#421: Washing Eggs Before Cooking

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it necessary for us to wash the eggs we buy before keeping or cooking them because they are considered najis? Hope for an explanation. 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.

We begin with the statement of Allah SWT:

قُل لَّا أَجِدُ فِي مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ مُحَرَّمًا عَلَىٰ طَاعِمٍ يَطْعَمُهُ إِلَّا أَن يَكُونَ مَيْتَةً أَوْ دَمًا مَّسْفُوحًا أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنزِيرٍ فَإِنَّهُ رِجْسٌ أَوْ فِسْقًا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ

“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.” [1]

Likewise, it is also stated in another statement of Allah SWT:

يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ ۖ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ

They ask you, [O Muhammad], what has been made lawful for them. Say, “Lawful for you are [all] good foods,” [2]

The above verse shows the generality of the statement of Allah ‘Azza wa Jalla who permits us all good food. Thus, anything that is good is permissible to be eaten, while anything that is disgusting and bad is prohibited from being eaten. As for the determination of whether the food is good or disgusting – if there aren’t any evidences regarding it – it is based on the feelings and nature of the Arabs, for the Quran is revealed to them – which means it is in their language. [3]

Washing eggs

According to Dr Kamarul Ariffin Nor Sadan, during the process of a hen laying eggs, the hen excretes a liquid known as egg bloom or cuticle. It acts as a protective layer that covers the entirety of the egg’s surface to prevent any microorganisms from entering the egg and maintain moisture by preventing water from flowing out of the egg membrane. Thus, if the eggshell is washed before it is stored, then the protective layer will become thinner or washed off.

Furthermore, najis and the eggshell can be contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and it can then contaminate other food stored in the refrigerator. The reason is that the refrigerator is set at a low temperature (4°C or lower) and not in the range of dangerous temperatures (5°C until 63°C). At this temperature, bacteria don’t die, rather it is in a dormant state (inactive). Thus, contamination may occur on the egg although at a low rate. Hence, it is necessary to wash the egg to remove the najis and prevent any cross-contamination.

Next, he stated that if there are any visible chicken droppings, then the egg should first be washed because we don’t want our refrigerator to be contaminated with bacteria. However, it isn’t necessary to wash it so thoroughly that all of its protective layers are washed off. Just rinse it to remove any najis and keep it in a covered container. When one wants to cook the eggs, then prioritize the ones that are washed, for it is more prone to be contaminated and spoilt. While for eggs that aren’t washed before being stored, then wash them first before using them. [4]

The ruling of washing eggs

Imam al-Nawawi discussed in his book whether it is obligatory to wash the egg if the egg is laid in a pure place? In this matter, there are two opinions from scholars, there are some who considered it najis while others considered it pure. This difference of opinion is built or based on the ruling of vaginal moisture, whether it is considered najis or pure as cited by al-Baghawi and the author of the book al-Bayan and other scholars. However, Ibn Sibagh decided in his fatwa that the outer layer of an egg isn’t obligatory to be washed. He stated the Muslims have agreed (ijmak) that the offspring of an animal is pure and the same applies to their eggs. [5]

Furthermore, Abu Bakar al-Dimyati commented in the book Fath al-Mu‘in saying, the words of the author stating that it isn’t obligatory to wash the penis after intercourse, egg and offspring born means anything that came into contact with vaginal moisture, regardless of whether the moisture is pure or not, and even if it is najis then it is forgiven, then it doesn’t make the previously stated matters that come in contact with it as najis. [6]

Thus, it is known that the more sahih opinion in madhhab al-Syafi’I is the second opinion, which is the other part of an egg is considered pure if it is laid in a pure place and it isn’t necessary to be washed before being cooked. However, if it comes into contact with najis when it was excreted, then it is considered mutanajjis – which means that it will return to being pure when it is washed and cleaned from the najis.

The reason is the najis cannot penetrate into the egg – into the inner part of the egg – as stated in the book Matalib Uli al-Nuha, whoever swallows a type of nut such as hazelnut with its outer shell. Then he threw up or others (excreted it back out) from any of the body’s channels, then the inner part of the nut isn’t considered najis because the shell is strong enough to protect its inner parts just like an egg that is boiled with champagne or other najis. This doesn’t make its inner part najis, for the najis cannot reach the inner part. [7]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and arguments, in our opinion, if there aren’t any visible najis on the egg such as chicken droppings, then it is considered pure. However, if one can clearly see that there is najis on the shell of the egg or one is certain that there is najis because of the smell of najis, then it is obligatory to wash it before using them in cooking especially if there is concern that it may come into contact with the egg when it is cracked or fall into other food. If one cannot see any najis or he just assumes there is najis, then it returns to its original ruling of not najis.

The same applies to all eggs sold in supermarkets or markets if there aren’t any najis visible on its shell. Hence, as long as there isn’t clear evidence proving otherwise, then it is considered pure.

Although, if it isn’t a burden, we suggest to first wash all eggs first before using them in one’s cooking to ensure the cleanliness of the egg where there is a possibility of it being contaminated. Furthermore, it is also included as good ethics in food preparation and is closer to Islam itself.

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

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah al-An‘am: 145

[2] Surah Ma’idah: 4

[3] See https://aliftaa.jo/Research.aspx?ResearchId=16#_edn18.

[4] See https://www.majalahpama.my/betul-ke-telur-cepat-rosak-kalau-dicuci-sebelum-simpan-doktor-beri-penjelasan/.

[5] See Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 2/556.

[6] See I‘anah al-Talibin, 1/104.

[7] See Matalib Uli al-Nuha1/230.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.