Eating Non-Halal Meat in the UK
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Eating Non-Halal Meat in the UK

Questioner

Khalid

Reply Date

Feb 06, 2017

Question

What shall I do if there is no halal meat available in the city where I live? Can I eat non-halal meat? I live in Somerset, UK and there is no halal meat in my area. What are the Islamic rules for eating meat in a non-Muslim country like the UK, keeping in mind that they slaughter animals by stunning them with electricity to make them unconscious, and then they are shot in the head. I am not sure whether they provide water to the animal before slaughter or not. What shall I do regarding all that? Please help, as I am really confused.

Mufti

Answer


Mest

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Thank you for your question. In the first place, we would like to let you know that originally you should try your best to seek a halal store, and you will find that there are some stores which provide high quality halal meat. If you have a deep freezer, you might purchase large quantities at one time from a distant shop so that you would have to travel there only a few times a year. You can contact the nearest Islamic center in this regard and they will surely guide you.

Here, we would like to stress that “Allah tells us in the Qur’an that we may eat of the good food of Christians and Jews. Therefore, unless there is a specific reason for the prohibition of a particular type of food prepared by such people, it is permissible to eat it.

In the case of Jews, they slaughter animals in the same way as we do. Christians, especially in Western Europe and America, have adopted different methods of slaughter. Scholars have different opinions on whether such meat is permissible for Muslims to eat. However, in such a matter there is no harm in choosing the easier option, since it is supported by sound arguments advanced by learned scholars.

A Muslim living in a non-Muslim country where the majority of the people are People of the Book (such as the UK) needs to familiarize himself with the methods of slaughter prevailing in that country. If he determines that the animals killed for eating are not dead before they are finally slaughtered (i.e., before the throat is cut), he may eat their meat after mentioning the Name of Allah. If he finds out that the stunning operation that is normally adopted in many of these countries actually kills the animal, he should not eat its meat.

In most cases, the large animals, such as sheep, cattle, etc. are only stunned by electric shock, which affects them for a short period while they are slaughtered. This is done in order to make the slaughter painless. That is acceptable from the Islamic point of view.”

Excerpted with modifications from www.islamicity.com

Responding to the question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states the following,

The question of meat slaughtered by the People of the Book has been a controversial issue among Muslim scholars. The vast majority of scholars from all of the four schools consider it permissible for us. They base this on the clear statement of the Qur’an: “Today, I have permitted for you all good things, and the food of the People of the Book is permissible for you, and your food is permissible for them.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:5)

According to Ibn `Abbas, the food of the People of the Book mentioned in the above verse refers to the meat slaughtered by them.

Based on this, the majority of scholars belonging to the four schools of thought consider it permissible for Muslims to eat animals slaughtered by the Christians and Jews so long as these animals are considered lawful for us to eat.

If you fall in this category of those who live among the People of the Book, then you may eat their meat, especially if you cannot find meat slaughtered by Muslims.

As for stunning the animal, it does not make the animal dead, for it is intended only to knock the animal unconscious so that it does not feel pain and it is brought under control. This itself does not render the animal impure and unlawful unless it is dead before slaughter.

My own experience with the slaughterhouses is that they do not make use of animals that are already dead before slaughter. Inspectors, who are appointed by the government (in countries such as Canada), do make sure that this is not the case.

As far as the wisdom of stunning is concerned, it is really in conformity with the wisdom established in the Prophetic hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Allah has prescribed excellence and compassion in all things, so when you kill, kill well; when you slaughter, slaughter well, and let him sharpen his knife and spare the animal pain.”

 In conclusion, we are definitely allowed to partake of such meat, especially if we do not find meat provided by Muslims.

Allah Almighty knows best.




About Sheikh Ahmad Kutty

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a Senior Lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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