Previously Asked Questions
Food Law Questions:

Most of your questions about this topic will be answered by reviewing the Explantory Notes for Song 34 of the Guiding Helper.

> What is the ruling on eating gelatin?

Under the opinion we are narrating:  if it is taken from an unslaughtered dead
animal, then it is *not* permissible to eat. 

We have not delved into the branch ruling for gelatin whose chemical structure
has changed, but we would expect that there is disagreement about it in the
Maliki school.  Thus, one opinion would permit it while another will
prohibit it.

You may ask a another source about this or take our simple first ruling above.

  Footnote 2137 of the Guiding Helper Explanatory Notes
  and associated entries in the Notes of Sources.

> Can the sacrifice of an animal (e.g., For `Id or an Aqiqah) be made in
> a country other than the one in which the family lives?

Yes.  There is no specific place mandated for the sacrifice as there is no
real difference between the `Aqiqah sacrifice and that of `Id al-Adha.
     [QF: volume 1: page 166: line(s) 11]

> Is Jewish Kosher meat mubah?

If it is prepared according to the guidelines mentioned in
Song 34:  Food Laws.  Our best estimation is that kosher meat
in most parts of the world is permissible to eat (which means it is
allowed but may be disliked in certain circumstances).

> Another thing is in connection with the slaughtering of an animal
> by a kitabi in order to make it halal. As you know in Sidi Khalil and
> its commentaries the slaughtering made by a kitabi should be done
> according to the Islamic way and it should be witnessed by a Muslim
> who knows how the way should be performed. Nevertheless, I chose -
> after consulting some people of knowledge - to put in the commentary
> of the Risala the position of Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi as stated in
> his Tafsir Ahkam al-Qur'an and reported in the Mi'yar by al-Wansharisi.
> I found it easier for the people living in the West. The position of
> Ibn al-Arabi is that it is not important the way how the kitabi performs
> the slaughtering providing that the Christian or Jewish priest considers
> that the meat is allowed according to their law. Al-Wansharisi also says
> that it is not to us to investigate which is the situation of the law according
> to the Christians or Jews, what we have to be concerned with is only if
> they consider the meat of the animal slaughtered as halal for them. If it
> is halal for them, then it is halal for us regardless of the way how the animal
> has been slaughtered.
> I have taken this position and reported this in the commentary
> of the Risala because I found it easier for us living in the West
> and because I really disliked the obsession some Muslims have
> with "Halal" meat up to the point of inviting them to your house
> and asking you if the meat is "halal" or not.
> I would really appreciate your opinion in this matter.

I don't have the reference right now, but I believe it is against
proper manners to ask a Muslim at his house whether or not the
food is halal.  Such questioning can cause trouble and discord.

As for the position you narrate, we are aware of it and are aware
that the `arif billah and wali ullah ibn al-`Arabi has narrated it.

Having studied our Law system deeply, we refrain from taking
dogmatic (strict closed-minded) stances on most side issues
(furu`) of Fiqh.

The opinion we have narrated in the Guiding Helper is that
a monotheist may perform the sacrifice but according to our
three wajibs and one stressed sunnah.

As for what the Maliki school says in totality about this issue, it
includes what we have narrated in the Guiding Helper, it includes
what Sidi Khalil has said, and it includes what you have narrated.

This is evident from Ibn Rushd's summary of this subject as
narrated by Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi in al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah:

  Ibn Rushd says:  It is agreed that six types of people cannot
  sacrifice the animal:  (1) the small child who does not have
  cognizance, (2) the person in a crazy-fit / posessed-by-a-jinn,
  (3) the drunkard who is drunk, (4) the Fire Worshipper [and also
  an idolist/polytheist], (5) the person who has left Islam (murtadd),
  and (6) the zindiq (this term may be applied to an atheist).

  There are six types of people whose sacrifice is disliked:  (1) the
   young child who has cognizance, (2) the woman, (3) the effeminate
   man (khuntha), (4) the castrated man, (5) the uncircumcised man,
   and (6) the perpetually disobedient person (fasiq).

   Then there are six people whose sacrifice there is disagreement about:
   (1) the person who does not pray, (2) the drunkard who is not very drunk,
   (3) the person who engages in blameworthy innovations (bid`ah in `aqidah)
   about which there is disagreement concerning takfir, (4) the Arab
   Christian, (5) the Christian who slaughters at a command of a Muslim,
   and (6) the non-Arab who becomes Muslim before puberty.

[QF: volume 1: page 157: line(s) 18-24: {book 9, chapter 5, summary (talkhis)}]

Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi mentions earlier that there is disagreement about whether
the Christian must be Arab or not.  Additionally, there is no total agreement
or details given about exactly how the animal must be sacrificed by the
Christians.  Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi notes:

    "...And there is no disagreement in the meat's permissibility of the
     Christian/Jew who slaughters for himself except for their holidays...."

   [QF: volume 1: page 156: line(s) 21: {book 9, chapter 5, section 1, 1st fourth}]

Again in the above excerpt, no exact description is given of how the
sacrifice must be performed.
Thus, the conclusion is that the popular opinion
in the Maliki school states that the kitabi must
follow our three wajibs and one stressed sunnah; however,
valid minority opinions in the school exist that
encompass much easier views such as the one you
narrate in the Risalah.

Again, one must look at one's society and a
minority opinion may be more suitable to it due
to the conditions of the Muslims at that place.

We would say the following: 

   a) In a society where the majority of the
      people are Muslim, the popular opinion should
      be followed.
   b) In a society where Muslims only make up a
      small minority, it is permissible to follow
      the easier opinions narrated by the authentic
      Maliki scholars, such as being able to eat
      any meat slaughtered by a kitabi without delving
      deep into the exact means of slaughter used.

> What is the ruling on addittives to food referred to as
> E-numbers? Is one obliged to find out about them(which
> is often a long process)or is it suffecient to refrain from that
> which is known to be haram and not go into too much detail?

As footnote 2638 of the *Explanatory Notes* hints, one should not
delve too deeply into food ingredients (especially now a days) as
such will make life too difficult.

So for example if you see the European Union assigned E-number:

        E309 Delta-tocopherol

You need not look up what Delta-tocopherol is unless it is *clearly*
and *commonly* known that such an ingredient is *always* taken from
an unslaughtered land animal.

In other words if you read in the ingredients "contains animal fat" or
"contains pork", then you should refrain from that food product.  Otherwise,
delving too deeply will make life very hard and make the din very hard to

  The Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Indeed the
  din is easy.   And no one tries to make the din hard [for himself]
  except that [this extremity in practice] overwhelms him."


As a side note, one should also know that a very famous trick of
Shaytan is to make the person lop-sided in his practice of din by
giving too much emphasis to any particular aspect of the din (and we
see so many such unfortunate souls today).  As the person only has
limited resources and energy at his disposal, if he gives too much
emphasis to any one aspect, it will most certainly detract from other
necessary aspects and he will fail to achieve the well-rounded
character of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give
him peace) and most of the Companions.

And this is the reason why we have mentioned so many subjects
in the Guiding Helper, so that people will not give too much emphasis
to purification and salat (for example) - as they will expend their remaining
resources and energy on making their marriages work, raising their children,
resolving family conflicts, dividing up their inheritances, conducting
honest business transactions, etc.

> In GH you write that smoking is Haram. I have heard that
> in Hanafi fiqh it is mubah. I was wondering if there was
> a difference between cigarettes (which have many additives, and extra
> nicotine etc.) and the water pipes that are used in
> the Middle east (i.e. apple, honey, tobacco, glycerine.) I admit my Nafs
> is involved in this question, but also because I
> sometimes visit a Sheikh who smokes the water pipes (because it is a
> valid Rukhsa from the Hanafis) and he offers
> one pipe to me since I am a guest. I know it is a valid rukhsa, but I'm
> wondering if there is a difference in ruling btwn
> the two manners of smoking in the Maliki school.

First of all realize that there is a minority opinion in the Maliki school
which allows cigarette smoking and use of tobacco products.

The popular opinion (taken from Ibn `Ashir's Sharh called
al-Habl al-Matin) states that cigarette smoking and use of tobacco
products (e.g., tobacco gum) is not permissible. 
Now if the pipe cigarette does not contain tobacco (or only contains
trace amounts of tobacco) but contains other mubah-to-intake ingredients
(e.g., apple, honey, glycerin, etc.), then such smoking is
mubah in the Maliki school which generally allows one to intake smoke
and gases (Ref: `Adawi's commentary on Khurashi's commentary of
Sidi Khalil's words "that ashes and smoke is pure" in book of

One reason that we have not noted the easier opinion on this matter
is that it is now an accepted scientific fact that there is a
direct link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and a direct
link between tobacco chewing and cancer growths in the mouth.  Thus,
we figured that those young people who are thinking about using such
products would be encouraged to live healthier lives.

As for old people who have become addicted to such, then they
may follow the minority opinion on this matter - when they
are not fasting.

  "And our Maliki teachers have disagreed about inhaling smoke
   of a plant which is called 'tobacco' (tabah).  Some of them have strictly
   prohibited it while others have allowed it."

  [DT: volume 1: page 458: line(s) 17-18: {explanation of
   verses 294-300, }]-

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