A FIQHĪ APPRAISAL
by Maulana Taha Karaan
1. WHAT IS SHELLAC?
2. FROM WHERE IS LAC SECRETED?
3. HOW IS SHELLAC PROCESSED?
- 3.1 Harvesting
- 3.2 Cleansing
- 3.2.1 Filtering
- 3.2.2 Washing
- 3.3 Refining
- 3.3.1 Heat treatment
- 3.3.2 Solvent extraction
- 3.4 Use in the confectionery industry
4. IS IT ḤALĀL TO CONSUME?
- 4.1 Origin
- 4.2 Processing of cleansing and refining
- 4.2.1 The presence of insect parts
- 184.108.40.206 Are the body parts of dead insects najis?
- 220.127.116.11 How does the presence of insect parts affect the status of lac
in terms of ṭahārah?
- 18.104.22.168 How does the presence of insect parts affect the lawfulness
of consuming lac?
- 22.214.171.124 What are the consequences of removing the insect parts?
- 4.2.2 The non-removal of insect dye
- 4.3 The use of ethanol
- 4.3.1 Type of ethanol used
- 4.3.2 Manner of ethanol removal
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد الله، وصلى االله على سيدنا محمد وآله وصحبه وسلم، وبعد
1. WHAT IS SHELLAC?
Shellac is a natural gum resin secreted by the lac beetle (laccifer lacca, or tachardia lacca) which lives on trees in tropical and subtropical regions such as India and south-eastern Asia. Its industrial uses include its use as varnish, floor polish, adhesive and sealing wax. It is used in the food industry as a coating for fruit, chocolate products and sweets, and pharmaceutically in time release capsules for oral medication.
2. FROM WHERE IS LAC SECRETED?
Lac is secreted from an exocrine gland on the body of the lac beetle. Exocrine glands secrete to the outside of the body while endocrine glands secrete into the body. Other substances which are secreted from exocrine glands include silk and beeswax. Unlike honey, lac does not come from the digestive tract. In this respect lac is different from honey: honey is regurgitated by the bee from its honey sac which forms part of its digestive tract.
3. HOW IS SHELLAC PROCESSED?
There are three stages in the production of shellac:
The lac beetle lives on trees from whose branches it sucks sap. The female secretes a resin called lac which forms a cocoon over the bodies of the insects. The cocoons form a coating on the branches of the tree. Coated branches are cut from the tree and the coating, which consist of both the hardened resin and body parts of dead beetles, is scraped off. The lac on harvested lac-coated branches is called sticklac. When the lac is scraped off the branches it is called grainlac.
Since it is the lac resin, and not the insect bodies, that is actually sought, sticklac/grainlac is subjected to two forms of treatment aimed at the removal of insect bodies and other unwanted impurities like twigs and leaves. These two processes are filtering and washing.
There are two methods for the removal of unwanted solid impurities from shellac:
• The traditional method of filtering involves placing the sticklac/grainlac in sock-like canvas tubes which are heated over fire. The lac liquefies and drips from the canvas tubes, leaving beetle parts and other impurities behind.
• In the modern method insect parts etc. are removed through filtration by means of filter presses equipped with polyethylene filter cloths.
The next stage is described in one source as follows:
The sifted resin mixture is put into large jars and stomped by a worker to crush granules and force the red dye from the lac seeds and the insect remains will be freed from the resin. Dye water, scum, and other impurities are then washed away in several rinsings.The orange or reddish colour of unbleached shellac comes about on account of the dye that is released from the lac seeds. The rinsing washes away most of the dye, but the reddish tint generally proves very difficult to remove. The above source states:
Despite the removal of much of the red dye from the lac seeds in the refining process, shellac remains an orangish solution after processing is complete.Colourless shellac is obtained through bleaching. The bleaching process involves dissolving the seedlac in and acqueous solution of sodium carbonate, filtering it, bleaching it with a dilute solution of sodium hypochlorite, and then precipitating it from the solution by the addition of dilute sulphuric acid. Thereafter it is filtered and washed with water.
At this stage it is called seedlac.
In the previous stage insect parts have been completely removed from the seedlac. The impurities that remain comprise chiefly of wax. Seedlac with 3 - 5% impurities is further subjected to either heat treatment or solvent extraction.
3.3.1 Heat treatment
Seedlac is melted onto steam-heated grids. The molten lac is forced by hydraulic pressure through a sieve or screen, either of cloth or fine mesh. The filtered shellac is collected and transferred to a steam-heated kettle, which then drops the molten liquid onto rollers. The liquid is squeezed through the rollers and forced into large, thin sheets of shellac. When dry, this shellac sheet is broken into flakes and transported to another area in which the flakes are combined with denatured alcohol to produce the consumer's shellac.
3.3.2 Solvent extraction
Solvent extraction involves the removal of substances from a mixture through preferential dissolution in a suitable solvent.
In this last process, carefully selected and tested crude lac (seedlac) is dissolved in alcohol, preferably ethanol. The batch size of the 10 – 20% solution can be 5000 1 or more. The solution is filtered to remove impurities and wax and decolorized by a treatment with activated carbon. The solvent is evaporated and the hot liquid resin drawn to a film. After cooling the shellac breaks into thin flakes. The flakes can be crushed or milled to a fine powder.Resin that has undergone these processes of refinement is called shellac.
3.4 Use in the confectionery industry
Shellac is shipped in the form of flakes or powder. Confectioners and other users dissolve the shellac flakes in ethanol, in a solution of 50 litres of ethanol for 14 kg of shellac flakes. Small amounts of this solution are added to large quantities of the product intended to be coated with shellac in centrifugally spinning containers. The removal of ethanol from this solution comes about through spontaneous evaporation of the ethanol.
4. IS IT ḤALĀL TO CONSUME?
The answer to this question requires focus upon 3 aspects of shellac:
• its origin
• the processes of cleansing and refinement
• the use of ethanol
Lac is secreted by the lac beetle. Substances discharged by animals may be divided into two categories:
• Substances discharged through the digestive tract, either through the mouth or the rectum. This category includes excreta and urine, and in the case of the bee, honey, which is regurgitated from the honey sac back through the mouth.
• Substances discharged through exocrine glands, such as silk in the silk worm, beeswax in the honey bee, and saliva and sweat in humans.
The former category includes both ṭāhir substances, like honey, and najis ones, such as excreta, urine and vomit. Substances in the latter category are exclusively ṭāhir.
Two forms of qiyās are possible here:
• A qiyās musāwī (equivalent analogy) upon gland-secreted substances like silk and
beeswax, with the common ʿillah being the manner of secretion.
• A qiyās awlawī (a fortiori analogy) upon honey: if honey is ṭāhir despite originating out of the digestive tract, the same should hold for lac, a fortiori.
In terms of its origin, therefore, lac is both ṭāhir and ḥalāl.
4.2 Cleansing and refinement
The presence of beetle parts in sticklac and seedlac is undesirable to manufacturers and endusers. It is precisely the desire for a product that is free from beetle parts and other impurities that motivates manufacturers to undertake several processes of cleansing and refinement.
What needs to be determined from a fiqhī perspective, however, is—
• to what degree the initial presence of beetle parts in sticklac affects the consumability of shellac;
• and to what extent the cleansing and refining processes satisfy the requirement of Sharʿī purification.
4.2.1 Presence of insect parts
The madhāhib are unanimous upon the impermissibility to consume insects. Even the Mālikī madhhab, which has the widest latitude in dietary matters, does not unrestrictedly deem insects as permissible. The term ḥasharāt, commonly translated as “insects”, actually has a wider meaning than the class insecta under the phylum arthropoda, as can be seen in this quotation:
قال في الموسوعة الفقهية ١٤١/٢: الحشرات قد تطلق على الهوام فقط، وقد تطلق على صغار الدواب كافة مما يطير أو لا يطير، المراد هنا المعنى الثاني الأعم.
وفي هامشه: ويؤخذ من تاج العروس (مادة همم) أن بعض اللغويين يقول: الهوام هي: الحيات وكل ذي سم يقتل سمه. وأما ما تسم ولا تقتل كالزنبور والعقرب فهي السوام. وأما ما لا تقتل ولا تسم ولكنها تقم في الأرض فهي القوام، كالقنفذ والفأر واليربوع والخنفساء. فمن هنا نعلم أن للحشرات إطلاقا خاصا على الهوام، وإطلاقا عاما على الدواب الصغار التي تشمل الهوامّ والسوامّ والقوامّ.
What further emphasises how untenable it would be to include an insect such as the lac beetle into the category of what is deemed lawful to the Mālikīs is the Mālikī requirement that ḥasharāt that have no flowing blood must be slaughtered. The minuteness of the lac beetle makes slaughter impossible.
قال في الموسوعة الفقهية ١٤٤/٢ في بيان مذهب المالكية: حل أصنافها كلها لمن لا تضره. وإليه ذهب المالكيه، لكنهم اشترطوا في الحل تذكيتها: فإن كانت مما ليس له دم سائل ذكِّيت كما يذكى الجراد... وإن كانت مما له دم سائل ذكِّيت بقطع الحلقوم والودجين من أمام العنق بنية وتسمية.
Approaching the issue from the angle of the lawfulness to consume insects can therefore only yield a negative result—
• to the Shāfiʿīs, Ḥanafīs and Ḥanbalīs on account of istikhbāth;
• and to the Mālikīs due to a lack of tadhkiyah.
However, that approach is somewhat imprecise in that it fails to consider the real nature of the situation. It is not the lawfulness of consuming insects that is under investigation, but rather the question as to whether the presence of insect parts in a substance that is essentially ṭāhir and ḥalāl (as discussed above) would render that substance ḥārām.
From this perspective the issues to be considered are the following:
• Firstly, are the body parts of dead beetles najis?
• Secondly, in light of the answer to the above question, what effect would the presence of such body parts have on the ṭahārah of lac?
• Thirdly, what effect would the presence of such body parts have on the lawfulness to consume the lac?
• Fourthly, what would be the consequences of removing the insect parts?
126.96.36.199 Are the body parts of dead insects najis?
The general rule about animals that die on account of anything but Sharʿī slaughter is that their bodies become najis. Dead bodies of such animals are referred to as maytah. The lac beetle, however, belongs to a group of animals categorised by the fuqahā as “not having flowing blood.”
Opinions differ on the ṭahārah status of the dead bodies of such animals.
• To the majority of the fuqahā—the Ḥanafīs, Mālikīs, Ḥanbalīs and some Shāfiʿīs— the bodies of such animals are ṭāhir.
قال المرغيناني في الهداية ٢٢/١:
وموت ما ليس له نفس سائلة في الما لا ينجسه، كالبق والذباب والزنابير والعقرب ونحوها.
قال العيني في البناية شرح الهداية ٣٣٦/١:
(ونحوها) مثل القراد والجراد والخنفساء والنحل والنمل والصراصر والجعلان وبنات وردان وحمار قبان والبرغوث والقمل... وهذه الأشياء طاهرة عندنا، فلا تنجس بالموت.
جاء في مختصر خليل على هامش حاشية الدسوقي ٤٨/١:
(الطاهر ميت ما) حيوان بري (لا دم له) أي ذاتي كعقرب وذباب وخنافس وبنات وردان.
وفي الإنصاف ٣٣٨/١ للمرداوي:
(قوله: وما لا نفس له سائلة) يعني لا ينجس بالموت إذا لم يتولد من النجاسة وهذا المذهب، وعليه جماهير الأصحاب... (قوله: كالذباب ونحوه) فنحو الذباب: البق والخنافس والعقارب والزنابير والسرطان والقمل والبراغيث والنحل والنمل والدود والصراصير والجعل ونحو ذلك.
• The carried opinion of the Shāfiʿī madhhab is that the bodies of bloodless animals are najis.
قال في تحفة المحتاج ٩٢/١:
وقيس بالذباب غيره من كل ما فيه دم متعفن يقتضي خفة النجاسة، بل طهارتها عند جماعة كالقفال.
وقال النووي في شرح المهذب ١٨١/١:
وهذان القولان السابقان إنما هما في نجاسة الماء بموت هذا الحيوان. أما الحيوان نفسه ففيه طريقان:
أحدهما: أن في نجاسته قولين: إن قلنا نجس نجس الماء، وإلا فلا
والثاني: القطع بنجاسة الحيوان. وبهذا قطع العراقيون وغيرهم. وهو الصحيح لأنه من جملة الميتات.
ومذهب مالك وأبي حنيفة أنه لا ينجس بالموت.
188.8.131.52 How does the presence of insect parts affect the ṭahārah of lac?
Notwithstanding the above difference of opinion, the madhāhib concur that the presence in liquid of dead insects that do not have flowing blood does not render that liquid najis.
قال في الاختيار ١٥/١ من كتب الحنفية:
(وكذا ما ليس له نفس سائلة كالذباب والبعوض والبق) إذا مات في المائع لا يفسده، لقوله عليه الصلاة والسلام: "إذا وقع الذباب في طعام أحدكم فامقلوه ثم القلوه" الحديث، وأنه بموت بالمقل في الطعام لا سيما الحار منه. ولو كان موته ينجِّس الطعام لما أمر به.
جاء في حاشية الدسوقي ٤٨/١ من كتب المالكية:
واعلم أيضا أنه لا يلزم من الحكم بطهارة ميتة ما لا نفس له سائلة أنه يؤكل بغير ذكاة، لقوله: وافتقر نحو الجراد لها بما يموت به. وحينئذ: فإذا وقع ذلم الحيوان في طعام وكان حيا فإنه لا يؤكل مع الطعام إلا إذا نوى ذكاته بأكله، كان الطعام أقل منه أو كان أكثر منه أو كان مساويا له، تميز عن الطعام أم لا. وأما إن وقع في طعام ومات فيه: فإن كان الطعام متميزا عنه أكل الطعام وحده، كان أقل من الطعام أو أكثر منه أو مساويا له. وإن لم يتميز عن الطعام واختلط به: فإن كان أقل من الطعام أكل هو والطعام؛ وإن كان أكثر من الطعا