Allah Ta’ala has created man and sent him on earth for a short stay. However, He has not left him alone. On the contrary, He has conditioned him to live in an ideal environment. Allah Ta’ala has created animals and plants to provide for human needs. Above all, man rules in his environment over all terrestrial creatures in a supreme manner. Allah Ta’ala has very clearly stated: “He (Allah) it is Who created for man all that is on earth” (Surah 2 Verse 29). Thus, Allah Ta’ala has placed at man’s disposal the swift horse, the milch cow, the giant elephant, firewood, in addition, metals and gold or iron. It is noteworthy that everything around us is of a size that is fit for use by mankind. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “And verily! In the cattle there is indeed a lesson for you. We give you to drink (milk) of that which is in their bellies. And there are, in them, numerous (other) benefits for you, and of them you eat” (Surah 23 Verse 21).
Cattle eat grass and leave behind them manure, and thus bring their contribution to the ecosystem of our planet. Besides, after being consumed as food by us, cattle offer their skins for our use. Formerly, their skins were the main source of clothes. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (Screen your private parts), and as an adornment.” (Surah 7 Verse 26) After being dried, the skin of cattle is robust and durable, and in primal times, it had domestic uses and in this way mats and gourds are made from animal hide.
Nowadays, leather is in great demand. However, the leather market has turned its attention towards more luxurious ends. In this day and age, leather is used for bags, shoes and pullovers, and is also employed to cover the most lavish furniture. In this way, the leather industry has evolued. You will agree with me that the distinctive quality of leather is that it has withstood, in the course of time, the various fashion trends. Today, leather is always accepted by young and old all over the world. Leather has not become old-fashioned and has adapted itself to the regal dress of Sultans as well as to the clothes of the twentieth century.
THE USES OF LEATHER
In accordance with the Shariah, leather may be used as follows:
1. Animals whose flesh can be consumed (like the ox, the sheep, etc) when slaughtered correctly in the name of Allah Ta’ala, are pure and halaal, and their skins are pure in their natural state and can therefore be put to use.
2. Animals whose flesh can be consumed but which have not been slaughtered according to Islamic rites, their skins can only be used if they are properly tanned. Untanned skins are impure.
3. Animals whose flesh cannot be consumed; their skins can only be used after tanning.
Among non-consumable animals, there is only one exception: the pig. The pig is an exceptionally impure animal. Its skin and flesh are `disgusting’ and are therefore prohibited from use. Tanning of the skin will have no effect and the skin will remain impure.
That is why it is a serious matter if one’s wallet or armchair is made of the disgusting pork leather. It is haram to touch or make use of it. The paintbrushes in the hardware shops are of pork origin. Research on the international leather market has demonstrated that pork leather is more appreciated than that made of the hide of oxen. Neocuir, a European firm, has admitted that “Seats, Sofas, armchairs and clothes are made from the leather obtained from buffaloes (thicker skin), calves, pigs, etc”. The leather is dependent upon the availability of skins. It is noteworthy that, according to FAO and Eurostat figures, the Chinese and the Europeans are the two major consumers of pork meat. In 2004, China and Europe consumed 47 million and 21 million tons of pork meat respectively. By the way, China is the highest consumer of pork meat in the World. It is not a coincidence that China is the greatest manufacturer of leather fabrics. In actual fact, China produces five times more leather than its rivals (Source: World Leather Market).
I should like here to draw your attention to a fact which will surprise many a person. Since we are talking about animal Skins, you should know that, at the same time as the leather industry, producers of gelatin the world over prefer pork skin in order to produce their gelatin! By the way, gelatin is mainly produced from pork products. According to WIKIPEDIA, “On a commercial scale, gelatin is made from byproducts of the meat and leather industry, mainly pork skins, pork and cattle bones, or split cattle hides”. The world gelatin market indicates that gelatin is mainly derived from pork skins. (Source: Gelatin man. Of Europe).Two-thirds of European gelatin are of pork origin. The pork gelatin is more economical and for that reason manufacturers the world over have a preference for it. (Source: gelatin Man. Of America)
Having said that, the figures quoted reveal that consumers of gelatin have two chances out of three of eating pork gelatin! It is that skin which even thousands of tanning procedures will never make it usable! For that reason, the main world halaal organization like S.A.N.H.A. of South Africa, J.A.K.I.M. of Malaysia, Maflisul Ulama of Indonesia, I.F.A.N.C.A. and Muslim Consumer Group of the Americas and EAT HALAAL of Canada have all banned gelatin.
Let us now revert to the subject of leather. The Halaal Research Committee has not up to now been able to identify the sources of the leather available on sale on the Mauritian market; however, in view of the clues already mentioned, you are warned about the Chinese and Italian leather lest they be of pork origin. May Allah guide us on the way of those who are pure-hearted and those who like purity! Aameen!