Is Meat in the supermarket of USA HALAL

Adnan Jumani

In the Name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

All praise is due to Allah, the Perfectly Wise.

“The food of the People of the Scripture is lawful to you…” (Quran 5:5)

Recently, a question came up, which has been very controversial in the western countries. Someone asked if the meat that is sold in the supermarkets in USA halal for Muslims to eat. An answer was given to the question by quoting the above verse and a hadith from Sahih Bukhari, and declared that the meat from the supermarkets in USA is permissible to eat. At that time, I could hear the gasps and murmuring throughout the gathering. Some were nodding yes with excitement, some were frowned, and some amazed at the answer.

This opinion can be traced back to Yusuf Qaradawi, who argued that slaughter from the people of the book, doesn’t have to comply with all conditions of Muslim Slaughter. He also claimed that as long as Christians consider the method of slaughter to be permissible, it is permissible for us to eat, and he has allowed Muslims to eat the meat that was originated and packed in “Chrisitian Countries”. (The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi pg 59-62)

So, let us look at this issue and the evidences that has been presented to support the controversial opinion. According to the agreed upon principle, if the issue has been addressed in the time of the Prophet (PBUH), then we look at how the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions dealt with that issue, and follow the understanding of the first generation. In fact, the meat of people of the book was an issue during his time, and their attitude towards it is reflected in several ahadith. So, we should try to understand how the first generation, the best generation, understood the permissibility or prohibition of it.

First claim is that the meat of a Christian or a Jew, is permissible to eat for a Muslim. Well, the above command from Allah leaves no doubt in the matter in general. However, we have to understand this in the context of the Christians and Jews traditions at that time. So, if a Jew or a Christian brought meat to the Muslims in Madeena, they would have ate it, and without asking any questions, because the Christians would slaughter according to their religion. This is reflected in several ahadith and has been agreed upon by the scholars.

Also, it is agreed upon that meat from Non-Muslims who are not people of the book is prohibited. No one contest this. There is no difference of opinion in this matter. This prohibition includes the people who do not believe in God, named Athiests, or people with undeclared faith.

If we look at the tafsir of this verse from the companions, we find that people of the book would slaughter their animal according to the rules given to them by their prophets, and say Allah’s name on the slaughter. Permission from Allah here is to allow their meat although their beliefs are wrong, but their methods are correct, and they slaughter in the name of God.

“(The food of the People of the Scripture is lawful to you..) meaning, their slaughtered animals, as Ibn `Abbas, Abu Umamah, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, `Ata’, Al-Hasan, Makhul, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan stated. This ruling, that the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book are permissible for Muslims, is agreed on by the scholars, because the People of the Book believe that slaughtering for other than Allah is prohibited. They mention Allah’s Name upon slaughtering their animals, even though they have deviant beliefs about Allah that do not befit His majesty” (ibn Kathir)

Some people don’t agree with the understanding of the companions, and try to use their own understanding. They argue that method of slaughter doesn’t matter, and is not intended by Allah in this verse. Although this understanding is against what the Prophet (PBUH) explained, let us assume it to be true for argument sake. So, if a meat is from the people of the book, it is permissible, regardless of how it was slaughtered.

Now, what is required from us is to determine what meat is from the people of the book, and what is not from them. This is where the biggest deviation is occurring in USA. Muslims in USA are generalizing this permission to the extent that, they start eating meat from Supermarkets. In the case of meat available in the supermarkets in USA, we have to evaluate if this meat is covered under the verse of the Quran above, at all. And, what we really are asking is if the meat in the supermarket is from Christians, because Jewish meat are sold separately as Kosher, so there is no matter of doubt on Jewish meat.

So, what is the meat of the Chrsitians? If a Christian is making the sale, does that make the meat halal? If a Christian is the owner of the supermarket, does that make the meat halal? If the country is populated by mostly Christians, does that make all supermarkets meat halal? If the slaughterhouse owner is Christian, does that make the meat halal? If the worker in the slaughterhouse is Christian, does that make the meat halal? Of course not, because the meat is not a Christian meat that is sold in the supermarkets. It is from undeclared authority, and faith, which means it was prepared without any intention of it to be a Christian meat. USA is not a Christian country. Supermarkets are not Christian markets. Owners may or may not be Christian. Slaughterer may or may not be Christians. Worker may or may not be Christians. So, what differentiate that meat from meat sold in hindu markets in Orlando. Nothing! So, what is the foundation of calling it Christian meat? If one can not call it Christian meat, then it is prohibited, as agree upon.

After this point is clarified about undeclared nature of the meat in supermarkets, some argue that the Prophet (PBUH) allowed a group of Muslims to eat a meat about which they were not sure. This hadith is in Sahih Bukhari, and following is the english translation.

Aa’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated “that some people said to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that a people come to them with meat which they do not know whether they have mentioned the name of Allah upon it or not. The Prophet replied “Mention the name of Allah upon it and eat it.” ( Sahih Bukhari Book of Hunting and Slaguthering #415)

So, the claim is that the people were doubtful about the meat, and the Prophet(PBUH) told them to just eat it. When this is read in english as above, it does seems like a general allowance, but if one opens the original book compiled by Muhammad ibn Ismail Al Bukhair himself, there is more context to this hadith. Title given by the compiler of this hadith is “Baab Zabihaht-ul-A’raab wa Nahwihim” meaning “Chapter of slaughter of Bedouins (new Muslim) and (the rulings) towards it”. What this tells us that the group that provided the meat were new Muslims who may have forgotten to say Allah’s name when slaughtering, but their intention was to slaughter according to their religion, which means that the companions of the Messenger had no doubt that the meat is from a Muslim, but they had a doubt about accuracy of the slaughter. Moreover, the assumption was that the meat is from a Muslim and is permitted. Prophet (PBUH) told them to not question these new Muslims about it and just say Allah’s name and eat it. So, it is clear that the meat was known to be from a halal source to begin with and the Prophet(PBUH) was not addressing the question of the doubt of the source of the meat.

Hence, this hadith does not provide evidence to ignore the source of the meat whether it is from a Muslim, people of the book, or from Atheist, and cannot be used to permit meat from the supermarket in USA, since the source of the meat is undeclared or unknown to begin with. A Christian has to present the meat to us as slaughtered according to Christianity for it to be halal, but all meat sold in USA cannot be considered Christian meat or meat from the people of the book.

On the other hand, there are confirmed source of Jewish meat that can be permitted with this hadith, because some Jews may not follow the correct method, but if one does not have enough information, they are allowed to eat it. For example, if presented a kosher option, one may chose that.

On the whole, one cannot differentiate between Atheist meat, Christian meat or Hindu meat in USA, and permitting any meat within USA on the basis that it is a land of Christians, or owned by Christians, or severed by Christians is not acceptable.

If a person reading this article is a true believer, and will abandon for the sake of Allah if the truth comes forward, I urge them to stop buying from supermarkets in USA, as it is not the meat from the “people of the book”, even if you relax the understanding of ibn Abbas, whose understanding of Quran was second only to the Prophet (PBUH).

There are Zabihah Halal markets all over the USA now, and the similar meat is available there. So, please buy from that source, which is “tayyib” (pure).

If someone has another evidence that makes the meat permissible, please provide it, so it can be reviewed.

And Allah Knows best.

4 Responses to “Is Meat in the supermarket of USA HALAL”

  1. Fawad Says:

    I beg to differ on the main premise that their is a specific method of slaughter. There are several ayats in the Quran that specifically point out what is forbidden. It is forbidden to eat meat that on which someone elses name is said like on altars. Please read 6:145 and pay attention to 6:138. See also 2:173, 5:3, 5:4 (note that this aya say pronounce the name of Allah before eating but Ahadith change this to pronounce the name before releasing your hunting animal). Then 16:115.
    Hajj is an exception as given in 22:36.
    The reason most muslims believe that we have to pronounce the name of Allah ast the time of slaughter comes from 6:121. This is a makki surah and one must read 6:118,119 &120 to understand thr context. And then read 6:138.
    I beg to disagree with most scholars on this topic. I don’t think it is required to pronounce name of Allah ast time of slaughter but one should recite his name before eating food.

  2. Jamil Khatri Says:

    I have read and studied this topic over last few years. I have thought about it a lot. I agree with Fawad above that the method of slaughter that has been prescribed is what is important (and surely beneficial for us and the animal). Meat sold in super markets is not from animals that are found dead, there is no blood in the meat, the animals are not sick as they are carefully chosen, and they are not slaughtered in the name of Obama or Donald Trump. It is extremely important that think of Allah and be grateful before eating anything and a good thing to share with others, muslims or non-muslims.

  3. Kazim Siddiqi Says:

    The comments made by Fawad and Jamil are great examples of ignorance. Muslims today believe that “they got it right, and all the muslims from the previous thousand years don’t know shit”. Stop lying to yourselves, stop being lazy, pick up a knife and sacrifice IN THE NAME OF ALLAH. If anything, these two aren’t even Muslim and just posted the message with Muslim names.

  4. Wallace Naim Says:

    Salaams - thank you for the article. I’ve been researching this topic and your research and the reader’s comments, helps me making my decision. I think we can make arguments for either side. May Allah SWT guide all of us. I’ve been eating from supermarkets and halal places but most supermarkets. I’ve become a lot more God-conscious so it’s an important topic for me in striving to do the right thing. Right now, I’m not eating meat that isn’t halal and praying over all food. My thinking is that it’s a gray topic and Allah SWT reveals to us to stay away from the gray. May Allah SWT grant us knowledge and understanding. Salaams

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