Can We Eat the Non-Zabiha Meat in America?

January 4, 2009

A common debate topic amongst Muslims today is the issue of non-zabihah meat and whether or not it is permissible to eat.  Can we, as Muslims, eat a Big Mac at McDonalds?  Can we eat Kosher meat?  I recently attended a “debate” in which two shaykhs argued their sides in a discussion manner that was very respectful and dignified.  One scholar, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, representing the Hanbali opinion, argued the meat of the Christians here in the United States is not-permissible while another scholar, Shaykh Yaser Birjas, representing the Shafi opinion, argued the chicken that is available wide-spread in America is permissible.  Here’s the breakdown of the opinions:

Taking into account the Quranic Ayaat found in Surat Maidah, the main difference of opinion between the different schools of thought comes down to the fact of whether or not saying the Bismillah is wajib (obligatory) or mustahhab (desirable) before the actual slaughter takes place.  Apparently the Hanafis, Malikis, and Hanbalis all consider saying the Bismillah as wajib before the slaughter takes place.  The modern Shafis consider the saying of Bismillah as recommended, but not required.  Shaykh Bin Baaz also followed the opinion that saying Bismillah is also required. 

It should be noted both scholars agreed that Kosher meat is permissible since the Jews do mention the name of Allah (SWT) before their slaughter.  However, both scholars also agreed that red meat in America should be avoided on the premise that much of the red meat available here comes from animals that have died from stunning (Fatwa here).  The audio of the dialogue is available here.

Before we delve too much, we must consider the USA or our respective country to be a place where the majority of the people are Ahl-Kitaab or else this discussion is useless.  Now, is the USA a Christian country?  Allahu Alim.  Let’s consider it one for this discussion, but do keep this Fatwa in the back of your mind. 

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the issue.  The Jews do follow the Torah and they slaughter in the name of Allah for their Kosher meat.  Therefore, Kosher meat is permissible for Muslims today.  Christians are also required to follow the Old Testament and hence, they are to slaughter in the name of God.  However, this aspect of Christian Law is completely neglected today and they do not mention anything when they slaughter their meat.  If a Christian were to say, “In the Name of the Lord,” then this meat would be permissible.  However, as we know, this does not take place amongst today’s Christians.

With that being said, what’s happened here in America today is that many of the ‘modern-day salafis’ have misinterpreted a fatwa from Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin.  Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin lived his life in Saudi Arabia and never lived in the West (though he did travel to the USA for medical purposes).  Living in Saudi Arabia, he did not interact with Christians on a regular basis.  It appears he was not aware that ALL Christians have abandoned this practice of stating the name of Allah.  If one reads his fatwa, he states that if one is unsure whether or not a Christian has mentioned Allah or not, then this meat is, by default, permissible.  However, the fact of the matter is, we know FOR SURE that the name of Allah has not been mentioned by these Christians when they slaughter their meat.  Shaykh Yasir Qadhi was once in a gathering with Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin when a student asked, “Is their meat permissible when I know 100% for sure that they are slaughtering without saying Bismillah?”  Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin responded by saying then, this meat is haraam (just) for you.  It appears that the Shaykh thought that this student of knowledge that asked this question was one of very few people who knew for sure that modern-day Christians do not say Bismillah.  However, the reality of the fact is that we ALL know that the name of Allah is not mentioned before the slaughter amongst Christians.  Furthermore, if a Christian were to mention someone, it would probably be Jesus, in which case, the meat is haraam for it has been slaughtered in the name of other than Allah!

In closing, I leave you with the follow hadith to consider:
Adi b. Hatim reported: Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said to me:  When you let off your dog, recite the name of Allah, and if it catches (game for you) and you find it alive, then slaughter it; if you find it killed and that (your dog) has eaten nothing out of that, (even then) you may eat it; but if you find along with your dog another dog, and (the game an) dead, then don’t eat, for you do not know which of the two has killed it” (Muslim).

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25 Responses to “Can We Eat the Non-Zabiha Meat in America?”

  1. Someone Says:

    JazakAllahu khair, I missed this talk so I’m glad I was able to read an overview.

  2. Maysi Says:

    So it is clear that we should not eat non-zabina.

  3. nzard Says:

    this really help since my sis (now studying in US) mention about kosher meat to me.

  4. Shazia Says:

    In surah Maidah it is said that the food of the people of book (Jews & Christian) is Halal for you to eat. Can somebody elaborate on this please?


    • This is why there is a difference of opinion. Is that verse specific (i.e only if they mention the name of Allah) or is that verse a more general one…

      • yasin Says:

        The brother made matters clear. It’s reason why kosha meat is hala. Practicing Jews prepare the food. Specifically here in u.s.a, 99% of christians do not concern themselves invoking God’s name.
        Believers read the signs, Hala meat stores are opening across american at an alarming rate. Please, be safe than sorry. Remember surah Yasin. when two were preaching Islam. A man stood from the crowd and stated that the two men were preaching good things. So what do we have to lose. Then he stated if the people don’t follow their advice they will follow the wrong path and face God’s Wrath. So believers, is it worth chancing? Are we that desparate for unsure meat/food. I’m not.

      • Hassan Says:

        Koranic verse does not require the “people of the book” to mention the name of Allah(swt) while slughtering for their food to be permissible to Muslims. This requirement of mentioning the name of Allah(swt) by the people of the book is the writers own addition. Christians had the same belief at the time Prophet(sw) as they have today. There is no evidence to suggest that Christians used to pronounce the name of Allah(swt) at the time of slaughtering during the time of prophet(sw) whiich they do not do now! Allahu Alam.

    • k Says:

      girl eat, but make a lot of istighfaar, because lets say u are been fed with continious pork.

  5. Mohamed Says:

    jazak Allah Khair

  6. Salman Says:

    Assalamalaikum,

    For the past 10 years, the men in my family and other family friends get into argument when this topic comes up. I personally dont believe in eating the meat if it is not Zabiha. It is for our good that Allah has ordained this. But many men in our family dispute over the fact that Allah has allowed eating the meat that Christians and Jews eat so we can not add to Islam and say we cant. Please elaborate whether we can or not. I believe we can eat the meat of Jews or Christians if the Zabiha meat is not available. As in the west zabiha is widely available. There should be no reason to eat McDonalds. Its more of a convenience…
    Jazak Allah khair.

    • Anonymous Says:

      As u must know that verses from the Quran came down during different periods of the prophets life.yes it is correct to say that we can eat the food of the people of the book but there are conditions.
      -In an incident narrated by Rafi’ bin Khadij, the Prophet told Muslims who wanted to slaughter some animals using reeds, “Use whatever causes blood to flow, and eat the animals if the Name of Allah has been mentioned on slaughtering them…” (Bukhari).
      Therefore if the meat is not slaughtered in the name of Allah you cannot eat it even if it is a person of the book.
      The exact way of slaughtering is derievd from the Sunna. You Mention the name of Allah on the creature, Pray whisperly that “Allah will grant it patience for the pain” and Slith it quickly; one strike with a very sharp knife cutting the throat.

  7. k Says:

    most correct, tthnk u. top stuff

  8. k Says:

    another thing, dont render your acts of worship to b invalid, simply because {S.A.W} said ” leave that which in it there is doubt.” and that is the hus-nee islaam

  9. green zabiha Says:

    Thanks for the post, in line with this discussion you might find some benefit in this short article we prepared:
    http://www.greenzabiha.com/zabiha
    Feedback welcome.

  10. A Brother Says:

    Salam,

    Good article. You may want to add the following video to this article:

  11. Anonymous Says:

    The person is saying that chicken is okay for him has just contracted himself especially after mentioning the five rules for zabiyha

  12. Mariam Says:

    amazing, during our stay in canada, my parents fell upon the same problem…
    visit my blog at http://www.fadingfire.wordpress.com
    and http://www.shyreader.wordpress.com


  13. Thanks for the information, we will add this story to our blog, as we have an audience that loves reading like this.

    Regards,

    “Online Kosher Bison Store”

  14. sam Says:

    salam,
    did Muhummad PBUH ate with non-muslims mean He accept their invitation and ate with them even there were meat dishes in that party and He ate those too?

  15. Naz Says:

    This is a very insightful blog post. I really like it. Even though it does make me sad that we cannot eat such stuff. Strive I guess. =) Thank you for the information.

  16. iReport925 Says:

    Why are we so quick to assume that Christians do not pronounce the name of God upon slaughtering, and all Muslims do?

    Before dining at a ‘halal’ restaurant, do we actually go through their meat’s supply chain and witness their meat supplier reciting God’s name before slaughtering?


    • Yes, but do you know of any Christian that does so? If that were the case, it would be different. For example, if Chick-Fil-A had a policy to mention God before slaughtering their chickens, that would certainly change things. Furthermore, would they mention God or Jesus?

      • Anonymous Says:

        The same could easily be said about muslim-owned restaurants. The majority of muslim-owned restaurants that I have been to in California have alcoholic beverages on their menu too. How do we end up trusting an establishment that is comfortable with selling alcohol? I know that Chick-fil-a does not serve alcohol. Between the two of these businesses; muslim-owned restaurant and Chick-fil-a, whom do you think is more in line with the teachings of Islam? 😛


  17. […] place.  The modern Shafis consider the saying of Bismillah as recommended, but not required [Source]. Even according to Salafi school , expressed by their scholar, Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin, where he states […]


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