YoungPost reported confirming that Hong Kong’s $10 notes have an element of animal fat. This news came after last week it was informed British £5 notes also have a trace of tallow. The news has brought discontentment from vegetarians and other religious groups, including Hindus, Jews and Muslims. Even a petition was launched which has so far got nearly 130,000 supporters
Now, firstly what is tallow?
It’s a by-product of the meat industry. It is made from the fat of cows or sheep, though pork or other animals can also be used. This material is also at times used in the making of candles and soaps too.
From a Muslim’s perspective, does this mean these bank notes should be avoided, since they have impermissible meat? Here are 4 pointers to aid with the answer.
1) Are we consuming the bank notes?
“Allah has forbidden you only the Maytah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering). But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then there is no sin on him. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
The bank notes are not being consumed, well we hope not anyway!
2) Are we buying or selling the bank notes?
It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say when he was in Makkah at the time of the Conquest:
“Allah and His Messenger have forbidden the sale of alcohol, dead meat, pork and idols.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allah, what do you think of the fat of dead animals, for ships are caulked with it and animal skins are daubed with it, and the people use it to light their lamps?” He said: “No, it is haraam.” Then the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “May Allah curse the Jews, for when Allah forbade them animal fat, they melted it down and sold it, and consumed its price.”
[Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1212; Muslim, 1581]
The bank notes are a form of currency, they are not being bought or sold. We are not profiting or making a loss by using these notes. On the other hand, garments or accessories (shoes, jackets, etc.) made of dead or pork meat are indeed impermissible to be sold or bought.
3) Touching these bank notes?
The bank notes have been laminated and in addition to that they are dry. So, we are not directly touching the tallow material.
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen said:
If the body or clothes are dry and touch something impure that is also dry, that does not matter, because the impurity is only transferred when it is wet.
[Fataawa Islamiyyah, 1/194]
4) Muslims allowed to make such notes?
“…but do not help one another in sin and transgression”
[Qur’ an 5:2]
Those who are making these notes from impermissible meat will be held accountable by Allah. Muslims cannot be involved in the manufacturing of such materials.