Harām Ingredients in Medicines and Drugs: Does necessity make permissible what is normally prohibited in such cases? Al-Imām Ibn Bāz

bandage and disinfectant
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This assumption in the minds of some people is erroneous. Indeed Allāh (the Mighty and Majestic) did not put a cure for the people in that which He has prohibited for them. And this principle is not applicable in this case as there is no necessity here because there is no cure in that which is unlawful (harām). Cures are only in that which Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) has made permissible. Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was asked about intoxicants (khamr), so he forbade it. So the Companion (Suwaid bin Tāriq) said,

إِنَّنَا نَتَدَاوَى بِهَا

“We use it as a treatment.” So Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:

إِنَّهَا لَيْسَتْ بِدَوَاءٍ وَلَكِنَّهَا دَاءٌ

“It is not a treatment, rather it is a disease.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi, 2046) And he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said in hadeeth narrated by Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā):

إِنَّ اَللَّهَ لَمْ يَجْعَلْ شِفَاءَكُمْ فِيمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ

“Verily Allah did not make your cure in what He made unlawful to you.” (Reported by Al-Bayhaqi 5/10, Ibn Hibbān 1391 who declared it saheeh, also Bukhari (mu’allaq), see Fathul-Bāri of Ibn Hajr 10/78)

So it is not permissible for the sick person to go to these charlatans who make claims of healing with the use of jinn, claiming knowledge of the Unseen and so on. Or the claim they can cure the sick with unlawful foods such as the meat of pig, or intoxicating drinks (khamr) or other than that from those things which Allah has prohibited. This is forbidden and not permissible. Rather it is for the sick person to stay away from that which Allah has prohibited and not to use except that which Allah has allowed and permitted―so he doesn’t approach the magicians, the soothsayers and the charlatans, he doesn’t ask them questions nor believe them. And it is not allowed for him to seek a cure in that which Allah has made unlawful such as khamr (alcohol, intoxicants, etc.), the flesh of swine or smoking and so on from the things which Allah has prohibited. And there is, alhamdulillāh, sufficiency in that which Allah has permitted such that there is no need for what He has prohibited. We ask Allah for safety. (Slightly adapted from the speech of Al-Imām Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Bāz (rahimahullāh) here: Noor ‘alad-Darb)

Additional Notes:

So if it is the case that harām ingredients cannot be used to treat an actual illness, then likewise they cannot be used to prevent an illness that hasn’t afflicted a person yet. There several other narrations which show how the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would prohibit what is unlawful to be used in medical treatment: Abdur-Rahmān ibn ‘Uthmān (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said that when a physician consulted the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) about putting frogs in medicine, he forbade him to kill them. (Abu Dawūd, no. 5269, graded sahīh by Al-Imām Al-Albāni) So it is not permissible for a doctor to prescribe or administer treatment (drugs, compounds, potions, etc.) that are harām or contain what is harām, nor what is known to be harmful due to the saying of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “There should no harm inflicted nor the reciprocating of harm.” (Ibn Mājah, no. 2340, graded saheeh by Al-Albāni), and he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever harms others, Allah will harm him; and whoever causes hardship to others, Allah will cause hardship to him.” (Ibn Mājah, no. 2342, graded hasan by Al-Albāni).

Shaikhul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullāh) makes the point that this is not the same as the one who is compelled to eat carrion (unslaughtered dead meat) because by him doing so, he is certain to attain the objective he seeks which is to save his life, and he has no choice in the matter―to eat the unlawful meat in his case is obligatory. So the one who is compelled to eat the unslaughtered meat (to save his life), yet he refuses to eat it and then dies, will enter the Fire. However, with medical treatments that are unlawful, then it is not known whether they will actually cure a person and they are not obligatory upon him to take. Indeed Allah may cure a person through many different ways, and taking medicines is not obligatory in the view of most of the scholars. So Qiyās (similitude) cannot be drawn between the two matters, and Allah knows best. (See Al-Fatāwa al-Kubrā 3/6).

And Al-Imām Ibn Qudāmah (rahimahullāh) stated in Al-Mughni (9/338): “Chapter: It is not allowed to treat using that which is unlawful (harām) and nor with that which has in it what is harām such as the milk of a female domestic donkey, or with the meat of something which is harām―and it is not permitted to drink alcohol, using it as a treatment. This is due to the saying of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “Verily Allah did not make the healing of my Ummah in that which He made harām for them.” And because, when on an occasion it was said to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) that an alcoholic drink was made from dates to treat an illness, he said: ‘This is not a cure; rather it is a disease.’

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