'Halal Meat'
The Quranic Truth
By: A. Mohamed

Many Muslims speak about what is called 'halal meat' (lawful meat) without knowing the Quranic definition for this term! In addition, new converts to Islam in western countries are often bombarded with the instruction: Do not eat except 'halal meat'.
So what do they really mean by 'halal meat' and how does their concept agree with the Quranic meaning of this term?

The Quran tells us that God is extremely displeased with those who prohibit anything that is not specifically prohibited by God (16:116). The upholding of any prohibitions not specifically mentioned in the Quran is tantamount to idolatry (6:148-150). Such prohibitions represent a law from some other god(s) beside God. Worshipping God Alone means following His Law and no other law.

The prohibited foods and meat are detailed in 2:173, 5:3, 6:145 and 16:115. From these verses we have a clear account of what is halal (lawful) and what is haram (prohibited).

He only prohibited for you carrion, blood, the flesh of the pig and what was dedicated to other than God. But if one is forced out of necessity rather than desire or greed, then he incurs no sin. God is Forgiver, Merciful. 2:173

We note that God prohibited the "carrion", but when it came to the pig, God prohibited is the "lahm al-khinzeer" (the flesh of the pig). The wording used for the two items tells us that anything that comes from a dead animal is prohibited, while as, it is the "lahm al-khinzeer" (the flesh of the pig) that is prohibited and not the whole pig. God could have said that He prohibited 'the carrion and the pig', in that case, the prohibition would have covered all the body of carrion and all the body of the pig.

Since the prohibition is related to the "lahm" of the pig, it is necessary to determine the exact meaning of the word "lahm" in the light of the Quran. The common understanding of the word 'lahm' is the meat, but is this the Quranic meaning of this word? For the Quranic verdict please go to: The "lahm" of the pig

Further prohibited animals, listed in 5:3, are those strangled, struck with an object, fallen from a height, gored, attacked by a wild animal, unless the animal is saved before it dies. Also prohibited are animals sacrificed on altars.

The term 'halal meat', as used these days, is one that has no Quranic support, but is more a term exploited for commercial profit. The labelling of certain meat as 'halal' implies that all other meat is not halal. However, when we analyse the Quranic verses below we find that the sellers of such 'halal meat' are in fact deceiving the uninformed Muslims into believing that their meat is the only halal meat for Muslims. It must be said that this deception is not intentional, but that these sellers themselves have been misled into that false understanding.

According to the 'halal meat' concept, an animal's meat is halal only if it is slaughtered according to the Islamic way by a Muslim butcher who utters the Basmalah (opening 4 words of the Quran) before slaughtering the animal. Needless to say, none of these requirements are mentioned in the Quran, nor is there a rule in the Quran that states that slaughtering is the only lawful method of killing an animal in the first place. The Quranic rule, which applies to all foods and not just the meat of animals, is to utter God's name before eating any food, and not before slaughtering the animal.

So eat from that upon which God's name has been mentioned, if you believe in His revelations. 6:118

The instruction in 6:118 to utter God's name is not related to slaughtering. In addition, the instruction applies to eating any food and not just the meat of animals.

Sadly, Muslims scholars have substituted God's condition for making food lawful (uttering God's name before eating food) by a new un-Quranic condition of their own making. In the process, they made slaughtering the only lawful method of killing an animal for its meat. There is no such restriction in the Quran. As a result of this un-Quranic requirement, they insist that to make food halal, the name of God must be uttered on it before slaughtering it. The following arguments all show that this imposed restriction is false and that it is not part of God's Law in the Quran:

1- The first reason is that (unless you are a butcher) you are not the person who has slaughtered the animal on your dinner table, and since the Quran is clear in holding people accountable only to their own work, then the only certain way to confirm that the name of God has been uttered on the meat is for each person to utter God's name on the food before eating it.

The human being has nothing to benefit him except his own work. 53:39

The Quran makes it clear that the utterance of God's name should be before eating and not before killing the animal.

2- The spiritual reason behind uttering God's name on our food before eating it is given in 16:114. This is to constantly remember and be appreciative of God's blessings on us:

So eat from the lawful and good things that God has provided for you, it is lawful and good, and give thanks for God's blessings, if it is Him that you worship. 16:114

This act of appreciation for God's blessings would not belong to us if we rely on someone else, in a slaughter house, uttering God's name.

3- By reading 6:118, we note that the command of uttering God's name is related to what we eat in general and not just meat. Thus this equally applies to fruit, vegetables, biscuits, peanuts ... etc ... plus all types of drinks. Consequently, and since we cannot slaughter an apple nor a glass of orange juice, the only method to obey God's law is to utter His name before eating all foods (and not just meat).

4- If we read 5:5, we note that God made it lawful for us to eat the food of the people of the Scripture (Jews, Christians):

Today, all good things have been made lawful for you. The food of those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. 5:5

In most cases, we know that non Muslims do not utter the name of God before killing the animal, yet their food is lawful for us (5:5). This proves that the utterance of God's name before slaughtering an animal is not a requirement as far as God is concerned. When we eat the food of Christians for example, which God allowed us to do, we would still have to utter God's name on it before eating it to comply with the instructions in 6:118.

5- God knows that one day slaughter houses will be run by stun guns and machines, which once again emphasises the fact that it is our own responsibility to utter His name on all food before eating it.

Sadly, we see many Muslims today, due to their obsession with the restriction of slaughtering, buying and eating what they are told is 'halal meat', yet when they eat other food (e.g. fruit or vegetables) they ignore God's command to utter His name on it. Since they ignored God's commands and followed man made innovations, they are in fact eating a lot of food that is unlawful according to the Quranic rule.

Special reference to 22:36

Some scholars refer to 22:36 and say that since it includes a command to utter God’s name on animals before they are slaughtered, it provides support for the rule that without this pre-slaughter utterance the meat of the animal would not be halal.

On first impression this may be a valid claim, but a closer look at 22:36 suggests otherwise. The words in 22:36 are:

We have decreed the animal offerings for you among the rites of God. In them there are benefits for you. So mention God's name on them while they are lined up, then, once they collapse on their sides, you shall eat therefrom and feed the poor and the needy. Thus did We subject them to you, so hopefully you may give thanks. 22:36

1- This verse speaks about the ritual of animal offering during Hajj.

The Sura is called Hajj and if we start reading from verse 27 we would see that the subject is Hajj and the rituals of Hajj. What this means is that the rules given in these verses are applicable only to the time of Hajj.

2- While the animals are lined up during Hajj, those observing their Hajj should commemorate the name of God on these animals. Those uttering the name of God are those observing their Hajj and not those slaughtering the animals. The utterance of the name of God is not associated with the actual slaughtering.

3- More importantly, in confirmation that uttering God's name on these animals during Hajj has nothing to do with what makes meat halal, we note that the command to utter God's name while the animals are lined up is in line with the instruction from God to utter and commemorate God's name throughout Hajj. The following verses confirm this truth:

And proclaim the Hajj to the people. They will come to you on foot and on every lean animal; they will come from every deep ravine to witness benefits for them, and to commemorate God's name during the known days for providing them with the livestock animals. So eat from it and feed the miserable, the poor. 22:27-28

And commemorate God for a number of days. 2:203

Then when you disperse from Arafat, commemorate God at the Mashaar Al-Haram. 2:198

Then once you have completed your rituals, you shall commemorate God. 2:200

The above verses tell us that the commemoration of God should be observed during every step of Hajj. Commemorating God's name on the animals while they are lined up is just a continuation of the constant rule of commemorating God's name throughout Hajj. The whole purpose of Hajj is to commemorate God's name. This is also the only purpose of all our worship practices:

Say, "My Salat, my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted to God, the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner. 6:162-163

The above confirms that the ritual in 22:36 (commemorating God's name on animals lined up during Hajj) is simply one of the rituals of Hajj. This ritual has nothing to do with what makes meat halal.

Is slaughtering the only lawful method of killing an animal

Traditional scholars claim that slaughtering is the only Islamic method of killing the animals we eat. There are no instructions or words in the Quran to say that slaughtering is the only method approved by God. Those who insist on this non-Quranic rule justify their claim by stating that blood is prohibited by God, and that slaughtering is the only method to remove all the blood from the dead animal.
This claim is totally false and it can be verified by any person. All one needs to do is buy a cut of meat or liver from any 'halal butcher', then take it home and place it under a running tap, then see for yourself how much blood comes out of this meat, which was presumably slaughtered according to the Islamic way!

What then is the truth of this matter? When an animal is slaughtered, the main arteries in the neck are severed, this drains from the body all the blood that was in the main arteries.
However, the body of all animals contains a vast number of tiny veins and millions of capillaries. Capillaries are the smallest of the body's blood vessels. Some of them are only one cell thick. The blood in the very small blood veins and capillaries will not all be drained from the flesh of the slaughtered animal. Much of the blood will remain trapped in the flesh regardless of the method of killing.

If these are the scientific facts, what else do we derive from the Quran that sheds light on this matter?

God always chooses His words with the utmost accuracy in order to convey a very specific meaning. To further clarify the prohibition against blood in 5:3 we read in 6:145 that what is prohibited is the "running blood":

Say, "I do not find in what has been inspired to me any food that is prohibited for any eater to eat except if it is carrion, or running blood, or the flesh of pigs for it is unclean, or any vileness that is dedicated to other than God." But if one is forced out of necessity rather than desire or greed, then your Lord is Forgiver, Merciful. 6:145

God knows that there will always be trapped blood in all flesh and that we will never be able to flush every drop out. For that reason, God made it clear that the prohibition is against
"running blood".
Any meat we buy from any so called 'halal butcher' will always contain trapped blood in the flesh. You can test this for yourself by placing the meat you buy from a Muslim butcher under a running tap.
In essence, the claim that slaughtering gets rid of all the blood of an animal is false.

2- If God decreed slaughtering to be the only lawful method to kill an animal, then why did God allow us (in 5:5) to eat the food of the 'People of the Book', provided we utter the name of God on it before we eat it, when we have no idea how it was killed in the first place?
By the same token, if God decreed slaughtering to be the only lawful method to kill an animal, why did God allow us (in 5:4) to eat the animals killed by trained birds of prey and dogs? The caught animals are already dead when we snatch them from the mouth of the birds and dogs.

What about eating fish?
1- Fish are not slaughtered
2- Like the meat of cattle, fish contain traces of blood when we buy them, then all we can do is put them under running water to remove as much blood as we can.
Why is it correct in the case of the un-slaughtered fish but not for meat? Blood is blood, is it not?

To sum up the slaughtering issue:

1- God never decreed that slaughtering is the only lawful method to kill an animal.

2- Slaughtering does not remove all blood from the dead animal.

3- The prohibition from God is against "running blood" and not trapped remains of blood, which is impossible to flush out completely.