Creekstone Farms, Explanation
Living in the West, one of the most pressing issues is obtaining ḥalāl food, and specifically ḥalāl meat. So, having general knowledge on the slaughter process is incumbent upon all communities residing here. Now when it comes to slaughtering animals the (minimum) end goal is to sever the animal’s two jugular veins and its windpipe, to accomplish this there are two methods, the first is dhabḥ and the second is naḥr.
The dhabḥ method involves a clean horizontal cut, whereas the naḥr method involves a stab into the lower neck of the animal; the former is allowed for the vast majority of permissible animals while the latter method, according to the Ja’fari school, is only permissible for camels. This directs our attention to Creekstone Farms and their beef, which they via the certifier Halal Transactions of Omaha admit to using the naḥr method.
As stated above the naḥr method is not permissible for cattle according to Ja’fari jurisprudence, the confusion regarding the istiḥlāl of the beef lies in the fact that there is an ikhtilāf among the schools. While the Ja’fari school disallows the naḥr method, some of the Sunni schools allow it, and on this basis the Halal Transactions of Omaha certify it ḥalāl.
However, all is not lost, as the meat provided by Creekstone seems to be highly desirable there are ways that even a naḥr-applied cow can be deemed ḥalāl, for explanation a brief consultation between a student (the writer of this piece) and his Ustādh Ayatullah [Dr.] Hossein Modarressi-Tabatabai is worth reading.
(Questions were asked in manner of the layperson as to make widely understandable, and the blacked out portion deals with an unrelated inheritance inquiry)
So, as the Ayatullah explains naḥr is considered ḥarām unanimously according to the Ja’fari school, but if the animal wounded by the naḥr method is still alive the dhabḥ method can still be applied to make it ḥalāl, but the condition for the dhabḥ is that the cut has to be made properly.
Now from previous public correspondences with the Halal Transactions of Omaha, of respected individuals like Mufti Hussain Kamani from the Hanafi school, it seems that Creekstone have made some slight adjustments to their slaughtering method to incorporate a horizontal cut. But appeasement on the horizontal cut for the Hanafi school [of Mufti Kamani] is not necessarily proper for the Ja’fari school, hence to attain more clarity on this issue, the writer of the piece decided to also correspond with the Halal Transactions of Omaha.
The entire correspondence is as follows:
Now, what we arrive at based on the email correspondence is that the Creekstone Farms undeniably applies the naḥr method, and the Halal Transactions of Omaha admit that the method employed is not agreeable to all schools of Islam. Secondly after further questioning, they explain that they include a horizontal cut but by the ‘definition’ of the naḥr method in one ‘motion.’ This wording is confusing, do they mean that the stab itself makes a horizontal wound or that a separate and proper horizontal cut according to the dhabḥ method is being applied? By definition, the naḥr method only involves stabbing, and the cow being stabbed horizontally or vertically doesn’t make a difference, it remains ḥarām; even if the horizontal stab mimics the results of the dhabḥ. Whereas if a separate and proper dhabḥ cut were to be applied while the cow were still living, as explained by the abovementioned Ayatullah, the slaughtered cow would be considered ḥalāl, but how can a separate cut be performed in one ‘motion?’ Naḥr followed by the horizontal dhabḥ are two motions, if two separate and distinct motions are being applied only then can Creekstone beef be considered ḥalāl for the Ja’fari school.
Thus, as confusion remains abound, we suggest to the Halal Transactions of Omaha to fly out a Shi’i scholar* to the Creekstone Farms to ascertain [by eyes] the matter once and for all. This would not only set a precedent to the honesty and integrity of the Halal Transactions of Omaha, but could also benefit the Creekstone Farms as well. Muslims of the Ja’fari school are just as yearning of high quality beef as any other group, maybe even more, and verifying the ḥalāl-ness of the meat would only increase the clientele of the company by hundreds of thousands in the US alone.
Until then, it is recommended that Shi’i Muslims refrain from eating Creekstone beef as the danger of eating ḥarām, even unknowingly, is too severe.
(*In the midwest region where the Creekstone Farms and the Halal Transactions of Omaha are based, there are a plethora of qualified Shi’i scholars whom can be brought to inspect, the writer of this piece suggests Sayyid Sameer Ali of Wisconsin and Sayyid Sulayman Hasan of Illinois)
Writer: Agha Shabbir Abbas (Researcher, MA in Islamic Studies (Rutgers), specialization in Islamic Jurisprudence, continuing further graduate studies at Columbia University)