Cattle or Birds Slaughtered By Disbelievers?
Q: The Christians are accustomed to shooting cattle and birds in their heads before they slaughter them for food. I saw them doing this with sheep and cows at the slaughterhouse. I also heard that they strangle chickens to death. However, some Muslims have consumed the meat of these animals. They support lawfulness to eat this meat by referring to the Ayah (Qur'anic verse) in which Allah (Exalted be He) says: Made lawful to you are At-Tayyibât [all kinds of Halâl (lawful) foods, which Allâh has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk products, fats, vegetables and fruits)]. The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you They also support their view by a Fatwa (legal opinion issued by a qualified Muslim scholar) issued by some scholars of Al-Azhar on the permissibility of eating animals slaughtered this manner as long as Allah's Name is pronounced at the time of slaughter. It should be noted that we have two Muslim butchers at our village, one of whom observes Salah (Prayer) regularly and the other neither fasts in Ramadan nor offers Salah regularly. What is the solution to this problem?
A: If cattle or birds are slaughtered by Kafirs (disbelievers) who are from Russia, Bulgaria, or other such atheist countries, then it is prohibited to eat the meat of these animals and birds, no matter whether the Name of Allah is pronounced over them or not. This is because Muslims are basically allowed to eat the meat of animals slaughtered by Muslims or the People of the Book as stated in the Qur'an. Scholars have unanimously agreed on the permissibility of eating the meat of animals slaughtered by any of the People of the Book (the Jews or Christians). This is, however, contingent upon slitting the animal's throat while it is still alive and pronouncing Allah's Name over it. Allah (Exalted be He) states:
The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you.
However, prohibition to eat from the animal's meat still applies if the Jew or Christian mentions a name other than Allah's upon slaughter. The animal will be regarded as Maytah (carrion/unslaughtered dead animals). Allah (Exalted be He) states: Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allâh’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal), for sure it is Fisq (a sin and disobedience of Allâh). In another Ayah, Allah (Exalted be He) states:
Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maitah (the dead animals- cattle- beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which Allâh’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering In the event that an animal is shot in the head or killed by electric shock, it takes the same ruling as Mawqudhah (an animal which is killed by a violent blow).
The prohibition still applies even if the throat is cut after electrocuting the animal. The prohibition to eat such animals is mentioned in the Ayah in which Allah (Exalted be He) says: Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maitah (the dead animals - cattle - beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which Allâh’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering, (that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allâh, or has been slaughtered for idols) and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow. If, before dying as a result of being shot or electrocuted, the animal can be slaughtered, there is no wrong in eating its meat. At the end of the above-mentioned Ayah, Allah (Exalted be He) says:
...and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns, and that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animalAmong the prohibited categories mentioned in the Ayah, Allah has excluded the meat of those animals which are slaughtered before death. Slaughtering Maytah is pointless. It is unanimously agreed that it is prohibited to eat the meat of animals which are killed by means of strangulation or electric shock, even if Allah's Name is pronounced over it before eating.
As for the Hadith in which Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Say Bismillah (In the Name of Allah) and begin eating, it was said on the occasion when some animals were slaughtered by some people of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time of ignorance) who had embraced Islam. It was not known whether they pronounced the Name of Allah upon the animals they had slaughtered or not. Because of this doubt, the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered Muslims to say Bismillah before eating and to assume that the slaughterers had pronounced Allah's Name as Muslims do.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta'
`Abdullah ibn Mani`
`Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan
`Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz