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Last Updated: 2012/03/08
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The Quran has only prohibited eating the meat of animals that names other than God’s were mentioned on while being slaughtered. So, why is it haram to consume the meat of those on which neither the name of God nor others’ names were mentioned?
As far as I know the Quran has only prohibited meat the phrase “اهل لغیر الله” speaks of, meaning that haram meat is that which others’ names were mentioned on while being slaughtered or meat slaughtered for idols, because at the time, people would sacrifice animals for the idols. The phrase does not cover meat that no name was mentioned on when being slaughtered. On this basis, shouldn’t the ruling be changed, meaning that it should be permissible to consume the latter type of meat which is widely provided in western countries? What is the difference between halal meat animals and Dhabihah? Is it haram to consume the abovementioned type of meat due to a certain hadith or verse? Of course it is better to mention God’s name, but if there is no hadith or verse in this regard, then the ruling should be changed, especially given the difficulty of finding Halal meat in foreign countries.
Concise answer

One of the clearest verses in this regard is verse 173 of surah Baqarah. This verse can be understood in two ways, meaning that it can, according to one interpretation, cover the meat you asked about. This interpretation is more accurate and preferred, as we will mentioned the reasons for this claim.

1- Compatibility with verse 111 of surah An’am which states: “Do not eat [anything] of that over which Allah's Name has not been mentioned, and that is indeed transgression.”

2- Compatibility with the ahadith, some of which we will mention in the detailed answer.

3- Consensus amongst Shi’a scholars and other early Muslims scholars (except for the Shafi’i sect)

4- Compatibility with the precise translations of the Quran, the understanding of the authors of Ayat al-Ahkam books (books that exclusively interpret and explain verses of the Quran that stipulate Islamic rulings).

5- Compatibility with the fatwas of contemporary maraji’.

Detailed Answer

The phrase ” اهل لغیر الله” has been mentioned in four surahs of the Quran[1]; surah An’aam (revealed in the advent of Islam), Nahl (revealed at the end of the prophet’s stay in Mecca), and also in surahs Baqarah (revealed at the beginning of the prophet stay in Medina) and Ma’idah (revealed at the end of the prophets stay in Medina).

One of the clearest verses in this regard is verse 173 of surah Baqarah that we will examine and observe below:

إِنَّما حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَ الدَّمَ وَ لَحْمَ الْخِنْزيرِ وَ ما أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ باغٍ وَ لا عادٍ فَلا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحيمٌ

The Meaning of “اُهل” in the phrase “أُهِلَّ لِغَیرِ اللَّهِ

Ihlaal (اهلال) means to say something out loud. The polytheists used to call out “By Lat and Uzza (two idols)” while slaughtering animals.

When a baby would cry out loud after being born, Arabs would use the phrase “استهلّ الصبی”.[2]

Interpreting the Verse

The verse says: “He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swine flesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than Allah”. The verse is referring to two points in its unique briefness:

First: God’s name should be mentioned when slaughtering an animal

Second: If other names are mentioned the meat is not consumable

There are four possible options in this regard; first: only God’s name is mentioned, second: other names are mentioned, third: both God’s name and other names are mentioned, fourth: no name is mentioned at all. The first is indisputably accepted. The second is clearly negated. The third is an example of “other names being mentioned” (أُهِلَّ لِغَیرِ اللَّهِ), even though God’s name was also mentioned. Therefore, the verse also negates the third option.

At first the verse seems to allow the fourth option, however, when we observe it more precisely, we find that this is not the meaning of the verse, because the verse says: “animals with other names being called out”, which implies that some sort of a name was being mentioned, as the verse uses the verb Ihlal (saying something out loud). This presumption of the verse (which shows that a name is being called) shows that the fourth option really can't be an option. The polytheists would mention the names of idols and the Quran is prohibiting them from doing so. Despite the fact that this is not the only possible interpretation, one must accept it, when it is considered along with the other verses and ahadith:

1- Verse 121 of An’am surah which states:” Do not eat [anything] of that over which Allah's Name has not been mentioned, and that is indeed transgression.”[3] It is understood from this verse that if nothing is mentioned, then it is haram to consume the meat. Therefore, this verse clearly declares the fourth option to be haram to consume.

2- Verse 118 of surah An’am which states: “Eat from that over which Allah's Name has been mentioned, if you are believers in His signs.”[4] This verse also indirectly implies that one cannot consume animals without mentioning God’s named at the time of slaughter.

3- Mentioning God’s name is so important that when the Quran addresses hunters, it says that they must mention God’s name when they unleash their hunting dogs after the game.[5]

4- In some books of Ayat al-Ahkam, it is mentioned that the phrase “ما اهل لغیر الله” also covers animals that no name is mentioned over. [6]

5- The ahadith also point out the following condition. In a hadith from Imam Reza, he says: “God has made it haram to consume meat that others’ names have been mentioned over, because He has made it incumbent upon His servants and acknowledge His oneness, and in mentioning His name lies acknowledgment of His lordship and oneness.”[7]

On this basis, all Muslim scholars believe that it is incumbent to mention God’s name at the time of slaughter, and one could say that there is a consensus in this regard amongst Shia scholars.[8]

However, amongst our Sunni brothers, the Shafi’is believe that “Tasmiyyah” (Mentioning God’s name) is not the condition that must be met, but rather all that counts is that no other name be mentioned.[9]

It is obvious that the abovementioned fatwa contradicts Quranic verses and the opinion of all other Muslim scholars.

Similarly, all of the contemporary maraji’ believe that “Tasmiyyah” is required. The only exception is if one forgets to do so. (In such a situation, he can consume the meat after slaughtering it.)[10]

Finally, we must note two points:

First: Tasmiyyah is not just mentioning a name and just a simple acknowledgment, but it also may have certain effects on the slaughtered animal that only Allah is aware o.

Second: Nowadays, halal meat is provided in most countries. In countries that halal meat is scarce, one must consume meat that does not require ritual slaughtering, like fish.

The Difference between Halal Meat and Dhabihah

Animals fall into different categories in terms of whether or not their meat is halal to consume:

First: Animals that are halal to eat if they are slaughtered with all the conditions. These are called “halal dhabihah”. Therefore, if an animal has been slaughtered, meaning that its four veins have been cut first, but the other conditions have not been met, then consuming its meat and using its other parts like its skin during prayer will not be permissible.[11]

Second: Animals that are not halal to eat like wolves and tigers.[12] If these animals are slaughtered in the correct way, their skin and other parts can be used for different purposes (i.e., their skin and other parts aren't najis), but the meat cannot be consumed.

Third: Animals that are najis and cannot be used for any means, even if they are slaughtered correctly, like dogs and pigs.[13]


[1] Baqarah:173; Maa’idah:3; An’aam:145; Nahl:115.

[2] Darvish, Muhyiddin, I’raab al-Quraan wa Bayaanuh, vol. 2, pg. 408, Daar al-Irshaad, Syria, fourth edition, 1415 AH.

[3]وَ لا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ یذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَیه

[4]فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَیه

[5] Maa’idah:4.

[6] Miqdaad, Jamaluddin, Kanz al-Irfaan fi Fiqh al-Quraan, vol. 2, pg. 301, Qum, date unknown; Kaazemi, Javaad, Masaalik al-Afhaam ilaa Ayaat al-Ahkaam, vol. 4, pg. 141, Murtadawi, 1389 AH.

[7] Hurr Ameli, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, Wasaa’il al-Shiah, vol. 24, pg. 213, Ihyaa’ al-Turaath, Qum.

[8] Hilli, Shaykh Husayn, Dalil al-Urwat al-Wuthqaa, vol. 1, pg. 376, al-Najaf Press, 1379 AH.

[9] Al-Jaziri, Abd al-Rahmaan and Yaasir Maazih, al-Sayyid Muhammad, al-Fiqh alaa al-Madhaahib al-Arba’ah, vol. 1, pg. 400, Al-Maktabah al-Asriyyah, Beirut, 1426 AH.

[10] Tawdih al-Masaa’il of the maraji’, vol. 2, pg. 573, issue 2594.

[11] Imam Khomeini, Sayyid Ruhullah Musawi, Tawdih al-Masaa’il (annotated), researched and edited by: Bani Hashemi Khomeini, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, vol. 2, pg. 570, issue 2588, Islamic Publications Office, Qum, eighth edition, 1424 AH.

[12] Mohammadi Khorasani, Ali, Sharhe Tabsirat al-Muta’allimin, vol. 1, pg. 106, date and place unknown.

[13] Ibid.


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