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Laws of Religion

Laws of Islam Concerning Food

 

6.  Reciting Divine Names

 

from the Holy Qur’an, major hadith collections

and Islamic jurisprudence

 

 

Reciting Divine Names

From Islamic Source documents: Qur’an and Hadith

 

The Qur’an prohibits the consumption of meat over which a name other than that of Allah (God) has been invoked.[1] Animals sacrificed on stone altars (of other gods) or to stone idols are prohibited.[2] One extension of this is the prohibition against milking (and, therefore, drinking milk from) animals whose milk is designated for idols or which have been set free by idol worshipers (polytheists) in the name of one of their gods.[3]

 

The Qur’an also instructs believers to eat food over which Allah’s name has been said.[4] Eating food over which Allah’s name has not been said is a transgression.[5] In several hadiths, Muhammad prescribes the recitation of Allah’s name over food when eating.[6]

 

Hadiths also require that Allah’s name be said when slaughtering an animal for food,[7] though Muhammad shows leniency in this by permitting recent converts to Islam to say Allah’s name over food before eating when they are not sure if the name had been said at slaughter.[8] In fact, any Muslim receiving meat who is not sure if the name of Allah was invoked at the slaughter may say the name of Allah and then eat the meat.[9]

 

Specific rules concerning reciting the name of Allah apply to different methods of hunting. The name of Allah is to be recited when hunting with a bow and arrow to make the game permissible for eating.[10] When using a trained dog or bird to hunt, the name of Allah is to be said over the dog or bird.[11] So if a Muslim’s trained hound catches or kills game[12] without eating any of it[13], then it is permitted to eat it because Allah’s name has been said over the hound when sending it to hunt.[14] However, if an untrained hound kills the game, it is not permissible to eat it – though it is permitted if the untrained hound only catches, but does not kill, the game.[15] Similarly, if another dog is found with killed game in addition to the trained hunting dog, then the killed animal may not be eaten since the other dog may have participated in the hunt and it was not blessed by saying Allah's name over it.[16]

 

If a hunting dog eats part of the animal, it is forbidden to eat the meat[17] because the dog has hunted for itself.[18] (It is not a valid slaughter by hunting under the blessing of Allah that was pronounced in sending the dog to hunt). It is also forbidden to eat meat from an animal that has been partly eaten by a wild animal.[19]

 

 

Reciting Divine Names

From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh§):  The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer of Ibn Rushd, the Risala of al-Shafi‛i and Reliance of the Traveller

 

The prohibition against eating anything over which the name of a god other than Allah (God) has been spoken is referred to in passing in al-Shafi‛i’s Risala.[20]

 

For al-Shafi‛i[21] and the Shafi‛i school[22], saying the name of Allah when slaughtering or hunting an animal for food is strongly recommended, but not obligatory. Malik and Abu Hanifa say that it is required when remembered[23], but according to a 20th century scholar cited in Reliance of the Traveller, the Hanafi school holds that reciting the name of Allah when slaughtering an animal is obligatory[24].

 

Imam Dhahabi, an important 13th-14th century Shafi‛i scholar quoted in the English translation of Reliance of the Traveller, lists as “enormities” eating food over which Allah’s name has not been pronounced[25] or slaughtering an animal in the name of a deity other than Allah[26]. The definition of “enormity” is discussed on a previous page, Rules Concerning Dead Meat.

 

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§The more general term sharia is often used loosely to mean the specific derived laws of fiqh, such as those summarized here.

 

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Laws of Religion is a project of the Religion Research Society.

 

Updated October 14, 2016

 

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Table of Contents – Food Laws of Islam

 

Index – Food Laws of Judaism and Islam

 

Abbreviations used in footnotes:

QR:   Qur’an, with surahs (chapters) and ayahs (verses) numbered as in most modern translations, including those found here, here and here.

BK:    Hadith collection of al-Bukhari as found here (USC website) and here (ebook download). In a few instances, the hadiths on the USC website differ from those in the ebook download, either by having slightly different numbering of the hadiths or because the hadith appears only on the USC site and not in the ebook download. Such cases are noted in the footnotes by putting either “(USC)” or “(ebook)” after the relevant hadith number when it applies to only one of these two sources.

ML:    Hadith collection of Muslim as found here and here.

DJP:  The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, by Ibn Rushd, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, published by Garnet Publishing Ltd, Reading, UK. Volume 1, 1994. Volume 2, 1996. Limited preview is available here (Volume 1) and here (Volume 2). Full text online and download for Volume 1 is here and here and for Volume 2 is here and here.

RT:    Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, revised edition 1994, published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA. It can be downloaded as a pdf file from various websites such as this one.

SR:    al-Shafi‛i’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri, Second Edition, published by The Islamic Texts Society. It can be downloaded here.

●  The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.

 



[1] QR 2:173, QR 5:3, QR 6:145, QR 16:115

[2] QR 5:3, BK 5:58:169, BK 7:67:407

[3] BK 4:56:723, BK 6:60:147

[4] QR 6:118-119

[5] QR 6:121

[6] BK 7:65:288, BK 7:65:290, ML 23:5004‑5005, ML 23:5006

[7] BK 3:44:668, BK 3:44:684, BK 4:52:309, BK 5:58:169, BK 7:67:407, BK 7:67:411, BK 7:67:417

[8] BK 7:67:415, BK 9:93:495

[9] BK 3:34:273

[10] BK 7:67:387, BK 7:67:396, BK 7:67:404, ML 21:4741, ML 21:4743‑4744

[11] QR 5:4

[12] BK 7:67:384, BK 7:67:385, BK 7:67:386, BK 7:67:387, BK 7:67:392, BK 7:67:393, BK 7:67:395, BK 7:67:396, BK 7:67:404, BK 9:93:494, ML 21:4732, ML 21:4733, ML 21:4734-4735-4736, ML 21:4737-4738, ML 21:4741, ML 21:4743-4744

[13] BK 7:67:392, BK 7:67:393, ML 21:4733, ML 21:4737-4738, ML 21:4741

[14] BK 7:67:384, BK 7:67:385, BK 7:67:393, BK 7:67:394, ML 21:4734-4735-4736, ML 21:4737-4738, ML 21:4739-4740

[15] BK 7:67:387, BK 7:67:396, BK 7:67:404, ML 21:4743‑4744

[16] BK 1:4:175, BK 3:34:270, BK 7:67:384, BK 7:67:385, BK 7:67:392, BK 7:67:393, BK 7:67:394, ML 21:4732, ML 21:4733, ML 21:4734‑4735‑4736, ML 21:4737‑4738, ML 21:4739‑4740, ML 21:4741

[17] BK 1:4:175, BK 7:67:385, BK 7:67:392, BK 7:67:393, BK 7:67:394, BK 7:67:395, ML 21:4733, ML 21:4734-4735-4736, ML 21:4737-4738, ML 21:4741

[18] BK 1:4:175, BK 7:67:385, BK 7:67:392, BK 7:67:393, BK 7:67:394, BK 7:67:395, ML 21:4733, ML 21:4734-4735-4736

[19] QR 5:3

[20] SR 161 (pages 170-171)

[21] DJP 14.4.1 (Volume 1, page 541), DJP 15.3 (Volume 1, pages 554-558)

[22] RT j17.5 (page 365)

[23] DJP 14.4.1 (Volume 1, page 541), DJP 15.3 (Volume 1, pages 554-558)

[24] RT j17.5, (page 365)

[25] RT p54.1 (page 689)

[26] RT p54.2 (page 689)