What is the ruling for drinking luwak coffee?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Coffee is a type of brewed drink prepared from roasted beans, usually known as coffee beans. Coffee has a stimulating effect in humans, primarily due to its caffeine content. Today, it is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Coffee was first discovered in the 9th century, when the coffee beans are found in the highlands of Ethiopia. From there, it spread to Egypt and Yemen and in the 15th century, it has reached Armenia, Parsi, Turkey and North Africa. Finally, the Muslim empire helps in spreading coffee to Italy, Europe and America.
Luwak is a small catlike animal and is also known as Asian palm civet. This animal feeds on berries, pulpy fruits such as figs and palms and ripe fruits and seeds. Luwak choose only the ripest and flawless cherries and beans to eat. Coffee beans have a hard endocarp layer which are not ingested and are excreted out with droppings.
Luwak coffee refers to the coffee beans excreted out together with the droppings of civet (luwak), collected, washed and processed to make coffee. There is a small production of luwak coffee in the regions of Bali, Java and Sumatera Indonesia where they still use manual processing process (without machineries).
Islam commanded its followers to eat only of what is good and permissible. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُواْ مِمَّا فِي الأَرْضِ حَلاَلاً طَيِّباً
“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good,”
Surah al-Baqarah (168)
Allah SWT states:
وَكُلُواْ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللّهُ حَلاَلاً طَيِّبًا
“And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good.”
Surah al-Ma’idah (88)
Allah SWT also prohibits His servants from eating anything dirty and disgusting. He states in the Quran:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ
“Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars,”
Surah al-Ma’idah (3)
From the above syar’iy evidences, it is clear that Allah SWT commanded His slaves to eat only the things that are permissible and good, and to avoid food that are dangerous and harmful. However, in the context of luwak coffee, a polemic of questions of its permissibility or prohibition arises.
Here, we present the opinions of scholars regarding this issue:
- According to Imam al-Nawawi: “If the animal consumed the beans, and when the beans are excreted out, they keep their shape (not ingested) and if they are planted, they can still grow, then it is pure.”
- In the book Nihayatul Muhtaj: “If the beans are in its original form and when planted it can grow, then it is not najis (impure).”
- According to the book Hasyiah I’anatu al-Tolibin Syarh Fath al-Mu’in: “If the animal vomited the seed or excrete it through their droppings, if the beans are hard and could be planted and grow, then its status is mutanajjis not najis.”
After reviewing the opinions of scholars regarding food that is covered by najis, we can conclude that most of them are of the opinion that the seed is still pure if the plant seed is still in its original form and can grow when planted.
This is in accordance with the following Islamic legal maxims:
وفى الأصل في الأشياء النافعة الاباحة، الأشياء الضارة الحرمة
“The original ruling of beneficial things is permissible, while for harmful things it is prohibited.”
الأصل فى الأشياء الإباحة، ما لم يقم دليل معتبر على الحرمة
“The original ruling of something is permissible until a clear and strong evidence prohibits it.”
الأصل بقاء ما كان على ما كان
“The original ruling of something is its original ruling (of permissibility).”
According to the above fiqh, luwak coffee is ruled permissible for the beans are originally clean and processed through the digestive system of the civet, excreted out still retaining its original shape and state without any damage on the structure of the coffee beans.
Furthermore, we also include several fatwa and opinions of scholars regarding this issue:
- According to the opinion of the Indonesian Ulama’ Council (MUI), the coffee beans that are excreted along with the stool or droppings are mutanajjis (i.e. exposed to dropping). The council issued a statement that luwak coffee is permissible if the coffee beans are washed and cleaned. It is permissible to drink, produce and sell it.
- According to Fadhilah al-Sheikh Ahmad Hujji al-Kurdi, an expert in the field of al-Mausu'ah al-Fiqhiyyah and also one member of the Kuwait National Fatwa Committee has given a fatwa to answer questions asked to him about the ruling of drinking coffee from the droppings of civets. He stated that it is impermissible for it is najis (impure).
- According to Datuk Sheikh Abdul Halim Abdul Kadir, when he was President of the Malaysian Ulama Association, he said that it is prohibited to drink luwak coffee. He explained his opinion in Buletin Utama TV3 on September 10, 2010
- The Muzakarah Council of Fatwa of the 98th Malaysia Islamic Religious Affairs Council decided that the Luwak Coffee (civet) is mutanajjis and is a permissible drink on the following conditions:
- The coffee beans are in its original state (keeping its shape), do not have holes or are broken and could grow if planted; and
- The seeds are thoroughly washed from najis.
- The Muzakarah also decided that luwak coffee must first obtain the halal certification from JAKIM or State Islamic Religious Council (MAIN) before it is put on the market.
After analysing this issue and reviewing the opinions of scholars, we are inclined towards the statement that considers it as mutanajjis (covered with najis) but after washing and processing then the najis is removed. Thus, it is PERMISSIBLE.
The same is stated by the decision of most Indonesian scholars that ruled luwak coffee permissible and they are more knowledgeable regarding this issue. Hence, we would like to take this opportunity to advise Muslims to always be careful in eating or drinking and making sure that it is in accordance with the principle of halalan tayyiban. Whatever we eat, or drink will later grow as a part of our body, thus, we need to make sure that whatever we put in our body are only from the permissible sources to prevent us from falling into Allah SWT’s hellfire. Wallahua’lam.