SLAUGHTERING BY THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK

The basic rule regarding the food and meat of the People of the Book is that it if Halal. A Muslim can eat their food and marry their women, as stated in the following Ayat:

"Made lawful to you this day are At-Tayyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) foods, which Allah has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, etc. milk products, fats, vegetables and fruits, etc..). The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife) desiring chastity (i.e. taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girl friends. And whosoever disbelieves in the Oneness of Allah and in all the other Articles of Faith [i.e. His (Allah’s), Angels, His Holy Books, His Messengers, the Day of Resurrection and Al-Qadar (Divine Preordainments)], then fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers." (Al-Ma’idah 5:5)

People of the Book specifically means Christians and Jews. Scholars have discussed in great detail exactly what is meant by the expression "People of the Book" and whether or not that meaning would change with time. The majority of scholars say that the meaning of People of the Book has not changed and should not change with time, even if the Christians and Jews deviate more in their path from the True Path and regardless of how much they practice of their religion. The reasons for this understanding are very simple. Firstly, all or most of these deviations existed even before the revelation of the Quran to our Prophet (SAW), yet Allah (SWT) called them the People of the Book. Second, Allah (SWT) did not mention in the Quran - and He surely knows that they are going to change. We should not, therefore, pay attention to these changes, and should treat them, in every way in which we deal with them, as who they are - People of the Book.

Rasheed Ridhaa, a respected scholar who lived at the turn of the century, said in his book of Tafseer: "Allah (SWT) prohibited us from marrying Mushrik women, yet He (SWT) also permitted us - in a clear and direct manner in the same Ayat - to marry the women of the People of the Book. Since marriage is more important than eating, we should not, therefore, put any restrictions on the rulings derived from the Ayat regarding their food or who they are." (Tafseer al-Manar, B1 / P353)

It should be pointed out that the Dhabeehah of the People of the Book is Halal regardless of whether their country is considered to be part of the Daar-ul-Harb (at war with Muslims) or Daar-us-Salaam (at peace with Muslims). Imam Nawawee has reported on the consensus of scholars on this matter (al Majmuu’a, V9 / P68).


HARAM FOOD IS ALWAYS HARAM

All scholars have understood food in the above Ayat to refer to meat or Dhabeehah of the People of the Book. One should now ask the question: Are all the types of food and meat used by them Halal for us? The answer to that can be summarized by stating that what our Deen has shown us to be Haram will always be Haram. Therefore, all the ruling discussed above apply to their Dhabeehah with one exception - the invocation of the Name of Allah (SWT) over the slaughtered animal. The same conditions for the Halal requirement of Dhabeehah, are considered again, in this time with the People of the Book in mind:

1. According to Al-Ma’idah 5:5 mentioned above, Muslims can only eat good and pure meats. Therefore, the flesh of swine, blood, dead animals, etc. are not permissible for the Muslims to eat - even items (e.g. pork) currently eaten by the People of the Book.

2. No names other than that of Allah (SWT) should be invoked over the animal. If such is done, the Dhabeehah becomes Haram according to Abu Hanifah, Shafiee and Ibn Hanbal. That is the ruling if we actually hear these names invoked at the time of slaughtering. If we do not actually hear them, scholars have said that the ruling is not to ask about it. This ruling is supported by the majority of scholars.

3. According to Abu Hanifah and Ibn Hanbal, the Dhabeehah to the People of the Book is not Halal unless they invoke the Name of Allah (SWT) over it. According to Malik and Shafiee, however, invoking the Name of Allah (SWT) is not a requirement, and the Dhabeehah is Halal. This latter opinion is supported by the following:

· The fact that the Al-Ma’idah 5:5 declares their meat to be Halal without imposing any restrictions such as the invocation of the Name of Allah (SWT) over the animal. Therefore, their meat is Halal for us as long as it does not belong to one or more of the ten Haram categories discussed above.

· In a Hadith narrated by Aisha (RA), she said:

"Some people told the Prophet (SAW) that some people brought them meat and they did not know whether the Name of Allah (SWT) had been spoken over it or not. The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘Speak the Name of Allah over it and eat.’" (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawood)

This Hadith shows that non-Muslims were not used to invoking the Name of Allah (SWT) during the time of the Prophet (SAW), and that the invocation was required of Muslims because the Prophet (SAW) had told them to invoke Allah’s (SWT) Name before eating. That can be interpreted to mean: because their meat is permitted for you, you can eat it, just be mentioning Allah’s (SWT) Name over it, and it does not really matter whether or not they (People of the Book) had invoked Allah’s (SWT) Name over it because it is not required of the People of the Book.

· Allah (SWT) has permitted us to marry women of the People of the Book, and it is well established that the husband cannot force his wife to be a Muslim or to practice Islamic worship. Similarly, we cannot ask the People of the Book to invoke Allah’s (SWT) Name over an animal they slaughtered, because they are not required to do so.

· If one considers Surah Al-An’am 6:121: "Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal)…" (Al-An’am 6:121) together with the fact that the People of the Book do not invoke Allah’s (SWT) Name, one may get confused. But the paradox is answered by considering the following: The meat of the People of the Book is exempted form the restriction. The Quran prohibits Muslims from marrying Mushrik women but at the same time has exempted women of the People of the Book from the prohibition.

Based on this discussion and other evidences, the following conclusions have been drawn:

1. All meats prohibited in Islam are ALWAYS prohibited, even if the People of the Book eat them.

2. If a Muslim hears a Christian or a Jew invoking the names of other than Allah (SWT), he should not eat from the Dhabeehah. But if he does not hear them, he should not ask about it, either.

3. We cannot force the People of the Book to invoke Allah’s (SWT) Name when slaughtering. Hence, their Dhabeehah is Halal even without the invocation.

4. The slaughtering procedure used by the People of the Book should not kill the animal before slaughtering it.

THE ANIMALS SLAUGHTERED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK

ARE SUCH ANIMALS LAWFUL OR UNLAWFUL MEAT ?


Introduction
The Quranic Restrictions on Eating Animal Flesh

The Views of Jurists
The Weakness of the Shafi'ites View
The Animals Slaughtered by the people of the Book
Juristic Opinions

Introduction

The Jews have been, for the last two thousand years, living a scattered existence in the world.

But whatever the circumstances and the period, and whatever the country or society they have been living in, they have always maintained their identity. That which has enabled them to preserve their selfhood is the fact that most of them, if not all of them have consciously bound themselves to their religious code and reverenced their national traditions. Even when they were in a state of subjection, they got the dominant nation to permit them to observe their distinctive rituals and practices.

One such ritual is "kosher". The word does not apply merely to the animal the Jews slaughter for food but to anything involving a distinction between the Jewish and the non-Jewish food laws, as for example English bread and crackers, which are prepared by Jews themselves and called kosher, which implies that now these things do not contravene the Jewish laws. In every society that they have lived in, they have provisioned themselves in like manner, and it is their extreme care in this regard which has elicited for their laws of food deep respect from the other nations. If a person instructs an airline to provide him kosher on board, he is served with food which is placed in a tray, is properly covered, and bears the mark of a rabbi's seal; the seal is broken before the eyes of the passenger. Thus the Jews, who constitute a very small minority in any country, have not only themselves observed their practices, they have also made the rest of the world respect those practices.

And now, for a contrast, look at the condition of Muslims. Once arrived in the Western countries, most of them forget about the distinction between the clean and the unclean. There are Muslims who, on the strength of legal opinions given by certain Muslim scholars, consider it perfectly lawful to eat any kind of meat available in those countries, eon when the animal has not been slaughtered in the Islamic way. Even in cities containing twenty to forty thousand Muslims, no arrangement for the provision of lawful meat has been made. Nor has the right to slaughter animals in the Islamic way been asserted and secured. A good many 1, most of them Arabs, wrangle with the Muslims who wish to abide by the Islamic laws. They insist that if the lawfulness of the meat is in doubt, the eater may remove that doubt by taking Allah's name over the meat himself. I have been constantly receiving letters about such disputes, and reports tell me that the debate continues. I have, therefore, written this article which is being presented in pamphlet-form.

That Islam attaches great importance to the proper slaughtering of animals is evident from a tradition of the Holy Prophet. He said: "He who offers our prayer, faces (in prayer) the Qiblah (i.e. the Ka'aba), and eats of the animal slaughtered by us is a Muslim." In other words, slaughtering in the Islamic manner is, after the offering of the prayer and the turning of the face towards the Qiblah, the most significant mark that distinguishes a Muslim from a non-Muslim.

The Quranic Restrictions on Eating Animal-Flesh

We shall begin with an account of the restrictions placed by the Quran on eating animal-mesh and of the explication, which the Sunnah furnishes of those restrictions.

1. Unclean Foods

The Quran at four different places explicitly forbids, for use as food, carrion, blood, swine flesh, and the animal slaughtered in the name of other- than-Allah. The prohibition occurs in? The Cattle (verse 146) and The Bee (verse 115), which are Meccan surahs, and is repeated in? The Cow (verse 173) and The Table Spread (verse 3), which are Medinan surahs. The Table Spread, the last of the surahs to contain laws and edicts, makes two additional points. One, that not only the animal dying naturally is unclean but also the animal which is dead through strangling, or beating, or falling from a height, or goring (by another animal) is unclean. Two, that whether or not the name of other-than- Allah is pronounced over it, the animal sacrificed at the altar of polytheists is as unclean as "that over which other-than-Allah's name is mentioned".

To this list of unlawful foods the Prophet has added ass-flesh, the fanged beasts of prey, and the taloned birds of prey.'

2. Proper Slaughtering

The second condition is that only a slaughtered animal may lawfully be eaten of. It says in the Quran:

Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion,... the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which has been killed by (the goring of) horns, and the devoured of wild beasts, saving that which you make lawful (by slaughtering)...."'

The verse plainly means that the only animal, which is not unclean, is the one which dies through proper slaughtering, and that in all cases where death takes place in some other way, the animal would be unclean. The word tazkiya (proper slaughtering) has not been explained in the Quran. Nor does knowledge of language help much in determining its meaning. Consequently we shall have to take recourse to the Sunnah. The Sunnah tells us that there are two forms of such slaughtering.

As for slaughtering the cow, goat, or the like animals, the traditions of the Prophet contain the following directions:

  1. Abu Huraria transmits that, on the eve of Hajj, the Prophet dispatched Budail bin Warqa Khuza'i on an ashy camel to proclaim along the mountain passes of Mina that the animal should be slaughtered at some point from just below the glottis to the root of the neck, and that the animal should not be made to perish hastily."

  2. Ibn Abbas transmits that the Prophet forbade the cutting of the spinal cord of the animal when it is slaughtered.'"

  3. There is a mursal' tradition, related by Imam Muhammad from Saeed bin Al-Musayyab, which says: "The Prophet forbade the cutting of the spinal cord of the goat at the time of slaughtering it."

In view of these traditions and the established practice of the times of the Prophet and the Companions, it is held by the Hanifites, the Shafi’ites and the Hanbalites that in slaughtering an animal, its throat and esophagus must be cut.

According to the Malikites, the throat and the two jugular veins should be cut.'

In all these forms of slaughtering, which have been described in the Sunnah in explication of the Quranic injunction, the animal does not die at once; the link between its body and mind is retained till the last moment. As it tosses and turns, blood from every part of its body is drawn out and only the outflow of blood causes its death.

Now, since the Quran has not elaborated its own injunction, and the Prophet is known to have elucidated it in the above-noted manner, it will have to be conceded that the words "except that which you slaughter" imply the same kind of slaughtering as explained by the Prophet, and that the animal which is killed in disregard of this is unclean.

The Quran mentions still another method of killing an' animal, namely, killing with a trained hunting beast provided the beast keeps from eating of the game. In this case the animal will be taken as slaughtered even if it has been ripped up by the hunting beast.


And those beasts and birds of prey which you have trained as hounds are trained, you teach them that which Allah taught you; so eat of that which they catch for you....'

The Prophet explains this as follows:

"...And if it catches anything for you and you come up to it while it is still alive cut its throat; if you come up to it when the dog has killed it but not eaten any of it eat it."

"...But if it has eaten any of it do not eat, for. It has caught it only for itself."

"And that which you hunt with your dog and, finding it alive, slaughter, you may eat."

The conclusion is that when a hunting beast makes a kill for its owner, the Quranic condition for slaughtering is satisfied. Such killing, therefore, does not fall under "that which the beasts have eaten of" -which is unclean -but under the exception of "that which you slaughter". But the Quran sites this law only in regard to the trained hunting beast. The Prophet counts out that beast also which is kept as a pet but not trained to hunt. Therefore, it cannot be argued that it is permissible to eat the flesh of an animal, which has been tom up by some beast other than the hunting kind. The tradition, which allows the eating of game when it is captured alive and slaughtered, definitively lays down that an animal, which is dead through any means other than slaughtering, is to be treated as carrion.

3. The Condition of Taking Allah's Name

The third Quranic condition is taking Allah's name at the time of killing an animal. This has been stated in different forms at different places in the Quran. Positively, it has been said:

Eat of that over which the Name of Allah has been mentioned if you are believers in His revelations.

And negatively:

And eat not of that whereon Allah's name has not been mentioned, for lo! It is abomination..

In hunting with trained animals, the following directions have been given:

(And those beasts and birds of prey, which you have trained, as hounds,... ) Eat of that which they catch for you and mention Allah's name upon it,' and observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is swift to take account.

Then we see that, at several places, the Quran does not employ the word "slaughter" at all and, instead, uses "taking Allah's name" as a term.

That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over the beast of cattle that He has bestowed upon them. (That is, they should slaughter them).

And for every nation We have appointed a slaughtering ritual, that they may mention the name of Allah over the beast of cattle that He has given them for food. (Again it means that they should slaughter the animals.)

So mention the name of Allah over them {the camels) when they are drawn up in lines. (That is, slaughter them.)

Eat of that over which the name of Allah has been mentioned. (That is, over which Allah's name is mentioned at the time of slaughtering it.)

And eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned. (That is, over which Allah's name is not mentioned at the time of slaughtering it.)

This repeated use of "taking Allah's name" for "slaughtering" conclusively proves that the two expressions are synonymous in the view of the Quran and that taking Allah's name is essential to the cleanness of the slaughtered animal.

We shall now inquire what legal position, according to the sound (saheeh) and firm (qawee) traditions of the Prophet, "taking Allah's name" has. Adi bin Hatim is the man who often questioned the Prophet about game hunting. The rules that the Prophet told him are as follows:

When you set off your dog mention Allah's name, and if it catches anything for you and you come up to it while it is still alive cut its throat; if you come up to it when the dog has killed it but not eaten any of it eat it; but if it has eaten any of it do not eat,... When you shoot an arrow mention Allah's name.

That which you have hunted with your bow and over which you have taken Allah's name you may eat; and that which you have hunted with your hound and over which you have taken Allah's name you may eat as well.

Spill blood with whatever instruments you chooses.

When you set off a trained dog or hawk, taking Allah's name as you set it off, you may eat of what it catches for you.

Adi bin Hatim asked the Prophet what to do in a situation when, having taken Allah's name, he sets off his dog and, on reaching the scene of hunt, sees another dog standing near by and finds it difficult to determine which of the two has killed the animal. The Prophet replied: "Don't eat, for you took Allah's name over your own dog and not over the other one."

These explicit and unmistakable injunctions of Allah and the Prophet leave no room for doubt that taking Allah's name is essential to the cleanness of the slaughtered animal and that the animal killed without Allah's name being taken over it is unclean. If verses and traditions as clear as these do not formulate any law, then one would like to know what kind of textual evidence (nuss) is required to formulate one.


The Views of Jurists

From among the juristical schools, the Hanafites, the Shafi'ites, and the Hanbalites are agreed that the animal over which Allah's name has not been taken is unclean, and that no harm is done by inadvertent omission of taking Allah's name. The same view is held by Ali, Ibn Abbas, Saeed bin Al-Musayyab, Zuhri, 'Ata, Taus, Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Abu Malik Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Laila, Jafar bin Mohammad, and Rabeea bin Abu Abdur-Rahman.

According to another group of jurists, if taking Allah's name were omitted, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the slaughtered animal would be unclean. Of the same opinion are Ibn Umar, Sha'bi, and Mohammad bin Seereen. Abu Thaur and Daud Zahiri also subscribe to that view. Ibrahim Natha'i thinks that if it is forgotten to take Allah's name, the animal would be "disagreeable to the point of being unclean" (al-makruhut- tahreemiyy).

Imam Shafi'i believes that taking Allah's name is no condition at all for the cleanness of the slaughtered animal. He agrees that the Shariah recommends taking Allah’s Name and the Sunnah, but adds that omission, intentional or unintentional, of it would not affect the cleanness of the animal. Abu Huraira is the only Companion and Iinam Auzai the only mujtahid to hold this view. The view has also been attributed to Ibn Abbas, 'Ata bin Abi Rabah, Imam Malik, but their received opinion is a contrary one.


The Weakness of the Shafi'ite View

In support of their view the Shafi'ites argue that in verse 122 of the Cattle

And eat not of that whereon Allah's name has not been mentioned, for lo! It is abomination..

The taking of the waw as a conjunction would violate the principles of elocution. For, they say, the first part of the verse is an optative verbal sentence while the second is a declarative nominal sentence' and it is incorrect to conjoin these two different types of sentences. Taking the waw as the circumstantial waw, therefore, the Shafi'ites construe the verse as: "Don't eat of the animal if, in case of its being fisq, Allah's name has not been taken over it." Then they explain the word fisq with reference to verse 146 of 7he Cattle which reads:

" ...Or the abomination which was immolated to the name of other-than-Allah."

The verse is now made to mean that the only unclean animal is the one over which the name of other-than-Allah has been taken and that omission of taking Allah's name does not make for uncleanness.

But this is a very unsound interpretation. It lays itself open to various objections. To begin with, the manifest meaning of the verse is quite different.

The first impression gained by the reader is not the one suggested by the Shafi'ites. It is only wishfully that one can extract from the verse the meaning that the animal slaughtered without Allah's name having being taken over it is clean.

Secondly, if joining a declarative nominal to an optative verbal sentence infringes the elocutionary principles, the use of the emphatic irma and the intensifying 1am is no less a breach of the rules of elocution. If Allah had to say what the Shafi'ites say, the wording would have been: (i.e. in case of its being abomination) AND NOT (in case of its most certainly being abomination).

Thirdly, in their passion for argument, the Sha6'ites fail to keep the complete verse in mind. The verse reads:

And eat not of that whereon Allah's name has not been mentioned, for lo ! it is abomination. Lo ! the devils do inspire their minions to dispute with you. But if you obey them, you will in truth be idolaters.

Now even if it is granted that the waw in it is abomination !

is circumstantial, the problem of a declarative nominal sentence joined to an optative verbal sentence persists, for the sentence which follows right after is clearly declarative, is incapable, of being made into a circumstantial sentence, and is necessarily joined to the optative sentence. Moreover, this is not the solitary instance of its kind to be found in the Quran. At a number of places, a declarative nominal has been joined to an optative verbal sentence, as for example in verse 4 of The Light

…flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;

And in verse 221 of The Cow.'

Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe: a slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman. Even though she allure you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: a slave man who believes is better than an unbeliever even though he allure you.

The Shafi'ites must either revise their elocutionary doctrines or declare that the Quran violates the principles of elocution. For it is not possible at each place in the Quran to take the maw joining an optative verbal to a declarative nominal sentence as the waw of circumstance.

Fourthly, the Shafi'ite interpretation would make the verse mean:

Do not eat of the animal over which Allah's name has not been mentioned in case of the animal's most certainly being abomination on account of other-than- Allah's name having been mentioned over it.

The question is, if the idea was simply to declare unclean the animal slaughtered in the name of other-than-Allah, does the first part of verse not become totally meaningless and redundant? For it would be senseless to forbid the eating of the animal over which Allah's name has not been taken. It would have sufficed to say: "Eat not of the animal over which other-than-Allah's name has been mentioned." Could it be reasonably explained why the orders (Eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned)

had to be given at all?

Fifthly, even if the waw is taken as the waw of circumstance, there is no need to interpret fisq (abomination) with reference to a far-off verse, i.e. verse ig6 of The Cattle. After all, what prevents us from taking the word in its literal meaning of disobedience and rebellion? The word taken literally, the verse would mean: "Do not eat of the animal over which Allah's name has nest been taken -in case of the animal's being fisq" (i.e. in case the avoidance of taking Allah's name is deliberate,-for the word fisq applies to deliberate defiance of orders and not to omission through forgetfulness). This interpretation is preferable to the Shafi'ite interpretation for two reasons. One, it is consistent with all the verses and traditions relevant to the issue. Two, it saves a complete sentence of the verse -"And eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned" -from becoming meaningless.

Another argument which the Shafi'ites advance is as follows. A group of people called on the Prophet and inquired whether they could have any of the meat brought them from outside by certain neophyte Muslims, it being unknown whether Allah's name had been mentioned over the animal. The Prophet replied: "You may yourselves take Allah's name over it and eat it." On the basis of this tradition the Shafi'ites claim that taking Allah's name is not ‘ essential, for had it been so, the Prophet would not have permitted the eating of the meat over which Allah's name is uncertain to have been taken. But the tradition actually runs contrary to their thesis. It proves that the obligatoriness of taking Allah's name was a widely-known matter, that being the reason why those people came along inquiring about the meat brought them by the newly-converted country people (Muslims). Had the practice been different, the question of the lawfulness of that meat would not have arisen at all. The reply that the Prophet gave them is also significant. Had taking Allah's name been immaterial, the Prophet would have clarified that it was not essential to the lawfulness of the slaughtered animal's' flesh, which therefore, they could eat whether or not Allah's name had been taken over it. Rut what the Prophet actually told them was that they could eat the flesh after taking Allah's name over it. The logical meaning of this which a little deliberation would yield is that the animal slaughtered by a Muslim should as a rule be deemed to have been slaughtered properly and may be eaten of with an easy mind, and that any lingering doubt may be removed by the eater himself by mentioning Allah's name over the meat. Obviously, one cannot go about investigating, nor does the Shariah obligate him to investigate, whether the animal whose flesh is being sold at city and village shops was a clean animal, whether the slaughterer is a Muslim or not, whether he is a neophyte Muslim or an old one, and whether he has slaughtered it properly or not. On the face of it, everything done by a Muslim should be taken as correct, except where proof to the contrary exists. Unfounded doubts should not be made a ground for abstinence; they should rather be eliminated by saying Bismillah or Astaghfirullah. This is the lesson we learn from that tradition. In no way does the' tradition prove the unobligatoriness of taking Allah's name.

Still another Shafi'ite argument, no less fragile than the previous ones, is based on a mursal tradition which Abu Dawud has included in his book Al-Maraseel.

The tradition has the Prophet saying:

The animal slaughtered by a Muslim is lawful whether or not the Muslim has taken Allah's name over it, for if he were to take some name, it would be the name of Allah.


In the first place, this is a mursal tradition transmitted by a little-known Follower and so cannot render that unobligatory which has been proved to be obligatory by successive marfu traditions. Even if the tradition were absolutely sound, would it really imply that taking Allah's name is unobligatory ?

At best it could be said that if a Muslim chances to have slaughtered an animal without taking Allah's name, his omission should be attributed to inadvertence rather than to positive intention, and that the animal may be eaten of on the presumption that had the man taken some name it would have been the name of Allah and not of other-than- Allah. The tradition cannot be taken to mean that it is lawful to eat of the animal slaughtered by those who do not at all believe in taking Allah's name over the animal -who in fact hold a contrary view, and that taking Allah's name over the animal is not essential at all. Stretch and strain it as one may, the tradition will admit of no such interpretation.

This is what the Shafi'ite arguments for the unobligatoriness of taking Allah's name come to. One pledged to blind imitation might think them irrefutable. But I do not think that a man who reviews them critically would fail to realize how weightless they are in comparison with the arguments for the obligatoriness of taking Allah's name.

In brief, the conditions that the Quran and the sound traditions state for the meat to be clean are as follows:

The Animals Slaughtered by the People of the Book

Now we shall see what position the Quran and the Sunnah take up on the animals slaughtered by the People of the Book. The Quran says:

This day are (all) good things (tayyibat) made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them.'

The words of this verse clearly point out that the only food of the People of the Book that has been made lawful for us is that which falls under the head of the tayyibat. The verse does not, and cannot, mean that the foods which are termed foul by the Quran and sound traditions and which we may not, in our own home or in the home of some other Muslim, eat or offer to some Muslim for eating, would become lawful when offered us in a Jewish or Christian home. If someone disregards this obvious and reasonable interpretation, he can, interpret the verse in one of the following four ways only.

  1. That this verse repeals all those verses which have occurred in connection with the lawfulness and unlawfulness of meat in the surah The Bee, The Cattle, The Cow, and in The Table Spread itself; that this verse of the Quran renders unconditionally lawful not only ' the pole-axed animal but also carrion, Swine flesh, blood, and the animal immolated to other-than-Allah. But no rational (aqlee) or transmissive (naqlee) evidence can ever be produced in favor of this alleged cancellation. The absurdity of the claim is shown by the fact that the three conditions of lawful meat which we noted above occur in the surah The Table Spread itself, in the same context, and just before the verse now under discussion. What right-minded person would say that, of the three consecutive sentences in a passage, the last would nullify the first two?

  2. That this verse countermands only slaughtering and taking Allah's name arid does not alter the unclean nature of swine flesh, carrion, blood, and the animal sacrificed to other-than-Allah. Rut we doubt if there exists, besides this empty claim, any solid reason for drawing a distinction between the two types of orders and for maintaining the one type and canceling the other. Anyone having such a reason is welcome to present it.

  3. That this verse fixes the dividing line between the food of Muslims and the food of Jews and Christians; that in the case of Muslims' food, all the Quranic restrictions would continue to be effective, but in respect of the food of Jews and Christians, no restrictions would obtain, which means that, at a Jew's or a Christian's, we may unhesitantly eat what is presented to us.

The strongest argument which could be adduced in favor of this interpretation is that Allah knew what kind of food the People of the Rook eat, and that if, having that knowledge, He has permitted us to eat their food, it means that everything they eat -including swine flesh, carrion, and the animal sacrificed to other-than-Allah -is pure and lawful for us. But the verse on which this reasoning is based itself knocks the bottom out of this argument. In unambiguous terms the verse lays down that the only foods of the People of the Book which Muslims may eat are those which are tayyibat. And the word tayyibat has not been left vague: the two preceding verses explain at length what the tayyibat are.

  1. That, out of the food of the People of the Book, swine flesh alone may not be eaten, all other foods begin lawful; or that, we may not use swine flesh, carrion, blood, and the animal slaughtered in other-than- Allah's name, though we may eat of the animal which has been killed in some way other than slaughtering and over which Allah's name has not been pronounced. But this interpretation is as unsustainable as the second.

No rational or transmissive argument can be given to justify the distinction between the injunctions of the Quran, to explain why, in respect of the food of the People of the Book, injunctions of one type remain in force while those of the other are rendered inoperative. If the distinction and the exception are grounded in the Quran, verses must be cited in proof, and if in the Tradition, the particular traditions must be referred to. And if there is a rational argument for it, it must be put forward.

Juristical Opinions

We shall now see what opinions have been offered by the various juristical schools on eating of the animal slaughtered by the People of the Book.

The Hanafites and the Hanbalites maintain that, for a Muslim, the food of the People of the Book is subject to the same restrictions which have been placed by the Quran and the Sunnah on the food of Muslims. Neither in our own homes nor in the homes of Jews and Christians may we eat of the animal which is killed in some manner other than slaughtering and over which Allah's name has not been taken.

The Shafi'tes say that, since taking Allah's Name is not obligatory, neither upon Muslims nor upon the People of the Book, a Muslim may eat of the animal which the Jews or Christians slaughter without taking Allah's name over it, though he may not eat of the animal which they slaughter in the name of other-than-Allah. The weakness of this position has been exposed above and so there is no need to discuss it here.

The Malikites, while granting that taking Allah's name is one of the conditions for the cleanness of the slaughtered animal, hold that the condition is not meant for the People of the Book, the animal slaughtered by them being lawful even if Allah's name has not been taken over it. The only argument presented in support of this view is that at the time of the Battle of Khyber, the Prophet ate the meat sent by a Jewess, without inquiring as to whether Allah's name had been taken over it. But this incident could exempt the People of the Book from taking Allah's name only if it were established that the Jews of those times used to slaughter animals without mentioning Allah's name over them and that the Prophet, when he ate that meat, was in the know of that. To say simply that the Prophet did not ask whether Allah's name had been taken over it would not relax the condition in the case of the People of the Book. It is quite likely that the Prophet ate that meat unhesitantly because he knew that the Jews of his times took Allah's name over the animals they slaughtered.

Ibn Abbas says that the verse "The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you"

Has repealed the verse

"Eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned,"

And that

The People of the Book. Have been exempted from observing this injunction.


But this is Ibn Abbas's personal view and not a marfu' tradition. Moreover, Ibn Abbas is alone in holding this view, there being no one who is in agreement with him. Still further, Ibn Abbas does not offer any convincing reason as to why the one verse should cancel the other -and cancel only one verse and not the rest of the restrictions on food.

'Ata, Auza'i, Mak'hul and Laith bin Sa'd hold that the verse

"The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you"

Has rendered lawful

"That which has been immolated to other-than-Allah."

Ata says that Muslims may eat of the animal slaughtered in the name of other-than-Allah. Auzai says that one may eat of the game hunted by a Christian even if one hears the Christian taking the name of Christ over his dog as he sets it off Mak'hul says that there is no harm in eating of the animals which the People of the Book slaughter for their churches and synagogues and religious ceremonies.

But the only argument given in support of this is that Allah knew full well that the People of the Book sacrificed animals in the name of other-than-Allah and yet He permitted the eating of their food. The answer is that Allah knew full well that the Christians ate swine flesh and drank wine, so why not make the verse declare lawful wine and swine flesh as well?

In our opinion, the soundest view is that of the Hanafites and the Hanbalites. Any other view one may hold on one's own responsibility. But as shown above, the reasons and arguments advanced in favor of the other views is so flimsy that, on the strength of them, the unclean cannot be proved to be clean, nor can the obligatory be made unobligatory. I would not advise any Allah-fearing person to adopt any of those views and to start eating of the animals cut down in Europe and America.

In the end, two clarifications are in order. Firstly, in killing small animals like the hen, the pigeon, etc., slight carelessness often results in an abruptly chopped-off head. Some jurists ' say that there is no harm in eating of such an animal. On the basis of this opinion, certain scholars have given the verdict that where a machine severs the head at one stroke, the condition of slaughtering is fulfilled. Rut to make the jurists' opinions into a basic law (nuss) and derive from it rules which would alter the basic laws themselves is not a correct approach. The Shariah's injunctions about taking Allah's name have been given above, as have been the texts of the Quran and the Sunnah on which those injunctions are based. Now if the jurists have granted a concession in the case of an inadvertent violation of those injunctions, how can one regard this as the basic law and abrogate virtually, the Shariah's injunctions about slaughtering? The jurists have said, and rightly, that one need not try to find out whether Allah's name has been taken over each and every animal slaughtered by the People of the Book; however, if it is positively

Learnt that, over a particular animal, Allah's name has been deliberately avoided to be taken, that animal may not be eaten of. On the basis of this, again, it has been suggested that no inquiries need be made about the meat commonly available in Europe and America and that the animals slaughtered by the People of the Book may be eaten of with the same ease of mind with which the animal slaughtered by Muslim butchers is eaten of. But this logic would be valid only when we knew that a certain section or population of the People of the Book believe, in principle and as a matter of faith, that Allah's name ought to be taken at the time of slaughtering an animal. As for the people who we know are not at all convinced that a distinction between the clean and the unclean exists, and who do not in principle agree that taking Allah's or other-than-Allah's name makes any difference to the animal's cleanness or uncleanness, how can one take with an easy mind the animals slaughtered by them?

Halal Meat:

Question: Recently, a friend of mine attended a lecture by a learned scholar. In response to a question about the meat being sold at the American grocery stores being Halal or not, he replied that there were two things in the Qur’an. First, is the following verse:

Eat not on which Allah’s name has been pronounced. (6:121)

Then, there is this verse:

The food of the People of the Book is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (5:5)

So according to this scholar, the meat at the American grocery stores is not prohibited and he said we would not be sinning if we had that meat but it was better to avoid it. Therefore, my question to you is that can we eat the meat slaughtered by the Americans, considering that they are People of the Book?

Answer: A deliberation on the contexts of 6:121 and 5:5 reveals that the condition imposed by 6:121 (that is Allah’s name should be positively taken on slaughtering an animal) is a universal principle and the food of the People of the Book can only be eaten

if,

besides other conditions,

It also fulfils this condition.


These other conditions are stated at various places in the Qur’an. To quote Sarah Baqarah:

Believers! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is Him you worship. He has only forbidden you dead meat and blood and the flesh of swine and that on which any name other than Allah has been invoked. (2:172-3)


In other words, just as swine, dead meat, blood, meat on which some other name has been taken cannot be eaten from the tables of the People of the Book, similarly meat on which Allah’s name has not been positively taken cannot be eaten from them.
It needs to be appreciated that 5:5 has a specific background which makes it a verse that cannot be taken independently. Until this verse was revealed, the food of the People of the Book was forbidden for the Muslims. The reason for this was that many lawful edibles had been
made unlawful for them by Allah as a means to punish them for their stubbornness. Similarly, they themselves had made unlawful for themselves edibles, which were originally lawful for them like the camel**. Consequently, after the list of lawful and the unlawful edibles was set right by the Prophet (sws), then only were the Muslims allowed to eat from their tables.


*. The Qur’an says:

And on the Jews, We forbade every animal with undivided hoof and We forbade them the fat of the ox and the sheep except what adheres to their backs or their entrails or is mixed up with a bone. This was in recompense for their willful disobedience. (6:146)


**. The Bible says:

But among those that chew the cud or have divided hoofs, you shall not eat the following: the camel …(Leviticus, 11:4)