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).