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Meat of Ahlul-Kitaab (People of the Book)

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It is not Islamically permissible to consume the commercially available (Non-Dhabiha) or Kosher meat.

 


 

Definitions:

 

Firstly let’s define some terms associated with the issue of meat consumption in Islam.

 

Halal: Default categorisation of certain animals in Islam i.e. chicken is Halal to consume, cows/buffaloes etc are Halal to consume etc.

Meat of Ahlul-Kitaab: Allah (SWT) has permitted the meat of Jews & Christians for Muslims to consume and here is the verse. [5:5] This day, good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them...

Dhabiha:  Islamically slaughtered meat done by pronouncement of Allah (SWT)’s name and by cutting the throat, oesophagus, jugular vein and letting the blood flow.

 

Expansion of definitions:

Secondly let’s expand the aforementioned definitions.

In my humble experience during travelling and when dealing with many Muslims it is insufficient to simply ask for “Halal Meat” because the concept is lost in translation i.e. many Muslims (living in the West and Airline employees in particular) take Halal” to be a categorisation i.e. Chicken is Halal” to consume so when you ask the question you will be given chicken because by default its Halal. Unfortunately many of our Muslim brothers and sisters are not too knowledgeable about Islam and its intricacies and at best their domain of knowledge is limited to Satellite Televisions and googling Fatwaas so no point in arguing in the middle of a flight or in small town in Sweden or Switzerland!

A more correct and complete request would be to ask for or look for “Dhabiha meat” and not merely “Halal meat”  since many Muslims are familiar with the concept and those amongst Muslims or Non-Muslims who are not familiar with the distinction can be easily explained.

Once the distinction is understood, you may be presented with the meat of Ahlul-Kitaab as it is unfortunately widely accepted and consumed in US & Europe, without fear and based on lack of understanding and knowledge.  This error has manifested itself in such a manner that in some communities’ commercially available meat from Western Supermarkets is consumed and no effort is made to search for “Dhabiha meat”.

Meat of Ahlul-Kitaab (Jews & Christians):

The opinion amongst those who consider commercially available meat from Western Supermarkets permissible to consume can be divided into two categories.

Position of Hanbali Ulama of Saudi Arabia:  

In order for meat of Ahlul-Kitaab to be considered Halal, the following conditions have to be met:

 

a That the meat be slaughtered as a Muslim does it, but cutting the throat and oesophagus and letting the blood flow. If the animal is killed by strangling or electric shock or drowning in water, its meat is not permissible.

 

b No name other than that of Allah (SWT)  should be mentioned over it, such as the name of the Messiah etc, because Allah (SWT)  says (interpretation of the meaning):  [6:121] “Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allah (SWT) ’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal)”

 

c Meat must not be sacrificed by Ahlul-Kitaab for their religious festivals or in order to get closer to someone other than Allah (SWT) , such meat is rendered impermissible regardless of the method of slaughter or whether the name of the deity other then Allah (SWT) was mentioned or not.

http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/88206/meat

Position of Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi (HA):  

Meat of Ahlul-Kitaab is by default considered Halal regardless of the method of slaughter, although caution should be exercised in consuming meat upon which the name of other than Allah (SWT) has been mentioned.

a It is “best” that nothing other than Allah (SWT)’s name is mentioned.

 

“If one does not hear from a Christian or a Jew that a name other than Allah's such as that of Jesus or a saint, was mentioned at the time of slaughter, the meat he offers is halal. If, however, he says that a name other than Allah's has been mentioned, it is haram, according to the opinion of some jurists who argue that it falls under the heading of what has been dedicated to other than Allah. Some others hold the opinion that the food of the People of the Book has been permitted to us by Allah, Who is aware of what they say when slaughtering an animal.” (The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, page 60)

“...we know that imported meats, such as chicken and canned beef, originating with the People of the Book are halal for us, even though the animal may have been killed by means of electric shock or the like. As long as they consider it lawful in their religion, it is halal for us. This is the application of the above verse from Surah al-Maidah.” (Sheikh Qaradawi is referring to Quran 5:5) (The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, page 62)

http://www.soundvision.com/Info/halalhealthy/maududi.asp

Should the meat of Ahlul-Kitaab also be Dhabiha?

The rules of permissibility of meat have been set forth by Allah (SWT) in Surah Al-Maida in the following verse:

[5:3] Prohibited for you are: carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and those upon which (a name) other than that of Allah has been invoked (at the time of slaughter), animal killed by strangulation, or killed by a blow, or by a fall, or by goring, or that which is eaten by a beast unless you have properly slaughtered it; and that which has been slaughtered before the idols, and that you determine shares through the arrows. (All of) this is sin.

 The conditional clause “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered) clarifies in the verse above that the animal which was eaten by a beast was still alive, hence in order for it to be made permissible it has to be properly slaughtered, if the eaten animal was dead (i.e. killed by the beast) then it would be a dead carcass and there would be no point in slaughtering a dead animal!

The conditional clause of “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered) should be closely observed as it is used in the Qur’aan as a distinguishing factor for the permissibility of meat. Linguistically Dhakah means to complete or perfect something.

As for the definition of purification and cleanliness in Dhakah, this is included in the meaning of the statement of Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyyah: “The drying up of the ground is its Dhakah (purification),” meaning that it purifies it, because Dhakah of the slaughtered animal makes it pure and clean. [Lisan al-‘Arab’ (18/314]

The conditional clause “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered) is a universal and categorical clause which separates the impermissible from the permissible.

A few verses later where [5:5] This day, good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful for you...is mentioned the conditional clause “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered) ”  still applies. Imam Tabari (RA) writes in famous commentary:

 

a His word وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكمand the food of the People of the Book is lawful to you,” shows the lawfulness of what they properly slaughter.  The People of the Book are the Jews and the Christians and they are those who received the Torah and the Bible and were given revelation and so they followed their respective books or one of them.

 

b A little further Imam Tabari (RA) writes, “As for the food that Allah mentioned in His word وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم / “and the food of the People of the Book is lawful to you,” it refers to what they properly slaughter.  What I have said has been said by the competent exegetes.  Here follows the mention of those who said that.  Abu Kuraib and Wakee‘ reported from Ibn Idrees [al-Shafi‘] from Laith from Mujaahid concerning His word وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم / “and the food of the People of the Book is lawful to you,” that he [Mujaahid] said: “It is what they have slaughtered according to rite.”. The above chain of narration is clearly rigorously authentic; all of its narrators are narrators that Imam Bukhari (RA) depended on except Imam Shafa’e (RA) who of course is utterly reliable.  After that Imam Tabari (RA) reported fifteen reports from the specialists in exegesis from the Followers including six more reports from al-Mujaahid about whom Suyaan al-Thauri said: “If exegesis comes from al-Mujaahid then let that suffice you.”   Al-Suyooti who mentioned the report from Sufyan in his a-Itqaan then quoted Ibn Taimiyyah: “For this reason [the reliability of al-Mujaahid] Imam Shafa’e (RA)  and Imam Bukhari (RA) and other exegetical authorities depend on him.”

 

c Imam Ibn Katheer (RA) writes in famous commentary, "Ibn Abbas and Abu Umaamah and Mujaahid and Sa‘eed ibn Jubair and ‘Ikrimah and ‘Ataa’ and al-Hasan and Makhool and al-Suddi and Muqaatil ibn Hayyaan said that it (the food of the people of the book) means “what they slaughter”; in fact this is a matter on which there is agreement among the ulama that is what they [the People of the Book] slaughter is lawful for the Muslims because they believe that it is unlawful to slaughter to other than Allah and they mention the nothing other than the name of Allah over what they slaughter even though they believe things about Him, exalted is He, that he transcends."

 

d A little further Imam Ibn Katheer (RA) writes, “…For this reason He did not make lawful what people other than, the polytheists and those like them killed because they do not mention the name of Allah over what they kill and in fact they don’t even restrict themselves to eating what has been properly slaughtered but eat what has been killed [al-maitah] contrary to the People of the Two Books.

The Hanbali Imam al-Muwaffaq Ibn al-Quddaamah (d. 620 / 1223; Damascus) about who Ibn Taimiyyah (RA) says, “No many ever entered Shaam after al-Auzaa‘i [d. 157 / 774; Beirut] more learned in fiqh than Shaikh al-Muwaffaq,”  said in his encyclopaedic work on Hanbali fiqh in which he also discussed at length the differences of opinions of the other madhhabs: وأهل الكتاب إذا ذبح حل أكل ذبيحته / “If a person from the People of the Book slaughters according to rite what he has slaughtered is lawful.”   Notice that he specified “slaughtered” and did not say “kill.”

In other words the animal has to be slaughtered completely or perfectly in order for its meat to become permissible for consumption, regardless of the slaughterer being Muslim or from Ahlul-Kitaab.

Removing the stipulation of “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered) from the verse [5:5] This day, good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful for you...would create a problem because it would mean that food of the people of the book would have to be loosely interpreted meaning that pig which is the “food of the people of the Book” would also become permissible!

We ask the reasons for declaring pork and animals killed by strangulation or blow by Ahlul-Kitaab impressible? And if the answer is that they have been stipulated impermissible two verses before:

[5:3] Prohibited for you are: carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and those upon which (a name) other than that of Allah has been invoked (at the time of slaughter), animal killed by strangulation, or killed by a blow, or by a fall, or by goring, or that which is eaten by a beast unless you have properly slaughtered it; and that which has been slaughtered before the idols, and that you determine shares through the arrows. (All of) this is sin.

They we ask why is “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered) ignored from the same verse? What has prompted taking bits from the verse and ignoring the rest?

Thus the verse must be understood correctly to mean that meat properly slaughtered by the Ahlul-Kitaab is permissible to consume.

What is Dhabiha or proper slaughter?

Dhabiha (or proper slaughter) has certain conditions and prerequisites which are discussed below:

1 The slaughterer must be a Muslim or a person from Ahlul-Kitaab (Jew or a Christian) and the slaughter of everyone else is Haram and there is a consensus on this issue [Al-Mughni]

 

2 The slaughter must be done with a tool with a sharp edge and the animal must be killed by the sharpness and not by using force and most of the four veins (including the Jugular vein, according to some) must be cut.

 

a Narrated Rafi bin Khadij (RA)...The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, "If the killing tool causes blood to gush out and if Allah's Name is mentioned, eat (of the slaughterer animal). But do not slaughter with a tooth or a nail. I am telling you why: A tooth is a bone, and the nail is the knife of Ethiopians." [Bukhari]

 

b Yahya related to me from Malik that Abdullah ibn Abbas used to say, "You can eat anything that has had its jugular vein cut." [Malik]

 

c The entire Ummah is agreed upon the place of the cut which is the throat and base of the neck. Hanbali Imam al-Muwaffaq Ibn al-Quddaamah (RA) writes in Al-Mughni “As for the location of the slaughter, it is the throat and base of the neck and it is not allowed to cut except there by consensus.”

 

3 The name of Allah must be taken at the time of slaughtering, whether actually or effectively (such as when it is forgotten by someone who would normally have said it);

 

a [6:121] Do not eat that (meat) over which the name of Allah has not been pronounced. This is surely a sin. The satans inspire their friends to dispute with you. If you were to obey them, you would be Mushriks.

 

b This is the ruling according to the majority of the jurists. It is usually related from Imam Shafa’e (RA) that the animal will be halal even in the situation of leaving pronouncing the name of Allah intentionally, and to recite the name of Allah is merely a Sunnah. However Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (RA) argues (after giving proofs from the extensive works of the Shafa`e school) that this is only when it occurs infrequently. If a habit is made of leaving pronouncing the name of Allah due to negligence and taking the matter lightly, it is also not permissible according to the Shafa`e school.

 

Problems with commercially available western supermarket meat:

Problem 1:

Many citizens of most Western countries no longer truly believe or practise any religion, let alone Christianity. They may be “Christian” by name but in reality many people are Atheists or simply can’t be bothered. Church attendances have been steadily declining. It is foolish to assume that all Western citizens are “Christians”, today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Europe

Moreover, it is also foolish to assume that everybody living in the West is a Jew or Christian; there are plenty of people of other faiths and/or atheists and agnostics in the west.

The ruling of meat slaughtered by “Christians by name” has been recorded from Sayyidina Ali (RA) as Imam Ibnul Hajr Al-Asqalani (RA) records in Fathul Bari (commentary of Saheeh Bukhari)

Rather an authentic report has come from Ali attesting that he prohibited what was slaughtered by some Christian Arabs.  It was reported by Imam Shafa’e (RA) and Abd al-Razzaaq with a rigorously authentic chain of narration from Muhammad ibn Seereen from ‘Abeedah al-Salmaani from Ali that he said: “Don’t eat what the Christians of Banu Taghlib have slaughtered because they have not retained of their religion anything but drinking wine.”

Problem 2:  

In most Western democracies it is against the law to discriminate on religious grounds and to streamline the process of employment most employers do not ask for the religion of the employee. In other words if there was a vacancy for an Engineer then the qualifications/skills/experience of a potential employee will be checked and verified and the religious affiliations are deemed to be irrelevant. Similarly for a slaughterer the necessary qualifications/skills/experience and certifications will be checked and religion will be ignored.

A qualified slaughterer can be a Muslim, Jew, Christian, Atheist, Buddhist and his OR her religion is neither disclosed nor tracked with the meat. It cannot be guaranteed that the slaughterer is indeed a Muslim or a Jew or a Christian.

Problem 3:  

Just because an animal is “Halal” to consume isn’t sufficient and the laughter being a Muslim or from Ahlul-Kitaab isn’t sufficient. Its method of killing must also conform to Islamic Shariah.

The two verses in Surah Al-Maidah (The Table spread, Chapter 5) must be understood together as understood by the Scholars of Islam

[5:3] Prohibited for you are: carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and those upon which (a name) other than that of Allah has been invoked (at the time of slaughter), animal killed by strangulation, or killed by a blow, or by a fall, or by goring, or that which is eaten by a beast unless you have properly slaughtered it; and that which has been slaughtered before the idols, and that you determine shares through the arrows. (All of) this is sin…

[5:5] This day, good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful for you...

Food of the people of the Book becomes a problematic concept as soon as the conditional clause of “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered)” is ignored and this matter has been thoroughly discussed previously.

We know of no western country which has legislation requiring the slaughter of animals according to Islamic Shariah, in cause of chicken a partial cut is made by needle like insertions (after stunning) and in case of cattle a cut is made (which may partially cut a blood vessel or may severe the wind pipe) or the neck is cleanly cut off! All forms of slaughters currently employed by Non-Muslims are problematic in one way or another.

Ignoring real and valid doubts?

Issue one:

It is surprising to note that Scholars who deem it permissible to consume the supermarket meat in the west advise to ignore valid and genuine doubts concerning commonly available meat. This is strangely against the practise of Muslim and Sunnah as Rasul-ullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) very clearly advised:

On the authority of Al-Numan bin Basheer, who said : I heard the messenger of Allah say : "That which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which not many people know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour, but he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allah's sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be whole, all the body is whole and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart." [Bukhari & Muslim]

Issue two:

Moreover Muslims are advised to read Bismillah and consume the meat in case of uncertainty based upon the following narration in Saheeh Bukhari:

Narrated 'Aisha (RA):  A group of people said to the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam), "Some people bring us meat and we do not know whether they have mentioned Allah's Name or not on slaughtering the animal." He said, "Mention Allah's Name on it and eat." [Bukhari]

The application of this Hadeeth to commercially available meat in the West is factually inaccurate because the slaughterers in this Hadeeth were “New Muslims” as mentioned by Aisha (RA) herself “And these people had just recently entered Islam” as clearly mentioned by Imam Ibnul Hajr Al-Asqalani (RA) in Fathul Bari (commentary of Saheeh Bukhari).

This hadith of ‘A’ishah (RA) is referring to a group of Muslim bedouins who had just accepted Islam. In fact, as stated by al-Baghawi in ‘Sharh as-Sunnah that  Imam Shafa’e (RA) derived from this that the Tasmiyah is not a condition for the permissibility of the meat.

This hadeeth provides evidence that if the slaughterer was a Muslim then it is not required to inquire whether the name of Allah (SWT) was pronounced upon it, rather it should be assumed. This is why Imam Baihaqi (RA) has titled the chapter under which he placed this hadith ‘Whoever Doesn’t mention Allah’s Name and Whose Slaughtered Meat is Permissible.’ [See Ibn at-Turkmani’s ‘al-Jawhar an-Naqiyy ‘ala as-Sunan al-Kubra’ (9/239)]

And Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said in ‘at-Tamhid’: “Indeed, if the Muslim slaughters some meat and it is not known if he mentioned Allah’s Name upon it, there is no problem in eating it, and it is to be assumed that he did so. One should assume nothing but the best about the believer, and his slaughtered meat and hunted game is to be assumed safe to eat.” [Ibn Qudamah in ‘al-Mughni’ (13/77)]

Thus the application of meat slaughtered by new Muslims living on the outskirts of Madinah to meat available in the western supermarkets where the religious affiliation of slaughterer is unknown is nothing but a fallacy!

Issue three: 

The default ruling for the meat is Haram unless conditional clause of “إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ (unless you have properly slaughtered)” is fulfilled which renders it permissible to consume.

So, what is the default when it comes to the meat of animals before they are slaughtered? The default regarding animals as a whole is that they are halal unless there is a text forbidding them.

However, the default specifically regarding eating the meat of these animals is that it is haram until we are sure that they have been slaughtered properly. So, if doubt is introduced, we go back to the default ruling. This is a very important principle that many who write about the issue of slaughtered meats are heedless of, as they throw out the phrase ‘the default in things is their permissibility’ and ‘certainty is not removed by doubt,’ and they conclude that the default in these doubtful meats is therefore that they are halal. This principle that all of the scholars of Fiqh have confirmed – either implicitly or explicitly – is that the default ruling of animals is that they are haram until it is confirmed that they have been slaughtered properly. And Imam Nawawi (RA) said in Al-Majmu, “This principle is a point of consensus between the scholars, and there is no dispute regarding it,” and he commented (in his commentary of Saheeh Muslim) on the hadith of ‘Adiyy bin Hatim that will be mentioned (if Allah Wills) by saying: “It shows an important principle, and this is that if there is any doubt regarding the method of slaughter of an animal, it is not allowed to eat it due to the fact that the default ruling is that it is forbidden, and there is no dispute on this.”

(The Ruling on Meat Slaughtered In the West by Shaykh Abdullah Azzam Shaheed (RA))

Conclusion:

Thus the commercially available meat in western supermarkets cannot be declared permissible to consume because the identity of the slaughterer is unknown and the method of slaughter does not conform to Islamic Shariah



Question: I have come across Muslims who try and justify that we are permitted to eat the meat of the Jews/Christians, as is, e.g. McDonalds, supermarkets etc on the basis of the opinion given by Yusuf Al- Qaradawi:

”Since Allah did not prohibit it, the food of the Jews and the Christians is permitted to you on the basis of the original permissibility of things, and likewise you can share your food with them. Accordingly, you can eat the flesh of the animals they have slaughtered or hunted, and they can eat what you have slaughtered or hunted.”
(The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, page 59).

”The application of the phrase, [part of the verse of the Quran, 5:5] ‘the food of those who were given the Scripture,’ is general and includes their meats, produce, and other foods. All of these are halal for us excepting what is haram in itself, e.g., the flesh of a dead animal, pork, and flowing blood, as these are haram regardless of whether they are obtained from a Christian, a Jew or a Muslim. “
(The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, page 60)

”If one does not hear from a Christian or a Jew that a name other than Allah’s such as that of Jesus or a saint, was mentioned at the time of slaughter, the meat he offers is halal. If, however, he says that a name other than Allah’s has been mentioned, it is haram, according to the opinion of some jurists who argue that it falls under the heading of what has been dedicated to other than Allah. Some others hold the opinion that the food of the People of the Book has been permitted to us by Allah, Who is aware of what they say when slaughtering an animal.”
(The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, page 60)

”...we know that imported meats, such as chicken and canned beef, originating with the People of the Book are halal for us, even though the animal may have been killed by means of electric shock or the like. As long as they consider it lawful in their religion, it is halal for us. This is the application of the above verse from Surah al-Maidah.” (Sheikh Qaradawi is referring to Quran 5:5)  (The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, page 62)

It should be noted that at a conference of the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) in the U.S. a few years ago, where Sheikh Qaradawi is a regular speaker, he became exasperated upon being asked this question. He has encouraged, in the North American context, where Muslim businesses are present, that Muslims buy from these stores as opposed to purchasing from the supermarket.


Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The answer to this question will be divided into three parts:

1 The first looks at the Islamic perspective and viewpoint with regards to meat-eating and slaughtering of animals.


2 The second deals with the conditions and rules pertaining to a valid slaughter in Shariah.

3 The third in refutation of those who call for the meat sold in western supermarkets to be considered lawful (halal).

 

1. The Islamic Perspective on Eating Meat & Slaughtering Animals:

It is common knowledge that eating meat goes back to the advent of man. Man has been consuming meat from the very early times. However, before the advent of Islam, all possible means were used in order to acquire the meat of animals. The flesh of dead animals was consumed. At times a part of the body of a living animal would be cut and eaten. No consideration would be taken in preventing the pain and suffering to the defenceless and innocent creatures of Allah.

Then, Allah blessed humanity with His Beloved Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace), as a light and life-giving.

The Sacred Law (Shariah) of Islam that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) came with from Allah differentiated between a living and a dead animal. Dead animals were declared unlawful (haram). Certain animals that were harmful to the wellbeing of humans were also prohibited, such as: pigs, dogs, cats and wild animals.

Animals that were declared lawful (halal) were also subjected to certain rules & regulations, which would ensure that the blood and other impure elements come out from their body as much as possible and that the slaughter be done in a way that was least painful and most merciful to the animal. The ritual nature of the slaughtering also serves as a reminder to humans of the tremendousness of the gift of life, and the blessing of food in general and meat in particular.

The Sacred Law of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) also distinguished between the consumption of animals and other types of food. Animals are similar to humans as they possess a soul and the five senses. They are able to experience pains and pleasures. Due to this fact, it would appear that the consumption of animal meat should not have been lawful for humans. Some people, in different civilizations and times, whose intellects have not been enlightened by the light of revelation, came to this conclusion.

However, Allah Almighty through his infinite Mercy and Grace permitted humans to consume the meat of certain animals. He made humans the best of creations and created everything for their benefit. Allah Most High Says:

“It is He, who has created for you all things that are on earth.” (Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2.29).



With this, Islam stands out from the man-made religions and faiths in that it has appointed and fixed certain methods and ways for the slaughtering of animals. It has laid down principles, and prescribed laws without which the animals are not lawful to consume.

The issue of slaughtering animals is not a normal and mundane issue, in which an individual may act as he/she desires, without being restricted to rules and principles. Rather it is regarded from the acts of worship, and there is sacredness associated with it, for the reasons mentioned above.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“Whoever prays our prayer and faces our Qiblah and eats our slaughtered animals, is a believer who is under Allah’s and His Messenger’s protection.” [Recorded by Imam al-Bukhari on the authority of Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him)]



In another hadith, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) stated:

“I have been ordered to fight the people until they say: ‘There is no God but Allah.’ When they do so, and pray like our prayers, face our Qiblah and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacrosanct except by due legal right.” [Bukhari]



The above two narrations of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) are very clear in determining that the slaughtering of animals holds a significant position in Shariah. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) counted the slaughtering of animals with praying Salat and facing the Qiblah. He considered it from those specific features of Islam, which distinguishes a Muslim from a non-Muslim and regarded it as one of the hallmarks of a true believer with which his life and wealth is protected.

Therefore, those who believe that the slaughtering of animals is a normal and non-religious affair and that one may practice the slaughter in the manner one wishes, are clearly in contradiction with the sayings and guidance of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). How can one regard it as a purely mundane act when our Beloved Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) considered it to be sign of a Muslim?

Thus, it may be seen that the Shariah is very clear with regards to the consumption of animals. It has prescribed certain principles, rules, regulations and laws to which a Muslim must adhere. Some of these laws are connected to the actual lawfulness of the animal and others to the slaughtering of the animal. Failing to comply with these rules may well render the animal haram.

2. The Conditions & Rules Pertaining To A Valid Slaughter In The Sacred Law:

The rules and laws governing hunting and slaughtering are given great importance in traditional Islamic jurisprudence, because of the importance Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace) gave them.

The fuqaha (jurists) have explained these rules in great detail in their various works, deducing from the Qur’an, Prophetic example (sunna), and the sayings of the Companions (Allah be pleased with them). Very rarely one will find a book in traditional Islamic jurisprudence without a complete chapter on hunting and slaughtering.

We can obviously not cover all of these rules in this brief article; neither is that our aim, but the basic fundamentals and important principles with regards to the slaughtering of animals can be mentioned.

There are basically three conditions for a valid slaughter according to the Shariah:

a Most of the four veins (including the Jugular vein, according to some) must cut with a tool that is sharp and has a cutting edge;

b The name of Allah must be taken at the time of slaughtering, whether actually or effectively (such as when it is forgotten by someone who would normally have said it);

c The slaughterer must be either a Muslim or from the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). [As mentioned by Haskafi and Ibn Abidin in Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar]

It should be also remembered here, that all these conditions are necessary individually and separately. Failure to fulfil them will render the animal unlawful.

Let us look at these rules and conditions in more detail:

The first condition:

Those animals which are within ones capacity to slaughter, whether domesticated or wild, it is necessary that its blood is shed by a tool that has a cutting edge, and that it kills the animal with its sharpness and not by its force. This sharp thing may be a knife or anything else. However, it is disliked (makruh) to use a tooth or a claw in the Hanafi School and impermissible to do so in the Shafi’I school. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, 5/208]



Allah Almighty says:

“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been invoked the name of other than Allah, that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it (before the animal dying due to the above causes).” [Qur’an, Surah al-Ma’idah, 5.3]



In a rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith recorded by Imam al-Bukhari and others, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“If the killing tool causes the blood to gush out, and the name of Allah is mentioned, then eat (of the slaughtered animal), but do not use a nail (claw) or a tooth.” [Bukhari]



Ibn Abbas reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“Whatever cuts the jugular veins, then eat the animal.” (Muwatta of Imam Malik, 2/489)



Ibn Abbas and Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with them) report:

“The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) prohibited the Sharita of Shaytan. It is an animal which is slaughtered by cutting it open, and the veins are not cut, and is then left to die.” [Sunan Abu Dawud]

From the above hadiths and other evidences, the fuqaha (jurists) have deduced that for the animal to be lawful (halal) it is necessary that its veins are cut open in a way that the blood streams and gushes out. This is to make sure that the impure elements are removed from the animal as much as possible.

The Fuqaha differ as to which of the veins must be cut. According to Imam Shafi’i, both the wind pipe and the gullet must be slit in order for the animal to be lawful. According to our (Hanafi) school, three from the four must be cut. However, all the fuqaha agree that the place to slaughter is the throat and the upper part of the chest.

The second condition:

As far as the second condition (taking Allah’s name) is concerned, the majority of the jurists are of the view that this is necessary. If one failed to recite Allah’s name intentionally and deliberately, the animal will be unlawful to consume. However, if this is left out due to forgetfulness, it will remain halal, as the primary texts indicate

This is the ruling according to the majority of the jurists. It is usually related from Imam Shafi’i (Allah be pleased with him) that the animal will be halal even in the situation of leaving pronouncing the name of Allah intentionally, and to recite the name of Allah is merely a Sunnah. However, my respected teacher Mufti Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve him) argues (after giving proofs from the extensive works of the Shafi`i school) that this is only when it occurs infrequently. If a habit is made of leaving pronouncing the name of Allah due to negligence and taking the matter lightly, it is also not permissible according to the Shafi`i school.

Some evidences regarding the necessity of pronouncing the name of Allah when slaughtering:

a Allah Most High says:

“Eat not of (meats) over which Allah’s name has not been pronounced. That would be impiety.” (al-An’ am, V. 121)



The above text is clear in determining the necessity of taking the name of Allah when slaughtering and the unlawfulness of the animal when it is left out, as the major Qur’anic commentators explain.

b Allah Almighty says:

“They ask you what is lawful for them (as food). Say: Lawful unto you are (all) things good and pure and what you have taught your trained hunting animals (to catch) in the manner directed to you by Allah. Eat what they catch for you and pronounce the name of Allah over it.” (al-Ma’idah, V.4)



c Allah Almighty says:

“Why should you not eat of (meats) on which Allah’s name has been pronounced.” (al-An’am, V. 119)



d Jundub ibn Sufyan al-Bajali narrates that:

“Once we offered some animals as sacrifices with the Messenger of Allah. Some people slaughtered their sacrifices before the Eid prayer. When the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) completed his prayer, He saw that they had slaughtered before the prayer. He said: “Whoever slaughtered before the prayer, should slaughter another animal (sacrifice) in place of it and those who did not slaughter until we prayed, should slaughter by mentioning Allah’s name.” [Bukhari]



The third condition:

The third condition is that the slaughterer must be either a Muslim or from the people of the book (Ahl al-Kitab). The animal slaughtered by other then a Muslim or the People of the Book (namely, Jews and Christians, if the other conditions are also fulfilled) is haram according to all the jurists of Islam. Scholarly consensus (ijma`) has been transmitted on this matter by major authorities. [Ibn Qudama, Mughni 9.312, and other works]

Allah Most High says:

“Today are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them” (al-An’am, V. 5).



The meaning of “food” in the above verse is specifically the animals slaughtered by the People of the book (Christians and Jews). (See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2/19).

Overtly, the above verse reads that the animal slaughtered (zabiha) by the People of the Book is permissible and lawful to consume. However, there is a fundamental principle in the science of the exegesis of the Holy Qur’an (Tafsir) which states, very understandably, that, “One part of the Qur’an explains the other.” [See: Qurtubi’s introduction to his al-Jami` li Ahkam al-Qur’an, and Suyuti’s al-Itqan fi `Ulum al-Qur’an]

Therefore, this verse should be understood in the light of another verse mentioned earlier relating to the same matter: “Eat not of (meats) on which Allah’s name has not been pronounced” (al-An’am, 121).



In the light of both verses, it is deduced and understood that the Zabiha of the Ahl al-Kitab is only permissible when the name of Allah was taken at the time of slaughtering the animal, and the slaughtering itself done in the proper manner. As mentioned earlier, this condition of reciting the name of Allah is independently necessary. This is discussed further in the following section.

3. Regarding the Claims of Those Who State That Western Supermarket Meats Are Halal:

Now we look at the claims made by certain groups that the meat available in western supermarkets is Halal. From among such people is also one of the renowned contemporary scholars Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, as rightly pointed out by the questioner.

I would not like to offend anybody but, rather, to point out to the truth. Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a great scholar who has done great service to Islam, and conveyed its message and rulings to people few others have been able to reach. May Allah reward him greatly for this. It is this unbefitting for a mere student like me to criticize him. But this is a unique aspect of our religion that it enables and empowers students and lesser people to stand up for the truth. And it is only the barakah of these great scholars themselves enables those less than them to bring their views foreword. And all, ultimately only seek the truth and Allah’s acceptance.

Regarding Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, I think the following excerpt of our moderator Sayyidi Faraz Rabbani is sufficient, which was posted earlier:

“Traditional scholars caution about Shaykh Qaradawi’s fiqh methodology and especially his excessive leniency that often reaches the point of laxity. This is because he does not limit himself to reliable positions within the four Sunni schools of Fiqh, and is notorious among scholars for many aberrant stances and positions.



They respect him as a scholar, but they are cautious and caution others about positions he takes that depart from the mainstream.”

The basis of Shaykh Qaradawi’s argument is that the verse of the Holy Qur’an which permits the food of the People of the Book (mentioned earlier) is general and includes their meats, produce and other foods irrespective of the way the slaughter took place, and whether the name of Allah was taken or not.

Also, he argues, the food of the Christians and Jews is permitted on the basis of the original permissibility of things, as Allah did not prohibit it.

In summary, there are two questions which arise here:

a Is it necessary for the people of the Book to slaughter the animal according to the method prescribed by Shariah? and

b Is it necessary for them

The first question: Is it necessary for the people of the Book to slaughter the animal according to the method prescribed by Shariah?

As far as the first question is concerned, the overwhelming majority of the jurists are of the view that the slaughtering of the People of the Book will only be Halal if they slaughter the animal according to the principles set down by Shariah.

Below are some of the evidences which signify this:

1 Allah Almighty says in Surah al-Ma’idah:



“Forbidden to you are: dead meat, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah, that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been partly eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it” (Qur’an, 5.3).



Swine has been declared unlawful in this verse, as has been the animal which was strangled to death or was killed by a violent blow. If one considers animals strangled by the Ahl al-Kitab as lawful will also have to regard the meat of swine Halal, as both have been mentioned in the same context, and also it is from the “food of the People of the Book”.

2 The meaning of the verse “The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you” is that they are considered as equal to the Muslims with regards to the slaughter of animals, not surpass them. How can it be that the animal slaughtered by someone of the People of the Book is Halal regardless of the procedure used in slaughtering, and the animal slaughtered by a Muslim in the same manner is deemed unlawful?

3 Islam made a distinction between the Ahl al-Kitab and other non-Muslims with regards to slaughter and marriage, as their laws in these two aspects were very similar to those of Muslims. For example, it is stated in the Jewish book The Mishnah:

“If he slaughtered with a hand-sickle or with a blunt glass or with a reed, what he slaughters is valid. All may slaughter and at any time and with any implement excepting a reaping sickle or a saw or teeth or the finger-nails, since these choke.” (The Misnah, hullin 1, P.513)



The above is clear in determining that the permissibility of consuming meat slaughtered by Christians and Jews is only because they adhere to the principles set down by Islam.

4 If one was to marry a Christian or a Jewish girl, but not in accordance with the laws of the Shariah, such as the need for witnesses and not marrying an immediate family member, it would be considered unlawful without disagreement. Then why the difference in the issue of slaughter and animals?

There are also other evidences, but I will suffice with these, as not to prolong our discussion.

The Second Question: Is it necessary for them to take the name of Allah?

Regarding the taking of Allah’s name by the people of the book, there is a difference of opinion between the jurists.

According to the Hanafi and Hanbali schools, this is a condition for the animal to be Halal. (See: Kasani, Bada’i` al-Sana’i`, 5.46). Also here, the reason why an animal slaughtered by the Ahal al-Kitab is Halal is because they used to take Allah’s name when slaughtering the animal.

Then there is another aspect to this issue, which is that many people in the West claim to be Christians. This claim is not true insofar as they do not firmly believe in God, a revealed book, and a prophet, regardless of the nature of their beliefs in these matters. Rather, they are often Christians only by name and do not actually believe in any religion. Thus, they cannot be termed People of the Book. They are atheists and it is not permissible to consume the animal slaughtered by them, by scholarly consensus.

In conclusion, the meat sold in western supermarkets or served by Christians will be unlawful as they generally do not fulfil the conditions of a valid slaughtering and that they are usually not true Christians. Kosher meat, would be however, in itself permitted. Top scholars across the Muslim world, including Shaykh Qaradawi himself say that Muslims should avoid Kosher meat due to the Zionist oppression in Palestine.

And Allah Knows Best

Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester, UK


Reading Bismillah and eating the meat!

Some people claim that reciting Bismillah on (any) meat of a permissible meat would it Halal to consume as it is mentioned in a Hadeeth. Simply reproducing the Hadeeth in full debunks the idea and here is the full text:

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا أُسَامَةُ بْنُ حَفْصٍ الْمَدَنِيُّ، عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ عُرْوَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ أَنَّ قَوْمًا، قَالُوا لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِنَّ قَوْمًا يَأْتُونَا بِاللَّحْمِ لاَ نَدْرِي أَذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ أَمْ لاَ فَقَالَ ‏ "‏ سَمُّوا عَلَيْهِ أَنْتُمْ وَكُلُوهُ ‏"‏‏.‏ قَالَتْ وَكَانُوا حَدِيثِي عَهْدٍ بِالْكُفْرِ‏.‏ تَابَعَهُ عَلِيٌّ عَنِ الدَّرَاوَرْدِيِّ‏.‏ وَتَابَعَهُ أَبُو خَالِدٍ وَالطُّفَاوِيُّ‏.‏‏

Sayyia 'Aisha (RA) narrated: A group of people said to the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam), "Some people bring us meat and we do not know whether they have mentioned Allah's Name or not on slaughtering the animal." He said, "Mention Allah's Name on it and eat." Those people had embraced Islam recently. [Bukhari]

 


 

The Islamic Laws of Animal Slaughter

By Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (HA)

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