Is Saying the Basmala Obligatory When Slaughtering? Clarification of the True Shafi’i Opinion

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by has received many inquiries from Shafi’is around the globe asking whether or not it is permissible to eat the slaughtered [or hunted] meat that does not have the name of Allah, tasmiyah, mentioned over it at the time of slaughter. After having consulted many works of our madh-hab, we concluded that the tasmiyah was not obligatory, or a condition, for the validity of slaughtering. However, we were approached with a quote from Shaykh Taqi Usmani’s Ahkam Adh-Dhaba’ih translated as The Islamic Laws of Animal Slaughter and published in English by the noble Sunni-Hanafi group White Thread Press. The selection reads,

“Regarding Imam Shafi’i, the notion has become widespread that he views the mentioning of Allah’s name not as obligatory but only sunna (Qalyubi wa ‘Umayra 4:245), which would imply that a slaughtered animal is lawful even if the slaughterer purposely does no mention Allah’s name. However, a review of Imam Shafi’is book Kitab al-Umm makes it clear that he did not deem lawful an animal over which the slaughterer intentionally abandons mentioning Allah’s name. He merely deemed lawful that over which the slaughterer forgets to mention the name of Allah. His words are as follows:

“When a Muslim sends out his trained hunting dog or bird, I prefer that he mention the name of Allah. But if he forgets to mention Allah’s name and his animal then makes a kill, he may still eat the prey. The reason is that if one forgets to mention Allah’s name when manually slaughtering, he may eat the animal, because a Muslim slaughters in the name of Allah Almighty, even if he forgets to actually utter His name, and because the kill that a Muslim makes with his hunting animal is considered equal to killing the animal by hand-slaughtering it.” (Kitab al-Umm 2:227)

Then, later in the book, Imam Shafi’i sates that if one scornfully abandons mentioning Allah’s name at the time of slaughtering, it is not lawful to eat such a slaughtered animal. Presenting what is unquestionably his view, he writes: “If a Muslim forgets to mention the name of Allah, his slaughtered animal may be eaten, but if he abandons it scornfully*, his slaughtered animal may not be eaten.” (Kitab al-Umm 2:131)

*There are two words used that imply the intentional failure to mention Allah’s name as opposed to forgetting to do so): istikhfaf and tahawun, which I have translated as ‘scornfulness” and “disdain,” respectively. Though I have consistently maintained separate translations for the two words, they are essentially synonymous in this context. (Translator).

So Mawlana Taqi Usmani (May Allah preserve him) claims that if one intentionally slaughters without mentioning Allah’s name, Imam Ash-Shafi’i, and by extension his school, hold that such meat is not permitted to eat. Upon reading this selection we decided to consult Shaykh Taha Karan (may Allah bless him) regarding this issue. He forwarded us a fatwa compiled by one of his pupils and current colleague Mawlana Abdur Rahman Khan. The following is his article, although we were obliged to translate some of the quotes in arabic as Mawlana A. Khan left them untranslated. When we have translated the selection, we will clearly state so. After his fatwa, we have translated a small extraction on this issue from Kifayatul-Akhyar of Imam Taqiy-ud-Din Al-Hisni Al-Husayni.

Intentional omission of the tasmiyah when slaughtering

in response to a query raised by the Halaal Department of Jamiatul ‘Ulama’


The slaughterer falls into one of five categories:

i. He who recites the tasmiyah; thus the dhabīhah is halal by consensus.

ii. He who absentmindedly omits the tasmiyah; the dhabīhah is halal according to the Shāfi‘ī, Hanafī and Malikī schools.

iii. He who intentionally omits the tasmiyah; this is the point of contention by questioner

iv. He who omits the tasmiyah deeming its recitation insignificant (istikhfaf)

v. He who repeatedly omits the tasmiyah intentionally (tahawun)

Since category (i) has received acceptance by all scholars and category (ii) by the majority of scholars, this response addresses categories (iii), (iv) and (v) as it is in these scenarios where the questioner has raised certain contentions. In category (iii), relying on a rather selective quotation from Kitāb al-Umm, the questioner wishes to draw a distinction between ash-Shāfi‘ī and the Shāfi‘ī school. In this regard he says:

“Although conceding that a tasmiyah is not a Fardh Shart (compulsory condition) according to the Shafi Math-hab, we must nevertheless emphasize that according to Imam Shafi the reciting of the Tasmiyah is of absolute importance and is very essential.”

Thus the questioner contends that the recitation of the tasmiyah is a rukn (of absolute importance and very essential) according to Imām ash-Shāfi‘ī while he acknowledges that it is “not a Fardh Shart” according to the Shāfi‘ī school.

In category (iv) and (v) the questioner regards istikhfāf as a corollary of intentional omission, ignoring category (iii), intentional omission without istikhfāf. He further equates istikhfāf to that of tahāwun (constant omission) and concludes that while occasional intentional omission of tasmiyah does not harm the status of the dhabīhah, constant omission does.

An analysis of the texts of al-Imām ash-Shāfi‘ī

It is our belief that a thorough appraisal of Imām Shāfi‘ī’s view vis-à-vis the intentional omission of the tasmiyah when slaughtering requires more than a selective quotation. Thus the forthcoming presents the complete texts of Imām Shāfi‘ī. Thereafter, relevant quotations shall be produced from Shāfi‘ī jurists expounding his view.

قال في الأم: وإذا أرسل الرجل المسلم كلبه أو طائره المعلمين، أحببت له أن يسمي، فإن لم يسم ناسيا فقتل أكل، لأنهما إذا كان قتلهما كالذكاة فهو لو نسي التسمية في الذبيحة أكل، لأن المسلم يذبح على اسم الله عز وجل وإن نسي… اهـ

“[While hunting] when a Muslim sends forth his trained dog or bird, I consider the recital of the tasmiyah mustahab (recommended)1 . Should he forget to recite the tasmiyah and the hunted animal is killed, he will be permitted to eat there from. The reason for this is that the killing of both (the bird and dog) is equated to slaughtering…”

قال في مختصر المزني: وإذا أرسل أحببت له أن يسمي الله تعالى، فإن نسي فلا بأس لأن المسلم يذبح على اسم الله. اهـ

“i.e. [While hunting] when a Muslim sends forth (his trained dog or bird), I consider the recital of the tasmiyah mustahab (recommended).”

A perfunctory reading of the above text informs us that Imām Shāfi‘ī deemed the recitation of the tasmiyah mustahab. A natural conclusion of the tasmiyah being mustahab leads us to consider the dhabīhah of one who intentionally omits the tasmiyah as halal – as how the dhabihah of one who does not send salutations upon the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam will be halal. In light of this categorical ruling of Imām Shāfi‘ī, wAllahu aa‘lam, jurists from all schools, supporters and opponents, held that Imām Shāfi‘ī considers the dhabihah of one who omits the tasmiyah intentionally as halal. Below are a few examples:

قال الماوردي في حاويه: قال الشافعي: وإذا أرسل الكلب أحببت أن يسمي، فإن نسي فلا بأس به، لأن المسلم يذبح على اسم الله تعالى. التسمية على الصيد والذبيحة سنة وليست بواجبة، فإن تركها عامدا أو ناسيا حل أكله. اهـ

Is Saying the Basmala Obligatory When Slaughtering? Clarification of the True Shafi'i Opinion[Click Image to Make Larger]

[Scan Added Translated by team] Imam Al-Mawardi in his Hawi states,

“Ash-Shafi’i says (rahimhullah): ‘[While hunting] when a Muslim sends forth his trained dog I consider the recital of the tasmiyah recommended, and if one forgets to do that then there is no blame in it. That is because the Muslim slaughters upon the name of Allah. The mentioning of the name of Allah upon the hunted animal or the slaughtered animal is Sunnah, and it is not Wajib (obligatory), and if one abandons doing so intentionally or forgetfully, it is Halal to eat the meat.’ And this view was held by Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas and Abu Hurairah. From the [early Fuqaha] who held this view was ‘Ataa’ and Maalik”

قال ابن كثير في تفسيره: والمذهب الثاني في المسألة أنه لا يشترط التسمية، بل هي مستحبة، فإن تركت عمدا أو نسيانا لم تضر، وهذا مذهب الإمام الشافعي. اهـ

[Translated by team] Ibn Kathir states in his Tafsir:

“And the second madh-hab regarding this issue is that it is not a [necessary] condition to recite the name of Allah [at the time of slaughter], rather it is Mustahabb (recommended), and if one abandons doing so intentionally or forgetfully there is no harm done, and this is the madh-hab (legal guild) of Imam Ash-Shafi’i.”

قال النووي في المجموع: (الرابعة) التسمية مستحبة عند الذبح والرمي إلى الصيد وإرسال الكلب ونحوه، فلو تركها عمدا أو سهوا حلت الذبيحة لكن تركها عمدا مكروه على المذهب الصحيح كراهة تنـزيه لا تحريم… اهـ

Imam An-Nawawi states in his Majmu’:

“[The Fourth] The tasmiyah is Mustahabb upon slaughtering, or using a projectile while hunting, or sending forth the dog or the like. And if the tasmiyah is abandoned intentionally or forgetfully the dhabihah (slaughtered meat) is Halal, however, if it is abandoned intentionally it is Makruh (disliked) upon the correct view of the madh-hab, with a suggestive (tanzih) Makruh not with the Makruh of forbiddance (tahrim).”

وقال في موضع آخر: مذهبنا أنها سنة في جميع ذلك فان تركها سهوا أو عمدا حلت الذبيحة ولا إثم عليه. اهـ

He says in another place,

“It is our madh-hab that it [i.e. mentioning the tasmiyah] is Sunnah in all situations, and if it is abadonded forgetfully or intentionally the dhabihah (slaughtered meat) is Halal, and there is no sin regarding it.”

قال الخطيب الشربيني في مغني المحتاج: ولا تجب، فلو تركها عمدا أو سهوا حل. اهـ

Al-Khatib Ash-Shirbini states in his Mughni Al-Muhtaj:

“And it is not obligatory, and if one abandons [the tasmiyah] intentionally or forgetfully it is Halal.”


The terms istikhfāf and istihzā’ are used synonymously in the Shāfi‘ī school. Says Zayn ad-Dīn al-Malibārī in Fath al-Mu‘īn sharh Qurrah al-‘Ayn, commenting on the definition of apostasy:

قال المليباري في قرة العين: (قطع مكلف إسلاما بكفر عزما أو قولا أو فعلا باعتقاد أو عناد أو استهازاء) [قال المليباري في فتح المعين] أي استخفاف.اهـ

Nonetheless, both terms refer to ‘the regarding of religious matters with disdain’. In his Nihāyah, Shams ad-Dīn ar-Ramlī furnishes an example of istihzā’:

قال في المنهاج: (كتاب الردة، هي قطع الإسلام بنية أو قول كفر أو فعل سواء قاله استهزاء) [قال الرملي:] كأن قيل له قص أظفارك فإنه سنة، فقال: لا أفعله وإن كان سنة… (أو عنادا أو اعتقادا)

Imām an-Nawawī says in his Minhāj: “the book of apostasy: [apostasy] refers to the severing of [ties with] Islam with a mere intention, a statement of kufr or an action of kufr. All the same in this regard is whether he makes a kufr statement istihzā’an, (ar-Ramlī says: whereby an individual is addressed: ‘trim your nails as it is a sunnah’ and he replies: “I shall not do so (i.e. trim my nails) even though it is a sunnah”…) or on account of obstinacy or belief.”

Thus, should this be the attitude of the slaughterer whereby he exclaims: “I will not recite the tasmiyah even though it is a sunnah” then he will be guilty of “istikhfaf which is akin to kufr”. To this extent we agree with the questioner. Asserting hereafter that istikhfāf is a corollary of intentional omission is incorrect. A person may intentionally omit the tasmiyah and yet not be guilty of istikhfāf. Assuming otherwise would tantamount to accusing a celibate individual of perpetrating the cardinal sin of istikhfāf. In reality, however, the celibate is one of two: (1) He affirms that marriage is a sunnah, but prefers not to marry and (2) he regards the sunnah of marriage as insignificant and consequently does not marry. The second type of celibate and not the first is guilty of istikhfāf. This detail is clearly spelt out in the words of Ashhab.

Note should be made that the questioner’s quotation from Kitāb al-Umm:

“And if it (the tasmiyah) is omitted istikhfafan (considering it to be non-essential and of slight significance) then the animal thus slaughtered shall not be eaten” are not the words of Imām Shāfi‘ī, but rather that of his interlocutor. Nonetheless, the statement is valid in that the outcome is one and the same, the slaughtered will not be permissible for consumption.

Tahāwun or constant omission of the tasmiyyah

The questioner equates istikhfāf to tahāwun. This conflation, wAllahu aa‘lam, is born out of a misunderstanding. Istikhfāf refers to ‘the regarding of religious matters with disdain’ while tahāwun refers to ‘constant omission’. Nonetheless, since tahāwun is a phenomenon discussed only in the Mālikī school, I shall thus produce the text of Sharh al-Muqaddimah al-Mālikiyyah as how it appears in Tafsīr al-Mazharī:

In the Mālikī school, according to Abū al-Qāsim, intentional omission of the tasmiyah when slaughtering suffices. According to the Mudawwanah [intentional omission] will not suffice. This is the well-known position [of the school]. This [difference of opinion] does not apply to the mutawāhin. Regarding him there is no difference of opinion that his dhabīhah cannot be eaten since it is harām. Ibn Hārith and ibn al-Bashīr have stated this. And the mutahāwin is he who repeatedly [omits the recitation of the tasmiyah].

Of interest to note at this juncture is that difference of opinion with regards to the mutawāhin does exist within the Mālikī school. Says al-Qarafī in adh-Dhakhīrah:

قال أبو طاهر: إن ترك التسمية ناسيا لا يضره ذلك قولا واحدا، أو متواهنا لم تؤكل على اختلاف، أو عامدا فقولان.

An important question at this juncture would be: is it legitimate to pass judgment in the Shāfi‘ī school based on a phenomenon in the Mālikī school?

To this end the present author feels that while nazā’ir (similarities) of tahāwun (constant omission) does exist in the Shāfi‘ī school, there is no need for Shāfi‘ī scholars to ascribe to views of other schools. One such nazīr (singular of nazā’ir) would be the tahāwun or constant omission of the sunnah prayer before magrib. Thousands of Shāfi‘īs world-wide are constantly omitting this sunnah, yet no scholar has ever deemed these individuals as sinful. Yes, should his omission of the prayer come about due to istikhfāf, every scholar will question the foundations of his faith.

Thus, in response to question (1):

If the slaughterers are talking and regard the subject of the conversation more important than tasmiyah, is this not Tahawun?

It has already been stated that tahāwun does not render the dhabīhah haram. As for istikhfāf, the slaughterers will only be guilty of it should they explicitly exclaim: we will not recite the tasmiyah even though it is a sunnah. wAllahu aa‘lam


• The official view of both Imām ash-Shāfi‘ī and his school considers the dhabihah of one who intentionally omits the tasmiyah as halal.

• The dhabihah of one who omits the tasmiyah istikhfāfan is haram.

• Tahāwun with the proffered meaning above will not be equated to istikhfāf in the Shāfi‘ī school. Thus the dhabihah of a Muslim who constantly omits the tasmiyah will be halal.


قال في المجموع: (فرع) في مذاهب العلماء في التسمية على ذبح الأضحية وغيرها من الذبائح وعلى إرسال الكلب والسهم وغيرهما إلى الصيد، مذهبنا أنها سنة في جميع ذلك فان تركها سهوا أو عمدا حلت الذبيحة ولا إثم عليه، قال العبدري: وروي هذا عن ابن عباس وأبي هريرة وعطاء، وقال أبو حنيفة: التسمية شرط للاباحة مع الذكر دون النسيان وهذا مذهب جماهير العلماء، وعن أصحاب مالك قولان، أصحهما: كمذهب أبى حنيفة، والثاني: كمذهبنا، وعن أحمد ثلاث روايات، الصحيحة عندهم والمشهورة عنه أن التسمية شرط للاباحة فان تركها عمدا أو سهوا في صيد فهو ميتة، والثانية: كمذهب أبي حنيفة، والثالثة: إن تركها على إرسال السهم ناسيا أكل وان تركها على الكلب والفهد لم يؤكل، قال: وإن تركها في ذبيحة سهوا حلت وإن تركها عمدا فعنه روايتان، وقال ابن سيرين وأبو ثور وداود: لا تحل سواء تركها عمدا أو سهوا هذا نقل العبدري، وقال ابن المنذر عن الشعبي ونافع كمذهب ابن سيرين قال: وممن أباح أكل ما تركت التسمية عليه ابن عباس وأبو هريرة وسعيد بن المسيب وطاوس وعطاء والحسن البصري والنخعي وعبد الرحمن بن أبي ليلى وجعفر بن محمد والحكم وربيعة ومالك والثوري وأحمد وإسحاق وأبو حنيفة،

واحتج لمن شرط التسمية بقوله تعالى: ولا تأكلوا مما لم يذكر اسم الله عليه وانه لفسق وعن أنس أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «إذا أرسلت كلبك المعلم فاذكر اسم الله وكل ما أمسك عليك» وفي رواية «فان خالطها كلاب من غيرها فلا تأكل فانما سميت على كلبك ولم تسم على غيره» وفي رواية «إذا ارسلت كلبك فاذكر اسم الله» وفي رواية «إذا رميت سهمك فاذكر الله» رواه البخاري ومسلم بهذه الروايات، وعن أبي ثعلبة الخشني رضى الله عنه ان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال له: «وما صدت بقوسك فذكرت اسم الله عليه فكل وما صدت بكلبك المعلم فذكرت اسم الله تعالى عليه فكل» وفى رواية «فما صدت بقوسك فاذكر اسم الله ثم كل وما صدت بكلبك المعلم فاذكر اسم الله ثم كل»

واحتج أصحابنا بقول الله تعالى حرمت عليكم الميتة والدم إلى قوله تعالى الا ما ذكيتم فأباح المذكَّى ولم يذكر التسمية، فان قيل: لا يكون مذكًّى إلا بالتسمية، قلنا: الذكاة في اللغة الشق والفتح وقد وجدا، وأيضا قوله تعالى: وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم فأباح ذبائحهم ولم يشترط التسمية، وبحديث عائشة رضى الله عنها أنهم قالوا: يا رسول الله إن قومنا حديث عهد بالجاهلية يأتون بلحمان لا ندرى أذكروا اسم الله عليه أم لم يذكروا فنأكل منها فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «سموا وكلوا» حديث صحيح رواه البخاري في صحيحه ورواه أبو داود والنسائي وابن ماجه بأسانيد صحيحة كلها، فإسناد النسائي وابن ماجه على شرط البخاري ومسلم وإسناد أبي داود على شرط البخاري، قال أصحابنا وقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «سموا وكلوا» هذه التسمية المستحبة عند أكل كل طعام وشرب كل شراب فهذا الحديث هو المعتمد في المسألة: وأحاديث أبي هريرة قال: جاء رجل إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال: يا رسول الله أرأيت الرجل يذبح وينسى أن يسمي فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: «اسم الله على كل مسلم» فهذا حديث منكر مجمع على ضعفه ذكره البيهقي وبين أنه منكر ولا يحتج به وهذا حديث الصلت عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «ذبيحة المسلم حلال ذكر اسم الله أو لم يذكر» فهذا حديث مرسل ذكره أبو داود في المراسيل والبيهقي، وأجاب أصحابنا عن الآية التي احتج بها الأولون أن المراد ما ذبح للأصنام كما قال تعالى في الآية الأخرى وما ذبح على النصب وما أهل به لغير الله ولهذا قال تعالى ولا تأكلوا مما لم يذكر اسم الله عليه وانه لفسق وقد أجمعت الأمة على أن من أكل متروك التسمية ليس بفاسق فوجب حملها على ما ذكرناه ويجمع بينها وبين الآيات السابقات مع حديث عائشة، وأجاب بعض أصحابنا بجواب آخر وهو حمل النهي على كراهة التنزيه جمعا بين الأدلة، والجواب عن حديثي علي وأبي ثعلبة أن ذكر التسمية للندب، وجواب آخر عن قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «فانما سميت على كلبك» أن المراد بالتسمية الإرسال، والله أعلم

[End of the Fatwa]

To add to this conclusive fatwa, we would like to share the commentary of Imam Taqiy-ud-Din Al-Hisni Al-Husayni from his Kifayat Al-Akhyar on the Ghayat At-Taqrib of Imam Abi Shuja’. Imam Abi Shuja’ states in his Ghayat At-Taqrib,

“There are five things that are recommended at the time of slaughter: 1) Tasmiyah (i.e. mentioning Allah’s name) 2) saying Salat upon the Prophet Muhammad 3) facing the animal towards the Qiblah at the time of slaughter 4) Takbir (i.e. saying Allahu Akbar) 5) making Du’aa for its acceptance.”

Imam Taqiy-ud-Din Al-Hisni says commenting,

“The tasmiyah is recommended due to Allah saying,

فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ ٱسْمُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ

“So eat from that over which God’s Name has been invoked” [6:118]

and in the two Sahihs it states that the Prophet Muhammad would say Baasmallah at the time of ritual sacrifice and slaughtering. If one does not mention Allah’s name, then the meat is halal. That is due to the fact that Allah made the meat of the people of Book Halal, whereas generally they do not mention Allah’s name, and in the two Sahihs the people said to the Prophet Muhammad, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah! There is a people from the ‘Arab (the nomadic Arabs) who give us meat. We do not know if they pronounce the name of Allah upon it or not. The Prophet Muhammad said to them, “Say the name of Allah, and eat!” And this is proof that it is not obligatory [to recite the name of Allah upon the animal when slaughtering]. There are other proofs besides this.”

[End of Commentary from Kifayatul Akhyar]

Salah 'ala al-Nabi

  1. Says ash-Shāfi‘ī: ahbabtu lahu an yusammiya. []

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