The Halal And The Haram In Islam, Fatwa by Dr. Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi

Yusuf Al-Qardawi died on September 26, 2022; he is one of the best-known and most important contemporary Muslim clerics. He is widely read and heeded throughout the Muslim world. This article discusses al-Qaradawi’s thoughts, influence, style of leadership, and where he stands on the spectrum of Islamist political thought and activity. Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the co-founder and president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. He has his Arabic-language website and supervises the popular site (bilingual English/Arabic).
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Islam Permits What Is Wholesome

Allah addressed all human beings saying, O mankind! Eat of what is permissible and good on earth, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan; truly he is an open adversary to you. (2:168)

and O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be thankful to Allah if it is He alone whom you worship. Indeed, what He has forbidden to you is the flesh of dead animals and blood and the flesh of swine, and that which has been sacrificed to anyone other than Allah. But if one is compelled by necessity, neither craving (it) nor transgressing, there is no sin on him; indeed, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (2:172-173)

and Say: I do not find in what is revealed to me anything prohibited to an eater in his food unless it be (the flesh of) that which is dead, or flowing blood, or the flesh of swine, for that is indeed foul, or the abomination which has been dedicated to anyone other than Allah. But if one is compelled by necessity, neither craving (it) nor transgressing, then, indeed, thy Lord is Forgiving, Merciful. (6:145)

and Forbidden to you are the flesh of dead animals and blood and the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to any other than Allah, and that which has been killed by strangling or by beating or by falling or by being gored, and that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild beast except that which you make lawful by slaughtering (before its death), and that which has been sacrificed to idols…. (5:4 (5:3)).

A summary of the prohibited

– Eating What Is Dead

– Flowing Blood – flowing or liquid blood. It is not prohibited to eat the blood which remains in the flesh of the slaughtered animal after one has done his best to remove it. (Trans.)) Ibn Abbas was asked about the spleen and he replied, “You can eat it.” The questioners said, “But it is blood.” (In early times the spleen was believed to be congealed blood. (Trans.)) He answered, “Only flowing blood is prohibited to you.” The reason for this prohibition is both that the drinking of blood is repugnant to human decency and that it may likewise be injurious to health.

– Pork

– That Which Is Dedicated to Anyone Other Than Allah

Types of Dead Animals

The preceding are the four principal categories of prohibited animal foods. As revealed in the verse of Surh al-Maidah (5:4 (3)), to these four are added five more categories which pertain to further classifications of the “dead animal,” as follows:

The strangled: an animal which has been strangled, for example, by a rope around its neck, or suffocated, as for instance by putting its head into something which produces suffocation.

The beaten: an animal which has been beaten to death by a club or similar object.

The fallen: an animal which dies as a result of a fall from a high place, or by falling into a gully or ravine.

The gored: an animal which dies as a result of being gored by the horns of another animal.

That which has been (partly) eaten by wild beasts: an animal which has been partially devoured by wild animals and dies as a result.

After naming these five categories, Allah makes an exception of “that which you make lawful by slaughtering,” meaning that if one comes upon such an animal while it is still alive, slaughtering renders it halal as food. The correct understanding of “still alive” is that some sign of life remains in it. ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib said, “If you can slaughter the beaten, the fallen or the gored animal while it (still) moves its hoof or leg, you may eat it.”

The Exemption of Sea Food and Locusts

The Islamic Shari’ah has exempted fish, whales, and other sea creatures from the category of “dead animals.” When the Prophet (peace be on him) was asked about the sea, he replied, Its water is pure and its dead are halal. (Reported by Ahmad and other compilers of the Sunnah.)

Says Allah Ta’ala: The game of the sea is permitted to you and so is its food…. (5:99 (96)) and ‘Umar explained, “Its game is what is caught from it and its food is what is thrown out from it,” while Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Its food is its dead (animals).”

In the two Sahihs of al-Bukhari and Muslim, it is reported on the authority of Jabir that the Prophet (peace be on him) once sent some of his Companions on an expedition. They found a dead whale by the sea and subsisted on it for more than twenty days. On their return to Madinah, they told the Prophet (peace be on him) about this and he said, Eat the food which Allah has brought forth for you, and feed us from it if you have any left. They then brought him some whale meat and he ate it. (Reported by al-Bukhari.)

By the same token, locusts are exempted from the category of “dead animals.” The Prophet (peace be on him) gave permission to eat dead locusts, as the question of slaughtering them does not arise. Said Ibn Abu Awfa, “We went with the Prophet (peace be on him) on seven expeditions, and we ate locusts with him.” (Reported by all the authentic collections of ahadith excepting that of Ibn Majah.)

Making Use of the Skin, Bones and Hair of the Animal

The prohibition concerning the dead animal is limited to the eating of its flesh. One can—in fact, one should—make use of its skin, horns, bones and hair, for throwing them away is a waste, and waste is not permitted. Concerning this, Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: The freed maid-servant of the Prophet’s wife, Maymunah, was given a sheep, and it died. The Prophet (peace be on him) passed by its carcass and said, ‘Why did you not take its skin to be tanned and use it?’ They replied, ‘But it is deed.’ The Prophet (peace be on him) said, ‘What is prohibited is eating it.’ (Reported in all the authentic collections of ahadith excepting that of Ibn Majah)

The Prophet (peace be on him) made it clear that the way to purify the skin of a dead animal is to tan it. He is reported to have said, “The tanning of the skin is its slaughtering,” (Reported by Abu Daoud and al-Nisai) meaning that just as slaughtering makes the eating of the flesh of a sheep or cow halal, likewise tanning makes the use of the skin halal. He also said, “Tanning removes its impurity,” (Reported by al-Hakim.)

And “If the skin is tanned, it is purified.” (Reported by Muslim and others.)

The application of these latter ahadith is quite general, including the skin of the dog or the pig. This was the opinion of the jurists of the Zahiri school, of Abu Yusuf, the pupil of Abu Hanifah, and of al-Shawkani. Sawdah, the wife of the Prophet (peace be on him), said “One of our sheep died, so we tanned its skin and used it as a waterskin, putting dates in it to sweeten the water. We used it until it wore out.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and others.)

Necessity Dictates Exceptions

All the above-mentioned prohibitions apply in situations in which one has a choice. However, in case of a necessity a different rule applies, as was discussed earlier. Allah Ta’ala says: …He has explained to you what He has made haram for you, except that to which you are compelled… (6:119)
And after mentioning the prohibitions concerning the flesh of dead animals, blood, and so, He says: …but if one is compelled by necessity, neither craving (it) nor transgressing, there is no sin on him; indeed, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (2:172-173)
The consensus of the jurists is that necessity in this case signifies the need for food to alleviate hunger when no food other than the prohibited food is available, some jurists holding the opinion that at least one day and one night should pass without food. In such a situation a person may eat as much will satisfy his hunger and thus save himself from death. Said Imam Malik, “The amount of it is what will alleviate his hunger, and he should not eat more than what will keep him alive.” This, perhaps, is the meaning of Allah’s words, “neither craving (it) nor transgressing,”—that is, neither desiring it nor eating more than necessary. That hunger can be a compelling need is expressly mentioned in the Qur’anic ayah: …but if one is compelled by hunger, without any inclination to sin, then indeed Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (5:4 (3))

All Marine Animals Are Halal

Depending on their habitats, animals are of two kinds: either marine or terrestrial. Marine animals, that is, those that live in water and cannot survive outside it, are all halal. It does not matter in what way they are obtained: whether they are taken out of the water dead or alive, whole or in pieces, whether they are fish or marine animals, whether they are called sea dogs or sea hogs, or whether they are caught by a Muslim or a non-Muslim. The Most Generous Lord has opened wide His bounty upon His servants by permitting them to eat all marine animals without the requirement of bleeding; man has been left free to catch them in whatever manner he is able, avoiding any unnecessary cruelty as far as possible.

Reminding us of His favors, Allah Ta’ala says, And it is He Who has subjected the sea (to you) in order that you may eat fresh meat from it…. (16:14)
The game of the sea is permitted to you and so is its food, a provision for you and for travelers by sea…. (5:99 (96))
Praise be to Him for not having excluded anything, for Thy Lord is not forgetful. (19:64)

The Conditions of Islamic Slaughtering

– The animal should be slaughtered by a sharp object

– The slaughtering is to be done by cutting the throat of the animal or by piercing the hollow of the throat, causing its death.

– No name other than Allah’s should be mentioned over the animal at the time of slaughter;

– The name of Allah should be mentioned while slaughtering the animal.

Some scholars are of the opinion that although the name of Allah must be mentioned, it is not necessary to mention it at the time of slaughtering the animal; one can mention it at the time of eating since, in that case, it cannot be held that it was eaten without mentioning the name of Allah over it. In the Sahih of al-Bukhari, we find a hadith narrated by ‘Aisha, who said, Some people who had recently become Muslims said to the Prophet (peace be on him), ‘People bring us meat, and we do not know whether they have mentioned the name of Allah over it or not. Shall we eat of it or not?’ The Prophet (peace be on him) replied, ‘Mention the name of Allah (over it) and eat.”

Animals Slaughtered by the People of the Book

We have seen that Islam emphasizes that the animal must be slaughtered in a prescribed manner. The polytheists of Arabia and other nations had made animal sacrifice an act of worship, or rather an integral part of their belief system and a pillar of their religion, seeking to propitiate their deities by sacrificing animals either at their special altars or by mentioning their names over them. Islam abolished these pagan rites and ordained that no name except that of Allah be mentioned while slaughtering, and it prohibited what was sacrificed at an altar or dedicated to anyone other than Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

Now, although the People of the Book—the Jews and Christians —are essentially believers in one God, some Muslims nevertheless supposed that in matters related to food, the People of the Book were to be treated in the same manner as idolaters. Thereupon, Allah Ta’ala granted special permission to Muslims in the matter of eating with the People of the Book and in the matter of marriage to their women. In Surah al-Maidah, the last surah of the Qur’an to be revealed, Allah says, Today whatever is good is made lawful to you. And the food of those who were given the Scripture (before you) is permitted to you, and your food is permitted to them…. (5:5)

The meaning of these verses is, in brief, that from this day forward all good, pure, and wholesome things are permitted to you Muslims; consequently, there can be no more bahirah, saibah, wasilah, or ham. Since Allah did not prohibit it, the food of the Jews and the Christians is permitted to you on the basis of the original permissibility of things, and likewise, you can share your food with them. Accordingly, you can eat the flesh of the animals they have slaughtered or hunted, and they can eat what you have slaughtered or hunted.

While Islam takes an uncompromising attitude toward polytheists, it is lenient toward the People of the Book, for they are closer to Muslims in their belief in divine revelation, prophethood, and other fundamentals. Islam permits us to eat with them, to marry their women (chaste who are not pagan), and, in general, to have social relations with them. It may be that, by interacting with Muslims in an Islamic environment and observing the beliefs, practices, and characters of Muslims, they may come to realize that Islam is in truth their own religion but with a higher level of spirituality, a more perfect Shari’ah, and books of greater authenticity, (That is, the Holy Qur’an, the books of Ahadith, and the Sirah (biography) of the Prophet. (Trans.)) while also free of the influence of paganism, man-made concepts, and falsehood.

The application of the phrase “the food of those who were given the Scripture” is general and includes their meats, produce, and other foods. All of these are halal for us except what is haram in itself, e.g., the flesh of a dead animal, pork, and flowing blood, as these are haram regardless of whether they are obtained from a Christian, a Jew or a Muslim.

Animals Slaughtered for Churches and Christian Festivals

If one does not hear from a Christian or a Jew that a name other than Allah’s such as that of Jesus or a saint, was mentioned at the time of slaughter, the meat he offers is halal. If, however, he says that a name other than Allah’s has been mentioned, it is haram, according to the opinion of some jurists who argue that it falls under the heading of what has been dedicated to other than Allah. Some others hold the opinion that the food of the People of the Book has been permitted to us by Allah, Who is aware of what they say when slaughtering an animal.

Someone asked Abu al-Darda whether he could eat the flesh of a lamb slaughtered for the Church of St. George, which had been given to him. Abu al-Darda answered, “O Allah, may You pardon us! Are they not the People of the Book, whose food is halal for us and ours for them? He then told the person to eat it. (Reported by al-Tabari.)

Imam Malik was once asked about eating the flesh of animals slaughtered for Christian festivals and churches. He replied, I classify it as makruh but not haram: makruh because I am afraid it may have been dedicated to someone other than Allah but not haram because perhaps, with respect to the People of the Book, the meaning of the phrase, ‘that which has been dedicated to any other than Allah,’ applies only to those animals which they slaughter for the purpose of seeking the pleasure of their deities (This may refer to Jesus, Mary, or to other saints. (Trans.)) and not to eat. As for what they slaughter to eat, it is their food, and Allah says, ‘The food of those who were given the Scripture is permitted to you.’ (This ruling by Imam Malik demonstrates his humility, piety, and caution in religion. He did not rush to the conclusion that it was haram, as some jurists do today but confined himself to stating that it was makruh. As we can see, faced with the problem of reconciling two conflicting general categories, that which is dedicated to anyone other than Allah and the permissibility of the food of the People of the Book, he exercised caution and deliberation.) (5:6 (7))

A Rule: What We Do Not See Should Not Be Probed Into

It is not required of the Muslim to inquire about what he has not witnessed, i.e., How was the animal killed? Did the manner of 6laughter meet the Islamic conditions? Was the name of Allah mentioned while slaughtering or not? If the animal was slaughtered by a Muslim, even if he is ignorant or sinful, or by someone from among the People of the Book, eating it is halal for us.

We have already narrated a hadith in which it wasaid to the Prophet (peace be on him): “People bring us meat and we do not know whether they have mentioned the name of Allah over it or not. Shall we eat it or not?” and the Prophet (peace be on him) replied, “Mention the name of Allah (over it) and eat.”

Concerning the application of this hadith, scholars say this is proof that people’s actions and practices are ordinarily considered correct and appropriate, while deviation or error must be proved.

And Allah knows best.

Commentary on this book by Dr Shabir Ally




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