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Assalamualaikum al-fadhil ustaz,

What is the ruling if a person has accidentally eaten ants that were inside sugar in a sugar container?



Waalaikumussalam wrm. wbt.

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the 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.


The ruling of eating ants is haram for it is included as a type of animal that is considered disgusting to be eaten and there is a hadith that states the prohibition of killing ants.

Allah SWT states:

وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ

“…and (the Prophet PBUH) makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil,”

Surah al-A’raf (157)

According to Imam Fakhruddin al-Razi in Mafatih al-Ghayb (15/381), in the verse, Allah SWT states the nine attributes of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, among them, is making something lawful according to what Allah SWT has made lawful everything that is good and delicious according to the norm and what is acceptable for people unless there is evidence that states its prohibition. The same applies when the Prophet PBUH prohibits everything that is disgusting and filthy naturally for humans such as carcasses and blood and whoever eats them is considered as fasik. In other words, anything that is normally considered as disgusting or filthy is haram for it can lead to harm and diseases, while the original ruling for everything that is harmful is haram. Thus, anything that is normally considered as disgusting is originally haram, unless if there is evidence stating otherwise.

Hence, according to the verse, ants are haram to be eaten for it has the characteristic of a carcass; die without being slaughtered, normally considered as disgusting and the Prophet PBUH prohibit us from killing ants. The prophetic evidence prohibiting against killing ants is narrated from Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma:

نَهَى رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ قَتْلِ أَرْبَعٍ مِنَ الدَّوَابِّ: النَّمْلَةِ، وَالنَّحْلَةِ، وَالْهُدْهُدِ، وَالصُّرَدِ

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) forbade killing four kinds of animals: Ants, bees, hoopoes and shrikes.”

Musnad Ahmad (3066). According to Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnaut the hadith is sahih.

According to the above evidences, madhhab al-Syafie appropriate that anything that is prohibited from being killed is also prohibited from being eaten. This fact is explained by Imam al-Nawawi in al-Majmu’: (Imam) al-Syafie and the ashab hold the opinion that whatever is prohibited to be killed, then it is haram to eat it, for anything that is permissible to be eaten is not prohibited to be killed, the same goes for there is no prohibition on killing anything that is permissible to be eaten. For example, ant and bees are both haram (to be killed or eaten).” Refer al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhadzzab (9/22)

Cases When It Is Hard to Control and Not Considered as Disgusting

However, there is an exception to the general prohibition of eating ants, which is when it is hard to control and it is eaten when it is not considered as disgusting. Refer Raudhah al-Tolibin (1/14)

Syeikh Jamal stated in Hasyiah Jamal explaining the statement made in Fath al-Wahhab by Syeikh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari: “[The word musonnif: any worms that originate from fruits or vegetables is permissible]… the same is applicable in cases where worms originate from fruits or vegetables;  which means animals (insects) that is not born from something is haram (to be eaten). For example, an ant that fell into honey. The author of al-Ihya’ said: except if only one ant or fly fell and its body ruptures, then it is permissible…”

The same ruling is applicable to bee, due to its similarity in characteristics such as not having flowing blood and it is prohibited to be killed with the same dalil. Syeikh al-Jamal said: “…except if only one bee that dissolves in the honey. In al-Ihya’ (by Imam al-Ghazali) in the book of halal and haram; if a bee or fly fell into a pot and dissolved and cooked together, then it is not haram to eat the food cooked. The reason is the prohibition of eating fly and others like it is for the sole reason that it is considered disgusting, thus, in this case, it is not considered as disgusting.

The exception factor is identified as the ability of mukallaf to control his food from being contaminated with haram matters and the degree it is considered disgusting. In hard to control situations and it is no longer considered as disgusting because the amount is too little and istihlak (it has dissolved), then the rights of the mukallaf are prioritized to eat has been made permissible for him by Allah SWT. Syeikh al-Jamal continued: “It is as has been stated by al-Syaubari: if it is understood through analogical deduction with the issue of animals that do not have flowing blood, if the amount is a lot and it changes the characteristics of the food, then it is prohibited from being eaten together with the food, for the changes has also changed it into najis.

This issue is answered by stating: “There is doubt in this opinion; while the issue is clear in two matters (which are different from each other). In one issue (the haram matter can still be controlled), as for this discussion is for matters that is beyond our control, thus, the accurate opinion is as long as it is not considered as disgusting then it is permissible to be eaten in absolution, if it is disgusting then it is haram.” Refer Hasyiah al-Jamal (5/268)

Syeikh Abu Bakar al-Dimyati said in I`anah al-Tolibin (9/458-459): “Likewise, for honey where ant fell into it when it is being cooked. If it is only one ant, then it is not prohibited to eat it.”

Imam al-Khatib al-Syirbini said: “If an ant fell into food that is being cooked, then it is permissible to eat it, different with the ruling for meat (when there is worm then it should be removed) for it is not hard to remove the worm from the meat. If an ant or fly accidentally fell into food that is being cooked, then it dissolved in the pot, it is not haram to eat the food, for it is not considered as disgusting. The same for if the quantity is more than one, as long as it is considered a little.” Refer Mughni al-Muhtaj (6/99)

Health Factor

Some scholars raise the issue of health. Which means that eating a small amount of ant must not harm or affect one’s health. Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haitami said: “And if ant fell into honey and cooked, then it is permissible to be eaten. However, it happens to meat, then it is impermissible, for it is easy to remove the ant from the meat. This is what has been said by more than one scholar. This opinion should be analysed. The reason is if the illah is istihlak (dissolved), then what is the difference with what is understood for cases involving a fly or others. Thus, what is considered is that an ant is among animal carcass that does not have flowing blood. It is not halal to be eaten with the food it died in, even if its carcass does not make the food najis. True, there are some scholars who issued a fatwa of the permissibility of it if a person is unable to separate the food from the animal/insect and he is certain that it is not harmful nor does it make the food najis.” Refer Tuhfah al-Muhtaj (9/318)

Unintentional Ant Contamination

Serving ants together with drinks is not a norm in our society, except when ants are mixed together by accident when we add sugar to the drinks. Thus, unintentional mixing of ants does not make the drink najis, for it is a subsidiary and not the intention. Syeikh Sulaiman al-Jamal commented on the fatwa of Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haitami: “If a fly fell into a liquid and does not change it, then the liquid is poured into another liquid, then it does not affect it (does not make it najis), for the purity of the first liquid is hard to control. I (al-Jamal) said: This is what is apparent, even if the first pouring is done before the fly is removed from the container it is poured from. This case is similar to the case discussed before. If we say that pouring in a dead fly changes the purity of the second liquid, this is inaccurate for the act of the second pouring only follows the first mixing; which is unintentional and just a subsidiary effect.” Refer Hasyiah al-Jamal (1/34); Fatawa al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kubra (1/20); Hasyiah Ibn Qosim `Ala Tuhfah (1/71)


According to the above facts and discussion, we are inclined towards the opinion which states eating ants in a sugar container is haram subjected to the following conditions:

  • Ant is a carcass which is haram according to syarak and is considered as disgusting according to the norm of humans.
  • If ants entered a sugar container, then a person must try his best to remove it, regardless of whether it is alive or dead.
  • If ants fell into one’s drink, then it should be removed regardless of whether it is alive or dead, however, the drink is still considered as pure and is permissible to drink, for the ants are accidentally mixed in the drink and not the main intention.
  • If ants are accidentally mixed in a drink or other edible liquid such as honey or cordial, then it is forgiven and is forgiven to drink, if the amount is a little, not considered as disgusting and does not harm or affect a person’s health.
  • If ants fell into food and dissolved in it, it is also forgiven if it is not considered as disgusting, a little and not harmful to one’s health.

Hopefully, this explanation will benefit us all.