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Fiqah And Science

Brewer's Yeast Extract or Autolyzed Yeast

Brewer's yeast is obtained from the unicellular fungus. There are two kind of yeast extract or autolyzed yeast, one is made from baker's yeast which is a Halal ingredient used in soups, frozen fish products to provide meaty flavor. The other kind is made from brewer yeast obtained from beer making. Brewer yeast is used to ferment sugar during beer making. Brewer's yeast is only used in cheese crackers and cheeses to provide harsh and bitter flavor. It is also grown on food crops to make nutritional supplements. This type of brewer yeast which is grown the crops is considered as Halal.

Brewer's yeast Cells are about .005 mm in diameter. Their shape can be round, oval or apiculate, depending on the species. The membrane surrounding the cell cannot absorb molecules above a certain size so that, in order to survive, much of their metabolism occurs outside the cell by means of enzymes they secrete. To enable them to do this, they survive best in liquid habitats so that their enzymes may diffuse out and foodstuffs in a utilizable form can diffuse in. The yeast learns to tolerate alcohol concentrations which normally would kill it (Courtesy of

The scientific argument is that the brewer's yeast is still alive during beer making and still need foodstuff to survive. The foodstuff is contaminated with by- product of fermentation for example beer flavoring compounds and others. Every ingredients or component of Khamer or alcoholic fermentation or wine or beer is considered Haram. By-products of beer diffuse into brewer's yeast cells along with its food stuff. Its foodstuff is contaminated with beer fermentation by-products. There is no literature available that brewer's yeast cell membrane prevents diffusion of beer alcoholic by-products. In order for Brewer's cells from beer making to be Halal those beer alcoholic fermentation by- products has to be changes to new chemicals according to Senior Islamic Scholar from Jamaya Nizamia , Hyderabad, India other wise the brewer's yeast cells from beer making are not considered Halal. Again there is no scientific information available to indicate these beer fermentation by-products are subject to chemical change (Tabdeele Mahiya).

So based on above, MCG will not consider brewer's yeast extract or brewer autolyzed yeast or extract from beer making as a Halal ingredient.




Gelatin is not the case of Tabdeele Mahiya.

There is lot of literature available about how gelatin is made, which can be found on the internet. But we have to understand the basic biochemistry of gelatin raw material and gelatin itself. The basic components of collagen (raw material for gelatin) and gelatin itself are the protein and amino acids. If the components of the raw material and finished product is the same, that means the chemical reaction and processing does not cause any changes to the original component. Then it does not become the case for Tabdeele Mahiya.

Gelatin is not an example of Tabdeele Mahiya. Type A gelatin (pig) is Haram because it still contains the original pig protein and amino acids.

Bar Soap


There is lot of discussion among Muslims living in western countries about physical and chemical changes of Haram raw materials during the manufacturing of food products, such as Type A gelatin from pig source, or emulsifiers such as Mono & Diglycerides from pork fat and personal care items such as bar soaps made from pork fat or glycerin. Several Muslims are quoting Fatwas (Fatwa is a legal statement in Islam, issued by a Mufti or a religious lawyer, on a specific issue) which were issued 50-60 years back, to justify to consume or use them due to physical and chemical changes occur during their processing.

There is no doubt about the following physical and chemical changes or Tabdeele Mahiya of Haram raw material to Halal products. This includes production of vinegar from alcohol, falling of pig in a salt mine and becoming part of salt mine, bone ash, tanning of dead animal skin. These Tabdeele Mahiya cases are acceptable to majority of Islamic scholars.

But few things such as vinegar from wine, pig gelatin, bar soaps made with pork fat are not acceptable according to scientific facts and opinions of several Islamic scholars. Since some of the fatwas are issued 50-60 years back, it seems that no assistance from Muslim scientists was used to check it out scientifically.

Requirements for Tabdeele mahiya are (1) complete change from originality to new things which are not present in the original material (2) change in the name (3) Complete conversion of basic components of a raw material to a complete new product containing new components and several others. The common understanding about change in the original status is that it should not contain original components. Some Islamic scholars do not pay attention to this fact and consider that any chemical changes or reactions result in a new composition, which is not true. Let us discuss this in detail:

Bar soap from Pig fat and other fat based ingredients:

Bar soaps are made from animal fat or vegetable oils or their fatty acids by reacting them with inorganic water-soluble alkali salt or bases. The source of fat is mutton or beef tallow or pork fat but glycerin is also added besides stearic acid (fat based).

The animal fat or vegetable oil is made of distinctive mixture of several different triglycerides. A triglyceride molecule consists of one molecule of glycerin to which three fatty acid molecules are attached, and these fatty acids are specific to different type of triglycerides. Fatty acids are the basic components of any fat. During manufacturing of bar soaps, fats or oil are heated with liquid alkali, such as sodium hydroxide or caustic soda or potassium hydroxide or caustic potash to yield neat soap, water and glycerin. This process is known as saponification of fat or oil. During this process, the basic components fatty acids are transferred without change in its composition from triglyceride to alkali making neat soap (combination of alkali and fatty acid). Neutralization with alkali is also used to produce neat soap. The neat soap is dried and made into pellets, then glycerin and other ingredients are added, and then mixture is extruded to make bar soaps. If the bar soap is made from pork fat then nothing happens to its basic components fatty acids, it remains as it is, same as in pork fat. So bar soap manufacturing process is not the example of Tabdeele Mahiya. The emulsifiers and mono and diglycerides also fall under this category.

On the other hand in manufacturing of distilled white vinegar, dilute ethyl alcohol is converted to acetic acid, water, and a very minute amount of unconverted dilute ethyl alcohol. Tabdeele Maheyia applies here in the case of dilute ethyl alcohol, which is converted to new material acetic acid and water by acetobacter bacteria. The name is changed from dilute ethyl alcohol to vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is Halal but raw material ethyl alcohol is not Halal.

In the case of wine vinegar, the table wine contains 12.2% ethyl alcohol by volume or 9.9% by weight, 85% water, 4% carbohydrate, 0.1% protein and volatile wine flavoring compounds. In wine, only alcohol is subjected for change by acetobacter bacteria to acetic acid and water. So wine vinegar contains acetic acid, water and rest of the above thing, unconverted small amount of wine and wine flavors which are the result of wine making. Imam Shaafi RA does not consider it as Halal. Presence of unconverted wine, wine flavoring compounds are the scientific basis for its not being consider as Halal.

Liquid raw materials are best suitable for Tabdeele Mahiya compare to solids. So it is very important to use scientific facts in deciding the Tabdeele Mahiya of Haram raw materials for the processing of food products, food ingredients and personal care items.

Wine Vinegar


It is necessary to familiarize the chemistry of wine making before discussing the chemistry of wine vinegar. Wine making started about 3000-4000 B.C and is mostly made from fermented grapes, but wine is also made from other fruits, and grain such as rice. Influence of raw material in wine making is very important because it needs high sugar content of 10-24% and low acidity of 0.5 to 1.5% as Tartaric acid. Higher acidity inhibits the yeast fermentation. Alcoholic fermentation occurs through enzymes produced by yeast Saccharomyces cerevisia on the sugar of the Must (Must refers to crushed grapes including juice, seeds and skin) and this alcoholic fermentation ( proceeds with 20 enzyme protein, 3 to 8 organic cofactors and several inorganic cofactors) results in:

Ethyl Alcohol, Carbon Dioxide, Polyphenols, Organic Flavor compounds, Odors compounds

The yeast fermentation is followed by lactic acid fermentation of malic acid, present in grape. This is called Malolactic fermentation in which malic acid is converted by lactic acid bacteria into: Lactic Acid, Carbon Dioxide

The lactic acid bacteria also change the fruit flavor of wine and add some flavor compound from their metabolism. But majority of wine flavor comes from alcoholic fermentation and wine flavor is continued to change during storage.

A typical wine consists of: Water, Ethyl Alcohol, Tannins Acids, Polyphenols, Flavor compounds and color if from red grapes

Polyphenols contribute the bitter taste of the wine and astringent mouth feel of wine, characteristic aromas are related to wine maturation. Wine is the raw material for wine vinegar.

Presently Vinegar is produced from a wide variety of substances but the basic requirement is that, those substances should have sufficient amount of alcohol and a satisfactory level of flavoring. The conversion of alcohol to acetic acid by acetobacter bacteria is as follows:

The acetobacter bacteria act only on alcohol content of wine, not on other components of wine according to literature. Organic chemistry of wine vinegar and other literature indicate that the coloring and flavoring of wine vinegar are the characteristic of the wine from which the particular wine vinegar is made. From this we can derive the following equation for wine vinegar:

So the Acetobacter bacteria do not act on wine flavors and wine colors during the production of wine vinegar. The same flavors and colors are present in wine vinegar and they are not subjected to any chemical reactions during the process. So chemically they remain the same in wine vinegar. There is no research or literature found to suggest that the wine flavors and wine color are subject to Tabdeele Mahaya (chemical change to new products) in wine vinegar production.

It means some part of Haram wine is present in wine vinegar. Besides the above, the processing of wine to wine vinegar is not 100%. Some minute amount of wine is also left over in wine vinegar. According to a Hadith small portion of intoxicant is also Haram as large portion. Wine vinegar is not Halal according to Imam Shafi but it is considered clean according Imam Abu Hanifa (according to Sahee Muslim). According to Anas Bin Malik RA, Prophet Mohammed Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallum did not give permission to make vinegar from wine (Hadith from Sahee Muslim).

We recommend Muslim consumers to avoid using any wine vinegar based on the above Hadith and scientific facts.

Wine (Ethyl Alcohol + Wine Flavors + Wine Colors + Oxygen) → Acetic Acid + Water + Wine Flavors + Wine Colors 2 CH3CH2OH + 2 O2 → 2 CH3COOH + 2 H2O

Alcohol + Oxygen → Acetic Acid + Water


Islamic web sites in USA and in other countries are publishing articles from various Islamic Scholars about Haram status of alcohol only from grapes and dates under Hanafi fiqah and providing the impression that alcohol from other sources is Halal. They are also giving the Halal status to synthetic alcohol without providing any hard evidence from neither religious nor scientific sources. But their views are not universally acceptable. This makes Muslim consumers more confused than before.

Muslim Consumer Group did research based upon scientific, regulatory status of alcohol manufactured by both fermentation and synthetic methods. We also discuss this matter with our religious advisors who belong to Hanafi Mazhab. Here is our report:

Alcohol (also known as Ethanol or Ethyl Alcohol) is a food but requires no digestion. Like other drugs, it acts on many organs in the body but has no cellular receptors. It is stable in the atmosphere to any chemical change, where as all other foods will undergo some kind of decomposition. It is the only food produced solely by microbial action beside the synthetic alcohol. Alcohol and water mix in every solution, including blood. Once alcohol enters the body, it is easily penetrated into the brain and it will provide a sequential depressant action on the central nervous system. We know this fact from our Holy Book, the Quran, where Allah says: O ye who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when you are in a state of intoxication until you know what you utter (4:43).

Alcohol is produced through alcoholic fermentation of material containing sugar or starch. Starch first has to breakdown into sugar and sugar is then fermented by yeast which converts it into ethyl alcohol or ethanol and carbon dioxide (CO2). Molasses from sugar cane, beet sugar, wood sugar (sulphite lye), fruits, and berries are the raw material used to produce alcohol. Starchy products such as cereal, rice, corn and potato are also used as a raw material to produce alcohol. Alcohol obtained from fermentation is subject to separation, concentration and distillation. The chemical name of alcohol is ethanol and C2H5OH is the chemical formula.

So alcohol obtained from above sources has the same chemical formula and has the same quality of providing a sequential depressant action on the central nervous system. There is no chemical and physical difference between alcohols obtained from grape or corn. So the statement that alcohol is Haram only from grape and dates does not hold up scientifically.

Use of Alcohol in a Food Product

Alcohol is now used as an individual ingredient in a food product. It is also used as solvent in natural and artificial flavors. It is also used as extracting solvent in vanilla products such as vanilla extract (about 35%), vanilla sugar (sugar mixed with vanilla extract). It is also present in naturally brewed soy sauce up to 2% as a by-product of fermentation of soybean and wheat.

Ethanol or alcohol has the quality of making a person drunk. If alcohol is distilled out from wine or beer, a flavored solution is left behind. That solution does not have the same quality as alcohol resulting in the sequential depressant action on the central nervous system. Date juice is allowed to drink before it is fermented as reported in Sahee Bukhari. Thus the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in Islam is due to the presence of alcohol in those beverages.

Many Muslim scientists wrote about alcohol in many books and magazines. They all agreed that alcohol is Haram without even mentioning the sources. Recently a Muslim pharmaceutical scientist wrote that synthetic alcohol is Haram.

Synthetic Alcohol

Alcohol is also obtained other than fermentation process called synthetic alcohol. It has wide application in the process industries as solvent, in the production of cosmetics and intermediates in the manufacture of other chemicals. It is produced by ethylene (gas) dehydration and also produced by petroleum sources. It has the same chemical formula C2H5OH and has the same quality of providing a sequential depressant action on the central nervous system. Synthetic alcohol is not different scientifically from alcohol obtained from fermentation method.

Regulatory status of synthetic alcohol and alcohol produced through fermentation (Sec.55.100 alcohol; use of synthetic alcohol in foods Compliance Policy Guide CPG 7120.10 revised 2/1/1989)

Practically and scientifically, pure ethyl alcohol synthesized from natural gas or petroleum products does not differ from that obtained by fermentation with subsequent distillation. Further more, foods in which one is used cannot be distinguished objectively from those in which the other is used (From Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm of the U.S. Treasury Department).

FDA Policy: Synthetic alcohol may be used as a food ingredient or in the manufacturing of vinegar or other chemicals for food use, within limitations imposed by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Alcohol Administration Act and regulations promulgated under these acts. Any labeling reference to synthetic alcohol as Grain Alcohol or Neutral Grain Spirits is considered false and misleading

This is another fact that there is no difference between synthetic alcohol and alcohol obtained through fermentation.

Denatured Alcohols (Not same as Synthetic Alcohol)

Synthetic ethyl alcohol and denatured ethyl alcohol is not the same thing. Denatured ethyl alcohol can be made from synthetic alcohol and also from ethyl alcohol produced through fermentation method.

Denaturation of alcohol is the act of rendering ethyl alcohol unfit for beverage use by addition of substances known as denaturants. To prevent the ethyl alcohol in a cosmetic from being diverted illegally for use as an alcoholic beverage, it may be "denatured." This means that it contains an added "denaturant" that makes it undrinkable. The regulatory requirements pertaining to denaturation operation and manufacture are contained in 27 CFR Part 19, Subpart N. The substances, formulas to make the denatured alcohols are regulated by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm of the U.S. Treasury Department (ATF). There are two type of denatured alcohol:

Specially Denatured Alcohol

The quantity and character of the denaturants specified are carefully chosen so as not to interfere with specific legitimate industry use that each formula authorizes. All transactions in SDA are carefully regulated. For example introducing Benzene during the distillation process drives out the water contained in ethanol creating a very pure and potent fuel source - denatured alcohol.

Completely Denatured Alcohol

The ethyl alcohol is so thoroughly denatured that the product is utterly unfit for beverage use and denaturants used are very nearly inseparable from ethyl alcohol. The use of Completely Denatured Alcohol is authorized without permit because pure ethyl alcohol can not be extracted and diverted to beverage use.

Denatured alcohols lose their quality of intoxicant due to addition of chemicals to ethyl alcohol, so the cosmetic and personal care products containing denatured alcohols can be permitted if all other ingredients in those products are Halal.

Views of our Religious advisors

Our religious advisors Mufti Mohammed Hafeezur Rahman Khan and Mufti Syed Ahmedul Quadri have mentioned the following ahadith for supporting their views: