maulana desai’s answer to mufti abdullah nana on rennent

Q. A Mufti in the U.S.A. has issued a fatwa on permissibility of cheese containing rennet obtained from non-zabihah animals. This fatwa has caused much confusion. According to the Mufti, many senior Muftis of the Hanafi Math-hab including Mufti Nizaamuddin and Mufti Mahmood have issued fatwa’s stating that rennet of non-zabihah cattle is permissible to consume. He says that the view of permissibility is also substantiated by many classical texts of the Hanafi School of Thought such as Ahkaamul Qur’aan of Jassaas and Al-Mabsut of Imam Sarakhsy. Please elaborate on this issue.
A. The Mufti Saheb erred in his fatwa regarding beef rennet. Rennet derived from non-zabihah animals (i.e. animals not slaughtered according to the Shariah’s rules) are haraam, hence products containing such rennet are likewise haraam. The cheese containing such haraam rennet is likewise haraam.
Mufti Nizaamuddin, Mufti Mahmood and other senior Hanafi Muftis did not issue a fatwa of permissibility of beef rennet. They merely echoed the same difference of opinion between Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) and Imaam Abu Yusuf and Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayhim) on a substance called Infahah. Mufti Nizaamuddin and others are of the view that Infahah of non-zabihah calves is halaal, and this is our view as well.
Mufti Abdullah Nana Sahib (of U.S.A.) has understood that rennet is Infahah, hence his error. He has confused rennet with Infahah. Modern dictionaries simply translate Infahah as ‘rennet’ when in reality Infahah is not rennet. Rennet is the enzyme which is extracted from the stomach linings while Infahah is not the rennet enzyme of which the Mufti speaks.
Infafah is the curdled milk – the actual milk – which is obtained from a calf which is slaughtered soon after it drinks its mother’s milk. It is not the enzyme rennet which is obtained from the actual stomach linings. In fact, Infahah of non-zabihah calves according to Qiyaas (i.e. the Shariah’s process of logical reasoning) should also be haraam. However, in view of the fact that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah had consumed cheese containing Infahah, the hillat ruling is given khilaaf-e-qiyaas or in conflict with logical reasoning. When qiyaas clashes with an act or ruling of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), we put the qiyaas aside and act according to the ruling of Nabi-e-Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
According to the principles of Fiqah, a khilaaf-e-qiyaas hukm (ruling) may not be extended to other things and substances. It has to be confined to its original substratum which in this case is Infahah. It does not follow from the permissibility of Infahah that everything in the stomach and the stomach and the whole non-zabihah animal is halaal. If the hukm of permissibility of Infahah has to be extended to even the rennet enzyme extracted from the non-zabihah’s stomach, then tomorrow someone can argue that the stomach lining too is halaal, and the stomach too is halaal, and on this basis everything of the non-zabihah animal is halaal. But this is palpably baseless. This baseless consequence is the effect of extending the hukm of the Infahah of non-zabihah animals to the enzyme rennet obtained from the actual stomach linings of non-zabeehah cattle.
It is impossible to produce true Infahah on a commercial scale. A little rennet enzyme will achieve what a huge amount of real Infahah can accomplish. People posing questions to senior Muftis in India and Pakistan sometimes themselves do not understand the issue correctly. They present an incorrect picture, hence obtain a fatwa to suit their desires. Now if someone writes to a Mufti saying that the cheese contains beef rennet and rennet is Infahah, then obviously he will obtain a fatwa of permissibility. Meanwhile the Mufti is unaware of the difference.
All cheese containing animal rennet from non-zabeehah animals is haraam.
Assalamu Alaykum
My name is Abdullah Nana and I am the one who quoted the fatwa regarding rennet. The role of Muftis in this day and age is to merely transmit and reproduce the fatwas of our elders. If one has an objection to what I said, they can refer directly to the elders who issued the original fatwa. I wish to reproduce below what Mufti Shafi has written in Maariful Quran:

  1. Cheese made from milk contains an ingredient called infaha in
    Arabic and ‘rennet’ in English. It is a mucous membrane lining taken
    out from the stomachs of suckling lambs or kids. It is used to
    coagulate or curdle milk. If rennet is taken out of the stomach of an
    animal slaughtered in the name of Allah, there is no harm in using it.
    The meat, fat etc. of an Islamically slaughtered animal are
    permissible. But, in the event they are taken from the stomach of an
    animal slaughtered un-Islamically, there is difference of views among
    Muslim jurists. Imams Abii ani if ah and Mslik consider it clean while
    Imams AbG YGsuf, Muhammad and ~ h awr ?an d others call it unclean
    and impure. (Jas??is, ~urtub;)
    There is a strong likelihood that rennet from un-Islamically
    slaughtered animals is used in cheese made in non-Islamic countries,
    therefore, relying on the consensus of Muslim jurists, one must avoid
    using it. Under the juristic position taken by Imam Abu ani if ah and
    Imam Malik, leeway exists. Some cheeses made in western countries
    have pork-fat as one of their ingredients which, hopefully, can be seen
    on the wrapper or tin. All these are absolutely hariim and impure. (v. 1, pg. 428)

This English translation has been approved by Mufti Taqi Usmani. Please refer to him if you have any objections.

Abdullah Nana

Further clarification and authentification.
1) In a commentary of the hadith text, Mishqatul Masaabeeh, by the famous Hanafi, scholar, Ali Qaari, Mirqaat, volume 8, page 193, is mentioned in the Kitaabul A’timah, Fasl Thaani.

Ibn Umar, radhiallahu anhu, narrates that our Rasul, sallallahu alayhi wasallam, was given a piece of Jubnah [Cheese] in Tabuk; he called for a knife, praying the tasmiyya he cut it [and ate it] narrated by Abu Dawud.
In the commentary, is mentioned; in this is proof of the purity of anfahah, because if it was impure then the cheese itself would be impure for it cannot be made without it [anfahah].

Again In this commentary in volume 2, page 79/80 is mentioned, in Bab Mash alal Khufayn, Fasl Awwal.
Tabraani narrates with a good sanad, although Ghareeb, that in one of the ghazawah, cheese was brought to Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam; He asked where it was made? Someone replied in Persia or in the lands of the Majus. Place the knife on it [cut it] and eat it. Someone said; O Rasulullah, we fear it may be carrion [Maitah]. He replied pray the tasmiyyah and eat it. Tirmidhi has mentioned a hadith wherein the Prophet was given a pair of leather socks and he wore them, without knowing whether they were pure or not. In the hadith of Salmaan, our Rasul was questioned regarding Jubn [cheese], Simn [clarifed butter] and Faraa’e [leather] together with the fact that it was taken from the lands of the Majus. It was mentioned to Umar regarding Jubn [cheese] and said to him that the rennet of dead animals are put in it [cheese]. He replied pray the tasmiyyah and eat it. Imam Ahmad mentions that this is the most sound hadith regarding cheese manufactured by Majus.

From the above commentaries it is evident that if rennet is derived from an animal that is permissible to eat, despite how it is slaughtered, it is Halaal to eat such cheese, despite the method used in the making of cheese.The rennet formed by the milk drunk by a newly born calf, which is then slaughtered and taken from its stomach is somewhat solid and has the effect of solidifying liquid milk and transforming it into cheese. Its permissibility though seemingly irrational because what is within the womb and stomach is under the law of impurity but the permissibility of cheese is established by Nass [Sharii proof] and agreed, therefore rennet is pure and permissible Fatwa Mazahir Ulum Volume 1 page 110.

2) Mufti Taqi’ Uthmaani, mentions that the ruling of Hadhraat Saahibayn is more cautious whilst that of Imaam Abu Hanifah is extensive or accommodating. If a pious person refrains it is better, whilst if a person is consuming cheese do not stop him. However, the rennet derived from the stomach of a pig is Haraam and Impure, provided its original property and chemical makeup does not undergo any drastic change.
Vegetarian or synthetic rennet, if nothing impure has been added to it will be Halaal. The cheese sold in supermarkets and shops, if it is vegetarian or derived from animals slaughtered Islamically is permissible to consume. On the other hand if it is pig rennet used in the cheese, without transformation then this is not permissible. Lastly, the rennet in cheese from animals other than pig is permissible, but abstention is desirable.
Bahr al-Raa’iq Volume 1 page 112/3

The point is that these Muftis have all understood the arabic word ‘anfihah’ to refer to rennet. Almost all the Muftis that have written a fatwa on ‘anfihah’ have translated it as ‘rennet.’ If someone wants to claim otherwise, then they should present their alternative view with references from reliable scholars that the word ‘Anfihah’ is not translated as rennet. The correct people to refer to for issues related to the translation of ‘Anfihah’ are Mufti Taqi, Mufti Sacha, Darul Ifta at Darul Uloom Karachi, and other senior scholars who have understood the word ‘Anfihah’ to refer to rennet and translated it as such into English. I am just a transmitter of their views. This is not my original view. Allah knows best.


22 Rabiul Awwal 1431 (9-03-2010)

Hassaan Sulaiman, Pakistan

Respected Brother,

Your e-mail dated 6-03-2010 refers.

When I had returned from studies in 1970, I too was thinking along the
lines that Maulana Abdullah Nana of U.S.A. is presently thinking. He
appears to be a sincere person and espousing the Haqq. May Allah
Ta’ala increase him in knowledge and wisdom. It is my fervent dua
that he will develop into a shining example of an Aalim-e-Haqq.

Many decades ago I too had misunderstood the issue of rennet and I
had argued against senior South African Ulama who had issued the fatwa
of hurmat of cheese which contained animal rennet derived from ghair
mathbooh animals. In fact I had published an article in an early issue
of The Majlis refuting that view of prohibition. Later when I met the
respected senior Mufti Sanjalvi Sahib (rahmatullah alayh) who had
issued the fatwa of prohibition, he explained the difference between
anfahah and present-day rennet. Rennet as it is known today is not the
anfafah which was in the cheese consumed by the Sahaabah.

The original anfafah is permissible khilaaf-e-qiyaas. Such a hukm
cannot be extended to other haraam substances for declaring them
halaal. The original anfafah was the actual curdled milk which was
extracted from the stomach of the calf soon after it had drunk from
its mother and then slaughtered. On the contrary, commercial rennet
manufactured today is not the curdled milk. It is the enzyme which is
extracted from the actual linings of the stomach.

Now if the extract from the haraam stomach linings is proclaimed
halaal on the basis of the khilaaf-e-qiyaas hukm of anfafah which
according to Qiyaas is haraam, and which according to many Fuqaha is
haraam despite the Hadith, then logically the stomach linings will
also be halaal. Then on the same analogical basis the stomach of the
ghair mathbooh animal will also be halaal, and on the same basis, the
meat of the ghair mathbooh will also be halaal.

The one faasid qiyaas will lead to another corrupt ruling, and then
the entire Ruling of hurmat of carrion will be abrogated.

The faasid conclusion of the Muftis on the issue of cheese is their
inability to understand the simple difference between anfafah and
commercial rennet.

Was-salaam A.S. Desai

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