UK: Guidelines and Fatwa on Qurbani

By Naved Syed, Halal advisor to Hijaz group
Prophetic Qurbani is the act of offering the sacrifice of an animal to Allah (SWT) on Eid ul-Adha and is one of the obligatory acts of Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.

The Prophet (PBUH) was once asked: “What is Qurbani?”

The Prophet (PBUH) replied: “It is the Sunnah of the Prophet Ibrahim (AS). For every hair of the Qurbani you receive a reward from Allah (SWT).” [Tirmidhi]
In other words its all about the sacrifice and not about the meat.
With Eid al-adha approaching at the end of June, and the qurbani thereafter, its very important that the qurbani animal that has been chosen for sacrifice at the time of Eid al-Adha on behalf of the muslim consumer. It must adhere to all the qurbani guidelines which state that the qurbani animal that has been selected to be sacrificed for the qurbani has to be performed in a religious manner meaning non stun as per the original guidance and as performed by the Prophet Ibrahim (AS). Now also, with the support of the Fatwa decree’s  by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, its important to also know that this is the first time that a fatwa has been issued in the UK for halal meat by an Islamic institute based on the sharia law. Details are below.
According to FSA’s own data, which was issued at the Qurbani task group attended by the majority of its law enforcement officers, it was said that over 30 Abattoirs that took part in qurbani last year were not certified halal by any halal certifier in the UK (over 80% of last years qurbani). Thereby not having any knowledge about what the qurbani criteria is. What was also amazing at the same meeting was that one of the members said that qurbani is important. He allowed his member to make quick money over the 4 days and having part chilling would make it easy for his members.

This year for qurbani in the UK at the end of June, we are about to experience what I call a double jeopardy. Not only not having to adhere to the religious sacrifice for qurbani but also now FSA/DEFRA in their wisdom are introducing the relaxing of EC Regulation 853/2004 for the chilling of all meat from abattoirs for a period of just 4 days only. This is just so that Food Board Operators can slaughter more animals quickly within the 4 days and not require them to be fully chilled; as to the chilling regulation demands for the other 361 days of the year.

Last year FSA/DEFRA carried their own consultation regarding the relaxing of chilling Regulation EC 853/2004. According to the consultation, over 66% of their own food Law enforcement officers were not in favour of relaxing Regulation EC 853-2004 due to the possible risk to health and safety taken from a  statement from their own consultation paper which was recently carried out from which I quote:

1.  Food Law Enforcement Officer (FLEO)  

“It is pointless to temporarily relax the legislation and a few days later revert to business as usual. The bacteria will not be on holiday during that period.”

2.  From (FBO)

“Food Business Operator (FBO)  – The original legislation was introduced to protect the consumer from potential bacterial contamination and to reduce the overall risk of food related poisonings. To make exceptions to this working practice, for whatever reason, make a mockery of our rules-based system and could potentially open the floodgates for similar exceptions. Talking from a personal perspective, I have had goods rejected from my retail and manufacturing customers for being over 5 degrees on arrival despite the ambient temperature being in the high 30’s resulting in huge personal cost. To make it legal to sell meat straight from the slaughter line makes a complete farce of our existing rules. I totally object on every level.”

3.   From London Central Mosque

“As you stated in the consultation document on page 5 “Advice was sought from the Chief Imam at the London Central Mosque who confirmed that quick supply of the Qurbani meat is observed practice and not a religious obligation”. Therefore, whilst it may be slightly inconvenient to wait until the 2nd day of this celebration to consume or distribute the meat, in order to allow the meat to be chilled to a core temperature of 7°C (carcase) or 3°C (offal) at red meat slaughterhouses, it helps remove a potential risk to the consumer.”

We all need to collectively understand the important role temperature plays in keeping food safe which FSA/DEFRA seem to forget because its for the muslim community. For qurbani this can be critical as it’s called the “Danger Zone (40 °F and 140 °F),where bacteria grows most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Leaving food out too long at room temperature or unrefrigerated can cause bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus, salmonella Enteerritidis,  Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter) to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. This is being compromised at the  holiest time of qurbani, where meat for qurbani can possible be left out for 8/10 hours without any form of refrigeration.

It is of great concern for our muslim community/public health that high risk is at stake. FSA/DEFRA are being pressured from the abattoirs who are only interested in financial gain, and are directly benefiting from relaxing of the regulation EC No 853/2004 just for Qurbani, with no thought of the safety and hygiene for the muslim community.

Let’s hope and pray that over qurbani period we have no health and safety issue, any concerns or possible problem from food poisoning with the possible potential of bacterial contamination in meat left out unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. It is not recommended according to the FSA website. We have to bear in mind this becomes a double jeopardy as the qurbani meat leaving the abattoir wasn’t fully chilled in the first place up to the legal regulation temperature.

In my opinion, this could possibly be a risk to general public health issue for the muslim community special in this hot weather where meat is been carried in cars. This has been created by FSA/DEFRA just to support the food board operators (FBO) to enable them to slaughter more animals for greater profit.

I would like us to turn our attention to the religious aspect of Qurbani as there is no governance for halal food for the muslim community here in the UK; unlike Australia and New Zealand who are one of the leading producers of halal meat who have governance for halal.

The UK having no governance for halal food is not quite correct, there is governance policy for halal food in place, it’s just that FSA do not want to adhere to it. They have produced a document which is called food law practice guidance 2004 for law enforcement officers. It applies to all the UK community on food law practice guidance for FSA enforcement officers, which also has a section for halal food. Unfortunately they have decided their enforcement officers can exclude the section regarding halal food.

Therefore, the only option for help was to refer the matter to the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal which operates under the Arbitration Act 1996 and got their religious scholars to make a judgement. They have issued the first ever qurbani Fatwa here in UK to give governance for qurbani, and also to give support and backing to the FSA food law practice guidance for their enforcement officers to enforce so that the muslim community can have equality from FSA by their enforcement officers.

This Fatwa should eradicate most of the qurbani fraud with the support of enforcement officers as the would give them a legal ground/document to enforce the qurbani rules.

What does the Fatwa say?

This is a religious fatwa (religious ruling) of the obligations, requirements and recommendations for (religious slaughter) of animals during the festival of EidulAdhaa.


“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him.  In this way We have made them (the animals) submissive to you so that you may glorify Allah for your Guidance.  And give blessed news (O beloved Prophet ?) to those who do good deeds (Muhsineen).”  (Holy Qur’an 22:37)

 What is Qurbani (Religious slaughter or sacrifice)?

Qurbani is an Islamic obligation upon us ordained by Almighty Allah as part of the religious festivities of EidulAdhaa.  This is following the great show of obedience of Sayidinaa Ibraheem (u) when he was asked to sacrifice his blessed son Sayidinaa Isma’eel (u).  Almighty Allah caused him to sacrifice a white-horned ram instead, as is stated in the Qur’an:

We ransomed his son with a great sacrifice’  (Holy Qur’an 37:107).

It is said that this ram was one extremely special who had grazed in Jannah for 40 years before being transported down to this earth.  The horns of this ram were in fact were passed down through the generations of the family of sayidinaa Isma’eel till our beloved Prophet PHUH and beyond.  It is also said that this ram was the same sacrificed by Habil (HQ 5:27) generations earlier.

As Qurbani is a religious obligation for us, we must follow the correct procedures and regulations.  Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) has stated the following:

It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said:

“The Messenger of Allah ? addressed us on the Day of Sacrifice (EidulAdhaa), and he went toward two ‘Amlah’ rams and sacrificed them.”  (Abridged).  (Nisaaee 4,388)


It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said:

“The Messenger of Allah ? addressed us on the Day of Sacrifice (EidulAdhaa), and he went toward two ‘Amlah’ rams and sacrificed them.”  (Abridged).  (Nisaaee 4,388)


 Rules of Qurbani in accordance with the Hanafi school of Jurisprudence

In the Hanafi school, Qurbani is wajib and hence considered compulsory if all conditions are met.  Other schools differ with some agreeing that it is compulsory and others saying that it is a highly recommended sunnah.  In Hanafi fiqh:

1.  The Hanafi school states that all sane, adult Muslims (who have reached the age of puberty), who possesses the Nisaab value must give a Qurbani.  Therefore, if one is eligible to pay Zakat, one should offer a Qurbani.

2.  Qurbani must be performed on the 10th, 11th or 12th days of ThulHijjah.

3.  Sacrifices can only be made after the Eid prayer in that locality.  (Note that sacrifices made before do not count as Qurbani but sadaqah).  This is because our most beloved Prophet ? offered the Eid prayer and then only after that made the sacrifice.

4.  Animals for sacrifice must be sacrificed by religious slaughter;  must meet minimum age and health requirements; must be slaughtered by hand, by a Muslim slaughterman reciting tasmiyyah and takbir on each and every animal.

5.  Sheep & Goats must be at least one year old;  Cows and Buffalo should be as least two years old;  Camels should be at least five years old.  Both male and female animals are deemed permissible for Qurbani.

6.  Sheep and Goats count as one Qurbani and Cows, Buffalo and Camels count as seven, thus, seven people can share one Cow, Buffalo or Camel.

7.  Qurbani sacrifices can be given in three shares – one for yourself, one for family or friends and one for the poor and needy; or all of it can be donated to the poor.

8.  It is permissible to give more than one Qurbani although after the first one, the remainder count as sadaqah and are nafl (optional).

9.  The animals offered for sacrifice must be healthy and fit with limbs, teeth and eyesight intact – although minor injuries are permissible.

10. Qurbani can be offered in areas where there is greatest need such as to refugees, isolated and poor communities, or those in general hardship.  However, the needs of your immediate locality should not be ignored.

11.  It is permissible to store the Qurbani such as in tins or frozen for distribution over distance if required.

And finally, myself been the ex- managing director of one of the largest halal abattoir here in the UK, the importance of qurbani to the UK economy and what the Farmers need to realise is that they are losing out on the biggest financial opportunity by not having governance for qurbani. Over 90% of the qurbani that can be sacrificed/produced here in the UK are being sent overseas (we are talking about millions of pounds going overseas instead to UK farmers).
This is mainly due to the lack of trust for the Food board Operators (FBO) by the muslim community. FBO’s are not prepared to work/follow qurbani guideline rules just for the sake of making money. Furthermore the same can be said for the lack of export gain which is at the expense of the farmers. Farmers need to ask themselves a simple question to their levy collectors; how come Australia and New Zealand, who are the leading exporter halal lamb and sheep in the world, are succeeding and yet the UK halal market are nowhere to be seen? The simple answer is – lack of trust by the muslim community here in the UK and abroad due to UK not having any governance for halal meat which is the key problem.
To avoid or spot a fake/non qurbani would be to demand that your abattoir/wholesaler/butcher put in writing if your qurbani has followed the qurbani rules/guidance fully as performed by the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) which entails religious slaughter non stun. If they don’t give you assurance of that, then do not purchase from them, regardless of what they are saying. Make them put in writing how your qurbani was sacrificed; meaning time and date; and was it by a muslim slaughterman in a religious manner. It is only then that trading standard can help if the try to deceive you. If they fail to do what they have said in the written letter, then Trading Standards will prosecute them under the trade description Act.
Protect you qurbani – its your right and they are denying you your DUA/BLESSING from Almighty Allah.
Almighty Allah and His beloved Prophet ? know best.
Naved Syed
Halal advisor to Hijaz group