#419: Smelling Food Containing Pork

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of smelling food containing pork? Thank you.

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.

Mukadimah

Basically, the act of smelling food may be considered inappropriate, especially when we have guests over in our house. Hence, some jurists such as al-Khatib al-Syirbini, al-Syarwani, Syeikh al-Islam Zakaria al-Ansari and Ibn ‘Abidin included its discussion under the manners when eating. [1]

Furthermore, the act of smelling food may cause our breath or mucus from our nose to come into contact with the food when the nose is near the food. However, if we smell the food to identify whether the food is still good and the act of smelling food doesn’t affect the food, then it is fine.

Likewise, we know that pork is included in the category of mughallazah najis (major) and it is obligatory to be washed following a specific methodology set by syarak. This is as stated in Allah SWT’s statement:

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنزِيرِ

“Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine,” [2]

Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili stated that the prohibition of swine includes all of its parts even its fat and skin. It is specified as the flesh of swine because its main most important purpose – is to be eaten. Indeed, Syarak prohibits from benefitting from any part of swine. [3]This is based on the statement of Allah SWT:

أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنزِيرٍ فَإِنَّهُ رِجْسٌ

“…or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure,” [4]

Smelling food containing pork

Regarding this matter, we find that it is closely related to the issue of vapour or steam from najis. Scholars have differing opinions regarding vapour coming from the combustion of najis into two opinions stated by Imam al-Nawawi:

  • The first opinion states that it is considered as najis because it is a result of a najis source. This is the strong opinion of scholars from madhhab Syafie, Hanbali and Abu Yusuf from the scholars of madhhab Hanafi.
  • While the second opinion states that it isn’t considered najis for the vapour from najis is considered the same as gas that exits the body cavity. This is also the fatwa of scholars in madhhab Hanafi, the final opinion in madhhab Maliki and the opinion of some scholars from madhhab Hanbali who said that vapour from najis is considered pure. Whereas, scholars from madhhab Hanafi are also of the same opinion – that is it isn’t considered najis – taking the road of istihsan and avoiding difficulty. [5]

Next, Imam al-Nawawi also stated the opinion of the author of the book al-Hawi said, if we state that the vapour from najis is najis, is it considered as forgiven najis? In this issue, there are two opinions among scholars. If we say that it is an unforgiven najis, then wiping the soot from the combustion can be cleaned – purified using a dry cloth and cannot be purified using a damp cloth except after it is washed with water.

While the author of the book al-Bayan said, if we say the smoke is najis, then when the smell of the smoke remains on a person’s clothing, it is forgiven if it is a little and if it is a lot, then it cannot be purified except by washing it – with water. [6]

Furthermore, al-Ramli stated that ammonia gas is hard to avoid, its original ruling remains that is it is pure – according to the maxim ‘Umum al-Balwa  [7]– except if it is ensured or made certain that the smoke is najis and there are two just people who state that it is a result of najis, then it is categorized as najis. [8]

However, the apparent meaning from the statement of al-Ramli among the scholars of madhhab Syafi’I, in his opinion, if the smoke is a little, then it is forgiven in absolution. While in Ibn Hajar al-Haitami’s opinion, it is forgiven is the smoke is a little or not from mughallazah najis. If it is a result of mughallazah najis, then it is considered najis regardless of whether it is a little or a lot. [9]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and arguments, in our opinion, smelling food made from non-halal or najis ingredients such as pork and others is included under hard to avoid matters. Especially if the smell travels through the air and when we breathe we inhale the smell. Thus, if we unintentionally smell it this way, then it is included in forgiven matters according to the maxim ‘Umum al-Balwa. [10]

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

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] See Radd al-Muhtār ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtār, 6/340; al-Ghurar al-Bahiyyah fi Syarh al-Bahjah al-Wardiyyah, 4/214; Mughni al-Muhtaj, 4/412; Hasyiah al-Syarwani, 7/438.

[2] Surah al-Ma’idah: 3

[3] See al-Tafsir al-Munir, 6/77.

[4] Surah al-An‘am: 145

[5] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 2/579; al-Mausu‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 20/240

[6] See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 2/579-580.

[7] a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell, and used mostly in the production of explosives, fertilizer and cooling material for refrigerator. (See http://prpm.dbp.gov.my/cari1?keyword=ammonia.)

[8] Something that has become the norm.

[9] See Nihayah al-Muhtaj, 1/247.

[10] See al-Mausu‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 20/240.

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