Monday, January 12, 2009

Quran & Hadith: Zabiha (ذبيحة)

Zabihah in the Quran
اليوم احل لكم الطيبات وطعام الذين اوتوا الكتاب حل لكم وطعامكم حل لهم والمحصنات من المؤمنات والمحصنات من الذين اوتوا الكتاب من قبلكم اذا اتيتموهن اجورهن محصنين غير مسافحين ولامتخذي اخدان ومن يكفر بالايمان فقد حبط عمله وهو في الاخرة من الخاسرين

"This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good)."
— Quran, Surat Al-Ma'idah 5:5

ولاتاكلوا مما لم يذكر اسم الله عليه وانه لفسق وان الشياطين ليوحون الى اوليائهم ليجادلوكم وان اطعتموهم انكم لمشركون

"Do not eat that which the name of Allah has not been mentioned."
— Quran. Surat al-Ana'm. 6:121

Hadith referencing Zabihah
Prohibition Against Cruelty to Animals
Narrated by Abu Darda: "
The Prophet (s.a.s.) prevented the eating of khatafah (خطفة) [creatures that snatch (monkeys, raccoons, etc.)], nahabah (نهبه) [creatures that plunder (mice, rats, etc.)] and mujathama (مجثمة) [animals which are tied down, restricted or penned in for target shooting], and every predator possessing canine teeth / fangs."
— Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja and Nisaa'i

“When you will show mercy on an animal, God will show mercy on you.”

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
"Allah's Apostle said, 'A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.' Allah's Apostle further said, '(Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman), "You neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth."' "
— Bukhari 3:553. Also in Muslim, Narrated Abu Huraira

Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas (r.a.a.):
"The Prophet (s.a.s.) said: 'Do not take anything in which there is a soul as a target.' "

Narrated by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (r.a.a.):
"The Messenger of Allah (s.a.s.) forbade tormenting any kind of animal to death."
— Muslim

... In Slaughter
“If one wishes to slaughter an animal, let him prepare for it”
— Ibn Majah

On the authority of Abu Ya’la Shahddad ibn Aus, the Messenger of Allah said:
“Verily Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters”
— Muslim

lbn `Abbas once recorded that the Prophet (s.a.s.) saw a man who was sharpening his knife after laying down a sheep to be slaughtered. He rebuked him saying, “Did you intend to make it die two deaths? Why did you not sharpen your knife before laying it down?”
— Al-Hakim

"Allah has ordained kindness (or excellence) in everything. If killing is to be done, do it in the best manner, and when you slaughter, do it in the best manner by first sharpening the knife and putting the animal at ease."
— Muslim

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

Islamic Schools of Thought
Regarding the Mentioning of bismillah 
... at the Time of Slaughter
Between the Islamic Schools of Thought, there are differences of opinion as to the mentioning of the Name of Allah at the time of slaughter, which would render the same meat either permissible or impermissible by different Schools.

The Hanafi School of fiqh states:
"If the slaughterer intentionally does not mention Allah's name (at the time of slaughter), then the slaughtered animal is 'dead meat' (maytah) and is not allowable. If the slaughterer leaves off the name of Allah forgetfully (but with intention), then it is allowable."
— Al-Hidayah. Kitab al-Dhabaha.

The Hanafi School of fiqh allows the meat to be eaten when the mentioning has been left off, forgetfully, to allow for the forgetfulness of mankind and to ease hardship on the people. For the Hanafis, the action is what is sanctified, not the animal (meat) to be slaughtered, citing the hadith below. The slaughterer's intention is voiced by his saying bismillah, but the forgetting of saying bismillah does not nullify the intention of the sincere slaughterer. Therefore, by the same rites, it is not sufficient to say bismillah only on the meat while it is on your plate because the action has already occured.

Narrated Aadee bin Hatem:
"I said: ‘O Prophet of Allah, I send my (hunting) dog and mention the Name of Allah.’ The Prophet (s.a.s.) told me: ‘If you send your dog mentioning the Name of Allah and he killed, you eat; but if he eats from it, do not eat. He has caught it for himself.’ I said: ‘I send my dog, and then I find another dog with him, and I do not know which one caught for me.’ The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘Do not eat, because you only invoked the Name on your dog, and not on the other.’"
— Al-Bukhari and Muslim

With regards to the requirement that the slaughterer must mention the Name of Allah, the Hanafi School does not make a distinction as to whether the slaughterer is Muslim, Christian or Jew. All must mention His Name, since all are regarded as worshipping Allah, the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

The Maliki School of fiqh states:
"The meat is not allowable from both angles (whether or not the Name of Allah was left off intentionally, or non-intentionally)."

Imam Malik takes the literal meaning of the ayyah [6:121], to allow only those meats over which the Name of Allah has been mentioned at the time of slaughter. Period.

The Shafi'i School of fiqh states: 
The Shafi'i School of fiqh is of the opinion that the meat of halal animals is edible regardless of whether the Name of Allah has been pronounced on it at the time of slaughter, so long as the conditions of slaughter are met. The Shafi'i School cites the following ahadith for its position:

Narrated Hadrat Sayyidah A’isha:
"A group of people said to the Nabi (s.a.s.), 'Some people brought us meat and we do not know whether or not they have mentioned Allah’s name on it (while slaughtering the animal) or not.' He (s.a.s.) said, 'Mention the Name of Allah over it and then eat it.'”
— Sahih al-Bukhari

"The Muslim slaughters in the Name of Allah, whether it is mentioned or not mentioned."
— Dar al-Qutni and Baihaqi

Regarding Food (Meat) of the People of the Book
The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa (, an Islamic organization consisting of the most senior Sunni scholars of fiqh in Saudi Arabia says:

"[At the time of the Prophet (s.a.s.)], the Jews and Christians were disbelievers in many of the fundamentals of faith which were brought in the Torah and Injeel: the Jews disbelieved in the prophethood of some prophets, such as ‘Isa and Muhammad (p.b.u.t.), and they killed the prophets unlawfully and corrupted many of the laws of the Torah. A number of them said ‘Uzair was the son of Allah, etc. [Also at that time] the Christians used to [and still] say that Allah is the Third of Three (in a trinity), and that Isa is the son of Allah, and they disbelieve in the prophethood of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.).

"In spite of this, Allah called them the People of the Scripture and He made it permissible for the Muslims (to eat) their slaughtered animals and to marry their chaste women. Their disbelief, their polytheism and their corruption of their Scriptures did not prevent the ruling of the People of the Scripture being implemented regarding them during the time of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). So it does not prevent them from being implemented regarding them until the Day of Resurrection.”
— Fatawa Islamiyah, Vol. 6, p. 247

AMNA Note: It is AMNA's position that (strictly speaking) it is not haram to eat meat that the name of Allah was not spoken over during slaughter, so long as it is said before the food has been consumed AND so long as it can be reasonably established that the animal was slaughtered in an 'Islamic manner'— not shocked, maltreated, stunned or otherwise rendered unconscious before death.

However, AMNA acknowledges that given the prevailing conditions found in Factory Farming, particularly the well publicized mistreatment of some animals in certain slaughterhouses, buying supermarket meat is problematic and raises more questions than answers, and as such is best to avoid.

Therefore, AMNA believes where halal butchers exist, Muslims should buy zabihah so that they may avoid problematic or questionable foods.

Regarding Stunning before Slaughter
In slaughterhouses, it is common to give large animals such as cows a blow to the forehead using a retractable bolt gun. Because a small fraction of these animals die from the blow, instead of just being knocked unconscious, and because of issues of animal cruelty, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether this practice is halal. Here, we provide a brief overview of positions from both sides.

"If it is not easy to slaughter animals unless they have been stunned by a method that will not kill them before they are slaughtered, then it is permissible to stun them and slaughter them whilst they are still alive, in cases of necessity. "
— Fataawa al-Lajnah al-‘Daa’imah, 22/456-457

"Cattle that have been exposed to a fatal blow are permissible so long as they are slaughtered properly before they die, otherwise it is not permissible to eat them."
— Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 22/455

According to the ruling on animals which are slaughtered after suffering a violent blow (but before dying), these scholars take the position that if the butcher slaughters the cattle as soon as it is struck, then it is permissible to eat it. But if it is 'slaughtered' after it has died then it is not permissible to eat.

The problem for Muslims is that U.S. Meat Industry regulations do not prohibit meat from animals that have died from the blow. Muslims have no way of knowing if supermarket meat came from an animal who died before slaughter or not.

"Best Practices for Beef Slaughter," 2003. Edited by: National Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. [PDF]
SPOTLIGHT on ETHICS: Factory Farming

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