Beef In The Australian Market

The conditions for accepting slaughtered animals under Islamic law. Some of the methods used in killing cattle in Australian Abattoirs.

"Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures);- in the Taurat and the Gospel;- for he commands what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good and (pure) and forbids them what is bad (and impure)..." (Ch7;v157)

All gratitude is due to Allah who sent His Messenger with guidance and the way of life which is True, who separated truth from falsehood, and distinguished with it between what is good and pure and what is bad and impure. Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) was justified in saying "We were a people who ate carrion, then Allah honoured us with Islam."

The distinguishing feature of this faith, is that it is a complete way of life, a law which is self complementing, it is the direction of life: "Today I have perfected for you your religion, and have accepted for you Islam as your way of life." (Ch5; v3) With this noble verse, the Islamic law was perfected, with its regulations taking root throughout society.

The regulations of allowing and forbidding have occupied a large part in this heavenly law. It has not left a thing which it did not clarify, or an issue which it did not uncover. This has been clarified in His words: "he allows them as lawful what is good and (pure) and forbids them what is bad (and impure)...", and the true saying of the prophet (peace and blessings upon him) narrated by AlNo'man son of Bashir: "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 diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart." (Bukhary and Muslim)

Through this true saying, the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him), distinguished between the lawful and the unlawful, then directed us to keep away from the unlawful, and to guard against everything that resembles it, so that we do not fall into vice. The issues analysed in this article concerns carcass and beef, which are sold in the Australian markets (other than the Halal Butchers), and their acceptability or rejection from the Islamic point of view.

Conditions for accepting slaughtered meats

Islamic law has set the conditions and described clearly the best way to slaughter animals:

1. That the animal is amongst the permissible to eat, has some life left in it , and is not contaminated,
2. that the slaughterer is a Muslim (either male or female), of sound mind, or a follower of the book (Christian or Jew) who believes in his own book, and adheres to its tenets,
3. that the throat is cut from end to end, between the top of the chest and the bottom of the neck,
4. The recital of the name of Allah before cutting the animals throat, and not mentioning any other name.

Supporting evidence of the above:

1- The words of Allah: "Animals have been made lawful for you (as food) except what is to be told to you" (Ch5;v1), "He has clarified to you what he has forbidden, unless you are driven by necessity." (Ch6;v119). The prophetic traditions have clarified these forbidden things, for example the dog, domesticated donkeys, the frog, "and everything with an eyetooth." (Muslim) (note 1), and the pig was forbidden through the Qur'an.

2- The words of Allah: "Today He has made lawful for you all that is good (and pure), and the food of those who have been given the book has been made lawful for you" (Ch5;v5) Imam Nawawi said: "the slaughtered animal of the people of the book is permissible irrespective of whether they recite the name of Allah over it, as per the words of the Holy Qur'an, this is my interpretation and the most popular interpretation with scholars" (note 2).

The Son of Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked concerning the slaughtered animals of the Magians, even when they recite the name of Allah, he said, do not eat from it. (note 3)

This also means that an animal slaughtered by an apostate, an idolater, a communist, a cultist (Batiny), a Hindu, or a Buddhist, is not permissible.

3- His words: "Except what you have slaughtered in due form" (Ch5;v3), and what was narrated by Baihaqi on authority of Abi Umama: "All which has had the jugular cut unless it was a result of a bite or a scratch." (note 4).

AlBaihaqi has narrated on sound authority that Ibn Abbas said: "slaughtering in due form is between the throat and the base of the neck" (note 5).

It is a condition that the throat, the nearby veins, and either artery and jugular are cut.

4- His words: "Do not eat of that over which the name of Allah has not been recited." (Ch6;v121).

The scholars have directed that the Muslim should not be questioned as to whether he has recited the name of Allah over his slaughtered animal, as it is not permitted to have suspicion with respect to a fellow Muslim unless it is good suspicion, and if he forgets to recite the name of Allah, his slaughtered animal is still lawful.

Some scholars believe that even if a Muslim intentionally does not recite the name of Allah, the slaughtered animal is still permissible.

Inquiries concerning the slaughtered animal, when there is doubt, or lack of indication:

It is obligatory to ascertain where the community in which one lives is comprised of mainly non Muslims, the method of slaughter of animals, before buying any meat. This is definitely not an innovation. Abdul Razzaq in his Musannaf, relates the following saying for Kays Ibnul Sakan: "Ibn Mas'ud said: 'You have alighted in a land where the animals are not slaughtered by Muslims, but by Nabtis and Farsis, so if you wish to buy any meat, ask, if it has been slaughtered by a Jew or a Christian eat from it as their food is lawful to you'" (note 6), however, if the majority of the inhabitants of the land are people of the book, then it is not obligatory to ask.

The general rule: "The basis when it comes to these things is permissibility", this has two exceptions, man/woman relationships, and the slaughtered animals. This rule has the consensus of all the scholars. The following below is the proof:

1- The Hanafi school- It is reported in the Darar: "slaughtering in due form makes the meat permissible, and purifies it unless the animal has been contaminated." In the Hashia of Ibn Abdeen: "an animal is made unlawful if not killed in due form." (darar / Gharar 2/344).

2- Ibn al-Arabi said: "Our scholars said: 'the rule with the animal is its impermissibility, and it does not become permissible except when killed in due form, or through hunting, however, if there was doubt in the hunter, or the slaughterer, then it becomes impermissible.'", this is the rule with the Maliki school. (note 7)

3- Imam Nawawi said: "the basic rule with an animal is its impermissibility, until it can be established that it was killed in due form." This is similar to what has been stated by Alkhtabi, and Ibn Hajr Al'Asqalani, this rule is followed by the Shafie School. (note 8)

Ibn Qudama said: "the basic rule is impermissibility, they only become lawful if killed in due form by a qualified person." (note 9)

4- Ibn Taymiyyeh said: "Blood is protected if there is doubt. However, man / woman relationships, and slaughtered animals are not made permissible where doubt exists. (note 10), this is the rule with the Hanbaly school.

AlShawkani said: "The slaughtered animal does not become lawful if there is doubt, as also if there is doubt and the person is not sure if it has been killed in due form or not." (note 11)

The above shows that the majority of scholars are unanimous on the basic rule concerning the slaughtered animals, where the form of killing is not ascertained, and that doubt in the case of a slaughtered animal makes it unlawful, and the basic rule with animals is impermissibility.

Any doubt as to the cause of death of an animal also makes its meat unlawful, and it does not become lawful, unless it can be ascertained that the animal was killed in due form. Scholars have taken guidance from the narration of Adiy Ibn Hatem reproduced in Bukhary and Muslim that the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings upon him) said: "If you send your dog, and you recite the name of Allah, and your dog makes the catch and kills the prey, then eat...", to the end of the narration where he said "If you get an animal you are hunting, and you do not find it until after one day or two days, then eat, however, if it falls in the water, then do not eat." (note 12). The commentary of Qurtuby shows: "if you find the kill drowned in the water, then do not eat it, for you do not know whether your arrow killed it or whether it died through drowning." (note 13).

The points to the Hadeeth

1- The permissibility of hunting with trained dogs,

2- the necessity of reciting the name of Allah before hunting,

3- if the cause of death of the animal is unknown for any reason, such as its falling into water for example, then it does not become permissible until it can be ascertained that it was killed in due form.

Therefore, the fundamental rule amongst scholars is that the slaughtered meat which contains doubt does not become permissible until it can be ascertained if it was killed in due form.

An investigatory visit to some abattoirs in NSW

During my visit to two abattoirs in New South Wales, one public, and the other private, I witnessed the following two methods of killing animals:

The First Method:

Whist it is still alive, the calf is led to a box closed on all sides. The calf is then hit on the head with a hammer resembling a mushroom called a "Mushroom head gun". This operation is referred to as knocking the animal unconscious. The animal loses consciousness through this method, and falls to the ground allowing the butcher to slash its throat.

The problems with this method:

1- At times the animal may not lose consciousness with the first blow, and may need to be stunned a second time, or more.

2- In many instances the blow goes deeper into the brain of the animal causing a brain haemorrhage which leads to blood coming out of the head leading to a brain death situation. This we have seen with our own eyes, and we have it in photos and on video.

3- At times the calf is left for a considerable period of time in the concussed state, and it may die before having its throat slashed, taking the condition of carrion.

During our visit to Wilberforce Abattoirs, we found a calf which had been left for a period exceeding a quarter of an hour after being struck on the head, and had died, earning the treatment of carrion, making it impermissible for food. The death of the animal makes no difference to them.

The Second Method:

The bulls are shot with a .22 calibre rifle, by placing the barrel of the rifle onto the head of the bull pointed at the brain. The bullet hits the brain directly causing it to explode, and causing the animal to collapse.

The production director of a NSW abattoir Mr Liese informed us that at times they may fire more than one shot at the head of the animal. He also added that sometimes three shots are fired to make sure the immediate death of the animal.

The problems with this method:

1- The use of a hunting implement on a captive animal is impermissible.

2- The shot goes to the brain of the animal causing an explosion of the brain, making the carcass similar to carrion.

3- The suffering caused to the animal when shot more than once.

This clearly shows that some of the beef on the Australian market does not meet the Halal requirement which has been set by Islamic Law.

It is crucial for us my dear brother, to seek out the Halal food, and not allow ourselves to fall under the Hadeeth of prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings upon him): "He who falls into the doubtful, falls into the impermissible..". We should place his words in front of our eyes: "what is produced by illegal means, is more worthy of the fire", meaning that the body which grows with the impermissible, and gets nourishment from the impermissible, must be purified, if he does not repent in this life, he will be purified on the day of judgement... For this reason we must be very cautious in ensuring that our food and dress is lawful, and that we should only take lawful nourishment, so that are supplications our accepted, and from Allah we seek assistance, and there is no effort or power, except through Allah The most High the Most Great.

1- Corrected by AlAlbany in Rawa` AlGhaleel 8/139.
2- The collection of Sharh AlMuhazzab.
3- AlMustadrak of AlHakem 4/233 Sahih Shart AlShaykhayn.
4- Sahih AlJame' AlSagheer OF AlAlbany 4372 j 4/167 the collection of Sahih Ahadeeth.
5- AlSunan AlKubra 9/278 and Fath AlBary 9/640.
6- Sahih Taqreeb AlTahzeeb of Ibn Hijr 2/129.
7- The collection of Sharh AlMuhazzab of Nawawi 9/56.
9- AlMughni of Ibn Qaddama.
10- The Collection of Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyyeh V32 p190.
11- Nayl AlAwtar V8/140.
12- AlLu`lu` WalMarjan Fi Ma Ittafaqa 'Alayhi AlShaykhaynno. 1258, the book of hunting and slaughter.
13- Commentary of Suratul Ma`ida, AlQurtubi.