On a recent business trip I went to a restaurant. The hostess noticed I was Muslim and said, “Oh you don't need a wine list, right?” I told her she was correct. When I sat at the table she handed me the menu and then asked me, “Do you eat meat?” To this I replied essentially that some Muslims are strict about a Muslim version of kosher meat [I have not encountered many non-Muslims who understand what 'halal' is – or many Muslims who understand halal vs. zabihah, but that's a different story]. She responded to this by saying, “Oh yeah, my boyfriend is from Saudi Arabia and he only eats halal meat.”

Keep it classy.

For as long as I can remember the meat issue has been at the forefront of every lively discussion between two Muslims. I have seen 'family night' masjid halaqahs devoted to this topic. I have seen relaxed, intended-to-be-entertainment discussions get passed around on Facebook years after the fact to one-up people of the other opinion, and Sh. Yasir Qadhi even teaches a full class on the topic. For at least 20+ years, every time I have seen a visiting scholar come to my community, someone inevitably asks the meat question.

A quick google search turns up numerous halal councils, certification boards, websites, ingredient lists, and even halal bills. This is in addition to the unofficial and underground boards that exist in every city.

“Don't eat at so-and-so's restaurant, the Muslim factory they buy their meat from doesn't hand slaughter. ”

“Yeah that restaurant says they have halal meat, but their beef is haram.”

In fact, I remember once reading a comment for a restaurant left on zabihah.com, “I saw the owner buying chicken at Pilgrim's Pride!”

This not-so-behind-the-scenes discussion violates a key ethical principle – giving people the benefit of the doubt. For some reason, we have turned meat into a haram until proven halal issue. The least of the consequences of this is that it causes us to harbor suspicion against others. In some cases it may lead to unjustly boycotting Muslim businesses. In extreme cases, debate over this fiqh issue causes people to lose friendships and even divide entire communities. I know people who stopped receiving khutbah invites after being seen eating a turkey sandwich at Subway. I have been told to my face that nothing I say about Islam can be believed because I eat 'outside meat'.

Before continuing further, I want to say what this post is not about.

This post is not about debating which opinion on meat is correct.

This post is not about the fact that eating organic meat may be more a more important issue to raise in regards to eating 'tayyib' than the method of slaughter.

This post is not about the fact that meat is a fiqh issue with legitimate differences.

This post is not about the fact that we put other Muslims out of business with accusations over zabihah/halal.

This post is not about the fact that some companies exploit Muslims for business by slapping halal labels on things [many of which aren't even necessarily meat or food products].

This post is not about the fact that we should not be divided with each other over a fiqh issue.

This post is not trying to say that halal meat is unimportant. —

This post is about the fact that we need to move on.

The education has been done. The fatawa have been issued. People's minds are already made up. The certification boards are in place. The find-halal-food-fast iPhone apps are slick and fully functioning. Halal meat has made its way into supermarkets and mainstream products have the halal marking on their containers.

So long as halal meat remains our focus, the ummah will not progress past this topic. We will all eat hand slaughtered meat, and say that alhamdulillah our provision is halal, but we will continue to earn the money we buy that meat with from haram sources. We will continue to live in houses financed on interest. We will continue to drive cars financed on interest. We will continue to attend college and gain our education on loans financed through interest – ALL because we feel we have no other option [I'm not passing judgment on any of these actions, but rather highlighting the fact that a majority of people do not see another alternative. Whether that perspective is correct or incorrect is a separate debate].

I thought the point of this whole halal thing was to facilitate a holistic Muslim lifestyle in America? If that's the case, I think we have accomplished that purpose. But did it really need to take 20 or 30 years? The way things are going it seems like we will be continuing down the same path for the next 20 as well.

How much work are we putting into purifying our rizq in other areas?

Every dollar we deposit into the bank is being used to support predatory lending practices, subjugation of the poor, and padding the pockets of those who do this. We can't spend a night wracked with guilt over eating some chicken nuggets, but we sleep soundly knowing that our life savings are sitting in banks and being used to further an out-of-control debt crisis? Why can we mobilize and lobby to get halal bills and require labels to be slapped on products but we don't even speak up about our tax dollars paying for vacation houses for wall street executives who should be in jail? How long will we continue to utilize credit cards, giving money with each transaction to companies who make money by turning people into wage slaves?

There is no need to rehash the seriousness of riba, but there is a need to take stock of how complacent we have become in our roles of facilitating it. To move forward we need to focus on creating viable and successful Muslim banks or credit unions. These can be set up to give Muslims the security and convenience of bank accounts while knowing that their money is not being used to further propagate a usurious financial system. We need real solutions to the the issues of student loans and car purchases. We need Islamic institutions and investment firms that facilitate home-buying without copying interest based mortgage contracts and just changing the vocabulary. We need to have Islamic insurance companies that can help us fulfill the legal requirements of the law without compromising any of our Islamic principles.

I am deeply saddened by the fact that we fight each other over meat, but we are too distracted to even have the conversations necessary to live a full Islamic lifestyle.

Why not write an article about the financial issues separately? (Already did). Why does meat have anything to do with it? Because truth be told, if this article wasn't about halal meat, you probably wouldn't be reading it – and that is the root of the problem.

I don't have the solutions, but I am interested in helping out. As a community, we need to take this more seriously. When we are passionate about something, like meat, we can get things done. That mission has been accomplished, and it is time to get passionate about finding a solution to one of the most major issues facing us.

Recommended watching:

85 Responses

  1. Susan Labadi

    Salaams! You said a mouthful…and it’s valid. This is why consumers must keep asking for halal products of all kinds, and they shouldn’t settle for Kosher when Halal is more appropriate and pure. If we become more vocal, educated, and cognizant of our choices, more halal products will come to the market.

    Halal financing should support the development of these businesses too. There is a great future out there if we would only stop the petty condemnations and work together to build our industries, as Allah would have us do. Then Subway will have a Halal menu across America.

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    • chef yusuf

      ” shouldn’t settle for Kosher when Halal is more appropriate and pure”
      can you back up this claim ? – Try buying national Hebrew hotdogs and compare t any halal version hotdogs. let me know honestly

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  2. Ahmad

    Very well said; an inconvenient truth that our Muslim community really needs to focus on…now that problems have risen…how about some solutions to these REAL issues?

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  3. Zara

    Lol I would’ve read it a lot faster if you said it was about islamic finances, I was scouring the internet two days ago for a way to get interest free student loans in America just in case, but I came up largely unsuccessful. I believe IANA in Canada has a system in which muslims can apply for a loan, which would come from a pool of money Muslims gave, and when it’s paid back the money gets recycled. I like that system and wish we had something like it in america, though I can’t say I’m an expert on finances so I don’t know how efficient that is.

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  4. imam zia

    Good article. But the fiqhi principle behind meat is that it is haram unless proven otherwise. Sorry to rehash the issue but felt a correction was appropriate.

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    • ibnabeeomar

      Jazakallahu khayr – someone else mentioned this to me as well. Is the ruling the same in the case of a Muslim telling you it’s halal? I’ve always been taught if someone says it is take them at their word, ie if u go to a brothers house you shouldn’t ask about it?

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      • Leyla

        That’s true, you shouldn’t ask…as I understand it would, by default, be considered halal since it’s being served at a muslim person’s house…which then evades the issue of asking and making the situation awkward and possibly starting fitnah.

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    • imam zia

      Yes that is correct. But your stance on the issue of meat should be known to your host too. Then you needn’t ask. :-)

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      • Siraaj

        Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as this – in my community, we have the, “Your meat is not z-enough,” problem.

        So when you go to someone’s home, and their opinion is z-only, it’s no longer enough – now you have to inquire if a stamp of approval certifying this is “true” z (basically, is this the hanafi opinion). No, not the guy buying tyson’s chicken and selling it off as zabiha in his store, but z-slaughterers according to one opinion not being valid for z-slaughterers according to another opinion.

        Looks like a familiar problem to me – the one that eventually led to separate prayer areas among madhab followers in the haram because hey, his wudu and prayer may not be valid according to our madhab.

        Siraaj

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      • Naeem

        AA- Siraaj,

        Off topic, but do you have any citation for that ‘separate prayers in the Haram’ claim. I’ve heard it many times, but no one has presented clear proof about when it happened and in what context?

        Thanks

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      • Siraaj

        The following is “A Dictionary of Islam”, compiled by Thomas Patrick Hughes and published by Oxford University in 1885. On page 338 under the word “Masjidu’l Haram”, he documents what he witnessed of worship activities at the haram, and in particular, the four separate maqams of the four madhabs:

        A Dictionary of Islam

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    • Hassan Mushtaq

      But the fiqhi principle behind meat is that it is haram unless proven otherwise

      Is this principal agreed upon by fuqaha?

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  5. AsimG

    I like eating at halaal restaurants who serve me coke in a Miller Lite glass. Saying Asalaamu alaykum to them in front of their massive bar is great. Especially in Ramadan…

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  6. Sumayyah

    Brilliant article, Muslims are so completely off in terms of their priorities it really does shock me! They lie, cheat the system, dishonest in their transactions, evade tax but….they NEVER NEVER NEVER touch meat that is not halal, cos that would just simple be wrong!!! Subhan’Allah! I pray Our Lord helps us focus ALL the issues which will affect our akhirah & not get distracted by giving petty issues disproportionate amount of time & energy.

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  7. Riyaz

    Whey in your confectionery is Haraam but your consumerist life style isn’t!
    Not being hand slaughtered by a Muslim makes your lamb at the party haraam but trashing the left over food without an ounce of regret is very very halaal!
    Islam teaches us how to slaughter an animal exactly but tells us nothing how to treat it through out it’s life. So why bother?
    Sell alcohol in your store and teach your kids to look if the ice cream has gelatin in it’s ingredients!
    Muslims will reform the day they learn not to make a mountain of a mole hill and be able to prioritize the real issues that face them.

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  8. Noorene

    Salaams, you should all come live in South Africa Inshallah. Alhamdulillah we have such a strong islamic footprint throughout South Africa. Muslims are recognised and respected amongst and across all cultures, races and within all religions. Yes of course we have the odd outbreak of islamophobia from time to time but very quickly the muslim communities, ulumas nd govt puts a stop to these things. We are very blessed shukr that we live a very carefree lifestyle practising our deen freely alhamdulillah.

    Most of our big banking nd financial institutions make provision for islamic accounts/islamic finance. (not forgetting our 100% islamic banks). We have masjids built in very community nd this is growing on a daily basis, we have muslim representation at a govt level, we have schools that are recognised muslim schools that includes academia studies for our kids, we have outlets, food stores, retailers etc that are halaal, to give u and example all our McDonald and KFC stores are halaal certified (but yes, we also have the controversies about halaal nd haram amongst these foodstores) but mostly our uluma and councils provide us with daily updates and reassurance alhamdulillah. Our women are free to done the hijab nd niqaab without fear of ridicule nd prejudice, nd if it so happens that we are victims of prejudice our nres is so quick to report on it nd as muslims we take action. We also have a strong presence in the media i.e. Muslim Radio stations, newspapers, magazines etc… There is so much more…for muslims here in south africa.

    So inshallah, you should all come nd live here with us. But more importantly as Americans u should be making contact with south africans nd learn how we were able to make such strides nd impact. How we were able to breakdown barriers nd help educate our countrymen nd women nd how we were able to give islam a voice nd a platform to be heard nd to stand nd be recognised amongst nd across the various cultures that we have. We will be keen to share nd assist our fellow muslim brothers nd sisters across the globe. But it starts with a simple communication nd a lot of collaboration with countries like south africa. Inshallah may Allah make it easy for your country to reform nd accept social nd religious transformation. We still have lots to do nd a long way to go but with Allahs kudhrat Islam in SA will only increase nd become stronger as we continue to pave the way nd take a stand.

    Wasalaam sister Noorene

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  9. Siraaj

    We won’t get past the “meat” issue because meat isn’t the real issue, nor is islamic financing – the heart of this problem is dealing with fiqhi differences of opinion in a global community, and our religious thought leaders are not mature enough in practice to deal with them in some or many cases.

    See if this sounds familiar – a person or organization adopts a legitimate, scholarly opinion on an issue. Rather than respectfully agreeing to disagree, a group with an opposing opinion bashes the opinion itself as weak, and those adopting the opinion as ::insert pejorative::

    You can start with meat and move to moonfighting, and eventually mortgages. In my estimation, the root cause of this issue among Muslims is not the common Muslim, but confusion caused by Imams, scholars, and young students of knowledge.

    There’s a methodological hypocrisy at work. If we speak theoretically about fiqh, the masses are told something along the lines of picking a madhab, an imam, and so on because they are not qualified to delve into the evidences and derive rulings. Fair enough – in my community, I pick my scholar or council of scholars to take fiqh opinions from, and they’ve ruled machine-slaughtering with conditions is acceptable, so my store sells that kind of meat. But there’s a certification board that doesn’t like my meat because it follows a different set of methodological guidelines – am I blameworthy for my taqleed?

    In theory, no. But in practice, that’s how some students of knowledge, da’ees, and imams will make it seem. When their pet issue arrives on the scene, “Allah has given you a brain with which to think, how can you follow x, y, and z opinion when the evidence for opinion A is as clear as daylight?”

    Oppose this person or group with another opinion on the pet issue, or move out of the pet issue altogether, and try to exert the brain a bit elsewhere and it becomes, “Bro, how much Arabic do you know? How much Qur’aan have you memorized? Where did you get your ‘ijazah?”

    If after reading that, you think I’m speaking about someone you know, you’re likely right, I am speaking about someone you know because in my time watching different contemporary groups, I have yet to find one which doesn’t display this strange hypocrisy in one way or another. Even the people who tell you to choose a madhab and follow blindly will get angry at you if you blindly follow the “deviant” imam in your community who may be mixing and matching madhab opinions – I mean, how am I, the unqualified muqallid, supposed to evaluate that? I’M UNQUALIFIED! I have no idea what it means to mix and match usool, so why are you telling me I’m responsible for choosing someone or something else when I, the layman, don’t have the qualifications to even decide what is valid and invalid?

    So really, I care less about the masses of Muslims and more about our religious thought leaders – I would call on all of them to mature on these issues at a methodological level, and not simply tell us to appreciate differences of opinion; at a practical level when real issues show up where they have strong attachments to some opinion or methodology, they need to show respect for other opinions and not portray them as “valid”, yet ::insert pejorative::

    What we need from them is, “I follow opinion x because of the indications in texts x, y, and z, and usooli principles a, b, and c, but there are other opinions as well with their own evidences, and I respect those differences.” Full stop, no namecalling, downplaying, or any other immature behavior.

    The adab and akhlaq problems that ran rampant in the late 90s among different groups and continue to plague us today at a group (salafi, sufi, ikhwani, pro vs anti-madhab) and issue (meat, moon, mortgage, music, 8 vs 20, etc) level are less a layperson problem, and more a religious leadership problem. When our religious leaders both outwardly show and teach respect for diversity of legitimate opinions, the people will change their framework for dealing with these issues more rapidly.

    Siraaj

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    • Tanveer

      Siraaj

      MashaAllah, well said, should we expect an article from you on accepting Fiqh differences.

      I feel a wave of California heat for Chicago Cold :-)

      Tanveer

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    • sahar

      Jazzakallah khr brother… It is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. And we can only look up to our scholars for a solution or become a scholar ourselves :).

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    • Ayub

      Whoa, you had me at hello. I have been pointing the finger at immature, emasculated “scholarship” without scholarly modesty for a long time.. but I usually am too angry to speak about it. Very nice. Allah protect you.

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  10. Abdul-Qadir

    “Because truth be told, if this article wasn’t about halal meat, you probably wouldn’t be reading it – and that is the root of the problem.”

    Word. That is actaully why I started reading, lol.

    This article is golden, JazakAllah.

    I was told by a PhD in Islamic finance that millions of dollars in financial aid for school are reclaimed by the government every year becuaue no one takes them. Where there is a will, there is a way, we just need to try harder. Not trying to make a big deal or judge, but it sure would be nice to get out of college debt-free.

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  11. Yasir Qadhi

    Salam

    Minor correction: I don’t teach a ‘full’ class on the topic. The issue of zabiha meat takes around 1.5 hours of a weekend class regarding the fiqh of food, drink, clothing and hijab.

    Also, one needs to remember that practicing Muslims who have ‘been there, done that’ for years, cannot expect newly practicing Muslims to be on the same wavelength. Every new ‘batch’ of Muslims that re-discovers the religion faces the same fiqh issues that others might have been debating for decades. It doesn’t change the novelty for them!

    Yasir

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    • ibnabeeomar

      duly noted :)

      but my thing is, anyone facing the debate over meat already has 1000 resources to go to. but ‘new’ and ‘old’ muslims alike right now do not have adequate resources/solutions to the other issues raised.

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    • Abu Yusuf

      Interestingly enough, and the Wharton MBAs and Skulls & Boners on this website may have their appetite piqued, there has been a growing market for a plethora of “halaal” consumer products ranging from cosmetics to vitamins. It’s incredible how many products end up having the fat of pigs as an ingredient.

      As far as this quote by the author of the post: “…don’t even speak up about our tax dollars paying for vacation houses for wall street executives who should be in jail? How long will we continue to utilize credit cards, giving money with each transaction to companies who make money by turning people into wage slaves?…” The dictum is rather sensationalized. Nobody is forced to be a wage slave in America. And I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with being rich. Allah has endowed some people with wealth, and given some people poverty, and in both are tests.

      Ray Irani (Palestinian chemist) has been the highest paid CEO in America for a decade. He is so smart that he even got his company to pay for his income taxes (which turned out to be illegal) but I have to commend him for his creativity and tenacity. I remember growing up in the middle east, the Palestinian diaspora and some lebanese were the shrewdest of men and it required fortitude by the dilligent professional south asian fathers to not get swept up under their plots and to not be overcome by men. Fortunately, America is a great equalizer. When they come here, they are all sweet and “brother this, brother that”. In the middle east though, it’s a different story. Regardless, the most evil of Muslims is better than the best non-believer because one will escape the fire one day, whilst the other shall be a permanent resident therein.

      As far as mortgages being “controversial”, I’m not sure why. Many Muslims lack the patience to live in an apartment and save up their money to purchase a home. If Mexicans can live 25 people to an apartment, then surely we Muslims can live 8 to an apartment if only for 50 years until we get a more spacious abode up above. Some uncles get mortgages because otherwise they feel they won’t get good proposals for their daughters!! Fortunately, there is a core circle of North American Muslims who save up cash for 3 or 5 or 7 years and purchase a home that way thereby side-stepping riba and altogether avoiding sugar-coated “islamic finance” deals whose underpinnings may be riba-based. I would say that is the safest and most conservative way to go.

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      • ibnabeeomar

        wage slaves: credit card companies make the most profits by trying to make people into wage slaves (watch the maxed out documentary in the article above). every time we swipe a credit card, it puts more money in the pockets of these companies. a bit sensationalized – maybe, but please read more carefully to understand the point being made.

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      • Abu Yusuf

        Ibn Abi ‘Umar, point taken. Insurance companies, banks, and credit card companies – not sure which of these I consider the filthiest. I would rather work as a janitor all my life than work as a banker for a single day. It’s too bad, because some of us Muslims in academia learnt all the wonders of how we can use financial engineering, chicanery, and trickery to get incredibly wealthy but at the cost of decieving and subjugating mankind, with riba being the cornerstone of such nefarious approaches. I am sure the Finance section of the MM blog has some authors who could attest to that.

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    • Olivia

      Asalaamu alaikum Shaikh Yasir,

      I ask this question with all due respect for the opinions believe in and teach. While i’m sure you’re aware of my husband’s opinion *nudges Siraaj*, I do believe the Z-only opinion is most deserving of Allah’s reward when it is adhered to bc it avoids what is doubtful and it certainly causes some patience to not eat certain tasty food items.

      But here is my question–do you think that, practically speaking, the opinion you teach is most suitable for converts? (I apologize if that “you” sounds pointed, I don’t intend to and I say this all in the best of spirits.) I ask this as a convert myself, although I’ve been around for a while. Of course we don’t change our religion to suit our needs, but considering that other opinions are valid, would you promote the more flexible ones as valid to converts? I ask this because in my personal experience, if I followed a z-only opinion when I was Muslim at 16 at my parent’s house, I would have created quite a rift in a situation where passing on the bacon was already putting people’s backs up. Even now, to be totally frank, I don’t eat outside beef except if my family makes it. I went to my paternal grandmother’s and she made spaghetti and meatballs and she saved the package just to show me that it said 100% ground beef :) I just didn’t have the heart to not eat it, to be honest, as I was touched that she would be so considerate of my beliefs (I am the only Muslim she has never known/seen, aside from Siraaj).

      I understand that someone who is a strict z-only person may have been able to decline with more ease, but I was wondering if, given the difficulty it presents to converts, you would ever opt to teach them that eating their family’s meat is okay if they are Christian or Jewish, even though you yourself may not believe in that opinion personally?

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  12. Abdullah Nana

    Assalamu Alaykum

    I share many of your concerns and appreciate what you have said. There is one major correction to your article and I would highly recommend that you first check with qualified scholars before making general statements related to Islamic law. Many scholars of diverse backgrounds have written otherwise. The original status of meat in Islamic law is that it is unlawful unless established otherwise, and this view is directly proven through the Hadith of Rasulullah Salalallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. Here is a relevant text from Mufti Taqi Usmani’s book on slaughtered animals:

    The scholars of Fiqh have quoted this principle for normal items, but meat is not included in this ruling. In fact, the opposite principle applies when it comes to meat, i.e. the original status of meat is that it is unlawful unless established to be otherwise. Many scholars of Fiqh have mentioned this principle in their books. In this section of the book, he is quoting from the Hiyatu Kibaar Al-Ulema of Saudi:

    “We have already established from the Hadîth of A’diy Ibn Hâtim $that the original state of the meat of an animal is that its consumption is unlawful until we establish otherwise. Because of this, Rasûlullâh ] made it unlawful to consume an animal if the hunter’s dog and another dog both participated in the kill.

    In the same way, Rasûlullâh ] is reported to have said regarding a hunted animal,

    قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم إن وجدته غريقا في الماء فلا تأكله فإنك لا تدري الماء قتله أو سهمك

    Translation: “If you find that it has drowned in water, then do not eat from it because you do not know whether it died because of the water or because of your arrow.”[1]

    This proves that when factors which make an animal lawful and factors which make an animal unlawful are found together, preference will be given to the factors which make the animal unlawful. This Hadîth also shows that the original state of the meat of an animal is that its consumption is unlawful until it can be established with certainty that it is lawful. Many scholars of Fiqh have mentioned this principle.”

    [1] Sahih Muslim (943), Takmilah Fath Al-Mulhim (v. 3, pg. 494)

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    • ibnabeeomar

      jazakallahu khayr, i should have clarified the context in the article better, but this was primarily in regards to taking the word of a muslim.

      if we go to a muslim persons house (or restaurant) and they say its halal, is it our duty to take them at their word? its my understanding that the answer to this question is yes, but i may be incorrect

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      • Abdullah Nana

        Mufti Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf has clarified this matter in the following article on ‘zabihah meat madness.’ Under normal circumstances, a person should take the word of his Muslim brother. However, there are circumstances where there is widespread ignorance regarding the concept of halal, products are falsely labeled as halal, and one has a good reason to believe that the meat does not meet the halal requirements.

        http://www.whitethreadpress.com/resources/zabiha_madness.pdf

        Mufti Rafi Usmani has given a fatwa on this issue as well which I have attached below:

        [edited, follow link for article]

        http://www.halalmc.net/resources/importance_halal.html

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      • ibnabeeomar

        jzk for the info – but you’ve also further proved my point. there’s tons of info ready to access at your finger tips on all the finer points of meat .. but still nothing on the other issues i raised ;)

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      • Abdullah Nana

        You have made a valid point in your article and I agree completely that halal meat is only one part of the equation. Muslims need to focus on developing a complete halal lifestyle which includes Islamic financing and lawful sources of income. At the same time, the halal meat issue in America still is at large and remains unsolved. We cannot just brush the meat issue aside and solely focus on other aspects of the halal lifestyle. I argue that we can simulateously work to fix both the meat issue and the income issue. It can be done and we have the resources and manpower to do it. Both are equally important and deserve our attention

        The Halal Industry is increasingly focusing the on Islamic finance aspect as illustrated in the World Halal Forum this year in Malaysia which I attended. May Allah reward you for drawing our attention to other important halal issues which we have been neglecting.

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      • F

        Abdullah,

        I don’t think interest and eating haram (ie. non zabiha but not pork) are equally important and there is not enough proof from scholarly opinions to equate the two (ie. taking interest is just as bad as eating at McDonald’s).

        P.S. I eat only Zabiha

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      • Green

        Brother F – Though you are entitled to your opinion but i’m sure a scholar such as Mufti Abdullah Nana has a better understanding as to how important these matters really are in the sight of Allah (swt).

        Ibnabeeomar- Thank you for the refreshing article.

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  13. muslimah student

    Wonderfully written article, mashAllah! I have family members that take the halal/ zabihah thing to quite an extreme – only buying meat from people they know personally. When my uncle visited us in Saudi (the entire country is halal) he wouldn’t eat the meat at restaurants, claiming that it was all shipped from mass produced factories in Australia that didn’t follow zabihah. How he came to that, I have no idea

    I feel like after a while it’s just not worth the time and brain space to worry about. If a Muslim says it is zabihah, trust in him and trust in Allah and just eat it. Our time can be put to much better use in bettering other parts of our lives and other aspects of our community

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    • Naeem

      While I agree with the basic gist of the article as well as your comment, I did want to mention that many people here in Saudi believe that the meat in restaurants comes from outside the country, from cattle farms in Brazil, New Zealand, or Australia. So for the zabiha crowd, this presents quite a problem.

      Personally speaking, I try to abstain from meat coming from those locations, not out of any Halal-vs-Zabiha convictions, but due to the environmental damage caused by those farms as well as the inordinate amount of human-consumable grains that are fed to the cattle (so instead of shipping those grains to the starving billions, we’re feeding it to cattle to satiate our insatiable appetites).

      Like the author wrote, maybe issues such as organic vs non-organic as well as the two points I mentioned should play as big a role in deciding our source of meats as the Halal-v-Zabiha issues.

      But then again, Ibnabeeomar is also correct in that we have bigger fish to fry (pun intended). :-)

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  14. khaleda

    assalamualaikum
    i apologize to take the discussion in different corner….IS’nt keeping a GIRLFRIEND by muslim in this incident by a (saudi arabian )Haram or not Halal? Why bother by meat then? prefering food in halal but having a haram reletionship, doesn’t make sense.

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      • Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

        Yes, and the anecdote was funny. But in reality just because you commit one sin, it doesn’t follow that you shouldn’t bother trying to do anything right or that somehow that’s a reason to go ahead and commit other sins.

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      • N

        and as Br. Suhaib Webb and many, many converts will testify to the fact that many of those muslim boyfriends/girlfriends, music lovers, drinkers, drug takers, prisoners, etc were by Allah’s Will those who helped guide us to Islam, gave us our shahadas, taught us how to pray, fast, read Quran, etc. And inshaAllah they are collecting big rewards and we are so grateful and making du’a for them…sorry, but no big shots were down with us in the gutter

        not condoning anyone’s haram deeds, but be careful looking down on them…

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  15. Ilm-Quester

    I went to a Halal Food stand in the city last weekend. There were some drunk desis there screaming: “yeahhh HALAL foooood!”

    ^Lol, how ironic…

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  16. Riyaz

    I presume the basic premise with which many scholars approach various issues has some sort of inherent flaw, which is why Muslims land up in such a mess over every single question. Examples are abound but to name a few like loudspeakers in masajid, television, western(English) education, female employment, contraception, insurance, technology to sight the moon were all deemed absolutely haraam (and some still are). With time the opinions just vanish and every body is doing it. The methodology has a problem.

    When an ardent ‘It is haraam’ opinion is taken about every single new thing which comes around, this is what happens. What is it followed with? Exceptions to the rule. Yeah! in absolutely required times it becomes permissible but should be allowed with extreme reservation or the least, with utmost hatred towards it in your heart.

    Then you can finance your house, pay insurance on your car, loan money for an education, use cameras for dawah and drink Starbucks and the list just goes on. But of course some of those things are plain forbidden but others, out of sheer ignorance or a mis understood methodology, are victims of being labelled forbidden, in the end putting the ummah to a lot of unease.

    Islam believes in the family being the basic unit of a society right? Parents are responsible to protect, shelter, nourish, nurture, guide, reform and EDUCATE( including tuition) their kids. In return kids fulfill their responsibility towards parents, one of which is taking care of them in their old age. Why so much fuss then about retirement plans and educational loans! Basically that is what is called Americanization (read westernization or capitalization) of Islam. Some times it’s necessary to just move out of the well to know where we are heading.

    Any animal slaughtered in the name of one other than Allah including fish and chopped onions (plus swine and dead meat) is ‘haraam’ or prohibited. All else is ‘NOT HARAAM’, which means can be consumed. To reduce that to how technically an animal is slaughtered and forgetting all else relating to the animal is reducing the whole issue to nothingness. In India, animals are slaughtered by hand with the ‘kalimah’ pronounced. Does that make it wholly and absolutely Islamic? I say no. There are many more things, humane treatment of the animal being one of them. Once a foot product is ‘not haraam’ all other issues are a reflection of a person’s faith and taqwah, among which I do say, zabihah is one of them. If I stop eating zabihah halal KFC because of their in humane treatment of the chicken on their farms, I am still being Islamically thoughtful and on the long run, such are the things which will reflect positively on Islam as a faith and Muslims as responsible citizens of the world, leading people to look at Islam with awe and eventually adopt it. Otherwise, both Muslims and Non Muslims will be sweating to pay their mortgages all their lives.

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  17. Chipper

    There is a difference between the marketplace, where as a consumer you can ask a question to the seller about the items he/she sells (as it is an investment), versus going to a private residence and asking the host about what they are serving.

    Sheikh Yasir in his class encourages that as a community we support each other and try to help bussinesses who sell meat, to assist them in making it easier to verify. The Jewish communities far surpass us in regards to kosher verification.

    If we need to move on, then we need to move past pointing fingers at each other and the type of meat everyone eats and the sins they commit. It’s the classic praying in a stolen shirt .. the two are independent.

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  18. Muslim

    Salaam,

    I definitely agree with the author that one should not question another Muslim brother or sister about whether or not the meat in their house is Zabihah Halal. However, how about when you know the person is not buying Zabihah meat? If you follow a certain Shaykh from a particular school of thought, and you believe that it is Prohibited (Haraam) according to the Sacred Law to eat meat that doesn’t meat such standards, how can you eat that meat?

    I think that there are several other issues, where one would not use this “trust your brother completely” clause and I think Br. Chipper made a very relevant comment. When it comes to business and commercial markets, what is wrong with questioning your vendor or questioning the seller about the integrity of their product? Just because the Muslim community, especially in the west, is diverse and there are different opinions regarding Zabihah meat, why should we feel sorry for the seller? From a business strategy/planning perspective, it would be advantageous for the business owner to research the market and get an understanding of what their consumer wants.

    Other examples of where you shouldn’t just trust what your Muslim brother or sister says just because they say it, is in finding a prospective spouse for your children. Just because a family tells you their son is an outstanding citizen and Muslim, doesn’t mean you should just take their word for it. You have to analyze what they are saying, if there is anything that would lead you to believe otherwise, if their reputation is good and if you are a good father, you would investigate a little bit in order to make sure that the prospective spouse is trustworthy.

    What you put into your body is just as important as who you marry. I would differ with the author in that food is a HUGE part of life for most people. Just look at how many public and private organizations are out there that regulate and do research of food alone. The FDA being the most obvious public institution. From an Islamic perspective, we have to think twice as much as what we put into our body. Not just because of our health only, but because of the unseens aspects of non-halal food that we cannot see with our eyes, but we believe in our hearts. The most important being that we will be punished in the hellfire for consuming things that are Haraam knowingly. The next most important, or even equally important, is that a Muslim’s dua is not accepted when he is consuming things that are Haraam. Whether through illegally earned income, or by directly eating food that is prohibited to eat.

    I also would mention the concept of Auditing that the western world does a great job at, but the Muslim world is severely lacking in. The Prophet Muhammad, Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasalam, taught us to put down in writing contracts that exceeded a certain amount of money involved in a transaction. There is a huge wisdom in this. It doesn’t mean that you don’t trust your brother. It means that you care so much about anything coming in between your trust, you make sure you write it down as proof of what you agreed upon. Same wisdom behind counting money a Muslim or even non-Muslim gives you as soon as you get it. It doesn’t mean you do not trust the other person. You are actually preserving your trust.

    Why not be more open with our financial and business dealings as Muslims? Regular audits from an outside organization would be sufficient proof for the community and even the business owner him or herself that things are being done correctly.

    So many times, restaurants are inspected by government officials and get closed temporarily because they violated codes that would cause health problems. Or buildings get closed because of violating certain building codes, etc. This is how modern day society checks to make sure businesses are operating within the standards and framework set forth withing their laws.

    Anyway, I think the author brings up a good point about trust, but I don’t think it is so simple and I think maybe it should actually be discussed a lot further in more detail. Different ways of trusting different types of individuals or organizations. It shouldn’t be that complicated, but it can’t be that simple either.

    Also, correct me if I am wrong, but don’t the majority of scholars hold the view that meat has to be hand slaughtered with the name of Allah being recited? Also, isn’t that the opinion of all the major schools of thought in Islam?

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      • Muslim

        Salaam,

        I try to follow Hanafi Madhab as best as I can.

        Also, clarification the question I mentioned above about majority of scholars saying it is required to hand slaughter, etc etc. Reason I ask is, a lot of people believe this and we should also be sensitive to their beliefs. If there are Muslims who are really strict about their rulings on Zabihah, other Muslims who are not so strict should cater to their needs. The inconvenience should, in this case, call on the second group of Muslims.

        If I invited a guest to my house, I would make sure to follow any dietary requirements they had. If they need Diet Soda instead of regular. If they eat spicy or not so spicy. If they are vegetarian, etc. Meaning, it is an honor to try to cater to the needs of your guest without making them feel like you are being bothered.

        At work, if an employee can’t eat the meat most are eating, any normal department in a company will cater to that employee’s needs and try to get them some vegetarian option. They won’t ask them to “relax and enjoy the meat” or not take it too seriously.

        If a portion of the Muslim community is more strict with their diet because of their sincere intention to follow a religious opinion or ruling and their belief that it would be wrong to eat a certain thing, I think the other Muslims who are not so strict about it need to let go of their feelings or inconvenience themselves and make the extra effort to help the first group of Muslims follow their beliefs.

        The reason I say this is that the first group is actually losing more in the compromise as opposed to the second group. If the first group lets go of their adherence to strict laws, they are losing something big. If the second group caters to the other Muslim groups needs, they are not breaking any Islamic laws according to their interpretation and they are not losing anything except some worldly inconvenience and are actually gaining something more by making their Muslim brothers feel comfortable and helping them to follow their religion.

        That being said, I would like to repeat that I completely agree that no Muslims should be unnecessarily suspicious of their Muslim brothers and sisters. You don’t need to ask them if their meat is Halal. Especially when you know they know that you are strict with your diet. And I actually found that most Muslim brothers and sisters do exactly what I described above. For several years, I have been hanging out with brothers who I thought followed the same understanding I did in regards to Zabihah meat. One day, by chance, I found out they didn’t and asked them why they inconvenienced themselves to always find Zabihah without ever mentioning once to me that they didn’t eat Zabihah meat. They told me they didn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable or feel like I was inconveniencing them. SubhanAllah, I was very amazed and appreciative of their manners with me for several years.

        I actually think this whole issue can be resolved by the group of Muslims who don’t follow the same strict Zabihah rules as others being extra sensitive to the needs of those who do. Without making them feel guilty or making them feel like they are being stubborn about their opinion.
        At the same time, the brothers and sisters who do follow those strict rules should not be unnecessarily suspicious with their Muslim brothers and sisters.

        In regards to business and commercial issues, I feel Muslims in the US should bind together, take the most strict opinion in regards to Zabihah law, and start creating organizations that will audit other Muslim businesses that sell Meat. This way no one loses out.

        May Allah SWT bind the hearts of all the believers and help the believers to be kind and compassionate with one another, and to take care of one another, Ameen.

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      • Siraaj

        So if one of your brothers who was shafi’ee in madhab started praying after cleaning up a nosebleed, would you join prayers with him, or would you say, “Your prayer is not valid in my madhab, therefore, I can’t join you in prayers”?

        Siraaj

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      • Muslim

        Salaam Br. Siraj,

        Didn’t realize you replied until later – I actually wouldn’t know what to do in that scenario.

        I have asked this question to a Shaykh so will wait for his response, although I have personally never been in that situation.

        From what I know now, I would just ask the brother if he can make wudhu again. I have done this before in regards to prayer times for Asr. Since I am not aware of if, from a Hanafi madhab perspective, I can praye before the Asr time for Hanafi, I just asked my friends to wait for me, or I will just pray afterwards by myself. I don’t think it caused any problems or if I offended anyone by doing that.

        Wasalaam

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      • omar

        It is my understanding that one can pray behind the imam, so long as the imam’s salah is valid according to his own madhab. So Shafii imam with Hanafi follower or vice versa, most important thing here is the imam should be following a valid opinion and his salah should be valid according to his madhab.

        It is superior, though not required, for the imam to make his salah valid according to all 4 madhabs – this applies not only to salah but in general it is from a higher level of taqwa if one can avoid the difference of opinion. But most of us including myself are not at this level.

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    • Chipper

      For a lot of people, it is more about being confindent and comfortable in your decision to purchase something, moreso than being suspicious or the lack of husn adh-dhan (good thougths of others). This is across the board for both products and services.

      We don’t trust our teeth to anyone who calls themselves a dentist, rather we make sure they have the certification and training to operate on our teeth. Most dentist won’t feel offended if you ask them where they studied and trained, rather they would be happy to tell you in order to gain your trust. You aren’t suspicious of them, but you want to be confident in your desicion to choose their dental clinic for your needs.

      (BTW I am a sis)

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  19. Farhan

    I literally laughed out loud when I read the “Keep it classy” line.

    Once, a crazy guy started yelling some conspiracy theory stuff to myself and a group of guys. In retrospect, he probably had a mental problem. After he started behaving really strange, one of the brothers changed the topic to where you are going after you die. He physically withdrew and eventually left us.

    Some random girl was listening to this exchange and came up to us saying that it might sound strange, but she is considering marrying her boyfriend, who is a Muslim and she wanted to learn more about Islam.

    …the intro to that anecdote was more interesting than the conclusion…

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  20. Syed J

    Assalam alaikum

    “Every dollar we deposit into the bank is being used to support predatory lending practices, subjugation of the poor, and padding the pockets of those who do this. We can’t spend a night wracked with guilt over eating some chicken nuggets, but we sleep soundly knowing that our life savings are sitting in banks and being used to further an out-of-control debt crisis? ….How long will we continue to utilize credit cards, giving money with each transaction to companies who make money by turning people into wage slaves?”

    Right on!, ibnabeeomar.

    Btw, i am afraid of directly getting involved in riba. Atleast i try not to. i just want to mention if it benefits any of us that i’ve been in USA since the past 7 years i.e. since 2004 and i only carry a debit card and have never had a CC since i’ve been here. And i’m married with two kids and i rent an apartment.

    Alhamdulillah, i’m doing good.

    Muslims need to focus on developing a complete halal lifestyle which includes Islamic financing and lawful sources of income. And that would not only help muslims in this country, but also help the poor brothers in humanity who’ve become wage slaves.

    Jazak Allah Khair.

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  21. Leo Imanov

    read: “Oh yeah, my boyfriend is from Saudi Arabia and he only eats halal meat.”

    meat must be halal but the relationship??? having girl friend!!!
    amazing!

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  22. ummousama

    Assalamu alaikum,

    In Egypt, I couldn’t open an account in an Islamic Bank because I didn’t have a “thuluthi” name, i.e. passport with my name, father’s first name and surname. :( and that bank is half Saudi :( As I have no car, I need a bank near me, thus putting my money in an non-Islamic bank. Sad.

    As for cars, you really do NOT need a loan to buy a car. If you can’t buy a brand new one, then buy a second-hand one, one that you CAN afford. Start saving afterwards so that, maybe, next car will be a new one.

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  23. WAJiD

    Salaam alaikum,

    Nice article and important message. I wonder if I could postulate a slightly different angle on your message of moving on?

    Whilst I agree that it is a terrible indictment of the priorities of the Muslims when we obsess over halaal/ zabihah whilst we are mired in illiteracy, poverty, secularism and sectarianism etc… – I also feel that unless the underlying mentality involved in why this is such a recurring issue is dealt with, then we are doomed to repeating it in whatever topic we move on to.

    In fact we’re already seeing this with “how halaal is that halaal mortgage?” discussions/ talks/ gossip. The same can and will most likely happen with any and every other issue we move on to.

    As medics we are taught again and again, treat the symptoms and you’ve merely delaying things, but treat the disease and (by the grace of Allah) you’ll make a difference to the health of the patient. The halaal/zabihah situation you pointed out is the symptom of the cancer of Muslims not being united upon Islam. Moving on will not mean that the situation is solved – it will merely return in a more harmful and virulent form later.

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  24. AbuYahya

    Salaam Akhi Ibneeomar

    An interesting read.

    Can I alert you to a correction?

    You said: ‘For some reason, we have turned meat into a haram until proven halal issue’

    My teachers have always taught me that meat indeed is one of those things that is Haraam until proven Halal. One of my respected teachers, Sheikh Abu Abdissalam has this on his brief excerpt about meat on his blog:

    http://www.abuabdissalam.com/?p=14#more-14 : ‘The general rule is that meat is haram until proven to be halal’

    I think this is because the act of slaughtering falls under the banner of it being an act of worship, so it needs to be proven halal……..

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    • Mehdi Sheikh

      Obviously this post is not about Halaal meat so I don’t want to really mention the issue, but I’m a little surprised Br. Abu Yahya, because the explanation of the Br. Abu Abdissalam gives us a more lenient conclusion that what we see from your comment.

      It is absolutely true that in fiqh everything is allowed unless there is a proof otherwise with the exception of Meat and Women to Marry. When Shaykh Mashoor Hasan Salmaan came to Toronto he explained a poem by Shaikh Abdur Rahmaan Sa’adi and he reiterated the same thing.

      This is a cut and paste from the blog you posted with included quote from our most beloved Shaykh Uthaymeen

      The general rule is that meat is haram until proven to be halal. One of the ‘proofs’ that meat is halal is if it is presented to us by a Muslim, Jew or Christian. Of course, if we KNOW that the conditions of slaughtering have been met (spilling of blood, mentioning Allah’s name, etc) then this meat is definitely halal. If we do not KNOW for certainty, but it has been presented to us by a Muslim, Jew or Christian, then the stronger of the scholarly opinions is that this meat is halal because of the narration in Bukhari (no. 5507) from ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said that some people came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “Some people bring meat to us, and we do not know if they mentioned the name of Allah or not.” He said: “Say it yourselves then eat.” If we know for certainty that a particular animal was not slaughtered correctly, whether this was by a Muslim, Jew or Christian, then this meat is haram. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin said, after quoting the above hadith:

      They were new in Islam, and they did not know whether they had said the name of Allah or not, so he said: “Say it yourselves, then eat.” So eating it is permissible even if we do not know whether the one who slaughtered the meat mentioned the name of Allah or not. Similarly it is permissible to eat even if we do not know whether the meat was slaughtered in the proper manner or not, because if the action is carried out by the right people then the basic principle is that it is valid, unless there is evidence to the contrary. So if some meat comes to us from a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian, we should not ask about it or ask how it was slaughtered or whether the name of Allah was mentioned over it. It is halal so long as there is no clear proof that it is haram. This is a way in which Allah has made things easier for us. [Liqaa’aat al-Baab il-Maftooh, 1/77 ]

      Of course the rest of the people can read the very nicely written article themselves from the link you provided.

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  25. AbuYahya

    Salaam Akhi.

    I am glad you are talking about Islamic Finance. It is a topic of great interest for me…

    Please read my articles on Islam 21c about it:

    1) Tuition Fees and Student Debt:
    http://www.islam21c.com/politics/1908-tutition-fees-and-student-debt-are-students-asking-the-right-questions

    2) Where Does Debt Come From:
    http://www.islam21c.com/finance/1959-where-does-debt-come-from

    I know of some brothers on who are really working to promote TRUE islamic finance. Tarek El Diwany is a true expert in this field. I have met him on a number of occasions and he has taught me everything I know in this field. His website it http://www.islamic-finance.com. He has also written a number of university level texts on TRUE Islamic finance.

    The thing is akhi, we need to create a realisation about Islamic Finance first. Many Muslims are unaware about how dirty Riba really is…..Yes we know from the verses in the Qur’an how bad it is, but if we see how dirty our economic systems really are…it will make us hate this thing even more for the Sake of Allah..

    The problem is though, is that economic systems are inextricably linked to the government…and the principles of Islamic banking are not wholly compatible with such a system….hence why we see the current Islamic finanacial products..

    The only way in which Islamic finance can be implemented in its entirety is to spark a paradigm shift….now that is a huge task!!!! And it starts off with education….so keep writing!!!! Maybe we can write something together??!!

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  26. Priorities

    “Oh yeah, my boyfriend is from Saudi Arabia and he only eats halal meat.”

    LOL. That just says it all. Doesn’t it?

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    • Priorities

      I have actually met someone who owns ***-toy shops visible across a large American city and runs a number of Sport’s Bars. He zealously insists on “eating Halal”.

      May Allah open our eyes to the goals of our religion.

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      • Abu Shanab

        I hope this isnt gossipping

        But I knew someone who owned a shop which sold bongs and heavy metal tshirts…..but God help you if you brought non zabiha meat near him

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  27. ahmed

    as salamu alaikum,

    Can we get past the meat? Short answer: No.

    Longer answer:
    Scholars/duat/students spend a lot of time refuting and counter-refuting. Most any fiqh text will clearly bear this out. Aside from the tabloid issues of meat, moonfighting, 8 vs 20, etc etc as many have mentioned above, there are all kinds of issues that even the introductory student will be exposed to. For example: types and conditions of water, where to place the hands in salah, raf’ ul yadain, recitation of fatiha after the imam, and so on.

    The reason for all of this constant rehashing of refutations is simple: a person convinced of his side and trained in arguing for it is simply going to spend most of his time doing exactly that. And inshaAllah, everyone has good intentions in terms of taqwa and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, and this is not an ego issue.

    But the question remains: Can we move the topic to other areas and minimize older discussions?

    Part of the answer can be seen from the time of Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (R). He commented on the fact that so many promising young men would enter theological and jurisprudential schools, hoping to work their way to the top where they would have positions of honor. Rather than fulfilling the needs of society by becoming doctors, all these young men wanted to have positions in the court. Court positions paid very well, and apparently the medical profession was very poorly compensated. (btw, notice the reverse today – where does any bright-eyed young person want to go now). Imam Al-Ghazali states that whole towns would be left without any doctor since all the young men would go study rhetoric, argumentation, etc.

    Salary is a very real factor that we don’t like to talk about. If we want our Imams to take care of these needs by researching other areas, we have to compensate and motivate them accordingly. Such an Imam would then actually be less available to his community since he would have to spend time researching all these nawazil financial issues. Generally, since we expect and pay our imams to treat us like children, that’s exactly what we get.

    btw historians have noted at the time of Imam al-Ghazali, once someone achieved a position of Imam or Mufti, he would constantly have to defend his stances and never admit defeat since he would then lose power and prestige – there was no such thing as a tenured position, and challengers would always be presenting themselves. So the history of argumentation in Islamic history is long and multifaceted.

    wa Allahu ta’aala a’lam

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    • Abu Shanab

      perhaps this arguementative, constant debating and refuting nature is what keeps islam at the forefront of muslims minds and keeps up constantly aware and on our toes

      Allah knows best

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  28. Mohammad Yusha

    If a restaurant sells wine, then it is almost guaranteed that the meat they sell is haram, even if they say otherwise. The reason is because halal meat is expensive, and is someone selling wine really expected to sell halal meat? Another thing is, many restaurants carry fake halal signs.

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      • Mohammad Yusha

        What makes you think everything has to be about you and your article? My comment is a general statement. Thank you for completely missing the point of my comment.

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      • Siraaj

        I guess the problem was that your comment had no relevance to the discussion under which it was found.

        Siraaj

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  29. Abu Fatimah

    I actually 100% agree with this article.

    What about Islamic Bank of Britain btw?

    Surely if we bank with them our money is supporting something better tan the likes of HSBC?

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    • Abu Fatimah

      Also I feel many have missed the mainpoint that we are constantly attacking people for whetehr there meet is halal in our eyes while something much more major and much less discusssed is festering away.

      WHo here can say they havent been affected by the dust of ribba?

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  30. RCHOUDH

    Excellent article brother as well as the comments! From what I understand two things have to happen.
    1). While I believe dealing with popular issues like halaal meat, hijab, keeping the beard, wearing kufi, etc will always be around, I think it’s important for Muslims to learn to respect each others’ opinions and “agree to disagree”.
    2). You’re absolutely right that alongside the more popular issues we have to tackle less well-known but nonetheless important issues also like the system of riba and how we are earning our incomes. Maybe it’s just me but perhaps Muslims feel comfortable dealing with the above-mentioned issues (meat, hijab, etc) more because these are personal aspects of worship and they don’t require anything more than changing individual behaviors. With issues like the financial system you get into having to deal with society-wide issues and I feel that unfortunately too many of us shy away from that because we don’t want to come off as “confrontational”. Along with changing the financial aspect, I feel other important society-wide issues here in the West include tackling issues surrounding our children’s education, domestic family disputes and cultural conflicts as well as racism/sexism/classism within the Muslim community.

    I know that Mash’Allah some endeavors have started to tackle the above-mentioned issues recently (particularly the educational aspect) but I feel more could and should be done. For example we need to find ways to make our Islamic schools more affordable and excellent in giving a well-rounded education, provide resources to Muslims who homeschool, and help those who choose to send kids to public school to navigate their way around the system. Until we gather the courage to deal with society-level issues we’ll always be stuck just perfecting our personal selves at the cost of reforming society.

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  31. ibrahim

    The article is absolutely spot-on. The amount of time devoted to the subject is completely disproportionate to its relative importance; we must move on. I remember before embracing or knowing anything about Islam I knew of this Muslim. He liked to have girlfriends and when he went to restaurants- he enjoyed having a beer. However, when he was presented with the menu by the waiter as he was sipping his beer sitting next to his girlfriend, he would ask if the meat was Halal and if it wasn’t he would restrict his choice to fish and vegetarian dishes.

    I also think that we have a very similar problem with hijab / woman’s dress issue as well. Time to move on there too.

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  32. Kelvin Jones

    Asalaamualaikum, this is exactly the kind of sitting on the fence wishy washy article that creates fitna in the community. It is not written from a scholarly viewpoint and it does not consider serious elements. The fact remains that what we eat directly affects our worship. If we eat Haraam foods then according to hadith our worship is not considered for a defined period (though we still have to continue with it during that time).
    The fact remains that machine slaughter where the slaughter is completed without human interaction is among the consensus of legitimate Ulama Haraam. This is a methodology adopted across the Muslim world.
    Writing an article such as this adds nothing to the process.

    Once it is ingrained in the law of our countries then it no longer needs to be am issue. However in the UK as an example no law exists to protect Halal so effectively a person can buy a supermarket chicken and resell it as Halal without any law to stop it. Once it is protected under similar rules as vegan or kosher then it doesnt need to be am issue. It has only remained an issue for so long because still no law exists to protect Halal and because their will always be Muslims who sell their religion for a small price.

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  33. Samer

    seriously… some brothers aren’t even eating meat! all this work and effort for zabiha vs. halal. What has this ummah come to? The quest for a burger…

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  34. M

    As a muslim who eats hand-slaughtered zabihah meat – I make a distinction b/w eating at people’s (relatives) houses and eating at restaurants. I believe its rude to ask a host if they are serving us (zabihah) halal food. If a person feels very strongly, then they should tactfully avoid the meat – and eat the other food items (unless of course you’re comfortable enough with the hosts to explain your position). However, why shouldn’t we inquire at a restaurant? They are not ‘hosts’, we pay for services, and we have a right to know what we’re paying for. Why should I take them for their word? They should be able to tell me the source of their meat. In a secular environment, it would be completely acceptable for me as a vegetarian, vegan or strict organic-ist to inquire about ingredients and sources – so why not as a muslim? From my experience, Resturaunt managers/owners that get offended or worked up at a simple query – are the ones involved in shady practices.

    I also disagree that if there is some suspicion surrounding the meat (or practices) of the restaurant, we shouldn’t address it in the name of ‘benefit of doubt’ or . Yes, we shouldn’t assume them guilty, or go on a smear campaign and we should make efforts to let them know of the ‘rumor’ to seek a clarification. You’d be surprised at how many Muslims are involved in shady practices. (which I believe was already addressed in the article, as a muslim community, we should also focus on ethical business practices, not just eating halal.) A chef at a local restaurant told us that the owner buys meat from regular stores AND halal stores, so he has receipt proof of halal meat… yet he mixes the two for economic reasons. To me, that’s plain fraud… especially if you’re advertising otherwise. Sometimes information does reach us through either ‘whistle-blowing’ or seeing the owner buy regular meat at restaurant depot. With a lack of strong, reliable national certification body – everyday muslims mostly rely on word of mouth to determine which restaurants and stores sell zabihah meat. So, yes.. discourse is even more important in the current context. And to those talking about Organic & Tayyib meat – how on earth do we expect to get to the level of Halal Organic/Free Range meat if we don’t even want to talk about and elevate the issue?

    So, no, I believe we shouldn’t get past the meat! because if we do, we may never actually reach the desired national level of Halal certification (just like we should not get past Riba & halal finance!). As human beings with a diverse community of various talents and specialities – we are perfectly capable of engaging in multiple discourses at a time.. Its not like talking about halal meat undermines other issues at hand. We should look at the Jewish community and take them & their kosher certification as a model with regards to halal meat. If the jewish community had underplayed and undermined their own dietary laws – they wouldn’t have the largest recognized dietary label today.

    Having said that, of course we should have tolerance, patience & maturity when it comes to dealing with people of differing opinions, fiqh, levels in imaan and personal choice. (This also applies to your fellow muslim who innocently is always inquiring about halal, not just the other way around. Tolerance is a two-way street).

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