ASK A MUSLIM SCHOLAR OCTOBER 2019

Are we allowed to eat animals that have been machine-slaughtered? I hear some people insisting that only hand-slaughtered meat is halal. Is this correct?

There is no basis in Islam for making a distinction between hand-slaughtered meat and machine slaughtered meat. It is not warranted by the principles of Shari’ah nor by the rules of Fiqh. The only valid question to ask is whether the slaughter fulfills the prescribed standards of slaughter.

The rules of the Islamic slaughter are quite precise and straightforward. Let us list them here: Invoking the name of Allah, cutting the throat/arteries with a sharp knife/instrument, thus administering a quick death and sparing the animal unnecessary torture and suffering.

In reply to a question about lawful slaughter, the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated: ” As long as one invokes God’s name, and the animal is slaughtered with a sharp instrument letting the blood flow, you may eat it.” (Reported by Bukhari and others).

In other words, the instrument used should be sharp enough to cut the arteries letting the blood flow efficiently thus sparing the animal of torture or inflicting unnecessary pain. In another hadith, he states: “Allah enjoins benevolence in all things we do: so, if a person were to slaughter an animal (for food) he should sharpen the knife and make the slaughter easy on the animal (to avoid unnecessary torture).” (Reported by Muslim)

These are the rules of slaughter as clearly outlined in the primary sources of Islam, namely, the Qur’an, and the Sunnah; these are the same rules that have been formulated by the great Imams and jurists in all the authentic schools of jurisprudence.

There is virtually no disagreement among them, irrespective of the divergence of their madhhabs (Schools of Jurisprudence), regarding the lawfulness of consuming such meat.

In light of the above, one may safely conclude that all animals that have been slaughtered in this manner, as long as they are fit for Muslim consumption, are considered halal (lawful) for Muslims to eat, irrespective of whether they are hand-slaughtered or machine slaughtered.

In light of these well-established principles, all of the eminent scholars and major juristic councils (including the Fatwa Council of al-Azhar, as well as the World Council of Muslim Jurists, have ruled on the permissibility of machine slaughter as long it conforms to the standards mentioned above.

Therefore, to make a distinction between hand slaughter and machine slaughter, rendering the latter unlawful, is unwarranted as there is no evidence in the sources of jurisprudence for such non-essential differences.

Furthermore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has warned us against hair-splitting and rigidity in matters of religion. Hence, we ought to refrain from creating dissensions based on trivial issues; instead, we must focus on more critical issues that are vital for the survival of Islam and Muslims.

I want to become a neurosurgeon and I would have to perform surgery on both males and females so would it be permissible? As the surgery would be on brain. If not the money earned from this profession would be halal or haram?
As a physician, you are allowed to perform surgery on both males and females – for training purpose – or when demanded by the ethics of your profession.

Although men are to treat men and women are to treat women, in case of necessity, it is okay for a male to treat a female or a female physician to treat a male patient. According to the rules of jurisprudence, things otherwise deemed as impermissible can be rendered permissible because of necessity.

The Prophet (peace be upon him). Anas reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to take Umm Sulaym and a group of women to accompany him to the battle to give water and treat the wounded soldiers. We also know that when Sa’d b. Mu’adh was injured in the war, the Prophet (peace be upon him) set up a tent for him in the Mosque and appointed a female nurse to take care of him.

Based on these reports Imam Showkani states: It is permissible for a woman to treat a male patient when necessary.

In light of these, if you consider this as an area for you to excel and make a contribution, then you may go ahead; you don’t need to worry about treating male patients – if and when your profession demands it as long as you maintain the necessary safeguards.

Is it obligatory for me to continue to help my healthy brother who doesn’t try to help himself progress?

While we are encouraged to help our brothers and sisters if they are poor or unable to care for themselves, we are not allowed spoil them. The best help you can give a brother is to teach him how to help himself. Otherwise, we will only be encouraging sloth and laziness.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us to pray to Allah against sloth and laziness. ööAs the saying goes: ‘’Give a person a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a person how to fish, you feed him forever.” This is the same lesson our Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us when he told one of his companions, “It is better for you to get some rope, go to the forest, gather firewood and sell it. Thus, you can make a living for yourself rather than depend on others!” (Reported by Bukhari and others).

He also said, “No one can eat a better meal than that which he earns through the sweat of his own labour!” (Reported by Imam Ahmad and others). He further said, “One who works hard to earn a living to maintain himself and his family is, indeed, striving in the path of Allah!” (Reported by Tabarani and others).

Therefore, you should not abandon your brother. You might consider getting him some professional help; he would likely benefit from counseling to wean him off of his existing lifestyle. This is better than doling out handouts.

We should regularly pray in the manner of our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, “O Allah, make us self-sufficient with what You have declared as lawful for us so that we do not need to turn to what You have made unlawful for us; make us self-sufficient with Your favour so that we need not look to favour of others, and make us self-sufficient with Your obedience so that we do not need to disobey You.”

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