THE MEAT OF THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK:
BETWEEN RIGID PROHIBITION AND UNCONDITIONAL LEGALIZATION
May Allah send prayers of blessing and greetings of peace on our master Muhammad, the chosen one, his family and all his companions, āmīn.
I have been asked to write something which sheds light on the subject of the legal status assigned in Islam to the meat of the People of the Book.
The request included an expatiation into the fiqh of the Hanafiyyah and the Shāfi`iyyah. I eventually chose to focus herein solely on the madhhab of Mālik, as it is the one I have most intimate familiarity with. In any event, plentiful scholars from the aforesaid two jurisprudential schools have devoted attention to the topic which is central to the present article.
In the premise, I would like to clarify the following:
1) This writing does not deal with the detestable multi-billion “halāl-certification" business;
2) It does not intend tackling the separate issues of distortion generated by usury, mass slaughtering facilities, force-feeding animals with grains, multi-corporate domination, cruelty to poultry et al. It hovers purely around the essential juristic aspects of dhakāt and Ahl al-Kitāb;
3) There is no attempt, deliberately, at any exhaustive treatment. It is meant to be an agile contribution;
4) There is no political agenda, either. We are disinterested in pursuing a line a priori. The only “agenda”, so to speak, is service to the Dīn and to pristine fiqh whichever way it points us to. We are its subordinates, not the masters riding it to an intended goal.
First issue: Which is the bone of contention?
There is only one area of controversy, namely, the meat that is slaughtered in the ordinary course of procuring oneself food.
In other words, what is defined in the Law as sayd, i.e. hunting wild animals which are not seized upon save with hardship, and striking them to death through any part of their bodies, is conditional on the hunter being a Muslim. The prey hunted by a Jew or a Christian is unlawful for us to consume, contrary to the status of their slaughtered animals or dhabā’ih (the singular whereof is dhabīhah).
This is the dominant and famous position in the madhhab, endorsed as such starting with Al-Mudawwanah, which states in this regard: “Mālik said, ‘The animals slaughtered (dhabā’ih) by Jews and Christians are eaten, whereas prey they have hunted (sayd, which bears the dual meaning of hunting and the fruit of such action, that is, what is hunted) is not partaken of’”.
Indeed, there are many proofs which logically corroborate such differentiated ruling, from āyah 94 of Sūrah al-Mā’idah down.
The permissibility of hunting has been singled out as a sort of indulgence for the Muslims specifically.
There is however a weaker view in the school, supported by a number of respectable jurists, which deems the prey hunted by Jews and Christians to be halāl to us.
In short, the stronger juristic position in the madhhab is that lawfulness of the meat from the People of the Book does not extend to what they hunt.
There other indeed restaurants etc which are specifically dedicated by People of the Book to game.
Second issue: We know that animals which are lawful for us to eat are made permissible for consumption by the requirement of slaughter (dhabh), more precisely by ritual slaughter (dhakāt), apart from locusts and fish, as they do not necessitate fulfillment of the said pre-condition.
What is, however, the description of the person (dhābih) who in the Law can legitimately perform the ritual slaughter enabling us Muslims to partake of such meat?
The technical definition of what is dhabh for the jurists “solves the mystery” from the outset. This is indeed the key almost to everything contentious in this field, as a tree is judged in terms of its foundational root:
“The act of cutting the whole throat or severing the two jugular veins from the front (of the neck), on the part of a Muslim or a member of Ahl al-Kitāb, with a sharpened object, without interrupting the process of slaughter which has to be performed as a single continuum”.
It therefore ensues from the foregoing that we cannot consume the meat slaughtered by any individual falling outside the only two categories referred to in the said definition: Idol-worshippers and polytheists, be they Buddhists or animists, Hindus or shamans, Zoroastrians or pantheists, as well as apostates who have left the true Dīn of Islam and atheists, all of them are excluded by unanimous consensus of the learned masters.
It further ensues from it that a member of the People of the Book is dealt with differently and almost analogously with the Muslims in this context (as in the context of marriage by a Muslim man with a free woman).
The proofs in support of that are many and multifarious, first and foremost the noble āyah 5 of Sūrah al-Mā’idah which states: «Today all good things (at-tayyibāt) have been made halāl for you. The food (ta`ām) of those given the Book is also halāl for you and your food is halāl for them». There is also the famous report to the effect that the Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, ate from a poisoned sheep given him, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, by a Jewess, and thus likely to have been slaughtered by one of her co-religionists; and in addition the ijmā` of the recognized Muslim scholars agrees with the said view. Judge Abū Bakr b. al-‘Arabī mentioned that they have been Divinely granted a degree of deference setting them apart from the followers of shirk in spite of Allah knowing the misguidance of Jews and Christians (Cf. Ahkām al-Qur’ān).
The matter is so clear and renowned among devotees of knowledge that no need exists to spread out the discussion on it here.
Hence, the statement that meat slaughtered by Jews and Christians is ipso facto harām is plainly untenable.
To sum up, the merciful sharī`ah has allowed a Muslim to consume meat which has been ritually slaughtered either by a co-religionist or by a member of the People of the Book.
Third issue: Who falls under the description of a member of those given the Book?
Our jurists have conclusively settled on ascribing such description to Jews and Christians generally.
In the past, a conflict of opinions had arisen among some of the foremost Companions, in terms of which inter alia ‘Alī, may Allah be fully pleased with him, propounded the view that the Christianized Arabs from the tribe of Banū Taghlib were left out of the sphere of applicability of the aforesaid āyah, as they were Arabs and their association with the Christians was purely limited to the consumption of wine, which was insufficient to turn them into genuine members of such dīn.
The vast majority of jurists from the first three generations of Islam correctly adopted the counter-position that every Jew and Christian, even if Arab and not belonging to the Children of Israel who had originally taken up that dīn and had been the original addressees of the relevant Books, and even if he had later embraced it, fell within the compass of the ruling, because of the generality of āyah 51 of Sūrah al-Mā’idah («[You who have īmān! Do not take the Jews and Christians as your friends; they are the friends of one another.] Any one of you who takes them as friends is one of them») and an array of other similarly cogent reasons [See for instance Ibn ‘Atiyyah’s commentary on the Qur’ān Al-Muharrar al-Wajīz].The same applies to, say, a practitioner of Confucianism who converts to Christianity, or to a Jew who has altered aspects of his original religion. In each case, we are dealing with a kitābī.
There is also an opinion among later scholars in the madhhab, such as the Egypt-based Andalusian Abū Bakr at-Turtūshī, which asserts that one should distinguish between the original People of the Book and the Jews and Christians of his times (or ours, for that matter), by virtue of the fact that the latter had changed their dīn, and thus could not be trusted not to have tampered with the rules of ritual slaughter. That is however patently incorrect in respect of orthodox Jewry.
In any event, such opinion has understandably been refuted, since their slaughtered animals are received by us from them, so they should be believed when they allege that they conform to their norms of ritual slaughter (Cf. Al-Badī` ‘alā at-Tafrī`, ash-Shārimsāhī’s elucidation of the Iraqi Ibn al-Jallāb’s seminal text of the Mālikiyyah).
The “mantra” one often hears from ordinary Muslims that the Jews and Christians have nothing to do with Ahl al-Kitāb is thus a rehashing of earlier discarded minority views [As if, moreover, Muslims themselves are not continuously re-writing their own Dīn].
It should also be noticed that our sires of knowledge have demonstrated, through unassailable proofs, that the meaning of food in the aforesaid key Qur’ānic āyah, «[t]he food (ta`ām) of those given the Book is also halāl for you and your food is halāl for them», is specifically the meat of slaughtered animals (dhabā’ih), as opposed to the generality of edible substances, and as opposed to foodstuffs which require no ritual slaughter, given that the legitimacy of the latter (whether fish soups or tomato salads) is unquestionable irrespective of the āyah, which singles out something particular out of a generality. That particular thing can only be what demands connection with the dīn, worship and intention (niyyah), not the like of bread: The reference can only be to the meat of slaughtered animals (Cf. al-Qurtubī’s tafsīr Al-Jāmi` li-Ahkām al-Qur’ān).
Therefore, Ahl al-Kitāb is a term standing for Jews and Christians generally, and their “food” which has been specifically allowed to us consists in the animals they have ritually slaughtered.
Having established that entails shifting our attention to the next question:
Fourth issue: Which pre-requisites, if any, attach to the ritual slaughter by the People of the Book for its end-product to be permissible to us?
The discerning intellects of our fuqahā’ have delved deeply into the said matter, and their scrutiny has eventually yielded the following cognitive harvest, namely, that the animals which are ritually slaughtered by the People of the Book are lawful to us subject to the following three ineluctable provisos:
a) The animal which is slaughtered must be one that is lawful for them to eat in their own sharī`ah as known to us. An example of such permissible meat is beef. An illustration of the impermissible type is every animal with an undivided hoof which has skin between its hooves, such as camels, ostriches, geese and wild donkeys, because of āyah 146 of Sūrah al-An`ām that says what follows: «We made harām for Jews every animal with an undivided hoof». If a Jew, but not a Christian, slaughters one of those animals, we cannot partake of its meat, since it was forbidden to the followers of his religion in their sharī`ah, as we have been informed, due to their insolence. As for poultry, it is fine, inasmuch as a chicken has a divided hoof, provided of course that it complies with the conditions of acceptable ritual slaughter, more of which later. The cause of such prohibition lies in the fact that ritual slaughter is not something which exists abstractly, but is rather linked to intention and deliberateness of purpose. Such being the case, there can be no valid ritual slaughter of the said animals for the Jews who refute their religious permissibility in their own regard. In a similar manner, even if pork is consumable by other than Muslims, there is no dhakāt or ritual slaughter of it in our eyes, since it is assimilated to carrion. What about the scenario of meat which the Jews have prohibited on themselves, though any such proscription is not validated by what we know on the subject in our sharī`ah? An example thereof is what is named tarīfah, to wit, the sheep which the Jews deem to be corrupted by some vitiating element that is present in the like of its lung. The same holds true of the interdiction of chicken meat by some Jews. The ruling in the madhhab is that, if a Jew slaughters one such animal, it is lawful but disliked (makrūh) for us to partake of it (See the commentaries on Khalīl’s celebrated Mukhtasar by al-Hattāb and al-Mawwāq, Mawāhib al-Jalīl and At-Tāj wa al-Iklīl). As regards the fat of cattle, sheep and goats, which was forbidden to the Jews only after the slaughter of those animals had been legalized for them (see āyah 146 of Sūrah al-An`ām again: «and in respect of cattle and sheep, We made their fat harām for them, except what is attached to their backs or guts or mixed up with bone»), it is an issue expatiated upon at length by our Mālikī jurists, who have extracted, on very persuasive fundaments, including sound root-principles of jurisprudence, the ruling that it is lawful but disliked (makrūh) for us to consume it if a Jew has slaughtered them (Cf. al-Bājī’s Al-Muntaqā and Judge ‘Abdu’l-Wahhāb’s Al-Ishrāf ‘alā Nukat Masā’il al-Khilāf). A few dissenting voices on this ruling belong to Ibn Lubābah and Ibn Rushd the grandson (= the philosopher Averroes). It should be further noted that, firstly, some Mālikis say it is abhorred (makrūh) for us to purchase, from a Jew or a Christian, meat slaughtered by him which from the perspective of our sharī`ah he can legitimately eat; and that, secondly, it is likewise repugnant (makrūh) for us to allow a Jew or Christian to practice as butcher in one of our markets or homes, as he is not given to extending his sincere advice to us, just as it is loathed (makrūh) for a Muslim to sell him some meat which he uses for one of his religious festivals or in order to magnify his religion thereby, for that is part of assisting him in openly divulging his deviant beliefs. There is a distinguisher between meat slaughtered by a Jew or Christian for himself, which, assuming compliance with the other requirements, is fully lawful, with no reprehensibility or karāhah attaching to it if we are invited by him to eat from it or receive it in the form of a gift (rather than as a sale item we purchase from him), and what he slaughters on behalf of a Muslim, who has appointed him as his agent for the act of ritual slaughter owned by such follower of Islam, which is deemed reprehensible but not forbidden (though some savants in the madhhab regard it as forbidden);
b) The animal which is slaughtered must not be one that is consecrated to other than Allah (uhilla bihi to borrow the Qur’ānic terminology). What is meant by ihlāl or forbidden consecration in this connection is shouting out the name of the creature it is being slaughtered for, such as Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and a fortiori a particular idol. If, however, the name of Allah is mentioned on it at the time of the slaughter together with the name of such a creature of His, even if His Name were to follow the other one in the verbal sequence, it is in order to partake of such meat. The corroboration of the said ruling is to be found in the twin Signs from the Book: «He has only forbidden you carrion, blood and pork, and what has been consecrated to other than Allah» (Sūrah al-Baqarah: 173); «Say: 'I do not find, in what has been revealed to me, any food it is harām to eat except for carrion, flowing blood, and pork – for that is unclean – or some deviance consecrated to other than Allah'» (Sūrah al-An`ām: 145). In essence, therefore, we cannot eat meat which is slaughtered by a Jew or a Christian in the mode of an act of drawing nearer to other than Allah thereby. There is clear harm for us in it (Refer to Ahmad ad-Dardīr’s Ash-Sharh al-Kabīr in conjunction with ad-Dusūqī’s explicatory gloss on it). If he does not openly shout out the name of one such creature, but he slaughters the animal so as to endear himself to Jesus, the cross, an idol, etc, it is abominable (makrūh) yet permissible for us to eat it. As Imām Mālik said of such meat, ‘I dislike it but I do not declare it unlawful.’ Ibn Lubābah is a rare dissident who supports its impermissibility in the madhhab, but, as the Andalusian Ibn al-Faras has stated in his Ahkām al-Qur’ān, there is greater substance in how the Imām has interpreted the Qur’ān by the Qur’ān on this issue in a holistically interconnected fashion. It ought to be stressed that naming Allah over a slaughtered animal is a condition of validity for our meat, not for the meat of the People of the Book, who are kuffār. Indeed, in most instances, Christians these days do not pronounce any name over meat which they slaughter.
c) The slaughterer from the People of the Book must not be out of our sight at the time of slaughtering the relevant animal, if he happens to be a Jew or a Christian who believes in the lawfulness of eating carrion. The Muslim who can legitimately partake of such meat, and who is equipped with the basic knowledge of how ritual slaughter is performed in Islam, must be present at the scene and monitor the situation, lest such a member of the People of the Book simply shoot the animal dead or go to extreme lengths in causing its death by cutting its medulla oblongata (or name other than Allah over it). If he slaughters it out of the Muslim’s sight, it cannot be eaten. This is of particular relevance to our age when plenteous Christians are indifferent to the dietary requirements laid down by their own religion. What we have mentioned here above is one acceptable ruling in the madhhab. The other acceptable ruling is stricter, being to the effect that no meat slaughtered by a Jew or a Christian who holds the view that consuming carrion is licit can be eaten by us, whether or not he slaughters it out of our sight. This is the stance adopted by inter alia the Tunisian faqīh Ibn ‘Arafah and by the commentator on Ibn Abī Zayd’s Risālah Ibn Nājī (Cf. al-Mawwāq’s At-Tāj wa al-Iklīl and ad-Dusūqī’s abovementioned gloss on ad-Dardīr’s Ash-Sharh al-Kabīr). Ibn Rushd the grandson, in Bidāyah al-Mujtahid, has made the point that this second view is the one which is congruous with sound analogy or qiyās: One who considers it fine to eat carrion, in fact, cannot intend any ritual slaughter (and we have seen that slaughter is tightly linked to intention, being an act of worship or ‘ibādah), insofar as carrion and ritually slaughtered animals are one and the same thing in his eyes; moreover, he must be belied, due to the aforesaid, if he claims to have intended ritual slaughter at the pertinent time. Al-Habīb b. Tāhir has defined the first view as the dominant one (mashhūr). It is grounded on the consideration that intention is not a requirement of ritual slaughter in respect of the kāfir, unlike the Muslim. As for the other view, it is founded on the allegation that intention is indispensable with regard to every slaughterer, the debate on such topic having been a prolonged one in the madhhab, and Allah knows best.
Fifth issue: Judge Abū Bakr b. al-‘Arabī, the polymath from Sevilla in Islamic Spain, held a peculiar view on this whole mas’alah. What does it consist in, and what is the position of the madhhab vis-à-vis it?
In his celebrious tafsīr on the āyāt of judgment, Ahkām al-Qur’ān, the said Sevillan judge stated that whatever Jews and Christians claim to be their food (ta`ām) falls within the semantic ambit of āyah 5 of Sūrah al-Mā’idah. That holds true, therefore, of poultry they simply strangle and then cook in front of our eyes. Judge Abū Bakr contended that it was permissible for us to partake thereof if offered by the kitābī.
Ibn ‘Abdis-Salām retorted that the noun “food” (“ta`ām") in the aforesaid āyah can only be construed as signifying food (as we have seen, slaughtered meat specifically) which is theirs in the sense that it has been legalized for them in their sharī`ah. We know indeed that Jews and Christians do hold to the requirement of ritual slaughter in their respective religions. If, therefore, the bulk of their members, and even more so those among them who cling to the outward norms of their religions, maintain that a straightforward killing of animals is not part and parcel of “their food”, it must obligatorily follow that it should be removed from the import of that phrase (Cf. Sharh Ibn ‘Abdis-Salām on Ibn al-Hājib’s Jāmi` al-Ummahāt).
At-Tāhir b. ‘Āshūr, the venerable shaykh of my own teacher Muhammad ash-Shādhilī an-Nayfar, labeled Judge Ibn al-‘Arabī’s opinion, in his majestic multi-volume tafsīr At-Tahrīr wa at-Tanwīr, as an anomaly in the school (shudhūdh).
However, in the greatest collection of fatāwā in Mālik’s methodological school of jurisprudence, namely, al-Wansharīsī’s Al-Mi`yār al-Mu`rib (Cf. Vol. 2 of the Beirut edition by Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, pp. 9-10), the said compiler of the work refers to the answer by Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan al-Qābisī to a question revolving around Judge Abū Bakr b. al-‘Arabī’s aforesaid contention.
Al-Qābisī said in essence that the Judge’s words had proven problematic to students and teachers alike, whereas in actual fact there was no censurable dubiety in them.
Simply put, Allah, out of His merciful facilitation of matters to this nation, allowed us to consume the food of the People of the Book which was lawful to them in terms of their set of legal norms, without requiring their recognized form of ritual slaughter to be identical to ours. Accordingly, meat they claimed to be lawful for them in a particular mode, with the exception of such as pork, was part of their food Allah had indulgently permitted us to eat (as it represented the food of their rabbis and priests), without us having to research their law so as to verify the trueness or otherwise of their allegation. The only exception was what Allah explicitly gave them the lie about, such as usury where He informed us that they mendaciously maintained it had been Divinely legalized to them. Usury was thus “food” of the Jews (and later of the Christians) which they used to devour, but which is forbidden for us to treat as lawful and devour on our part.
The foregoing clearly evinces that throttling poultry to death was common among Christians over the centuries.
When it comes to a Muslim simply strangulating a chicken, by converse, its meat was disallowed to us for being in contraposition to the norms applying to our ritual slaughter, and nothing stated by Judge Ibn al-‘Arabī conflicted with such ruling.
Be as it may, may Allah reward a revered mujtahid such as Ibn al-‘Arabī, even though the relied on Mālikī position in this mas’alah appears to run counter to what he stated, assuming there is any fundamental discrepancy, something denied by Abu’l-Hasan al-Qābisī as we have observed.
We need to move now to the subsequent crucial investigation:
Sixth issue: What suffices as acceptable ritual slaughter on the part of a kitābī (= a member of the People of the Book)?
We have already indicated the sound position as consisting in the fact that, contrary to what is stipulated for a Muslim, such a kitābī is not subject to the requisite of the tasmiyah or pronouncing Allah’s Name over the animal he is slaughtering.
We must not lose track of our definitional departure point. Dhakāt, let us reiterate, is:
“The act of cutting the whole throat or severing the two jugular veins from the front (of the neck), on the part of a Muslim or a member of Ahl al-Kitāb, with a sharpened object, without interrupting the process of slaughter which has to be performed as a single continuum”.
A further condition of a valid dhakāt, from the viewpoint of the slaughtered animal itself rather than the slaughterer (having indeed exhausted what we wanted to say about the latter), is that it should be alive at the time of slaughtering it, with no despairing of its life enduring but for the act of slaughter itself (Cf. Muhammad Sukhāl al-Majjājī’s Al-Muhadhdhab min al-Fiqh al-Mālikī, Vol. 2 thereof).
There are two ineluctable corollaries branching out from the foregoing:
i) Settled endurance of life in the animal meant to be slaughtered is a conditional stipulation for acceptable dhakāt. In the sick animal approximating the moment of its death, that is ascertained from the presence of a strong motion in it, such as blood gushing forth from it or the animal stamping the ground with the like of its hoof. In Al-Muqaddimāt al-Mumahhidāt, Ibn Rushd the grandfather defined the lowest form of motion as moving its eyes, waving its tail or motioning its hoof in an unruly fashion, failing which what substitutes for actual motion, such as ongoing breathing in its throat, would be enough. There are potent Prophetic sayings in favour of the legitimacy of dhakāt in respect of the sick animal. As regards the healthy animal, the flowing of blood, with nothing else, suffices as a pointer to the fulfillment of this first condition, inasmuch as certainty exists about the settled endurance of life prior to executing the ritual slaughter of it;
ii) (NB) The mortal spots of the animal must not have been fatally struck before its slaughter. Such spots are those vital parts of its body, the striking of any one of which will lead to undoubted death, regardless of the fact that the animal might not actually die at once as a result thereof. Cutting the jugular veins or the medulla oblongata, scattering the content of the brain, piercing the intestines, or the interior of its body (the area containing the liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys and bowels) spilling out of it, are all instances which embody our point. The animal concerned is what is termed in the fiqh “the one struck in one of its mortal spots”.
It is very important to remark that the basis for disallowing the applicability of ritual slaughter (dhakāt) to them in the sharī`ah, exactly as it occurs with regard to those animals such as the pig we are prohibited to consume the meat of, is that the ruling on them is treated analogously to the ruling of carrion. The inevitability of death independently of the act of slaughter is in fact an entrenched truth. What it means is that such animals are killed by a cause antedating any slaughter, not by the slaughter as such. Any motion we can detect in one such animal is purely metaphorical, in the sense that it is in truth identical to the motion engaged in by a slaughtered animal.
Allah has said in the Noble Qur’ān: «Harām for you are carrion, blood, pork, and what has been consecrated to other than Allah, and animals which have been strangled or killed by a blow, which have fallen to their death or have been gored, and animals which wild beasts have eaten – except (illā) those you are able to slaughter properly» (Sūrah al-Mā’idah: 3).
In Arabic syntax, there are two varieties of exclusion (istithnā’): Detached (munqati`) and linked (muttasil). Here the exception (= what is excepted after the word illā from what was mentioned before it in the Divine speech) is detached, i.e. the first part of the āyah lists what has made been unlawful to the Muslims, and it then follows that up by stressing, after the letter of exclusion, the separate circumstance that, by contrast, what they have slaughtered in a proper ritual manner is not prohibited. Even if illā was interpreted as a letter of linked exclusion, it would simply denote that those animals which might otherwise die out of strangling or a blow, by falling to death and so on, would become licit for a Muslim in the event he caught them and slaughtered them at a time when ritual slaughter might validly materialize, namely, when no mortal spot of the animal had been struck prior to the slaughter.
If an animal has not been struck in one of its mortal stops, its life would endure without the slaughter. In that form, it is clearly distinguishable from what is analogous to carrion.
There seems to be no controversy about the meat slaughtered in accordance with kashrut or Jewish dietary laws (what is popularly referred to as kosher meat). Indeed, the only significant distinction is that the Jews, following other than the simple Dīn of fitrah, abound in legalistic requirements additional to the Islamic Law on dhabā’ih.
When it comes to the contemporary Christian world, however, the scenario confronting us changes dramatically.
There is no problem with meat slaughtered by them in the traditional manner within a context of other than mass meat production. That would be the case of their farms, better still if organic.
The reality is that the bulk of meat from Christians comes nowadays from the massive industry of corporate-owned slaughterhouses.
Licenses from rabbis, it must be said, at least evince a concern for devoted commitment to a monotheistic tradition.
Meat in secular circles needs an official imprimatur of acceptability as well, but that is endorsed by wicked governmental apparatuses which have no concern for Divine Revelations and are staffed by salaried servants of usurious capitalistic monopolies.
In the US, the standard practice in FDA-approved slaughtering houses is to stun the animal with a bolt-gun, a heavy rod made of non-rusting alloys such as stainless steel.
It is essentially impossible to view this practice as acceptable ritual slaughter, given that such form of stunning, which patently deviated from slaughter methods practicing Christians had traditionally abided by century after century, might cause instantaneous death. It is not conceivable, within such mass slaughtering houses, that one might discriminate between those animals which factually die of it prior to the slaughter from those which survive in such a manner that they would not inevitably collapse to death but for the act of slaughter.
Based on the aforesaid judgments, therefore, such meat ought to be regarded as carrion, and thus prohibited.
Other standard slaughtering methods currently resorted to in Christian abattoirs might definitely provoke the death of the animal for a reason other than the slaughter itself, such as exsanguination, colloquially referred to as “bleeding to death” (It consists in the fatal process of blood loss or “hypovolemia” to a degree sufficient to cause death). Tissue destruction in the brain which causes incapacitation in the animal occurs; and pre-slaughter paralysis effectively turns it into carrion.
Genuine doubts exist as to whether inducing unconsciousness in the animal prior to slaughter, by stunning, the administration of anesthetics and so forth, meets the requirement of a valid slaughter.
The principle we stated above is a crisp one: If the animal dies as an inevitable consequence regardless of the (redundant) act of slaughter, there is no dhakāt and the resultant meat is harām.
A novel development, for example, is a fail-safe system which merely entails a less painful head-only stunning that is not fatal in nature, thereby enabling the possibility of reversing the procedure and reviving the animal after the shock. Ostensibly, therefore, there is a settled endurance of life in the animal which has not been struck in a mortal spot at a time predating the slaughter.
The expert jurists of the ummah are those tasked with the duty to work out the detailed derivative rulings on this mas’alah.
What can be reliably said is that most of the meat sold in the Christian world by butcheries, supermarkets, fast food outlets, restaurants and their like, come from the illicit type we have referred to above.
There is another key problem.
If we revert to our definition of ritual slaughter in our jurisprudence, we are bound to once more highlight the identity of a recognized slaughterer as being either a Muslim or a member of the People of the Book. The other categories of people, as we said, are all strictly excluded.
In the slaughtering houses run by the Christians, and that is a well-known truth, chain slaughtering of animals across the production belts is entrusted to employees who can belong to any religion, or even atheists (nowadays an enormous and growing number among people listed as nominally belonging to Judeo-Christianity) and apostates.
It is out of conceivability that one can know who is who there.
Falling within any one of the categories imperatively excluded from the defined identity of a valid slaughterer in the Law automatically disallows Muslims from partaking of the meat from the animal he has killed.
Meat slaughtered by Jews and Christians as per their traditional practices in that sense is lawful, so long as it fulfills the three requirements set out in the body of this article. If it is actually slaughtered by one such member of the People of the Book for himself, and no reprehensibility cleaves to it because it is not “sold” to us in return for a purchase price, it is fully one of the good things (at-tayyibāt) Allah has asked us to enjoy. Other types are disliked but permissible.
If it does not meet those prerequisites, if it is actually entrusted for slaughtering to other than a Jew or Christian, and if it is such as to be equated to carrion which has met its death by other than the process of slaughter itself, partaking of it is forbidden to us, and Allah knows best.