Q. Is eating meat from the people of the book permitted? Are there Christian rules and regulations in slaughtering animals? Can I eat meat that is certified Kosher?
A. As mentioned in the Holy Quran, the slaughtered animals and birds of the people of the Book is permissible for Muslims to eat. However, this allowance is given when they fulfill the conditions which have been given to them in their Holy Scriptures. This permission has been given to the Muslims since in the matter of slaughtering, the rules are the same for both religions. Hence, they are also required to call/say the name of Allah, (God Almighty) at the time of slaughter, the blood must drain properly from the animals, the veins to be cut should be the jugular veins, (and three of the four vessels of the throat must be cut). In addition, the animals or birds must be those which are halaal for Muslims to consume. It is also essential that the slaughterer must be from the people of the Book or a Muslim. The slaughtering of an unbeliever, pagan, fire worshipper or one who does not follow a religion will not be accepted. According to great scholars from among the Sahabahs (Companions of the Prophet S.A) the above mentioned conditions which were given in Islam were the same which were given to the people of the Book, hence, the allowance for consuming their meat was given. Howbeit, if/when it is known that these conditions are not fulfilled by the Christians, then it becomes haraam (unlawful) to consume their meat.
At present, based on our investigation and that of many other Islamic Scholars, Christians generally do not follow their religious guidelines in the matter of slaughtering. They eat from any and every place without asking or finding out about the meat which is served to them. It is also very clear that most Christians do not follow the teachings of their Holy book at present. Therefore it will be totally wrong to assume that the meat sold in a Christian country was actually slaughtered by a Christian or Jew. No one in the grocery can tell you this nor is anyone concerned about who slaughtered it. In fact, in todays world the mode of mechanical slaughtering is done in almost all non Muslim processing plants. In this case there is absolutely no Christian, Jew or Muslim slaughterer. Furthermore, if it is known that the slaughterman was a Christian, how would the Muslim know if he followed the guidelines of his scriptures or not. Therefore, Muslims should not purchase meat until it is known that it is halaal.
With respect to Kosher, our investigation, as well as many Halaal Certifying bodies show that the Jewish slaughterman does not call the name of God on every bird (chicken) or animal, which is an essential requirement in Islam. As such, Kosher certified meat would not be halaal (lawful) for Muslims.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan