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Consuming Unlawful Meat Whilst in Distant Non-Muslim Lands

Answered by Shaykh Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam, Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK

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My wife and I backpack across countries often. During these ventures we go through non-Muslim countries where there isn’t a spot of halal meat in sight (Eastern China, Cambodia, Korea, etc). Is it permissible to eat non-halal meat in this situation? It is very difficult to walk for hours with a heavy backpack and a stomach full of rice and lentils.


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

No, it would not be permissible to consume unlawful (haram) meat on trips to countries where is no Halal meat available. Eating of Haram meat becomes permissible only in dire and compelling situations.

Allah Most High states:

“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked 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 (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah al-Ma’ida, v.3)

Similarly, Allah Most High states in another place:

“He (Allah) has only forbidden upon you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name has been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 173)

The above two verses are clear on the fact that it is unlawful in normal circumstances to consume the meat of dead animals. However, if one is forced, in that one fears death if the meat was not consumed, then there will be no sin in eating from the meat. It will not become permissible to consume Haram meat in ordinary situations of need and pain. It will only be permissible for a person whose hunger has driven him to a point that he fears his life, if the unlawful meat was not consumed.

Allah Most High in the second verse subjected this special permission with two conditions:

1) The intention should be to save one’s life and not that of enjoying the food,

2) He should only consume an amount that which is sufficient to save his life. This is also based on the famous principle of Fiqh (qa’idah) “Cases of need are restricted to the actual need.” (Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir, p. 86)

Based on the above, it would not be normally permissible for you to eat unlawful (haram) meat when you are on your ventures to distant lands unless if there is a state of compulsion and danger of losing life. It will not be permitted to consume Haram meat merely because it becomes very difficult to walk.

The solution could be that you take Halal meat with you in a cooler or something similar, and keep it stored, thus when the need arises you can eat from it. Also, if fish is easily available, you may want to eat fish, for fish is also a type of meat.

And Allah knows best

Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester, UK

[Source: Darul Iftaa]


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