The Sharing Group Discussion on Rennet

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Sister San Yee posted this, on The Sharing Group, on the 30th September 2015: “I have friends who would not eat cheese without the halal symbol on it because it contains rennet, an enzyme produced by animals.  Personally, I have no problems with having any sort of cheese but I was curious to find out what others thought.  Would you eat cheese that contained rennet or without the halal symbol?”

Brother Ahmet Aydogan: Avoiding possibility of haram without imposing it on any other people is part of taqwa, God-consciousness, for it is recommended in prophetic traditions to avoid doubtful things, however, again, it is not to be haram police towards others.

Brother Jak Kilby: Yes.  In the UK, I was strict to look for vegetarian cheese, which most now is.  And meanwhile, just to avoid that sloppy French stuff for different reasons, and in all cases depending on whether the cheese is tasty.

Brother Sulaiman Galant: What is rennet?

Brother Jak Kilby: An enzyme used in the process of cheese making, commonly extracted from the stomach of animals, usually sheep or cows.

Sister Lily Peters: I used to be so strict about that, until someone asked me if my intentions would be to eat the possible haram in the cheese, or to eat cheese.  It was reasoned at the time that Allah (s.w.t.) Rewards us for the intentions and Islam was made easy as a Blessing for us.

Sister Colleen M Dunn: I did not know that.  I wonder why we fuss over gelatine then, since it seems to be a similar concept in the sense of being an extraction from unknown animal sources.  I do not mind cheese.  In fact, I would often have a cheese platter available for The Sharing Group members who wanted some during our Friday get-togethers.  Most of the guests did not seem to fuss over the rennet issue.  I was, however, careful to order halal cakes, since halal bakeries are readily available in Singapore.  It was an easy adjustment.

Brother Dawud Marsh: This strikes a chord with me as a vegan.  Only veggie cheese for us at home, and vegan version for me.  I would not touch anything if it was not vegetable.  My reasons are different but this was a point raised a while ago amongst our friends.  I would have thought that no product of an animal should be consumed unless it is halal, otherwise why bother fussing about gelatine, as Sister Colleen says?  Where would you draw a line?

Sister Vivi YZ: In Singapore and Malaysia, which follow the Shafi’i school of thought, Muslims have been taught a very strict interpretation of halal.  Some will avoid it.  But if you follow the Hanafi school of thought, it is halal as long as not from swine: Is Rennet in Cheese Halal or Haram to Consume?

Brother Ariffin Yeop: In Malaysia, they follow the Shafi’i school corrupted with Wahhabism.

Sister Rendah Sudany: I do; my husband does not.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: This is from my blog: A Muslim Convert Once More: The Ruling Regarding Whey & Animal Rennet in Cheese.  Since I am Hanafi, I have no qualms about it.  I am not a fan of many Shafi’i rulings.
Brother AbdRohim Sinwan: It would be nice if more asatidzah would explain the rulings not just from one madzhab alone to their students.  It would help a bit to reduce the “my madzhab is the only Islam that is correct,” mindset.

Brother Colin Turner: Hanafi fiqh deems rennet pure and so cheese is halal – thankfully.

Sister -Linda -Bargate: Absolutely!  Got more important things to worry about!

Sister Waheda Rahman: What about food codes?  Is it important to check if halal each time we purchase food items?

Sister San Yee: According to Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, it is not required of the Muslim to inquire about what he has not witnessed, such as how the animal was killed, whether the manner of slaughter met Islamic conditions, or whether the Name of Allah (s.w.t.) was mentioned while slaughtering.  If the animal was slaughtered by a Muslim, even if he is ignorant or sinful, or by someone from among the People of the Book, eating it is halal for us.  According to a hadits, the companions asked the Prophet (s.a.w.), “People bring us meat and we do not know whether they have mentioned the Name of Allah over it or not.  Shall we eat it or not?”

And the Prophet (s.a.w.) replied, “Mention the Name of Allah and eat.”

With regards to cheese, it has been narrated in the major ahadits collections from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was brought cheese in Tabuk.  He asked for a knife then recited, “Bismillah” and cut the cheese.

Imam ibn Abi Shaybah (r.a.) narrated that the grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w.) was asked about the use of cheese prepared by the non-Muslims.  He said, “It is all right.  Just put a knife to it, mention Allah’s Name, and eat it.”

Imam ibn al-Qudamah (r.a.) wrote in his book, al-Mughni, “Someone asked Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal about cheese.  The Imam replied, ‘You can eat it.’  But, when asked about the cheese made by the non-Muslims, he said, ‘There is an authentic hadits through al-A’amash that ‘Amr ibn Sharhabil said that ‘Umar was asked about cheese and the rennet of illegally slaughtered animal used therein.  ‘Umar instructed him to mention Allah’s Name upon it and eat it.”


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