Contaminated Animal Feed (Jalla Jilla Julla wa Jallala!)

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Sidi Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti

A couple of days ago, a friend brought up a matter regarding halal meat. The question/issue was the animal has to be herbivorous to be Halal, and an animal becomes Haram if it consumes blood and /or meat (mammal feed). However, nowadays, it is quite common for farmers to feed their livestock with animal protein and animal by-products, including animal food derived from pigs and dead animals(bangkai). [Malay for the Arabic: mayta or jifa = carcass]

So, I would be grateful to know the hukum with regard to this issue, esp. from the Shafie school.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful


Al-hamdulillah wa-l-salat wa-l-salam ‘ala Rasulillah.

Blood, pig derivatives, and carcass or derivatives from a meat of an animal not slaughtered in accordance with our Shari’a are considered Najasa [impurity]. However, any livestock [na’am] (sheep, cattle, goats and camels), including chicken (and other poultry), fed with impurities, or specifically for our question here, fed with impurities other than animal excrements, does not make it Haram or prohibited for Muslims to eat. The Qawl Asahh [the more correct position] in our school (made famously by Imam al-Nawawi in Kitab al-At’ima of the Minhaj) is that it is only Makruh Tanzih or merely disliked to eat such slaughtered meat, and more so, it can only be Makruh Tanzih if that meat is found to have an offensive smell or that the taste or the colour of that meat is different from usual. This ruling (in that it is not Haram) is arrived at because one acts upon what is the asl or the original state, which is based on the qa’ida or legal principle of al-aslu baqa’u ma kana ‘ala ma kana [the original state is to maintain ‘X’ with ‘X’]. A classic example used by our jurists is: even if a lamb were to be brought up with dog’s or pig’s milk, that lamb is still considered Halal and is only regarded as a Jallala (which is also Halal but Makruh) if it meets the condition of a Jallala such that if it ‘smells’ (see below).

So, your statement that “the animal has to be herbivorous to be Halal, and an animal becomes Haram if it consumes blood and /or meat” is nonsensical, from a fiqhi point of view, because the original state of the slaughtered meat [lahm al-madhakka] in question (such as beef), is nevertheless Halal, tahir and pure, and furthermore, as one of our jurists aptly puts it, “it cannot be made Haram just on account of its foul smell.” [Zakariyya al-Ansari, Asna al-Matalib, 3:412]. A ‘herbivorous animal’ is not a term which we use to judge whether an animal is Halal for human consumption or otherwise, since an elephant, considered a herbivore by biologists, is considered Haram by our jurists for consumption; and likewise, a fox, considered a carnivore, is Halal to eat. Even if we were to admit an extreme example, such as, if that ‘herbivorous animal’ or let us say, a slaughter-able Halal animal [ma’kul] like a sheep were to change its attribute and become carnivorous, then that sheep would still be Halal when slaughtered, because one judges by its original state (unless if the metamorphosis is complete, such that the sheep changes into a lion, essentially (dhati) and attribute-wise (sifati), then there is khilaf and further discussion in our school). [Ibn Hajar, Tuhfa, 12:317].

In fiqh, the technical name for slaughter-able animals that eat impurities are ‘Jallala’ [contaminated animals], because they eat ‘Jalla’ [technically, contaminant or impurity, and literally, ba’ra (and ‘adhira) – the excrements or droppings and stools of animals (that are dry); but according to Sayyid al-Bakri, this includes all the impurities, including impurities other than ba’ra; I’anat al-Talibin, 2:400]. The Hukm for eating a Jallala meat as alluded to at the beginning, is only Makruh Tanzih, not Haram. So any slaughter-able animal that eats any impurities including liquid intoxicants (which is considered a Najasa in our school), then, that animal may be (but not necessarily) considered, a Jallala. This is especially so, if the following circumstance [Hal] is met:

If it is discovered that most [akthar] of the animal’s feed are impure. (By ‘most’, one judges according to what is customary for the farmer in question, since what is ‘most’ for a city dweller who has never lived in a farm might be ‘little’ for farmers; chickens which sometimes eat their own droppings is a good case.)

However that is not the ‘real’ condition [shart] for it to be considered a Jallala; instead the Mani’ (the prevention; that is to say, the legal reasoning (‘Illa) for it being Makruh to eat a Jallala) is if the following occurs:

That (whether dead or alive), there is a noticeable [zahir] change in the smell, taste or colour of the meat/by-products or the sweat of an animal from what is normally the case, such as the smell exuded is the smell of that Najasa.

Once an animal is considered a Jallala, merely washing or cooking the slaughtered meat will not remove the Makruhness of eating it (if either its smell, taste or colour is affected in the first place – if not, then the question of Makruh does not arise).

When one knows that an animal is contaminated, then it is Mustahabb [recommended] that the animal be quarantined and fed with uncontaminated feed in order that the animal in question ‘recovers’. (This will prevent the slaughtered meat from becoming Makruh to eat later on; and if it is not to be slaughtered, then it is to remove the Hukm of Makruh of consuming any by-products of the animal in question, such as its egg and milk, or to remove the dislikedness of riding bare on it (even if it is not sweating) or to use its skin.) There is a general guideline, set by our jurists, giving the respective quarantine periods as follows: 40 days for camels, 30 days for cattle, 7 days for sheep and goats, and 3 days for chickens [Ibn Hajar, Tuhfa, 12:322; note that the guideline is based upon the authority of the Athar of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with both of them!) which does not specify the period for cattle and this explains why we find that some of our jurists (such as Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari and al-Jamal) set the period of cattle with camels, namely 40 days, (following the qiyas [analogy] made by Ibn Jama’a) as opposed to 30 days (set by Ibn Hajar and al-Ramli, and followed later, among others, by al-Qalyubi, al-Bujayrmi, and by the most recent authority, al-Jurdani in his Fath al-‘Allam)]. If the animal ‘recovers’ before the said period, then it is sufficient, if not, one repeats the quarantine again until the Mani’ is lifted. If the animal were to ‘recover’ without going through this process, then it is also sufficient, since the Mani’ is lifted.

If, according to what you say is true and verified by food scientists that, “nowadays, it is quite common for farmers to feed their livestock with animal protein and animal by-products, including animal food derived from pigs”, then, that ‘protein feed’ will be considered Najasa in our school, because, the (I’m assuming small) amount of pig derivatives (or other Najasa) mixed with the other non-Najasa material in that ‘protein feed’, makes the whole thing an impurity. This is based on the rule that when one knows that there is an impurity in a mixture but one does not know which part of that mixture contains the impurity, then the whole mixture is considered impure. [This is based on the general legal principle of idha ijtama’a l-halalu wa-l-haramu ghuliba l-haramu [when the Halal and Haram meet, the Haram prevails]. In fact, students of fiqh will come to realize that this general qa’ida is used to explain why one of the 11 cases (i.e., the 6th case) is exempted from the normal use of one of the five legal principles which our school is said to be built upon, namely, al-yaqinu la yuzalu bi l-shakk [certainty is not removed by doubt], such as, when some impurity comes into contact with someone’s clothing or body, and that person does not know its location, then it would be Wajib to wash everything; cf. al-Suyuti, Ashbah, 1:152.] The fiqhi implication here is that to feed an animal with anything impure in itself [Najasa ‘Ayn, but not Mutanajjis] is Makruh, and not Haram [if Mutanajjis, then it is not at all Makruh] (this is a famous Fatwa by Ibn al-Sabbagh, the first Imam to teach at the Nizamiyya of Baghdad). [al-Nawawi, Rawda, 3:10].

However, as we now know, that unless there is a noticeable change in the state (of one of the three qualities) in the animal or meat in question, then that animal cannot be considered a Jallala, and hence it will not be Makruh to eat the meat of that animal in question; if there is a change, then it will only be Makruh to eat such meat, and not Haram. (By my reckoning, it will most probably be unlikely that such an animal will exhibit a noticeable change in their state by eating ‘protein feed’ – a food engineered or designed by presumably, food scientists, either for the convenience of mass producing animal food or for the supposed benefit of livestock and poultry animals.)

Nevertheless, the fiqhi ruling is easy; the difficulty is in applying its ‘adab’. If the animal were to be considered a Jallala, to avoid eating the meat out of ta’a [obedience to Allah] will be rewarded by Allah, even though eating it is permitted by the school and that person is not sinning. (It is as if, when one is able, to follow a stricter ruling [‘azima] such as following the Hanbalis who say that to eat a Jallala meat is Haram, even when the easier ruling [rukhsa] is allowed in our school.) To leave the Makruh is considered Wara’ scrupulousness, but out of piety]. Likewise, as is more likely in our case, when the meat is not considered a Jallala, but if we were to have knowledge that the animal in question was fed by objectionable means (such as feeding them with impurities) or by unlawful means (such as feeding them with stolen money), then it would also be out of Wara’ to avoid eating such meat, even though eating it is not Haram. That is why, it is best, when one is able, to obtain a meat that one knows where it comes from, that it comes from a farm that does not feed the animal in question with impurities or other objectionable means, whether the farm is a so-called ‘organic farm’ or otherwise. By doing that, we have at least tried to prevent some harm coming our way. (Coincidentally, one of the definitions of Wara’ (the Wara’ of the Salihin, the Righteous) is, “to refrain from something that is not harmful, as a precaution against getting [harm] in that which is not harmful”; cf. Nawawi al-Jawi, Salalim al-Fudala’, 11.)

Al-Khatib al-Shirbini, in the Mughni, after discussing the case of feeding an animal by objectionable means (such as a lamb raised and fed with dog’s or pig’s milk) and by unlawful means (such as feeding a sheep for around 10 years by unlawfully acquired money), eloquently quotes Imam al-Ghazali as giving this advice:

“To refrain eating from a sheep that is fed by illegal means [maghsub] is from among the Wara’, even when it is not Haram to leave the Wara’.” [al-Shirbini, Mughni, 6;156].

Even better, let us look at the source that al-Shirbini used, namely, al-Ghazali’s Ihya’:

“The highest degree of Ma’siya [disobedience] connected to a reason that is Halal in matters of Shubha or doubtful lawfulness], which is severely Makruh concerning it [note: this is because al-Ghazali holds the stricter position in our school, namely to eat a Jallala meat is Makruh Tahrim], is: that which its trace remains in the thing obtained [mutanawal], such as, to eat from a sheep that is fed by illegal means or grazed in an unlawful grazing land. For that is disobedience, whereas (its feed) becomes a reason for its survival. It may be that what remains from its blood, its meat and its parts is from that feed. This Wara’ is important, even though it is not Wajib.” [Ihya’, 2:125].

This advice is sufficient for those who understand.

I end with the following rajaz and may it be among the Ahsan al-Qa’il concerning Jallala:

idhA akkalta d-dawAjina n-najAsah
fa-hya llatI tusamma bi-l-jallAlah

wa-Hukmu aklihA laysa muHarramah
wa-lakini l-aSaHHu hiya makrUhah

idhA ‘allafta d-dawAjina najisan
in fa’alta dhalika takun ‘ASiyyan

wa-in tatruk jallAlatan rA’ihatan
ta’mal dhalika kunta mutawarri’an

[If you were to eat contaminated poultry;
which is then known as the Jallala,

while the ruling about eating it, is not Haram;
but the More Correct Opinion, is Makruh.

If you were to feed poultry with filth;
then by doing that, you are disobeying,

while if you refrained from the smelling Jallala;
then by doing that, you are being pious.]

May this be of benefit and only Allah and His Messenger knows the best ruling.

Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti
18 Rabi’ I 1424
20 V 2003


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