Ulamaa ID 03
Answer last updated on:
6th May 2006
Ulamaa ID 03
Bismihi Subhanahu Wa-ta'ala
Assalamooalaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Hereunder is the response to your query subject to disclaimer:
Mint Poppets are permissable according to the information provided by yourself.
Shellac is Halaal.
Vegetrian Society: Shellac Secreted under tree bark by insects. To be treated in a similar way to Honey.
How Insects Make Shellac
Shellac has the distinction of being the only known commercial resin of animal origin. It is produced by a tiny red insect (Lac Laccifer) which in its larval stage, is about the size of an apple seed. Swarms of the insects feed on certain host trees, commonly called "lac trees," in India and Thailand, the main lac-producing countries. Their whole life cycle of about six months is devoted to eating, propagating and making lac as a protective shell for their larvae.
During certain seasons of the year, these tiny red insects swarm in such great numbers that the trees at times take on a red or pinkish colour. When settled on the twigs and branches, they project a stinger-like proboscis to penetrate the bark. Sucking the sap, they begin absorbing it until they literally feed themselves to death. In shellac lore this is the 'feast of death." At the same time propagation continues, each female producing about one thousand eggs before dying.
The sap undergoes a chemical transformation in the body of the insect and is eventually exuded. On contact with the air, it forms a hard shell-like covering over the entire swarm. In time this covering becomes a composite crust for the twig and insects. Only about five percent of the insects amassed on the trees are males. The female is the main shellac producer. While she is exuding lac, she is preparing herself to die after providing a fluid in which her eggs will mature and from which the future supply of bugs will come, to repeat the process of swarming, propagating and making the next season's shellac supply.
The males, having fertilized the hordes of females, also begin their life-ending feast. Although they contribute relatively little more to the shellac crop, they have already assured an ample supply because the females vastly increase their output of lac after being fertilized. The great mass of male and female bugs on each tree gradually becomes inactive as the shell-like covering forms over them. In the sixth or seventh month, the young begin to break through the crust and swarm to new feeding grounds.
Shellac cultivation is carried on to produce a large lac crop by helping the larvae find better pickings for their feast. This involves simply cutting lac-bearing twigs from an infected three a few days before the emergence of the larvae. A bundle of such twigs, known as 'broodlac,"is tied to an uninfected tree on which there are many tender new shoots. This results in a higher survival rate of insects and a greater yield of lac since only a little broodlac gives forth sufficient larvae to infect a tree thoroughly. No further attention is needed until shellac is harvested.
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