Use of fat, skin and other elements derived from unlawful or non-ritually slaughtered animals
Extract from the book Le Marché du Halal, entre références religieuses & contraintes industrielles, Mostafa Brahimi & Fethallah Otmani.
Islam requires that animals that are considered lawful for consumption (sheep, cattle, goats, camels in particular) must be bled out, in the sense that their death must result from bleeding, rather than from electric shocks, head wounds or other stunning processes.
So the obvious question is: if some animals are banned from consumption by their very nature (pork and fanged felines) or as a result of external causes (for example carrion), can one still use certain parts of their bodies such as their fat, skin, hair or nails?
“O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship. He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
“Say, « I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure – or it be [that slaughtered in] disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah”. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful. »
In relation to verses 2/172-173 and 6/145, Ibn Kathir asserts that: « the notion of forbidden meat also encompasses any related elements, such as fat. »
This is further corroborated by a hadith which recounts that it was said to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): « O Messenger of God, we use the fat of dead animals to oil our boats, as well as animal’s skin: we also use it as fuel for our lamps”. The Prophet then replied, « No, that (huwa) is illegal too”. [Bukhari (2082); Muslim (2960)]
Most scholars have understood through this hadith that it is forbidden to use any component of dead animals, except those that are allowed such as tanned skins. However, Imam Shafi’i and most of his school, as well as ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah and other scholars, consider that the word ‘huwa’ refers to the selling of those elements but not their general use. Thus, for them, the fat of a dead animal (mayta) can be used to grease boats, or as fuel, but not on human bodies or as food.
Nails, horns and feathers
The bones, horns, nails, hairs and feathers of dead animals ritually slaughtered or not, licit for consumption or not, are considered pure, and therefore lawful, once they have been cleaned.
Indeed, al-Zuhri, one of Imam Malik’s masters, reports that the Companions used combs made from bones and horns of dead animals (like elephants); they also used them as containers to store their oil.
This opinion is shared by the Hanafi (including Abu Hanifa) and Malik schools. For Layth, Awza’i and Hasan al-Basri, they only become pure, and therefore lawful to use (and trade), once they have been cleaned.
In relation to bones, nails, hairs, hooves, feathers of dead animals (mayta), Ibn Taymiyyah writes: « Scholars have adopted three opinions on the subject:
– An opinion according to which, everything is impure which is shared by Shafi’i and one version of Ahmad;
– An opinion, which considers that bones are impure, but that hair and others components are pure – this is the most common opinion in the Maliki school as well as Ahmad;
– An opinion considering all these elements to be pure, shared by Abu Hanifa, a different body of opinion in the Maliki school and one opinion in the Hanbali school.
It is the latter opinion, which is the most correct, because in principle all these elements are pure, and no argument has proven their impurity. »
The skins of dead animals slaughtered ritually or not, whose consumption is lawful or not, once cleaned, are lawful to use.
But the skins of animals, that are originally illicit, must be treated (tanned). They will only be considered pure once tanned. Indeed, Ibn ‘Abbas reports that a sheep was offered to a woman freed by Maimuna, but the animal died. She did not know what to do with it. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) happened to pass by that (carcass). Upon this he said: “Why did you not remove its skin? You could put it to use, after tanning it”. She said to him, « But it is dead!” He replied, « It is the meat which is forbidden from consumption”. [Abu Dawud (3592), Ahmad (25568), Muslim (542), Nasa’i (4175)]
The opinions of scholars diverge on certain points and converge on others:
– For Imam Shafi’i, the skins of all animals (licit or illicit for consumption, slaughtered ritually or not) become pure through cleaning (tanning), except those of dogs and pigs. It is also the opinion of Abu Hanifa, although the latter considers dogs’ skin pure when it is tanned.
– For Abu Yusuf – the great disciple of Abu Hanifa – and Malik, all animals’ skins, without exception, become pure after tanning. It is also the opinion shared by shaykh Shawkani, shaykh Qaradawi, and others.
Some scholars argue that tanned skins of forbidden animals are only allowed for dry use (for example for housing or to sit or pray on), but not to contain liquids (for example as goatskin to store water). However, this is not a prevailing opinion because there is a hadith, which contradicts it. Indeed, when the Companion ‘Ali Ibn Wa’la asked if one could drink from goatskins of animals not slaughtered ritually, as practiced by the Berbers, or to use goatskins to store fat, ‘Abdallah Ibn’ Abbas related to him this saying of the Prophet: « Tanning is the purification (of skins)”. [Muslim (548), Melik (943)]
 Page 91-95, Tawhid Editions.