Should UK restaurants offer more ‘halal’?


So, what exactly is ‘Halal’? ‘Halal’ is an umbrella Arabic term meaning ‘permissible for Muslims’. This post is about food and specifically, meat.


There are currently around 2.8 million Muslims in the UK (according to an article in The Independent newspaper last year). This means there is a significant demand for ‘halal meat’.


Almost all Muslims know that meat has to be sacrificed in a certain way in order to become halal. This usually entails the mentioning of Allah’s name and cutting the animal’s throat – allowing the blood to drain.


What many Muslims don’t realise is that Jewish and Christian meat is just as halal. Yes, you read that right. It is in the Quran – in black and white.

In Surah Al Ma’idah, verse 5,


الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَـتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ وَالْمُحْصَنَـتُ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَـتُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذِى أَخْدَانٍ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالإِيمَـنِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ وَهُوَ فِى الاٌّخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَـسِرِينَ


Made lawful to you this day are At-Tayyibat. The food of the People of the Scripture is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them. (Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture before your time when you have given them their due, desiring chastity, not illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girlfriends (or lovers). And whosoever rejects faith, then fruitless is his work; and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.


I can hear the arguments….‘But, the Jews and Christians don’t say ‘Bismillah’ (In the name of Allah)!’, ‘But, they shock the animal! (By the way, most Muslim meat is also stunned according to the FSA), ‘But, that only applies to a specific kind of Jew or Christian!’, But, surely this is only if there is no real halal meat available?’ and so on. A million rebuttals.


But, (oops, my turn, now) you simply cannot argue against the word of God.

Furthermore, there is a clear narration concerning this issue.


حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ ثَابِتٍ الْمَرْوَزِيُّ، حَدَّثَنِي عَلِيُّ بْنُ حُسَيْنٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ يَزِيدَ النَّحْوِيِّ، عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ { فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ } { وَلاَ تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ } فَنُسِخَ وَاسْتَثْنَى مِنْ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ { وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَهُمْ .

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
The verse: “So eat of (meats) on which Allah’s name hath been pronounced” and the verse: “Eat not of (meats) on which Allah’s name hath not been pronounced” were abrogated, meaning an exception was made therein by the verse: “The food of the people of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them.” (Hasan, from Abu Dawud)


This is evidence against those who claim Muslims must not eat Jewish and Christian meat because it has not had the Name of Allah mentioned upon it.


Interestingly, the Quran also has this verse about meat, again in Surah Al Ma’idah.


حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالْدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَآ أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَآ أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلاَّ مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَنْ تَسْتَقْسِمُواْ بِالاٌّزْلاَمِ ذَلِكُمْ فِسْقٌ الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الأِسْلاَمَ دِيناً فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ فِى مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لإِثْمٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

5:3. Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maytah (the dead animals), blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than Allah, and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns ـand that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal ـunless you are able to slaughter it (before its death) – and that which is sacrificed (slaughtered) on An-Nusub (stone altars). (Forbidden) also is to make decisions with Al-Azlam (arrows) (all) that is Fisq (disobedience and sin). This day, those who disbelieved have given up all hope of your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclination to sin (such can eat these above mentioned animals), then surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)


Now, some ‘scholars’ argue ‘unless you are able to slaughter it’ applies not only to animals attacked by other animals but to all meat. This is completely nonsensical and plucking the words of Allah out of context leads to both innovation and misguidance. Indeed it has already done so, resulting in so many Muslims being confused, following the religion of a ‘scholar’ instead of Islam and at the extreme, leaving the religion altogether.


You may have noticed that sandwiched between the verses about meat is the statement that Allah has ‘perfected’ or completed the religion for us. This means that Muslims, be they ‘scholars’ or those deeply embedded in their ethnic culture should not be trying to change and add to it.


Now, for some, the issue is not only about the name of Allah being used upon slaughter but also the process of slaughtering. They are pedantic about how it is all carried out.


However, if we look again to the evidence, we understand that as Muslims, we are also permitted to eat that which has been caught by hounds, birds of prey or shot down by arrows. Of course, sea food is also not slaughtered.


﴿يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَآ أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَـتُ وَمَا عَلَّمْتُمْ مِّنَ الْجَوَارِحِ مُكَلِّبِينَ تُعَلِّمُونَهُنَّ مِمَّا عَلَّمَكُمُ اللَّهُ فَكُلُواْ مِمَّآ أَمْسَكْنَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَاذْكُرُواْ اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

(5:4. They ask you what is lawful for them. Say: “Lawful unto you are At-Tayyibat (the good things). And those Jawarih (beasts and birds of prey) which you have trained as hounds, training and teaching them (to catch) in the manner as directed to you by Allah; so eat of what they catch for you, but pronounce the Name of Allah over it, and have Taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is swift in reckoning.”)


The Prophet also said,


«وَإِذَا أَرْسَلْتَ كَلْبَكَ فَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ اللهِ، فَإِنْ أَمْسَكَ عَلَيْكَ، فَأَدْرَكْتَهُ حَيًّا فَاذْبَحُهُ، وَإِنْ أَدْرَكْتَهُ قَدْ قَتَلَ وَلَمْ يَأْكُلْ مِنْهُ فَكُلْهُ، فَإِنَّ أَخْذَ الْكَلْبِ ذَكَاتُه»

(If you send your hunting dog, then mention Allah’s Name and whatever it catches for you and you find alive, slaughter it. If you catch the game dead and the dog did not eat from it, then eat from it, for the dog has caused its slaughter to be fulfilled.

….and it is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Tha`labah related that the Prophet said,


«إِذَا أَرْسَلْتَ كَلْبَكَ فَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ اللهِ، وَإِذَا رَمَيْتَ بِسَهْمِكَ فَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ الله»

(If you send your hunting dog, mention Allah’s Name over it. If you shoot an arrow, mention Allah’s Name over it.)


People are somewhat obsessed with the slaughtering process. These ahadith clearly show that this obsession is wrongly placed and there are other clear ahadith stating the same message. Go ahead and search for them.


So, to summarise, Jewish and Christian meat does not have to have the Name of Allah mentioned at the time of slaughter, nor do they need to adhere to Muslim processes of slaughtering. Allah, having full knowledge of Jews and Christians (like with all things, past, present and future) said it is permissible. It is indeed halal and there, the matter ends.


I believe the confusion around this issue, like many others, is the direct cause of Muslims following the Muslim clergy. Every ‘scholar’ has an opinion. A religion of God mutates into something ugly when what we are really following is based upon human opinions. Humans who change their minds, make mistakes, misunderstand and inadvertently mislead.


So, ask yourself this – Whose religion are you following? Will your ‘scholar’ intercede for you before your Lord? Will they take moral responsibility for you going against the laws of Allah? The Quran states they won’t.


﴿وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعَذَابِ – إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ وَرَأَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الاٌّسْبَابُ – وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ لَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَتَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُمْ كَمَا تَبَرَّءُواْ مِنَّا كَذَلِكَ يُرِيهِمُ اللَّهُ أَعْمَـلَهُمْ حَسَرَتٍ عَلَيْهِمْ وَمَا هُم بِخَـرِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ ﴾

2:65. ‘And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment.) (166. When those who were followed disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them), and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them). (167. And those who followed will say: “If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us. Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire.’


Starting today, let us take responsibility for ourselves, our morality and our knowledge of Allah’s laws. It will take hard work and struggle to unpick all the incorrect information you have already taken in, implemented and lived upon but every journey starts with a small step and before you know it, you will be climbing mountains!