To Eat Halal or Not to Eat Halal?
For the past 24 yrs I had been living in Pakistan. Currently for my higher studies I am in Germany. I am not the type of person shy for an adventure and especially when it comes to visiting and experiencing different cultures. But after coming to Germany, a lot of things for the very first time brought me to a point where i had to stop,think and argue/discuss about alot of things. One of them is the topic of whether the meat available is Halal or Haram. The criteria being that it should not be dead or that of pig flesh is as clear as night and day but the argument that i usually have with other muslims is whether the prescribed Halal meat(lamb and beef; bovine family except for pigs! and poultry) is acceptable for a muslim to eat. Most of my arabic muslim friends say that it okay as long as you dont eat pork; they dont worry about if the beef or lamb has been slaughtered from carotid to carotid (Zibah) or if Allah (swt) name has been taken. Apart from that I get more confused when I find out that Germany mandates that before slaughtering, the animal must be stunned or anesthetized so that it feels no pain. One of my friends justified that we can eat beef or lamb because the butcher or Germans are Ahli Kitab but I cant assure myself of that because most of the Germans that i know of are either atheists or arnt very practicing theologians. I was told by a friend that the group of Ulmas of Germany said that it halal to eat meat from Germany however the Sheikh, of the city that i live in, was asked and he said that even tough it is permitted he doesnt eat meat from places that are not halal. The Sheikh also went on to saying that beef would be better then chicken because sometimes from the stunning the chickens die. I know you asked to be as brief as possible and I have read your previous comment on the topic but I just had to explain my position because I have searched high and low and I have pretty much done everything possible to find an answer for this seemingly annoying question. I would also like to point out that Alhumdullah my wife is a great cook so i dont have problems when it comes to eating food at home in particular but its directed at when I cant eat out(at restuarants) or especially when travelling or in the cafetaria. I would really appreciate the help! I am still searching for what other scholars say and I absolutely adore Ghamidi for his clarity and accurate description of Islam. I wanted to write to him but just didnt know how but when i found out about his students I was just more than excited to ask and ease myself. I hope I have made my position clear and I hope I didnt annoy you with my question.
Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon. Assalamualequm!
I think what I should do is to simply explain for you the principle and then leave it to you to ask any follow up questions:
What we understand from the Qur'an is that an animal that is Halal for us needs to be slaughtered in a certain way. In this prescribed way, two aspects are included:
1. Hygiene aspect: The blood should reasonably drain out from the body of the animal. This is why the neck of the animal should be cut in a way that the cut reaches the jugular veins. This has to be done when the animal is still alive otherwise much of the blood may remain in the body. This as far as I understand is a hygiene issue but it is not unlikely that it is also for our spiritual health, as the old saying goes: you are what you eat.
2. Spiritual aspect: We are not allowed to kill God's creation for our consumption unless we ask for His permission. Saying the name of God before slaughtering is in fact asking for His permission to kill the animal. Obviously the person who says this has to believe in God otherwise saying His name by a person who does not believe in Him will only be a useless ritual.
Three points to add to the above:
- Verse 5:5 says that the food of the People of the Book is permissible for us. In our understanding this is because at the time of the Prophet (pbuh) People of the Book used to follow their own Shari'ah in slaughtering and that was actually very similar (if not the same) as what I wrote above. The implication of this is that at our time the slaughter done by any believer in one God who follows a process similar to the above is permissible for us (e.g. Kosher).
- If a person who believes in God fails to say the Name due to forgetfulness or ignorance, or if we think that he might have not said the Name our of forgetfulness or ignorance, then we can say the Name before eating and this will be enough. Note this is only applicable when the person who slaughters has made a genuine mistake. If some one does not believe in God or does not agree that he should follow God's order when slaughtering then this does not apply.
- At our time many many cases of slaughtering are done after stunning the animal. As far as I know normally the animal is still alive after stunning. In my view this should be enough, meaning the meat of the animal that has gone through the above process after stunning will be permissible to eat, even if I think that exceptionally some of them may die after stunning. However if I have a reliable information that tells me that in a particular farm some animals will die as the result of stunning then I will not consider the meat of the animals from that farm to be permissible for me.
The above are the principles and some of the common issues related to it. Please apply this to the cases you have in mind and if you have any further questions do let me know.
Please note that the above is based on my previous understanding which was the same as the most agreed upon traditional understanding. I now have a revised understanding. I leave the above as it is for those who are interested in that view. My answer according to my revised understanding is as follows:
Within the category of animals that are halal (e.g. NOT pork), once the following conditions are observed, the meat is consumable:
1. It should not be a carrion.
2. The animal should not be slaughtered for idols.
Accordingly, while halal or kosher meat is always preferable, I do not consider meat slaughtered by other (non Muslim, non-Jewish) butchers to be haram, unless one of the above conditions apply.
Revised: September 2016