Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
Question: Assalam aleykum,
Is gelatin derived from pork permissible to consume? Some people are saying that gelatin derived from pork underwent the process of istihala (transformation). They use the example that dung is impermissible but used as a fertilizer. Out of that fertilizer we grow crops which are permissible to consume.
JazakaLlah khayr for your question.
Istihalah refers to the transformation of the essence of one object to another. Istihalah, in principle, is accepted by the Shafi’i’s in a number of instances. One of them being the example of dung that eventually becomes part of crops as you cited above. Another example and perhaps the most popular, is khamr that becomes vinegar.
Important however, is the fact that the Shafi’i jurists consider the application of Istihalah restricted (mahsur) to those instances quoted in our legal texts only. They do not allow that it be applied elsewhere.
Consequently and speaking strictly according to the Shafi’is, one may not apply the reasoning of istihalah to porcine gelatin. Porcine gelatin is thus impermissible to consume. That being said, Istihalah is analogous according to other schools such as the Hanafis and Malikis, as well as one version of the Hambali School. One is thus advised to to consult local authoritative halal bodies on the issue, before spreading any one opinion in a community and thereby causing confusion and unnecessary debate.
And Allah knows best