Original Author: Imam Yahya Momla.
Allah says, “O humanity! Eat from what is lawful and good on the earth and do not follow Satan’s footsteps. He is truly your sworn enemy.” [2:168]
All of us acknowledge in principal the need to ensure that all food we consume is halal. However, many of us disagree with regards to exactly how much verification is warranted before we are content with a halal claim. There are those amongst us that will seemingly consume anything that anyone claims is halal. There are also those amongst us that seem to never be convinced, no matter who says something is halal. Many of us are just simply confused and would simply appreciate some direction. What follows is a 101 on the fiqh of halal verification, intended for the everyday Muslim. For the purpose of this post, the object of our verification is meat.
The default ruling is that all meat is haram until proven halal.
It is a well know maxim that all meat is considered haram until proven halal.
الأصل في الذبائح التحريم
“The default ruling regarding slaughter is that of prohibition”
Therefore, our first instinct when we come across a new source of meat or a new restaurant that serves meat should always be to question and verify.
Not all information is accurate/acceptable
When verifying whether meat is halal or not, you must be reasonably sure the conditions of zabīha have been fulfilled. How far you must go in verifying a halal claim depends on your context.
If you reside in a land where the conditions of zabiha are generally fulfilled, the testimony of any individual is sufficient evidence to support a halal claim.
If you live in a land where the conditions of zabiha are generally not fulfilled, as is the case for us here in Canada, you must rely on the testimony of a reliable Muslim. There is not exactly a litmus test for who is and is not “reliable” but a good start would be a Muslim who is at least aware of the requirements of halal slaughter.
Another well know maxim is
إذا اجتمع الحلال والحرام غلب الحرام
“When halal and haram come into contact, haram prevails.”
The maxim means if something halal comes into contact with something haram, the entire contents become haram. In the context of this maxim, scholars of usūl (principles of Islamic jurisprudence) also deduce that when one obtains two reports, one supporting a halal claim and the other supporting a haram claim, the haram is given preference.
إذا تعارض دليلان، أحدهما يقتضي التحريم والآخر الإباحة، قدم التحريم
“When two proofs contradict one another, one claiming permissibility and the other impermissibility, (the proof claiming) impermissibility is given preference”
- All meat is haram until proven to be halal
- The onus to verify whether or not something is halal is on you
- In our context, only the testimony of a reliable Muslim is acceptable to determine the halal status of a meat source
- Cross contamination makes halal meat haram
- When in doubt, leave it out