Carrion: Forbidden to eat - but ...

Q83 :The ingredients shown on some European types of cheese show rennet as one of them. This is taken from a calf's stomach and used in the making of cheese for thickening and compacting. I wonder whether such cheese is permissible to eat for Muslims because, mostly, the cows are not slaughtered in the Islamic way.

A83 : Once the Prophet passed by a house and found near it a dead sheep. He suggested to its inhabitants that they should take the hide of that sheep and use it. They told him that the sheep died by a natural cause, and as such it was carrion. As you realize, carrion is forbidden to eat. The Prophet said to them that he did not mean that they could eat it, but the fact that the sheep died natural death does not preclude using its hide to some benefit. This applies to other parts of any dead animal. As long as we are not using it for food, then we can make use of it. This rennet is used as a chemical in the making of cheese. When it is used up, it becomes part of a chemical process and it changes its substance. The outcome is totally different from the stuff that entered into the process. Nor is it possible to separate the cheese in order to get back the milk and the other ingredients that go into the making of that cheese. It is a rule in such situations that if a forbidden substance is used in a chemical process and changes its nature altogether then it becomes permissible to consume. This means that it is perfectly appropriate to eat the European cheese which uses rennet, as long as the rennet is not taken from pigs, but from cows or other animals which are lawful for a Muslim to eat. Moreover, although the Europeans do not slaughter their animals in the Muslim fashion, their meat is permissible to eat because God says that the food of people who believe in earlier divine religions is permissible for Muslims to eat. He did not make any conditions on the method of slaughter of such meat. What they accept as lawful in their religion is permissible for us to eat, unless it is specifically forbidden in our religion, such as pork.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )