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Islamic Laws on Eating and Drinking according to Ayatollah Sistani’s Fatwas

Allah the Almighty has made the beautiful nature and all animals and fruits and greeny at die disposal of mankind for his own use, so that he is able to use these things for eating and drinking, and covering himself to build his shelter, and other necessities, but for the protection of man’s life, and for the security of his body and soul, and for those to come after him, and to protect the rights of others, laws and regulations have been laid down, of which, some will be explained in this chapter that relate to eating and drinking.

What follows is the Questions and Answers regarding eating and drinking which is answered by  Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani:

Question: We are unaware of the ingredients of food sold in shops in Western countries: it might be free from those ingredients that are forbidden to us or it might contain them. Are we allowed to eat such items without looking into their ingredients, or inquiring about them? Or is that not allowed to us?

Answer: It is permissible [to eat such food] as long as it is not known that it contains meat, fat, and their derivatives that are forbidden to us.


Question: Is it permissible to use, in our foods, oils derived from fish that are forbidden to us? What about using such oils for other matters?

Answer: It is not permissible to use such oils for cooking but using them for any other purposes is permissible.


Question: There is this vinegar that is made from wine, in the sense that it was wine and then, through a manufacturing process, changed into vinegar. Therefore, the label on the bottle reads: “wine vinegar” as opposed to the vinegar made from barley or other items. One of the signs [of differentiating between “wine vinegar” and the wine itself is that] the bottles of this vinegar are displayed in the area of vinegar, and it has never happened that these bottles are placed on the shelves of wines. Moreover, there is no difference between such vinegar and the vinegar made from dates for example. So, can this wine which has turned into vinegar be considered vinegar under the rule of change (istihalah)?

Answer: If the name “vinegar” can be applied in the view of common people upon that product, as has been assumed in the question, the same rule governing vinegar would apply to it. [That is, it is pure as well as permissible.]

Question: Gelatin is used in a number of drinks and food items in the West. We do not know that gelatin has been extracted from a vegetable or an animal source; and that if it is from an animal, is it from its bones or from the tissues around the bones; neither do we know if the animal was one that is halãl for us or harãm. Are we allowed to eat such gelatin?

Answer: It is permissible to eat if the doubt is whether it has been extracted from an animal or vegetable. But, if it is known that it was derived from an animal, then it is not permissible to eat without ascertaining that the animal was slaughtered according to Sharí‘a. This prohibition applies, as a matter of obligatory precaution, even if it was extracted from animal bones.
Of course, if a chemical change occurs (Istihala) in the original ingredients during the process of manufacturing the gelatin, there is no problem at all in eating it.


Question: The people residing in Europe are of different faiths, nationalities and religions; and when we buy moist or wet food items, the shopkeeper may touch it with his hands. Since we do not know his religion, can we consider that food as pure?

Answer: As long as it is not known that the hands of the shopkeeper were Najis, the food is to be considered Tahir.

Question: Can we eat the food that has been cooked by a Hindu?

Answer: If it is not known that the food is Najis and if the food does not contain meat, there would be no problem in eating it. However, if the food has been touched with a wet hand or in the state of wetness, it is not permissible to eat it (obligatory precaution).

Question: Is it permissible to the food that has been cooked by a non-Muslim?

Answer: It is permissible to eat the food that is not known to be najis. All kinds of food with the exception of meat, fat, and their extracts are permissible for a Muslim as long as he does not know that they are najis.


Question: Is mushroom a Halal vegetable?

Answer: Yes, it is halal.


Question: What is the ruling about drinking tea or milk or juices served to us in India?

Answer: There is no problem in drinking them.

About Ali Teymoori

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