Gelatin obtained from the skin, bones, cartilage, or tendons of an any animal not slaughtered correctly (zabīha) would be considered haram by the majority of scholars. I say majority of scholars, as there is an additional discussion that takes place when it comes to gelatin, regarding metamorphosis (istihāla/istihlāk). Before understanding the difference of opinion, you must first understand what is being discussed.

Scholars differed in their opinions regarding the ruling of an impure substance that has gone through a significant change (such a change that gives the new substance a new name and the new substance loses its discernable qualities i.e. smell, texture etc.) due to human intervention; does the new substance become pure or does it remain impure? Imam Abu Hanifa is of the opinion that if such a change were to occur, it would render the final product pure and hence permissible to use and consume; this is one opinion attributed to Imam Malik and is also the opinion of some later scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah. Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad both hold the opinion that even after such a change, the final product will still be impure and hence impermissible to use or consume. According to this second group, no further discussion is warranted if gelatin was derived from a non halal source.

The discussion here takes place when it comes to the opinion of the first group. The discussion that takes place is whether gelatin obtained from a non halal (impure) source goes through a sufficient transformation to render it halal. There exists a great deal of ongoing discussion in this regard. Individual scholars, as well as Fiqh Academies/Assemblies have and are currently conducting research into this with the help of experts in the field. There have been resolutions passed that go both ways i.e. some have deemed the transformation sufficient to warrant a new ruling and others have not.

I have reviewed the research and lean towards the opinion that a sufficient transformation has occurred and hence all gelatin regardless of the source is pure. However, I do exercise caution (and would recommend doing so) when it comes to consuming gelatin due to the nature and sensitivity of this ongoing discussion. Allah knows best
Original author: Imam Yahya Momla.


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