Eating meats which are doubtfully slaughtered.

Q. Concerning the kosher meats, I have read other fatwas concerning this. Meat slaughtered by one of the people of the Book (a Jew or a Christian) is permissible subject to two conditions:

1 – That the meat be slaughtered as a Muslim does it, by cutting the throat and oesophagus and letting the blood flow. If the animal is killed by strangling or electric shock or drowning in water, its meat is not permissible. Similarly, if a Muslim does that, the meat is not permissible.

2 – No name other than that of Allaah should be mentioned over it, such as the name of the Messiah etc, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allaah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal).” If a Muslim or a kitaabi (Jew or Christian) slaughters an animal for meat, and it is not known whether he mentioned the name of Allaah over it or not, it is permissible to eat from it, and the one who eats it should say the name of Allaah, because of the report that was narrated by al-Bukhaari (2057) from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), that some people said: O Messenger of Allaah, some people bring meat to us, and we do not know whether they mentioned the name of Allaah over it or not. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Mention the name of Allaah over it and eat.”

So what I’m trying to find out is, have you all checked all the kosher meats in Trinidad? Other than that, wouldn’t the meats therefore be halaal referring to the above authentic hadeeth?

A. When it is not known that a Muslim or kitaaabi has mentioned the name of Allah then this meat becomes doubtful, since there is a 50% possibility that the name of Allah was mentioned and there is an equal possibility that the name of Allah was not mentioned. In this given situation no one can say with certainty that it is halal, as such, it remains doubtful. With respect to the law of doubtful things, the Prophet (S.A) has given us the following guideline, he said, ‘That which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which not many people know. Thus, he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor’. (Bukhari, Muslim)

The above tradition gives us a clear guidance that whenever a matter or a thing becomes doubtful, then a Muslim must refrain from it.

In the situation which you have quoted, it is evident that when one does know whether a person mentioned the name of Allah or not, then this brings about doubts and not certainty. Hence, a Muslim will be required to apply the ruling for ‘doubts’ by refraining from such slaughtered birds or animals.

With respect to the hadith you have quoted, this does not give an allowance to practice what you have mentioned. Based on the verse which you have quoted, it is clearly established that a Muslim is not allowed to eat any meat on which the name of Allah has not been called, Allah says, ‘Eat not of that (meat) on which Allah’s name has not mentioned’.

Knowing that this is a clear prohibition from eating such meats, it means that the hadith quoted, cannot give a meaning/message that opposes this divine command. In other words, one cannot infer from the hadith that it is permissible to eat form any type of meat by simply assuming it to be slaughtered by the Ahlul Kitab or a Muslim, once you say Bismillah on it. If this be the understanding, then the above mentioned verse will have no meaning to the believers, and all meats sold on the streets and in food outlets will become halal, by simply saying Bismillah on them.

This however is not the case, and the majority of scholars have never given such a ruling.

The hadith which you have quoted has been mentioned by Imam Bukhari in two different places, and the great scholars have mentioned it in details. In one place, Imam Bukhari has mentioned it under the chapter (heading) ‘The chapter that evil Promptings (whispers) and the likes, are not from among doubtful matters’. Under this heading, Imam Bukhari quoted the narration of Aisha (R.A) in which she said that some people said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, some people bring meat to us, and we do not know whether they mentioned the name of Allah over it or not ‘. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Mention the name of Allah and eat it’. (Bukhari)

With respect to this tradition, the question must be asked as to who were these people who brought meat to the Muslims (Sahabahs)?

This question is answered from the same narration which has been quoted by Imam Bukhari under the chapter, ‘The slaughtered animals of the desert Arabs and others like them’. Under this chapter Imam Bukhari quoted the above mentioned tradition of Aisha (R.A) and at the end of the tradition, Aisha (R.A)said, ‘These people were new Muslims- they recently came out of kufr’.

From this tradition, it becomes clear that those who slaughtered the animals and sent their meat to the companions were actually Muslims who were desert Arabs and had recently accepted Islam. Due to the fact that they were new Muslims, some companions thought they may have no knowledge of how to slaughter, and hence, ask the Prophet (S.A) whether they should eat their meat or not. Upon this, the Prophet (S.A) guided them by saying, ‘Say Bismillah, (that is), mention the name of Allah and then eat’.

While commenting on this tradition, the commentators have given different explainations. Some scholars are of the opinion that this incident occurred in the beginning of Islam, before the revelation of the verse ‘And do not eat from that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned’. Ibn Teen has stated that Imam Malik (R.A) has mentioned this in his Mu’atta while narrating the hadith of Aisha (R.A) (Umdatul Qaari vol.11 pg.172). Based upon this explaination, this incident cannot be used for the allowance of simply saying Bismillah upon meat to make it permissible to consume.

While explaining this hadith, the great scholar Ibn Al Jawzi writes, ‘the Prophet (S.A) ordered them to, ‘say Bismillah and eat’. This does not mean that the meat upon which ‘Bismillah was not mentioned’ was permissible. Instead, the order (of mentioning Allah’s name upon the meat) was given since this itself was a sunnah before taking meals’. Umdatul Qaari vol. 11 pg.173)

This explaination of Ibn Jawzi shows clearly that the nature of ‘mentioning Allah’s name upon the meat’ before eating was not done in order to make ‘doubtful’ or ‘unlawful’ meat permissible. Instead, it was done in conformity with the already established sunnah of mentioning Allah’s name before taking meals.

The great scholar Ibn Al Teen has also said, ‘it is possible that ‘the mentioning of Allah’s name’ which was ordered by the Prophet (S.A) referred to the act of taking Allah’s name at the time of eating’. (and it was not given in order to replace the Bismillah which was supposed to be said at the time of slaughter). Imam Nawawi has also endorsed this statement’. (Fathul Baari – (commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari by Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani) Chapter on slaughter vol.    pg.793)

It is important to know that Imam Bukhari has mentioned the above mentioned tradition under two separate headings (chapters). The purpose of this is to establish two separate rulings. While mentioning the hadith under the first chapter entitled ‘the chapter that evil promptings and the likes, are not from among the doubtful matters’, Imam Bukhari wanted to show that whenever a ‘waswaswa’ (evil prompting) comes to a person, this should not create a doubt in his mind. Both evil promptings and doubts are two separate things and they have separate rulings. In consideration to this heading which he has given (for the hadith ) he wished to show that the companions simply had ‘wasaawis’ (evil promptings) concerning the meat which came from the new Muslims. The Prophet (S.A) taught them that they should not allow this evil prompting to create doubts in their minds, and in order for them to remove this evil prompting, he told them to say Bismillah before eating the meat, he taught them that they should not cast doubts upon the meat when it came from Muslims, since it is part of one’s faith to have good thoughts about his believing brothers.

The great scholar Ibn At Teen has also given this explaination by saying, ‘The fact that the Prophet (S.A) approved the eating of the meat which came from the new Muslims is a proof that saying Bismillah upon slaughtered animals must be considered (since his approval was based on the fact that he (the Prophet (S.A) accepted that the name of Allah was mentioned by the new Muslims). (Umdatul Qaari commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari vol. 11 pg 172)

The other chapter under which Imam Bukhari brought the above hadith was, ‘Chapter- The slaughtered animals of the desert Arabs and others like them’. In this chapter Imam Bukhari repeated the tradition of Aisha (R.A) with the addition that she (Aisha (R.A) said, ‘These people were new Muslims – they recently came out from kufr’.

From this tradition, it is clearly established that the people who sent the meat to the companions were not unbelievers nor were they ‘People of the book (Ahlul Kitab), instead, they were Muslims. Hence, it was far fetched for one to think that these Muslims would send haram meat for other Muslims. The order issued by the Prophet (S.A) to consume the meat of these people was given in order to remove the doubts from their minds, and to let them know that they must entertain good thoughts about their Muslims. In this regard, the great scholar Ibn Abd Al Barr writes, ‘it is evident from this tradition that what a Muslim slaughter’s shall be eaten, and it will accepted that he called the name of Allah while slaughtering. The reason for this is that certainly a Muslim, thoughts are not perceived and conceived about him, in anything, except that which is good, until the opposite is established, (Fathul Baari – Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari by the great Muhaddith Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani –book on Slaughtering and hunting chapter 21).

It goes to show that in the above mentioned incident the prophet (S.A) did not encourage his companions to have wrong thoughts about the new Muslims who had sent the meat for them. It is for this reason he told them to eat form the meat, and simply say Bismillah, which was itself of Sunnah before taking meals.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan