Q. I would like to know if it is permissible to buy kefir grains to make kefir (which seems to be a type of yoghurt made with raw milk). It seems to be very healthy from what I’ve read. I am unsure if the grains, which are a starter culture similar to yeast are sourced from animals or plants. Below is some information which I have found about kefir grains.
A. The article you have forwarded states that in order to make home-made kefir starter culture the “grains” will have to be extracted from the digestive tract. This will involve the use of najaasat (impure substance) which is not permissible.
In so far as the ready-made kefir starter culture is concerned it is not clear how this is derived. It is thus mushtabah (doubtful) at the least and to abstain from it is waajib (obligatory).
Perhaps you can enquire from Dr. Mercola whose link is provided in your article, to clarify how the starter culture is derived and more specifically from where? You could also write to the Molecular Food Microbiology Laboratory (Stellenbosch University) whose article written by Dr Witthuhn appears in the email you sent.
Until it is not established with certainty that the laboratory produced kefir starter culture is free from animal and human sources it will not be permissible to utilize this substance, regardless of the purported benefits.
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حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ بُكَيْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنْ عُقَيْلٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ، أَنَّ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ لِرَمَضَانَ " مَنْ قَامَهُ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ ".
Narrated Abu Huraira Radiallahu Anhu:
I heard Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam saying regarding Ramadan, "Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven."