Halal and Haram in relation to medication

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Halal and Haram in relation to medication

  • in Islam, Halal means ‘permissible’ whilst ‘Haram’ means ‘prohibited’

  • Islamic law (or Shariah Law) gives Muslims the freedom to eat and drink anything as long as it is not Haram

  • Mushbooh means that there is doubt around the origins of the constituents and the product cannot be classified as Haram or Halal

  • Tayyib (with respect to pharmaceutical products) means that the product is of good quality and produced under standardised processes. In terms of UK licensing, this would equate to a product and manufacturing license

  • there is no exhaustive or comprehensive list of medicines available which are Halal certified

  • Any medicines which contain porcine or non-Halal excipients or ingredients may pose a problem to Muslim patients; although pork gelatin used in medicines can be contentious (1)

  • something considered Halal could be rendered Haram by the preparation process

  • the manufacturers are considered the main point of contact for obtaining information on ingredients and the source of the ingredient

  • healthcare professionals can provide information about products and their excipients based on the information available to them butindividuals remain responsible for deciding whether their treatment is compliant with their own religious belief system

  • for specific queries on the suitability of a medicine for individual patients, advice could be sought from a recognised local Imam

"... In life-threatening situations, non-halal medication may be considered if there is no viable alternative and if the patient’s life depends on it, or if the patient would suffer significant morbidity by not taking the medication... A practising Muslim may take all this into account when considering their medication options. Similar principles will apply to the choice of enteral feed and nutritional supplements" (1)

Examples of pharmaceutical constituents considered Halal or Haram

  • alcohol can lead to addiction, misbehaviour and negative impacts on health, therefore it is judged as Haram for Muslims
    • however, some Muslims would consider the alcohol content in medicines acceptable since it would not cause intoxication but others may wish to avoid all alcohol containing medicines (2)
  • any animal that was not slaughtered based on Shariah Law or any animal that is unhealthy, diseased or could cause death is considered Haram. Any medicines which contain porcine or Haram excipients or ingredients may pose a problem to Muslim patients (3)
  • porcine (pork) derived products are usually avoided by practising Muslims
    • however porcine gelatin used in medicines can be contentious
    • in 2001, the World Health Organization reported on Islamic Legal Scholars’ verdict that pork gelatin is sufficiently transformed and permissible for consumption (4)
    • other constituents derived from animals that may not be slaughtered in accordance with Shariah Law and may be found in pharmaceuticals include bovine (cow), hamster ovary, murine (mouse), and equine (horse)
    • the preparation process needs to be considered as products could be rendered Haram by the process, e.g. Halal meat cooked in sauce containing alcohol

Reference:

  • NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service (August 24th 2020). What factors to consider when advising on medicines suitable for a Halal diet?
  • Asmak A, Fatimah S, Huzaimah I, et al. Is our medicine lawful (Halal)? Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research 23 (3): 367-373: 2015
  • Sarriff A. Razzaq H.A.A. Exploring the halal status of cardiovascular, endocrine and respiratory group of medications. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences 2013; 20(1); 69-75.
  • World Health Organization. WHO Letter Reports On Islamic Legal Scholars' Verdict on the Medicinal Use Of Gelatin Derived From Pork Products. July 2001.

Last edited 08/2020 and last reviewed 08/2020