#348: Drinking Civet Coffee

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling on drinking civet coffee? Hope for an explanation.

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

We start with the statement of Allah SWT:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ

“O you who have believed, do not prohibit the good things which Allah has made lawful to you and do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like transgressors.” [1]

The above verse contains a reminder for a believer to not prohibit good things that Allah SWT has made permissible for them which consists of food, drinks and marrying women and constricting what Allah has widened for them. Furthermore, this verse also reminds them to not transgress the limitations set by Allah SWT that He has prohibited, for indeed, Allah SWT does not like transgressors. [2]

Civet Coffee and Its History

Civet coffee originates from the Indonesian Islands from Java and Sumatra, a region famous for its high-quality coffee. This region is also the natural habitat for an animal similar to a small fox named Paradoxurus, which is the scientific name for an animal known as a civet by the locals. Among the favoured food for this mammalian that live in trees are the red matured coffee beans.

This animal also eats fruits and coffee beans by swallowing the coffee beans whole. When coffee beans are in the stomach of these animals, it goes through chemical reactions and fermentation processes. This process of digestion of coffee beans ends after it passes through the digestive system and is excreted out. Coffee beans that are still in their original form are collected from the forest floor, cleaned then roasted and ground just like other coffee beans. Due to the strange collection process, not much luwak coffee is produced in the world. The resulting coffee is said to be unmatched. It has a heavy and rich flavour with a slight caramel or chocolate flavour. Another term used in describing the taste of this coffee is that it has a unique smell and exotic taste. The texture and consistency of this coffee are syrupy and smooth. [3]

According to Dr Zubaidi, [4] luwak coffee or also known as civet coffee, is among the most expensive coffees in the world and is very hard to find due to its limited production. The price of civet coffee can reach between USD 100 and USD 600 per kilo depending on its quality. Coffee produced by wild foxes in the forest is more expensive than coffee produced by domesticated foxes.

A study conducted, found that luwak coffee is safe to drink. The germs that may be in the intestines and anus of the fox and attached to the coffee beans are very few. Therefore, it is not harmful to coffee drinkers as these germs will disappear after going through the cleaning process, and grill with high heat before being packaged and sold.

In terms of its benefits, according to him, there are not many studies that support the benefits of luwak coffee. This coffee is only beneficial to the drinker only because it has caffeine content like other coffees. For example, caffeinated coffee is beneficial in reducing the risk of senile dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The antioxidant content in coffee will prevent damage to brain cells. [5]

The Ruling of Civet Coffee

This matter is closely related to what is discussed by scholars regarding food or grains that have been eaten by farm animals. Then, it is excreted from the stomach of this animal, whether in the form of puke or faeces or others. Imam al-Nawawi stated:


إذَا أَكَلَتْ الْبَهِيمَةُ حَبًّا وَخَرَجَ مِنْ بَطْنِهَا صَحِيحًا فَإِنْ كَانَتْ صَلَابَتُهُ بَاقِيَةً بِحَيْثُ لَوْ زُرِعَ نَبتَ فَعَيْنُهُ طَاهِرَةٌ لَكِنْ يَجِبُ غَسْلُ ظَاهِرِهِ لِمُلَاقَاةِ النَّجَاسَةِ لانه وان صار غذاءا لَهَا فَمِمَّا تَغَيَّرَ إلَى الْفَسَادِ فَصَارَ كَمَا لَوْ ابْتَلَعَ نَوَاةً وَخَرَجَتْ فَإِنَّ بَاطِنَهَا طَاهِرٌ وَيَطْهُرُ قِشْرُهَا بِالْغَسْلِ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ صَلَابَتُهُ قَدْ زَالَتْ بِحَيْثُ لَوْ زُرِعَ لَمْ يَنْبُتْ فَهُوَ نَجِسٌ

“If an animal eats a grain plant and then the grain is excreted from its stomach in a good condition. If the grain is still in its original form (doesn’t change), whereas if it is planted, it can grow into a plant, then it is considered pure. However, its external part must be washed (first), for it has come into contact with najis. This is also because if it (the grain) has become food for farm animals, which means from anything that has changed and spoilt (due to it being broken down and digested), then it became (najis), the same as if it swallows grains then excreted. The internal parts of the grain are pure, while its skin (outer part) can be purified by washing it. However, if the condition (of the grain) doesn’t stay the same (changes), where if it is planted it cannot grow, then it is considered najis.” [6]

Likewise, Syeikh al-Ramli stated that if the grain remains (excreted) in a good condition where if it is planted it can grow into a plant, then it is considered mutanajjis [7] and not najis. It is also a possibility that the opinion that states it is najis can be understood in the context that the grain is no longer in its original form. The grain is analogically deduced with an egg, where if the egg is excreted in a good condition and it hasn’t hatched, then it is ruled as mutanajjis and not najis. [8]

Then, Syeikh Abu Bakar al-Dimyati also stated that the ruling for other than grains such as eggs, almonds, walnuts and others, if vomited by farm animals or excreted as faeces, the ruling is the same as written by the author of the book Nihayah al-Muhtaj, which explains the analogically deduced with an egg. [9]

Thus, we know that any type of food such as grains, nuts, fruits and others, is excreted from the stomach of an animal in a good condition and its outer layer (skin) isn’t broken and in its original form (doesn’t change), then it is considered mutanajjis while the inner parts of it are considered pure and can be washed.

Thus. Civet coffee beans that are excreted from the stomach of a civet, if they are still in a good original condition – didn’t break, have holes or others – are considered as mutanajjis and not najis. If they are washed and cleaned, they are then considered pure again. Subsequently, if they are ground and used to make coffee, the drink is halal and permissible to be drunk.

This is in line with an Islamic legal maxim which states:

الأَصْلُ فِي الأَشْيَاءِ النَافِعَةِ الإِبَاحَةُ، وَفِي الأَشْيَاءِ الضَّارَّةِ الحُرْمَةُ

“The original ruling of any beneficial matter is permissible and the original ruling for anything that is harmful is prohibited.”

Furthermore, there is also an Islamic legal maxim that states:

الأَصْلُ بَقَاءٌ مَا كَانَ عَلَى مَا كَانَ

“The ruling of something remains according to the preceding condition.”

According to the above maxims, civet coffee originates from something that is pure and has gone through the digestive system of an animal, later excreted in its original form without it getting damaged on the structure of the original coffee bean. Then, after it is washed and cleaned it is halal to be drunk the same as the original ruling before it is eaten by the civet.

Fatwas related to civet coffee

Moreover, there are numerous fatwas issued by the body of authorities on this issue, among them are:

  • Indonesia Scholar Committee (MUI), coffee beans that are excreted together with civet faeces are considered mutanajjis, [10] and not najis. Thus, civet coffee bean is halal after it is washed and drinking it is permissible. Likewise, its production and trade are also permissible. [11]
  • 98th National Muzakarah Fatwa Committee for Religious Affairs Malaysia has convened on 13th – 15th February 2012 and decided that civet coffee is mutanajjis and it is permissible to be made into coffee drinks on the condition: (1) the coffee beans must be in a good condition, don’t have holes, aren’t broken and can grow if planted; (2) and the coffee beans must first be washed from the najis. Furthermore, the Muzakarah also decided that the civet coffee produced must obtain the JAKIM certification or State Religious Committee before being marketed to Muslim consumers. [12]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and arguments, in our opinion, civet coffee is halal and permissible to be drunk, on the condition that the coffee beans that are excreted from the stomach of the civet are in good condition, don’t have holes and aren’t damaged as well as are in still in their original form. Then, the coffee beans must go through a washing process to remove all the anis on them before being further processed into a beverage.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to advise all Muslims to always be cautious in consuming any food and drink so that it truly follows the halalan tayyiban principles (halal and good) so that our body’s development is from a good source subsequently distances us from Allah SWT’s hell.

May Allah SWT grant us all a clear understanding in religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Surah al-Maidah: 87

[2] See al-Tafsir al-Muyassar, hlm. 122

[3] See http://www.kopiluwak.org/baru/index.html. Accessed on 20th January 2022.

[4] He is a Senior Medical Officer at Kumpulan Perubatan Penawar Sdn. Bhd. which has 35 clinical branches in Johor and several other states.

[5] See http://drzubaidi.com/blog/kopi-luwak-manfaat-dan-hukum/. Accessed on 20th January 2022.

[6] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 2/573.

[7] Something that came in contact with najis.

[8] See Nihayah al-Muhtaj, 1/240.

[9] See I‘anah al-Talibin, pg. 99.

[10] Something that came in contact with najis.

[11] See http://mui.or.id/wp-content/uploads/files/fatwa/Kopi-Luwak.pdf.

[12] See http://e-smaf.islam.gov.my/e-smaf/index.php/main/mainv1/fatwa/pr/10294. Accessed on 20th January 2022.

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