Q&A: Halal Meat

Shaykh Salim Ghisa

How do I know my meat I eat or buy is halal? And who are HFA/HMC? As one says stunning animals is allowed and other says it isn’t so what is the correct process of slaughtering animals in Islam?


In the name of Allah the Most Beneficent and Merciful.

Eating meat which has been slaughtered in a Halal way is obligatory upon every Muslim. The slaughtering of an animal (which is permissible to eat) has to be done in a prescribed method.

Allah Almighty says:

“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been invoked in the name of other than Allah, that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it (before the animal dying due to the above causes).” [Qur’an, Surah al-Ma’idah, 5.3]

Based on the above order, according to the Hanafi Madhab three main aspects are necessary before an animal (permissible to eat) is deemed Halal:
a) Most of the four veins (including the Jugular vein, according to some) must be cut with a tool that is sharp and has a cutting edge;
b) The name of Allah must be taken at the time of slaughtering,
c) The slaughterer must be either a Muslim or from the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). [As mentioned by Haskafi and Ibn Abidin in Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar]

It should also be remembered here, that all these conditions are necessary individually and separately. Failure to fulfill them will render the animal unlawful.
There are various detailed rules with the above conditions which we will not go into in this article.

However, what is important to understand is that many people believe that just because it is stated in various food outlets that the meat served is Halal as a mere label is not sufficient authority.

Whilst it is Islamic practice to assume good of your Muslim brothers and sisters it is also the duty of a Muslim to ensure that the one serving meat is a follower of the Shari'ah and does not flout the Shari'ah in their day to day practices.

Because this is not guaranteed in many situations in this day and age it is important that the meat served is slaughtered in the Halal way and therefore the process is monitored by an authentic organisation.

It is for this reason the HMC (Halal Monitoring Committee) was established. The HMC ensures that the full slaughtering method and delivery is done according Halal means without the need for stunning and does not allow any form of stunning.

The HFA (Halal Food Authority) does allow water bath stun for poultry and electric tong stun for ovine meat, hence some scholars do not approve of this method. The reason why stunning is very risky is that the animal may die before it is actually slaughtered (especially in the case of chickens) and therefore it would be Haram to eat.

The HFA state on their website that they allow controlled electric stun-with-minuscule amperage, with official Veterinary Surgeon validating that the animal or the birds do not die prior to slaughtering.

The conclusion is that one must be very careful before consuming meat and if there is doubt it is better to leave it out.

Of course Allah knows best.


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