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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وعن أمير المؤمنين أبي حفص عمر بن الخطاب بن نفيل بن عبد العزى بن رياح بن قرط بن رزاح بن عدى بن لؤى ابن غالب القرشى العدوى. رضي الله عنه، قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: " إنما الأعمال بالنيات، وإنما لكل امرىء ما نوى فمن كانت هجرته إلى الله ورسوله فهجرته إلى الله ورسوله، ومن كانت هجرته لدنيا يصيبها، أو امرأة ينكحها فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه" ((متفق على صحته. رواه إماما المحدثين: أبو الحسين مسلم بن الحجاج بن مسلم القشيرى النيسابورى رضي الله عنهما في صحيحهما اللذين هما أصح الكتب المصنفة)).
Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab Radiallahu Anhu reported:
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said, "The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, his emigration will be for Allah and His Messenger; and whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration would be for what he emigrated for".