Shellac; Permissible or Not?

13th August 2020


Question: What is the ruling on Shellac? Is it Halāl for consumption or not?


الجواب حامداً و مصلياً

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful



Shellac is a resin that is secreted by a female lac bug/beetle (called laccifer bug) that inhabits forests trees in South East Asia, particularly in India and Thailand.  The female lac bug feeds off a tree by sucking its sap. The lac bug secretes a lac or resin and forms a cocoon around its body. This cocoon like shape then coats the tree branches in which it lays eggs. The tree branches are cut and taken to a special factory to harvest the lac or shellac. They are placed into a special machine to scrape off the coating which contains both the lac resin and the insects. As the lac resin itself is sought, it goes through several refining processes to remove the debris and the dead insects. Towards the end, they come in the form of flakes. In some instances, the flakes are dissolved in ethanol to make liquid shellac used as a brush on-colorant, food, glaze and wood furnish.  It has industrial use like nail varnish, floor polish, adhesive and sealing wax. It is also used in the food industry such as coating for fruit, chocolate products and sweets, and for pharmaceutical use in specific capsules for oral medication.[1]

From the above overview of the shellac production process, the following fiqh implications emerge namely; the status of consuming insects, the residue of insect parts in foods and liquids, the lawfulness of its secretion and the issue of ethanol. With regards to the consumption of insects then the majority of schools do not permit eating them except in the Maliki school under the condition that head is severed like the ritual slaughtering.[2] The argument of the majority including the Hanafies make is that they fall under the remit of filth which Allāh Almighty has forbidden in the Quran,And He permits for them the pure things and forbids for them filth (khabaith).”[3]  They are referred to as filth due to the natural repulsion towards them considering that they tend to feed off from filth also. The only exception to insects is locust which has been permitted in a Hadeeth.[4] So lac bugs in of themselves are not Halāl for consumption. Although during the production process the shellac is refined thoroughly to discard the debris and dead insects, the question remains that since shellac is derived from an impure insect then does that also render it impure? In our understanding, the ruling between this and insect remnant (of its bodily parts) are not the same because there are indications in the Quran and Hadeeth that despite that the insect itself not being Halāl, their residue parts may not necessarily be impure. For instance, Almighty Allāh in the Quran enlists the production of honey from bees as a cure for mankind amongst His signs. Here despite that the bees are not lawful to consume, the honey extracted from them is permissible. It is arguable however that this analogy is not correct because firstly, the permissibility of honey is explicit in the text, and secondly, honey unlike lac resin is not produced from its glands but regurgitated from its mouth into the honey sac. Arguably, the permissibility of honey is specific to this case only. What must be noted that honey is not purely devoid of some of the bodily remnant of the bee yet the Shariah has overlooked it. Imām Abu Bakar Jassās rahimahullah in his tafseer commentary writes;

“And the statement of Allāh Almighty, multitude colours of drinks extracting from its belly in it being a cure for mankind, it becomes known that it (the honey) is not completely devoid of (residue) dead bee or its larvae but Allāh has ruled it as pure.”[5]

This is further evident that an insect that has no flowing blood does not contaminate (make impure) whatever it falls into even if some of its residue parts remain. This can be further proven from a prophet Hadeeth wherein the Messenger of Allāh sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “If a fly falls into any of your utensil (of food) then he should thrust it all in then dispose of it because one of its wings contains cure whilst the other one contains the disease.”[6]  The jurists explain that it is evident that the remnant of a fly even if it dies in pure food or liquid does not render the food or liquid unlawful for consumption.[7]

By extension, the lac resin from which shellac is formed, secreted from the exocrine glands, cannot be treated as impure and nor does it render the food or liquid unlawful for consumption. This is similar to the case with silk harvested from silk worms or a spider’s web that though derived from an unlawful insect is not deemed impure.  A final point is that during the process, the shellac is dissolved in ethanol as was explained previously. The ruing of ethanol whether lawful or unlawful depends on two factors; whether its derived from grapes and dates and whether it intoxicates. If none of the two are found then the ethanol is pure which will not render the shellac unlawful.[8]

So to conclude that shellac which is derived from lac bugs is not deemed impure and if added as an ingredient in consumable things such as food, liquid or medicine then they are permissible to consume and if used for industrial use then they are also permissible to use.



 [Allãh Knows Best]



Written and researched by (Mufti) Abdul Waheed

Answer Attested by Shaykh Mufti Saiful Islam

JKN Fatawa Department



[1] Visit the link for more details. [accessed 12th August 2020]


[2] Zuhayli, Fiqhul Islami wa adillatihu, Kitāb al-Hadhr wal Ibahat, vol 3 p. 506

ويحرم أكل حشرات الأرض (صغار دوابها) كالعقرب والثعبان والفأرة والنمل والنحل لسُّميتها واستخباث الطباع السليمة لها. ويحرم المتولد من مأكول وغير مأكول كالبغل المتولد من الحمير والخيل، والحمار المتولد من حمار الوحش والحمار الأهلي؛ لأنه مخلوق مما يؤكل ومما لا يؤكل، فيغلب التحريم عملاً بقاعدة تقديم الحاظر على المبيح. وقال المالكية: يباح بالذكاة أكل خَشاش الأرض كعقرب وخنفساء وبنات ورَدْان وجندب ونمل ودود وسوس. ويباح أيضاً أكل حية أمن سمها إن ذبحت بحلقها

[3] Quran, Surah al-A’raf [7: 157]


[4] Sarakhsi, al-Mabsoot, vol11 p. 240

[كِتَابُ الصَّيْدِ]

وَلِمَعْنَى الْخُبْثِ فِيهِمَا، فَإِنَّ مِنْ طَبْعِهِمَا الِاخْتِطَافَ وَالِانْتِهَابَ……. وَالْمُسْتَخْبَثُ حَرَامٌ بِالنَّصِّ لِقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: {وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْخَبَائِثَ} [الأعراف: 157] وَلِهَذَا حَرَّمَ تَنَاوُلَ الْحَشَرَاتِ، فَإِنَّهَا مُسْتَخْبَثَةٌ طَبْعًا،


Muheet al-Burhani, Kitabas-Sayd, vol 6, p. 57

الفصل الأول في بيان ما يؤكل من الحيوانات، وما لا يؤكل

يجب أن يعلم بأن الحيوانات على أنواع: منها ما لا دم له نحو الذباب والزنبور والسمك والجراد وغير ذلك، ولا يحل تناول شيء منها إلا السمك والجراد، غير أن الجراد يحل مات بعلة أو بغير علة، والسمك إذا مات بغير علة لا يحل،


Durrul Mukhtar wa Hashiyah Ibn Abideen,  Kitab Dhaba’ih, vol 9, p. 444

وَكُلُّ مَا لَا دَمَ لَهُ فَهُوَ مَكْرُوهٌ أَكْلُهُ إلَّا الْجَرَادُ كَالزُّنْبُورِ وَالذُّبَابِ أَتْقَانِيٌّ. وَلَا بَأْسَ بِدُودِ الزُّنْبُورِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُنْفَخَ فِيهِ الرُّوحُ لِأَنَّ مَا لَا رُوحَ لَهُ لَا يُسَمَّى مَيْتَةً خَانِيَّةٌ وَغَيْرُهَا: قَالَ ط: وَيُؤْخَذُ مِنْهُ أَنَّ أَكْلَ الْجُبْنِ أَوْ الْخَلِّ أَوْ الثِّمَارِ كَالنَّبْقِ بِدُودِهِ لَا يَجُوزُ إنْ نُفِخَ فِيهِ الرُّوحُ اهـ


Fatawa Hindiyyah, Kitab Dhaba’i, vol 5, p. 357

[الْبَاب الثَّانِي فِي بَيَان مَا يُؤْكَلُ مِنْ الْحَيَوَانِ وَمَا لَا يُؤْكَلُ]

وَأَمَّا الَّذِي يَعِيشُ فِي الْبَرِّ فَأَنْوَاعٌ ثَلَاثَةٌ: مَا لَيْسَ لَهُ دَمٌ أَصْلًا وَمَا لَيْسَ لَهُ دَمٌ سَائِلٌ وَمَا لَهُ دَمٌ سَائِلٌ، فَمَا لَا دَمَ لَهُ مِثْلُ الْجَرَادِ وَالزُّنْبُورِ وَالذُّبَابِ وَالْعَنْكَبُوتِ وَالْخُنْفُسَاءِ وَالْعَقْرَبِ وَالْبَبْغَاءِ وَنَحْوِهَا لَا يَحِلُّ أَكْلُهُ إلَّا الْجَرَادُ خَاصَّةً، وَكَذَلِكَ مَا لَيْسَ لَهُ دَمٌ سَائِلٌ مِثْلُ الْحَيَّةِ وَالْوَزَغِ وَسَامٍّ أَبْرَصَ وَجَمِيعِ الْحَشَرَاتِ


[5] Imam Abu Bakar Jassas, Ahkam al-Quran Jassas vol 5, p. 5

ثُمَّ كُلِي مِنْ كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ فَاسْلُكِي سُبُلَ رَبِّكِ ذُلُلًا يَخْرُجُ مِنْ بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ فِيهِ شِفَاءٌ لِلنَّاسِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

فِيهِ الدَّلَالَةُ عَلَى طَهَارَةِ اللَّبَنِ الْمَحْلُوبِ مِنْ الشَّاةِ الْمَيْتَةِ مِنْ وَجْهَيْنِ أَحَدِهِمَا عُمُومُ اللَّفْظِ فِي إبَاحَةِ اللَّبَنِ مِنْ غَيْرِ فَرْقٍ بَيْنَ مَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهُ حَيًّا أَوْ مَيِّتًا وَالثَّانِي إخْبَارُهُ تَعَالَى أَنَّهُ خَارِجٌ مِنْ بَيْنِ فَرْثٍ وَدَمٍ وَحُكْمُهُ بِطَهَارَتِهِ مَعَ ذَلِكَ إذْ كَانَ ذَلِكَ مَوْضِعَ الْخِلْقَةِ فَثَبَتَ أَنَّ اللَّبَنَ لَا يُنَجَّسُ بِنَجَاسَةِ مَوْضِعِ الْخِلْقَةِ وَهُوَ ضَرْعُ الْمَيْتَةِ كَمَا لَمْ يُنَجَّسْ بِمُجَاوَرَتِهِ لِلْفَرْثِ وَالدَّمِ  قَوْله تَعَالَى يَخْرُجُ مِنْ بُطُونِها شَرابٌ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوانُهُ فِيهِ شِفاءٌ لِلنَّاسِ فِيهِ بَيَانُ طَهَارَةِ الْعَسَلِ وَمَعْلُومٌ أَنَّهُ لَا يَخْلُو مِنْ النَّحْلِ الْمَيِّتِ وَفِرَاخِهِ فِيهِ وَحَكَمَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى مَعَ ذَلِكَ بِطَهَارَتِهِ فَأَخْبَرَ عَمَّا فِيهِ مِنْ الشِّفَاءِ لِلنَّاسِ فَدَلَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى أن مالا دَمَ لَهُ لَا يُفْسِدُ مَا يَمُوتُ فِيهِ


[6] Bukhari, No: 3320

وعن ابى هريرة ان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إذا وقع الذباب فى اناء أحدكم فليغمسه كله ثم ليطرحه فان فى أحد جناحيه شفاء وفى الاخر داء- رواه البخاري


[7] Ikhtiyar, Kitab Taharat, vol 1. p. 15

قَالَ: (وَكَذَا مَا لَيْسَ لَهُ نَفْسٌ سَائِلَةٌ كَالذُّبَابِ وَالْبَعُوضِ وَالْبَقِّ) إِذَا مَاتَ فِي الْمَائِعِ لَا يُفْسِدُهُ، لِقَوْلِهِ – عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ -: «إِذَا وَقَعَ الذُّبَابُ فِي طَعَامِ أَحَدِكُمْ فَامْقُلُوهُ ثُمَّ انْقُلُوهُ» الْحَدِيثَ، وَأَنَّهُ يَمُوتُ بِالْمَقْلِ فِي الطَّعَامِ سِيَّمَا الْحَارُّ مِنْهُ، وَلَوْ كَانَ مَوْتُهُ يُنَجِّسُ الطَّعَامَ لَمَا أُمِرَ بِهِ


Ibn Nujaym, Bahr Rāiq, Kitab Taharat vol 1 p. 92

(قَوْلُهُ: وَمَوْتُ مَا لَا دَمَ فِيهِ كَالْبَقِّ وَالذُّبَابِ وَالزُّنْبُورِ وَالْعَقْرَبِ وَالسَّمَكِ وَالضُّفْدَعِ وَالسَّرَطَانِ لَا يُنَجِّسُهُ) أَيْ مَوْتُ حَيَوَانٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ دَمٌ سَائِلٌ فِي الْمَاءِ الْقَلِيلِ لَا يُنَجِّسُهُ وَقَدْ جَعَلَ فِي الْهِدَايَةِ هَذِهِ الْمَسْأَلَةَ مَسْأَلَتَيْنِ فَقَالَ أَوَّلًا مَوْتُ مَا لَيْسَ لَهُ نَفْسٌ سَائِلَةٌ فِي الْمَاءِ لَا يُنَجِّسُهُ كَالْبَقِّ وَالذُّبَابِ وَالزَّنَابِيرِ وَالْعَقْرَبِ وَنَحْوِهَا ثُمَّ قَالَ وَمَوْتُ مَا يَعِيشُ فِي الْمَاءِ لَا يُفْسِدُهُ كَالسَّمَكِ وَالضُّفْدَعِ وَالسَّرَطَانِ وَقَدْ جَمَعَهُمَا قَوْلُ الْمُصَنِّفِ


Ibn Nujaym, Bahr Rāiq, Kitab Taharat vol 1 p. 95

وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ كُلَّ مَا لَا يُفْسِدُ الْمَاءَ لَا يُفْسِدُ غَيْرَ الْمَاءِ، وَهُوَ الْأَصَحُّ كَذَا فِي الْمُحِيطِ وَالتُّحْفَةِ وَالْأَشْبَهُ بِالْفِقْهِ كَذَا فِي الْبَدَائِعِ لَكِنْ يَحْرُمُ أَكْلُ هَذِهِ الْحَيَوَانَاتِ الْمَذْكُورَةِ مَا عَدَا السَّمَكِ الْغَيْرِ الطَّافِي لِفَسَادِ الْغِذَاءِ وَخُبْثِهِ مُتَفَسِّخًا أَوْ غَيْرَهُ وَقَدْ قَدَّمْنَاهُ عَنْ التَّجْنِيسِ.

[8] For more details on alcohol contained products, then visit the link below.