Bismillah wallahu Akbar
Here are a few brief points regarding the issue of halal meat. These are just random thoughts and issues in response to a few questions related to this topic and are not in any particular order.
1) Islam is built on ease. This is something that Allah likes – he does not like hardship. Allah says:
“Allah likes (yureed) for you ease and does not like (laa yureed) hardship for you”
It is also the sunnah of the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who, as stated in the hadith, “was not given the choice between two matters except that he took the easiest of the two as long as it was not a sin.”
2) This is a very emotional issue – the issue of halal meat as well as the issue of the meat from the British people (ahl al kitab?). However, when deriving a hukm on these issues, we need to look at the evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah and should detach ourselves from emotion. We should avoid trying to make things haram for the people and avoid making things difficult for the people as long as these things are not a sin. As for our own personal actions, however, we should choose the most righteous path. In other words, if we are in doubt about something, but don’t have clear proof to make that thing haram, we can still avoid it ourselves – and this is from taqwa inshaAllah – but we should not enforce that on others; otherwise, that is legislating what Allah has not legislated.
3) The general rule is that meat is haram until proven to be halal. One of the ‘proofs’ that meat is halal is if it is presented to us by a Muslim, Jew or Christian. Of course, if we KNOW that the conditions of slaughtering have been met (spilling of blood, mentioning Allah’s name, etc) then this meat is definitely halal. If we do not KNOW for certainty, but it has been presented to us by a Muslim, Jew or Christian, then the stronger of the scholarly opinions is that this meat is halal because of the narration in Bukhari (no. 5507) from ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said that some people came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “Some people bring meat to us, and we do not know if they mentioned the name of Allah or not.” He said: “Say it yourselves then eat.” If we know for certainty that a particular animal was not slaughtered correctly, whether this was by a Muslim, Jew or Christian, then this meat is haram. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin said, after quoting the above hadith:
They were new in Islam, and they did not know whether they had said the name of Allah or not, so he said: “Say it yourselves, then eat.” So eating it is permissible even if we do not know whether the one who slaughtered the meat mentioned the name of Allah or not. Similarly it is permissible to eat even if we do not know whether the meat was slaughtered in the proper manner or not, because if the action is carried out by the right people then the basic principle is that it is valid, unless there is evidence to the contrary. So if some meat comes to us from a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian, we should not ask about it or ask how it was slaughtered or whether the name of Allah was mentioned over it. It is halal so long as there is no clear proof that it is haram. This is a way in which Allah has made things easier for us. [Liqaa’aat al-Baab il-Maftooh, 1/77 ]
4) The meat that is sacrificed by a fasiq (major sinner, such as he who sells wine) is halal (as long as the slaughterer is a Muslim, Christian, Jew (of course, in the latter two cases, they are not only fasiqs but also kuffar)).
5) If a Muslim sells meat and says that it is halal, and there is no reason to object to his truthfulness, then we should not question him. If the prophet sallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not question the meat from the Jewess who gave him some meat as a gift, then what about the meat of a fasiq Muslim? We are required to believe a fasiq Muslim more than a kafir woman! Yet, the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not even question that Jewess: did you sacrifice this meat yourself? did you mention Allah’s name? did blood spill? etc…
6) If the general rule in the country is that the huge majority of people still call themselves Christian or Jew, then the asl (general rule) regarding meat in that country is that it is halal (of course, this excludes things which are specifically prohibited in Islam such as the pig). This is as long as the general norm is that they slaughter the animal (spill blood by cutting the neck) and not kill it for example by stunning (i.e. the stunning causes the death).
7) The ruling on stunning has nothing to do with the person’s deen (Muslim, Jew, Christian). The stronger of the scholarly views is that if the stunning kills the animal, that meat is haram; however, if the stunning is there to merely tame the animal while slaughtering it, and the animal was slaughtered while it still has some life in it, then this meat is halal. This has no relevance, as I said, to whether the slaughterer is a Muslim, Christian or Jew. This issue is the same as when an animal falls and hurts itself and is close to death, but the person manages to slaughter it while the animal still has life in it. This meat is halal because of the ayah in Ma’idah:
“Forbidden to you are the dead animals not slaughtered, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow unless you are able to slaughter it (before its death)”
8) If the slaughterhouses generally use stunning, but they do so to tame the animal and they intend to slaughter the animal, then as long as the animals generally (i.e. the majority case) do not die by the electrocution, we can assume this meat to be halal. If some animals do die – and we KNOW that a particular animal has died – before being slaughtered then of course that particular animal is haram to eat. However, we should base the general rule on the majority of situations, i.e. the general norm. This is the opinion of Sh Ibn Uthaymin as well as my own teacher, Shaykh ‘Abdul Aziz Ali. Stemming from this issue, some scholars say that the very fact that in UK the general intention of the people (i.e. the British Christians) is to kill the animal by slaughtering it, and not by stunning it. They say this because, if the slaughterers did not intend to slaughter the animals, then why would they have individual slaughterers slaughtering after stunning? Surely it would be more efficient for them to just let the animal die because of the stunning. Based on this, they say, the meat would be halal in general unless proven that it is the majority case that the animals actually die due to stunning before slaughtering.
9) If the general norm is that people do not slaughter the animal (but rather cause the animal to die by stunning for example), whether Muslims or ahl al-kitab, then we should ask to ascertain whether the meat was slaughtered correctly or not. However, the statement of a Muslim or kitaabi is to be taken as ‘proof’ unless you have enough reason to believe they may be lying, such as they are caught doing the opposite of what they said they do.
10) If you have evidence to suggest that taped tasmiyahs are being used, then, according to some scholars, one should just mention Allah’s name and then eat it. The scholars differ about whether the tasmiyah is obligatory at the time of slaughtering. If one believes that it is, then one should not eat this meat if he is certain that the tasmiyah didn’t occur. But if one believes it is not obligatory, then one can just mention Allah’s name and eat the meat, even if he is certain that the tasmiyah didn’t occur.
11) Regarding ‘abuse’ wrt slaughtering, we only take it into consideration for the general ruling if this abuse is extremely widespread and is the norm. However, if it concerns a small percentage of animals relative to the rest of them, then we do not take this abuse into consideration to change the asl (general rule). Islamic rulings revolve around the norm (the asl) and not a minority of cases.
12) The general rule is that one should not ask his brother Muslim about whether food that is placed in front of him is halal or not. The Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “When any one of you enters upon his Muslim brother and he offers him food, let him eat from his food and not ask about it. And if he offers him something to drink, let him drink what he offers and not ask about it.”
(Musnad Ahmad. This hadith was classed as sahih by Shaykh al-Albani).
Note that I have NOT given the particular ruling for the meat in UK and nor the ruling on whether it is obligatory to ask and find out about the meat by Muslims, Jews or Christians. I have just given general guidelines and it is important that someone conducts a research in UK. We need to take a look at exact percentage of animals that are killed due to the stunning, the exact percentage of people who call themselves Christians in UK, etc etc. We should not just assume that something is widespread because it does occur often and then base a hukm of Allah’s deen on our assumptions. This would come under speaking without knowledge; may Allah protect us from that. Amin.
I ask Allah to give us the tawfiq to do what is most pleasing to him.
I hope this clarifies many of issues.