Eating the Meat of Ahl Al-Kitaab (Jews and Christians) – Imaam Ibn Uthaymeen (Rahimahullaah)
Q. Is it permissible to eat poultry which is sold in the markets on the basis that it is meat of the People of the Book…or is it impermissible on the basis that it is a carcass slaughtered by unknown means i.e. was it done by cutting off the head or electrocution or some such means… and are the Ahl-Kitaab today truly to be considered in this ruling [as those of the past]?
A. Yes, eating the poultry is permissible because that which is slaughtered by the Ahl Al-Kitaab today is just as what was slaughtered by Ahl Al-Kitaab in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). The Ahl Al-Kitaab are of the Kuffaar (disbelievers) whether they are in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) or now. Allah says in His Noble Book They have certainly disbelieved who say that Verily Allah is Isa Ibn Maryam and the Messiah said “O Children of Israel worship Allah my Lord and your Lord Verily whosoever commits shirk (associates partners with Allah in any way) Allah has made the Paradise forbidden to him and his end will be the Hellfire and there will be no help to the Dhaalimeen. They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is the third of three and there is no deity except the single Deity and if they do not desist from what they are saying We will inflict upon those disbelievers a painful punishment.
Allah also says in the same chapter: “Today I have made permissible for you that which is good and wholesome and the food of those who were sent the Scripture is permissible to you and your food is permissible to them.”
As far as the methodology of the slaughtering we do not inquire about the method because if an action has occurred min ahlihi [at the hands of those suited to perform such an act] the conditions surrounding that act are not asked about.
We find in Saheeh Al-Bukhari: “It is related by Aisha (radhi Allaahu anha) that a group of people said to the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) ‘Some people came to us with some meat about which we didn’t know whether the name of Allah was mentioned over or not’ and he replied (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) Sammoo [Say the name of Allah] over it yourselves and then eat. She [Aisha – radhi Allaahu anha] said that these people had just recently been from the Kuffaar [i.e. just became Muslim and the question was not asked as to the method of slaughter].
This rule therefore applies to the Jews and the Christians about whom we don’t know whether or not they have mentioned Allah’s name or not because their slaughtered meat is halal [permissible] to us.
Q. Please clarify the fatwa – esteemed Sheikh – If a Muslim goes to the markets and eating places in a Christian land and purchases the lamb, beef, of chicken and does not ask about how it was slaughtered?
A. Yes, he does not ask about the method of slaughter.
Q. What if he is informed however that the meat has been stunned by electric shock, or has been choked or shot? What is the ruling for meat slaughtered like this? Is it considered a carcass? [Which is impermissible to eat]
A. It is not permissible if it is known with certainty because it would be considered a carcass.
Q. Can we understand from the hadith of Aisha (radhi Allaahu anha) which is related in the fatwa that the question which was posed by the people to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) was only in relation to whether Allah’s name was mentioned over the animal being slaughtered and it was not about the actual method of slaughter?
A. Yes, they did ask about the mentioning of the name of Allah and not the actual method of slaughtering and it is evident in the hadith that it is not necessary to ask about either.
Q. Is it possible to say that if there are stores in a city where the Muslim lives and those stores carry meat slaughtered according to the Islamic method – even of it is more expensive – that it is not then permissible to buy the meat of the Christians?
A. No it is not possible to say that because the slaughtered meat of the Christians and the Jews is halal. However whoever leaves it [doesn’t eat it] out of a sense of piety [tawar’an], we see no fault upon him. [Tawar’a or wara’ is when a person has such piety that they will avoid even that which is permissible to do what is even better from wanting to please Allah and also eliminating any possibility of doing something wrong].
Q. One of the readers asks about a relation from Ali Ibn Abi Talib (radhi Allaahu anhu) in which he reportedly said: “Do not eat the meat slaughtered by Bani Taglab because they adhere to Christianity by drink alcohol.” Can this be then used as a proof considering the Christians of today, the majority of who drink alcohol , that it is not permissible to eat their slaughtered meat?
A. I do not know the authenticity of this statement [from the Sahabah] and if it is authentic its meaning would be that they [Banu Taglab] were not actually on the religion of the Christians and therefore they would not fall under the ruling of permissibility of their slaughtered meat.
Q. If it is known that some of the slaughterhouses in this country slaughter sheep and cattle along with swine is it permissible to eat that meat especially when the same instruments are used to slaughter both at the same time?
A. In this case, if we know that the knives are used for both then the meat should be washed and it will be purified through washing.
Q. Is it possible – esteemed Sheikh – for you to address us with a word to the Muslim in the Western countries about the obligation of staying far away from disobedience [to Allah and His Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam)] and haram things and doubtful matters because we are aware of some of them being lax in relation to some major sins such as not praying or illicit sex or drinking alcohol yet he is distressed or makes complicated the eating of meat which is not slaughtered according to Islamic method?
A. My advice to them is to have taqwa and fear Allah’s punishment and to remember the Day of Meeting, a day which the excuses of those who wrong themselves will be of no avail. A day when the parent will not afford their offspring anything nor can the offspring do anything for the parent. A day when they will all be raised from their graves barefoot, and naked. We ask Allah for all guidance and success.
Muhammad Saleh Al-Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) 2/28/1414
May Allaah Reward http://www.troid.ca For Publishing this Original Article in the magazine Al-Furqaan (June/July 2001 Edition)