Lab-cultivated meat can be halal if it meets requirements: S'pore Fatwa Committee

The meat needs to be cultivated using cells from animals that are halal in Islam, and the final ingredients must not contain any non-halal components.

Julia Yee | February 02, 2024, 10:10 PM



The Fatwa Committee has decided that it is permissible (halal) to consume lab-cultivated meat whose cells are from animals that are halal or permissible in Islam, and whose final ingredients do not contain any non-halal components.

This announcement was made on Feb. 2, 2024 by Singapore's Mufti, Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, during his speech at the Conference on Fatwa in Contemporary Societies 2024.

Centred around the theme "Empowering Muslim Communities of the Future Through Fatwas", the two-day conference was hosted by the Islamic Religious Council (Muis).

It covered topics such as how contextualised fatwas can cultivate intellectual and ethical empowerment in Muslims, as well as how fatwa institutions can address the evolving needs of the Muslim community. 

Considering both present and future needs

Pinpointing sustainability and the environment as one of the complex challenges faced, Nazirudin explained that it was important to examine new developments that will contribute to a safer and more sustainable environment.

For instance, alternative food sources.

"Some argue there is no such need today. We can, and should continue to enjoy 'real' food, like real meat," Nazirudin said. He stated that these people are entitled to their choices.

Questions relating to alternative food sources are "very difficult and complex", he added, saying:

"They are not just about whether to force old views on new issues, or allow new changes or technologies only because there is necessity or during times of emergency."

Nazirudin went on to express gratitude that the committee had made its decision on the consumption of lab-cultivated meat.

He spoke about how the committee carefully considered the needs of the present and the future in making its decision.

Commenting on the decision, Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, said that cell-based cultured meat was "one of the important technologies that Singapore is investing in".

He said:

"The question we asked them [our Muslim authorities] is not just whether it is halal, but how to make it halal. What processes need to be put in place? And all these questions will be produced in a fatwa by our Mufti and the office of the Mufti."

Masagos added that the fatwa would be finalised in due time and that the matter would be addressed in the second day of the conference on Feb. 3.

AI boosting fatwa research

Nazirudin's speech stressed the importance of adjusting to new realities that require significant shifts in our mindset and approaches.

To meet emerging challenges, such as those arising from artificial intelligence (AI), Muis has launched a Fatwa Lab Initiative to prepare "well ahead".

"One of the most challenging aspects of fatwas today is to truly understand what we are dealing with, to examine its details, and to be honest with the new facts as we learn and discover them," he stated, adding:

"The Islamic tradition is built on centuries of rigorous thought and development, but some mistake this vastness for exhaustiveness. In other words, some say our role is no more than a transmitter of past or existing ideas.

But it clearly isn’t fair, in fact, completely irresponsible, to shift the responsibility of dealing with new challenges to scholars of the past. They would have felt out of place in our contemporary realities, but we expect them to still give us guidance on our own challenges."

He said that it is the methodologies and approaches of past jurists that are more constructive for the faith community today, rather than the specific rulings they came up with in the past.

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