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Should the name of God be taken at the time of slaughter?

Is it important that the name of Allah be said at the time of slaughtering an animal or before consumption of the meat?
You cannot be sure that the meat that you do get is not haram. Assuming the above mentioned argument to be valid, you go to a restaurant and order something, say a steak. Obviously, it will be grilled. You would not know whether some pork was prepared on the same grill earlier, whereby making your halal meat haram.
One condition of the argument states the Ahle-Kitab as a prerequisite. How can you be sure of that? For all you know, it could be a non Ahle-Kitab butcher. Also, whoever said that butchers had to be humans. This one sounds weird but there is also a technique of slaughtering where the cow is led into a stirrup and since its head is in a certain fixed position, relative to the slaughter machine, a pneumatic hammer smashes its head in one blow, thereby causing death. This technique incidentally is one of the leading causes of mad cow disease in humans and therefore, might have been banned (I mentioned this to illustrate a point).
Muslims are only allowed to eat herbivore animals. No carnivores or omnivores are allowed, at all. How does this law apply? In a lot of developed countries, there is a very prominent tendency to cannibalize the un-economical bits of slaughtered animals (bones, intestines, stomach, liver, etc.) by using them to make feed for other animals. The theory is that they are a cheap source of protein, which makes the second generation animals grow healthier at a cheaper price. (This, incidentally, is again another reason for the mad cow disease). Would this not make the secondnd generation animals omnivores…?
Could you please comment on all the intricacies mentioned above.


The view you have referred to (in your first sentence), also to be found in ‘Our Dialogue’, is a popular view amongst the Arabs. The famous scholar Dr. Qardawi has also mentioned it. My understanding is that the view that you can eat the food of Ahle-Kitab whether they have slaughtered the animal by pronouncing Allah’s name or not at the time of slaughtering is seriously mistaken. The verse of the the Quran they have missed is 6:121, which says:
And do not eat of that on which Allah’s name has not been pronounced, for surely that is transgression.
Pronouncing Allah’s name has to be done while the animal is being slaughtered. Doing so at the time of eating would make no sense, since the animal would already have been killed illegitimately, from the Islamic point of view. If an animal is haram, whether like pig it is haram in its very nature, or whether because it has not been slaughtered with Allah’s name pronounced on it, a later bismillah cannot correct that wrong.
Also, regarding your example, let’s clearly distinguish between two things: what is clearly forbidden and what is a requirement of caution. What you are mentioning is an additional requirement of being careful. However, haram are only the edibles that have been declared haram in the Quran and Sunnah and which include animals that have been slaughtered without pronouncing Allah’s name. As for a cautious approach, inform the other Muslim about your view and let him decide.
As far as the condition of Ahle-Kitab is concerned, it doesn’t imply that if a person belongs to a third category and yet pronounces the name of Allah while slaughtering the animal, the meat is not going to be halal. Jews and Christians were the religious people who were present in Arabia at the time of revelation of the Quran. The important thing, therefore, is that whoever kills a halal animal and pronouncing Allah’s name while doing so, renders the meat of that animal, halal for the Muslim to eat.
As for slaughtering of animals in the specified manner, I believe the following statement in an article published in ‘Renaissance’ of February 2002 is useful to clarify the point:
The first thing in this explanation concerns (maytah: the dead). In this regard, a question could have arisen in the minds of some people: Should an animal which died some sort of an accidental death also be classified as a (maytah) just like an animal which dies a natural death is classified so? The Qur’an answered this question by saying that there is no difference between the two: both are forms of (maytah). Similarly, the Qur’an clarified that an animal killed by a wild beast is also a (maytah), except if it is found alive and then slaughtered in the ceremonial way (Dhibh):
Forbidden to you [for food] are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which Allah’s Name has not been invoked while slaughtering, and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns – and that which has been eaten by a wild animal – unless you are able to slaughter it [before its death]. (5:3)
It is obvious that a piece of flesh cut from a live animal should also be classified as (maytah). Abu Waqid narrates that when the Prophet (sws) migrated to Madinah, among the practices of its people was to slice off the humps of camels and the fatty tails of rams. He is reported to have said:
Any piece cut from a living animal is maytah. (Abu Da’ud: No. 2858)
It needs to be kept in mind that like other words, the word (maytah) is used in the above mentioned directives according to its usage in the Arabic language. No doubt, it has a literal meaning; however, its usage in the Arabic language does not include all the dead, as is the case with its Urdu usage. In such a case, it becomes confined to a certain specific meaning, and anyone who is aware of this intricacy, for example, will never include dead fish or dead locust in its connotation. Imam Zamakhshari writes:
The word (maytah) mentioned in the Qur’an must be understood according to its linguistic usage. Is not the case that when someone says that he has eaten maytah, we never include a fish or a locust in its connotation. This is similar to the fact that if a person says that he has drunk blood we never include liver or spleen in its connotation. Precisely because of such usage, jurists say that if a person swears that he will never eat meat and then he consumes fish, this will not break his oath although in reality he has eaten meat. The Prophet (sws), on these very grounds, is reported to have said:
Two [type of] dead and two [forms of] blood are not forbidden for you: The former being fish and locust and the latter being liver and spleen. (Ibn Majah: No. 2314)
Owing to similar reasons, about sea water, the Prophet (sws) is ascribed to have said:
Its water is pure and its maytah are not forbidden. (Nisa’i: No. 59)
In other words, the above quoted words of the Prophet (sws) also pertain to dead fish and certain other similar things which cannot be regarded as (maytah) as far as the usage of the word is concerned but which are (maytah) in the literal sense of the word. It is evident from 3:5 (quoted above) that the explanation of the word (maytah) and the words (illa ma dhakkaytum: except if you slaughter it in the prescribed way) after (wa ma akala al-sabu‘u: what has been eaten by a wild animal) that the only form of death that does not make an animal (maytah) is (tadhkiyah). Tadhkiyah is a Sunnah established by the Prophets of Allah and as a term means to slaughter an animal in such way that it drains out all the blood in the animal’s body and the animal dies because of this very reason. It is only this method of killing an animal which cleanses its meat from the impurity of blood.
The correct methodology for (tadhkiyah) is (dhibh) or (nahr). (dhibh) specifically concerns the cow, goat and similar animals, while (nahr) specifically relates to the camel and animals similar to it. (dhibh) means to cut the throat of the animal such that the gullet and the throat is slit open or to cut the throat and the jugular veins. (nahr) means to pierce the throat of the animal with a sharp edged weapon like a spear so that blood bursts out from the cut and the animal dies because of blood loss.
If it is not possible to adopt the above outlined prescribed methods of slaughter, then the Prophet (sws) has directed the believers to inflict a cut on the throat of the animal such that all the blood is able to drain away from that wound:
Adi Ibn Hatim says: O Messenger of Allah is it okay to slaughter a prey with a stone or a piece of wood if the prey is at hand and we do not have a knife to slaughter it. He replied: ‘Drain out the blood with whatever you have and take the name of Allah on it’. (Abu Da’ud: No. 2824)
Do go through the relevant article in “Renaissance” of Febraury 2002. The address is http://www.Renaissance.com.pk.
Lastly, my opinion on the question of the nature of animals is very personal. I believe the animals that are in the category of ‘herbivore animals’ are going to remain herbivore despite the information provided above. If man has tricked herbivores to adopt some of the traits of omnivores or carnivores, they change their basic nature as a result. A goat would remain a goat even if you cleverly make it eat something that it is naturally born to consume. However, I would object to a discerning Muslim to distinguish animals on that basis as well. But I believe the common Muslim should be soared from being forced into he higher levels of Taqwa when he himself is not choosing to go for it.