Meat Sold in American Supermarkets

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Q.) I live in the USA. Can I eat meat available at American stores butchered by non-Muslims. Some people at local mosque have argued that as America is a Christian country and they are Ahlul-Kitaab so its allowed to eat meat available at American stores. Please tell me what to do about it?

A.) Allah Taala says in the Noble Quran:

"Today I have made permissible for you pure things and the food of those who were given the Book (Ahlul-Kitaab) is also Halal for you." [Al-Maidah 5:4]

Overtly the above ayah reads that the Zabeeha of the Ahlul-Kitaab is permissible, but the fundamental principle must be understood in order to understand the Qur'an i.e. "One part of the Qur'an explains the other."

Therefore, this verse should be understood in the light of another verse relating to the same matter: "Do not eat unless Allah's name has been taken and this (not taking Allah's name) practice is transgression." [Al-An'am 6:121]

While the former verse explicitly states that the Zabeeha of the Ahlul-Kitaab is permissible and the latter says, "Do not eat unless Allah's name has been taken," in the light of both these verses, it is understood that the Zabeeha of the Ahlul-kitaab is permissible only if the name of Allah is taken at the time of slaughtering. The Ahlul-kitaab used to take Allah's name when slaughtering an animal, therefore, their Zabeeha was also Halal for Muslims. It is for this same reason that an animal slaughtered by the Mushrikeen, etc. is not permissible. The Ahlul-kitaab of today are recognized by name, less faith. There is no guarantee that they take the name of Allah/God when slaughtering an animal. They cannot be trusted in matters pertaining to Halal/Haram.

Since there is uncertainty in the above slaughter manner, the Jurists are unanimous that it is not permissible to consume meat which is doubtful. Unless there is certainty that the Ahlul-kitaab read the 'Tasmiyah' i.e. take the name of God when slaughtering an animal then only will the meat be permissible. We suggest that the Muslims in the U.S.A. and U.K. slaughter the animals themselves. A committee be appointed and look into ways to facilitate for Halal meat slaughtered by Muslims. This will make them independent from Christian/Jewish sources.

Another proposition may be that the meat sold on the market is packed, sealed and stamped by a Muslim organization consisting of reliable scholars and Ulama who have proper Islamic knowledge of the principles pertaining to Halal/Haram of the Shar'iah.

And Allah Taala Knows Best.

Further Reading: Ahkam-uz-Zabaih