The Ruling Regarding Whey & Animal Rennet in Cheese

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Rennet is an enzyme used in the food industry for the preparation of cheese by curdling milk.  It coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids, curds, and liquid, whey.  Rennet is extracted from the stomach of an animal whose meat is lawful after slaughtering in accordance with shari’ah.  Whey is a by-product which appears during the process of cheese making.

Regarding the whey and rennet of animals which were slaughtered according to the shari’ah, then it is unanimously considered permissible for consumption.  As for the whey and rennet of animals which were not slaughtered according to the shari’ah, scholars hold two opinions.

Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) and according to saying, Imam Ahmad (r.a.) and others say it is pure and may be consumed.

Imam Malik (r.a.); two students of Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.), Imam Abu Yusuf (r.a.) and Imam Muhammad ibn ash-Shaybani (r.a.); Imam ash-Shafi`i (r.a.), according to another recorded opinion, Imam Ahmad (r.a.) and others say it is impure.

Imam as-Sarakhsi (r.a.) wrote in his al-Mabsuth, “Cheese is permissible to consume even if it is made by Zoroastrians because it is narrated that a servant of Salman al-Farisi, when he was a governor of al-Mada’in, brought him a basket full of cheese along with some bread and a knife.  Salman al-Farisi would cut pieces of the cheese and hand it out to his companions and would explain to them how cheese is made.”  And that is the Nahafi position.

Imam Muhammad ‘Alish (r.a.) wrote in his Manh al-Jalil, “Imam Malik disliked cheese because it was made by rennet of animals that are not slaughtered according to the shari’ah.”

In Sharh al-Bahja by Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.), a Shafi’i reference, it is written that, “Cheese is allowed as long as the rennet is obtained from a properly slaughtered, halal animal that is only feeding on milk, otherwise the contents of its stomach are najis.”

Imam al-Bahuti (r.a.) wrote in his Kashf al-Qina’, in Hanbali fiqh, it states that, “The cheese of the Zoroastrians and other polytheists is allowed even if it is made from rennet of animals they slaughtered, which means that the cheese made by the People of Scripture is also allowed.”


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