:609-13.

[54] Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273.

[55] The Federal House Bill 1257 that passed in 2015 as the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act cites between 25,000 and 32,000 pregnancies from rape annually but this is almost certainly an underestimate.

[56] For details on these and other related statistics see

[57] For detailed information regarding state statutes and provisions on the termination of pregnancy in contexts of children born as a result of sexual assault see

[58] For statistics on this see the Department of Justice Criminal Victimization analysis (revised, 2018) at There are several reasons why women choose not to report such crimes, which include fear of retaliation, shame and guilt, and a belief that police will not be able to help them.

[59] For a brief discussion on existing research around rape myths see Olivia Smith & Tina Skinner, “How Rape Myths Are Used and Challenged in Rape and Sexual Assault Trials,” Social & Legal Studies 26, no. 4 (2017): 442-45.

[60] Rachael Kessler, “Due Process and Legislation Designed to Restrict the Rights of Rapist Fathers,” Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, no. 10, vol 1 (2015): 199-229.

[61] There is a sensitive discussion surrounding the definition of rape in Islamic law specifically as it relates to intimate married partners. I have ignored this issue because it would distract from the main purpose of this article.


[63] There have been initiatives in the Muslim community directed at addressing these pressing issues, such as the work of Dr. Aasim Padela of the University of Chicago and his Initiative on Islam and Medicine, Dr. Rafaqat Rashid and the work of al-Balagh Academy, Dr. Mansur Ali of Cardiff University and his research on bioethics, and several others. This is not to mention the many individuals who have tried to create practical spaces to assist people who may find themselves in difficult life circumstances. While there is much more to do, the efforts of these people should not go unnoticed.

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