Eating the Meat of the People of the Book

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: Since in our countries (South America) is very problematic to get halal meat, and where even halal meat is of dubious provenance, is it lawful to eat the meat obtained from the people of the Book? And if so, how does this apply to meat is feasible to get in our countries, which mostly comes from slaughterhouses, making impossible to know who slaughtered the animal, much less whether it was invoked the name of God to do so under the Christian or Jewish rites.

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

It is only permitted to eat the meat of the People of the Book (ahl al-kitab), namely the Jews and Christians if there is a proper slaughtering. The conditions for a proper slaughtering are:

a. The one slaughtering be a Muslim, Jew, or a Christian.
b. That the name of God be consciously uttered when the slaughter takes place.
c. That the animal be slaughtered at its throat.
d. That atleast three of the four main veins of the throat be cut with a sharp object, such as a knife.

[Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Abu Bakr al-Razi, Tuhfat al-Muluk]

If one can ascertain that the above conditions are being met, it would be permitted to eat such meat. If unable to, then one should avoid and veer on the side of caution. The ruling given in our times is that kosher meat is generally permissible to eat whereas Christian meat is not.

One thing to recall is that eating meat for most of us is a luxury and not a necessity and the health benefits of avoiding its excessive consumption are well known. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his Companions (Allah be well pleased with them) were known to eat meat rarely and scarcely.

However, at the same time, the scenario you mention indicates the need for Muslims to work towards building a “halal industry” within their respective communities, with the assistance of scholars, local businessmen, and so forth. This may not be an easy task in the world we currently live in but with with some effort and tact results are bound to manifest, beginning with smaller projects, such as local slaughter houses, and then building from there.

Wassalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani