Is brown sugar halal? I've heard that it is not, but on the ingredients list it just say "brown sugar". Should I be worried because I have been consuming it.

1 Answer 1


The only concern I know of regarding sugar is that white sugar is often filtered with charcoal made from animal bones, the issue being that there's no way to know whether or not the bones come from an acceptable source. This is relevant to brown sugar as well, since most brown sugar is actually just white sugar with molasses added.

However, to my understanding, since the bones are burned completely to the point that no attribute of the original animal source remains, it is now considered pure according to the principle of istihaalah, regardless of whether the bones came from a halal source, ma'itah, or swine. I don't know how widespread this interpretation is, but IslamQA attributes it to the Hanafi and Maliki schools, and considers it the most correct view:

The correct view concerning such matters is that by being burned and turned to ashes, it becomes pure, because impurities are purified by means of transformation (istihaalah – i.e., being turned into a different substance), according to the correct scholarly view, as is the view of the Hanafis and Malikis.

As such, brown sugar would still be considered halal even if bone char was used. That said, there are also "raw" brown sugars (e.g. demerara sugar) which skip the bone char filtering step completely, these would be considered halal by any interpretation.

Of note, whether or not bone char is used would not normally be included in the ingredients list, since it is only used for filtering impurities from the sugar and isn't considered part of the final product. The only way to know for sure whether bone char or some other filtering material was used is to investigate, i.e. by confirming with the product manufacturer.

  • As far as I know, making crystalline sugar does not need any filtering process, even less with charcoal. The way of purify sugar is by letting it crystalize. Second, charcoal is not made from bones. Maybe, in some countries there are traditional ways that really use charred bones, but what you buy from your average store should never have seen a bone but only sugar beets or sugarcane. Commented Mar 21 at 19:03
  • @GyroGearloose Natural sugar, particularly cane sugar, contains a number of impurities which can leave the final product off-white; you can probably blame marketing for the "need" to use additional filtering to make white sugar pure white so it sells better. There are also plenty of non-animal-based filtering methods, but as I mention in my answer the ingredients list is unlikely to disclose this. I can't speak for most countries, but as for where I live in Canada, Rogers Sugar is one of the most common brands and was known to still use bone char until recently.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Mar 22 at 0:13
  • As to my knowledge, crystallization alone is sufficient. Perhaps the way silicon was purified multiple cycles of crystallization, breaking and washing away impurities before discovering more efficient techniques. But we start discussing technology, not Islam. We agree that the original poster should have no worries. Commented Mar 22 at 22:39

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