Contamination and Haram Products

Categories: Halal Standards

Contamination and Haram Products

Leave (off) that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt (An-Nasa-i)

Generally, one cannot separate “contamination” from “haram products” because the two concepts are synonymous and interrelated. In order to apply oneself appropriately to these two concepts, one requires an in-depth understanding what is expected of one to do or not to do congruently and relevant to these two concepts. Therefore, defining and describing the concepts of “contamination” and “haram products” and their opposite, “hygienic” and “halal” is essential for optimal working relations (halal-control) and being halal-compliant in whatever we do in life and especially in our work environments.

Contamination (Al-talowwith)

What is contamination?

Contamination refers to making a halal product, substance, commodity or place dirty, impure and unclean by soiling or bringing it into contact with impurities (najis) or ḥarām products, like the pig and/or its derivatives, wine (alcoholic drinks), blood, pus; or by adding a substance that is dangerous, harmful, toxic or hazardous; or with that which carries disease.

To avoid contamination, it is required that the personnel/workers should refrain from smoking, coughing, spitting on the floor and touching/scratching in their noses during food-preparation, from handling uncovered raw material to processing to handling cooked food, etc.

The prerequisite therefore is that appropriate protective clothing/attire must be worn by all personnel or workers in the production, processing and cooked food, etc. working areas.

The observation and application of sanitation is absolutely essential for all circumstances of the working areas/environment.

Impurity (Najis)

“Najis” denotes anything that is impure, unclean, defiled, polluted, soiled, toxic, dirty, filthy or contaminated.

Technically and religiously, “najis” is described as follows:

Najasa-al-‘ayn [نَجَاسَة العَين] – means that the product or something is impure and unclean in its essence like in the case of pigs.

Najis mughallazah [نَجِسٌ مُغَلَّظَة]: that which is considered severe/heavy najis, which are dogs [كَلبٌ / كِلابkalb/kilab] and pigs [خِنزِير / خَنازِير – khinzir/khanazir), including any liquid and objects discharged from their orifices, descendants and derivatives;

Najis mutawassitah [نَجِسٌ مُتَوَسِّطَة]: that which is considered medium najis. Vomit, pus, blood, wine/liquor (khamr), carrion; liquids and discharge from orifices, etc. fall under this category.

Najis mukhaffafah [نَجِسٌ مُخَفَّفَة]: that which is considered light najis. The urine from a baby boy at the age of two years old and below who has not consumed any (solid) food, except his mother’s milk fall under this category of najis;

In other words, najis, according to the Islamic law (Shari’ah), includes:

Dogs and pigs, their descendants and/or derivatives;

Halal food that is contaminated with things that are non-halal;

Halal food that comes into direct contact with things that are non-halal;

Any liquid and objects discharged from the orifices of human beings or animals such as urine, blood, vomit, pus, placenta, and excrement; sperm, ova and milk of pigs and dogs, except sperm, ova and milk of other animals;

Carrion or halal animals or poultry that are not slaughtered according to Shari’ah. This includes wine – alcoholic drinks (khamr) – and/or foods and drinks, which contain, or are mixed with khamr.

There some common Arabic words that are used or associated with, on the same or similar level as that of “najis”, inter alia: “haram”, viz.:

Dirt or filth أَرْجَاس / رِجْس – rijs / arjas]

Rubbish, garbage, dirt or filth [أَقْذَار / قَذَر – qadhar / aqdhar]. With the same meaning is: [قَاذُورَات / قَاذُورَة – qadhurah / qadhurat]

Malignant, repulsive, bad, evil and wicked [ خُبُث / خَبِيث – khabīth / khubuth]

Evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc. [الخَبَائِث – al-khaba-ith]

Haram (Non-Halal)

What is Haram?

Haram” refers to any object or action which is impermissible (unlawful) and is harmful, offensive and detrimental to the body or to a person’s intellect to use or engage in, according to Islamic law.

Haram (Non-Halal) Products [Land Animals / Fowl]

The Quran mentions ten (10) prohibited categories in one verse (Al Ma-idah: Q5: 3):  

Dead animals or fowls (i.e. carrion);

(Flowing/congealed) blood from fowls and animals, (including that of human beings);

 The flesh of swine and whatever portion or derivative of the pig;

Any slaughter of fowls or animals as a sacrifice dedicated for idols or other objects of worship and/or devotion other than Almighty Allah, like devoting the sacrificial animals and/or fowls to the spirits, ancestors or pious people, which includes all the animals or fowls that have been slaughtered on stone altars, as well;

Any slaughter of animals or fowls on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering;

  • Dead animals / carrion, which include any animal or fowl that have been killed or have died:
  • By strangling, or suffocating; or
  • By a violent blow – beaten with a blunt or similar object, like a club; or
  • By a headlong fall – like falling from a high place, or into a ravine, a cliff and die; or
  • By the goring of horns (by another animal).

Any halal animal which has been hunted and eaten partly by a wild animal, unless a Muslim can slaughter it according to Shari’ah law before it dies. When a Muslim happens to find any of the afore-mentioned last-five categories of “dead animals”, whilst these animals are alive and still breathing (hayat-al-mustaqirrah), and before dying, the Muslim may slaughter the animal and it will be rendered as halal. This is based on what Almighty Allah says: “Unless you are able to slaughter the animal (before its death)” [Al Ma-idah: Q5: 3].

The above-mentioned ten prohibited animal categories are summarized as follows:

Untamed and wild animals or birds, like wild beasts and animals [سَبُعٌ / سِبَاعal-sabu’u) with canine teeth [ذُو نَابٍ / أَنْيَاب / نُيُوبdhu nabin) or birds with talons [ذُو مِخلَبٍ / مَخَالِبdhu mikhlabin) are haram to eat. Examples are:

  • the lion, cheetah and the leopard (canine);
  • birds with talon such as the vulture, eagle and the falcon;
  • horses, donkeys or mules (conditionally); cats or dogs; bats or rats, etc. also fall in the above-categories.

In essence, any halal edible (sacrificial) animal or fowl that was not killed or slaughtered, according to halal slaughter standards is included here. Pigs, in their totality (i.e. any derivative of the pig), are haram to be consume by Muslims.

Amphibious Animals

“Amphibious animals” are animals that live or survive in water and on land, like crocodiles, frogs and seals, etc. All such animals are haram to eat.

Rodents, Pest and Venomous Animals

Animals that fall in above-mentioned categories, such as rats, scorpions and snakes are haram to eat.

Pests, like insects, snails, cockroaches, etc. are haram to eat.

Haram-Fed Animals

The rule here that should a permissible (halal-to-eat) animal, like the cow or sheep, is intentionally and continually fed with haram, such an animal is not fit for halal consumption.


Shari’ah always put a special emphasis on blood and its by-products of animal or animal origin.

Accordingly, as a general rule: all types of blood and its by-products are non-halal.


What does Halal mean?

Halal is an Arabic word, which literally means: “lawful / permissible” and it is the opposite of haram, an Arabic word that literally means: “unlawful / impermissible”. Thus, “halal” refers to any object or action which is permissible (lawful), good and nutritious and causes no harm or injury, neither to the body nor to a person’s intellect to use or engage in, according to Islamic law (i.e. Shari’ah).

What is Halal?

“Halal’’ signifies all foods, drinks, edibles, nutrients, fats, oils and consumables, including spices, flavouring stabilizers, preservatives and beverages and/or ingredients permitted under Shari’ah for Muslims to consume, which subscribe to the following conditions:

The food does not contain any parts or products of animals that are non-ḥalāl by Shari’ah or any parts or products of animals which are not slaughtered according to Shari’ah;

The food does not contain impurities (najis), according to Shari’ah;

The food is safe for consumption, non-poisonous, non-intoxicating, non-toxic, or non-hazardous to health;

The food is not prepared, processed, or manufactured using equipment contaminated with najis, according to Shari’ah;

The food does not contain any human body parts or its derivatives (e.g. hair, nails, mucous, etc.) and that which is not permitted by Shari’ah;

The food – during its preparation, processing, handling, packaging, storage, distribution – must be physically separated from any other food that does not meet the aforementioned requirements, or any other things that have been decreed as najis by Shari’ah;

The food of a restaurant / eating place is not automatically halal when no pork or pork by- products, or wine, liquor or alcohol is mixed with halal meat, chicken, fish, salads or “the food”. This is because the meat or chicken is not halal slaughtered, or its cooking utensils and equipment are contaminated with non-halal. Therefore the principle of: “total separation with Muslim supervision” must be strictly observed, at all times.

Food of Plant Origin

All plant-originated or plant-based food is halal, except when it is toxic, poisonous, intoxicating, harmful and detrimental (or disease-borne) to human health, then it is haram.

Halal Products [Land Animals/Fowl]

Domesticated animals such as cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, camels, chicken, etc.

Herbivore wild animals such as deer, antelope, springbok, gemsbok, etc.

Non-predatory wild birds such as pigeons, quails, ostriches, etc.

Aquatic/Marine Animals

All aquatic animals/fish, including their by-products are halal to eat.

The general rule is that all halal foods, animal, fish or plant-origin that are toxic, poisonous, intoxicating, harmful and detrimental (or disease-borne) to human health, are haram to eat.

Special Insects / Birds

The following insects and birds are not permitted (haram) to kill wilfully, based on the Prophetic (s.a.w.s.) saying:

On the authority of Ibn Abbas (r.a) reported that the Prophet Muḥammad (s.a.w.s.) prohibited the killing of at least four creatures: the ant (al-namlah), the bee (al-naḥlah), the hoopoe (al-hud hud) and the al-surad.

Al-surad is a bird with a big head, and has a white belly (front) and green back. It hunts and eats small birds.

Cited in Muwaṭṭa, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah (ḥadith no. 3223 + 3224. p. 544)

Author: Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust

The MJC Halaal Trust (MJCHT) is a major role-player in the positive promotion of and orientation on halal lifestyle for South African Muslims, specifically and other communities, globally. The MJCHT specializes in the certification and endorsement of food commodities and other consumables as halal, in accordance with Islamic principles, ethics, values and standards.

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