Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
A non-muslim work colleague has asked me this question: Why is it permissible to wear leather regardless of how the animal has been slaughtered, but when it comes to eating it’s meat it must only be slaughtered in a halal manner?”
Answer: In the Name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate
Thank you for your question. May Allah grant you the best of states and guide you to what is pleasing to Him.
GENERAL LEGAL PRINCIPLES & CONSUMING MEAT
As a general principle, the original ruling of all matters is permissibility until there is proof that they are prohibited.
Proof either comes explicitly from the Lawgiver through revelation and hadith, or through other factors, such as scholarly consensus or through qualified independent legal reasoning (ijtihad).
There are exceptions to this rule, which take on the opposite ruling. One of these is the consumption of meat. Here, the original ruling is prohibition and this is not lifted until there is proof that it becomes permissible to eat.
The permissibility to consume meat is achieved through ritual slaughter and hunting etc., with the conditions laid down by the Lawgiver. Only through this legislated method and its conditions does the meat become lawful for consumption. Otherwise, it remains prohibited.
Not all animal hides are lawful to use straight away. Any part of an animal that has been not been ritually slaughtered is considered filth (najas), while every part of an animal which has been ritually slaughtered (and which the law accepts as permissible to eat) is considered pure (tahir).
Substances which are considered filth, remain as filth, unless there is proof from the Lawgiver that it is pure.
In regards the hide of an unslaughtered animal, which we stated is filth, the proof that it can be purified is found in the rigorously authenticated hadith, ‘If the hide is tanned then it has become pure’ [Muslim].
Therefore, if the hide of an unslaughtered animal is tanned, and the necessary conditions met, the skin of the animal becomes pure and available for use. Without this tanning process, it remains as filth and prohibitive to use.
This ruling excludes the hide of swine and dogs, which can never be purified, even through tanning. This is because, in contrast to other animals whose skins are pure when alive but only become filth through death (non-ritual), swine and dog hides are filth before and after death.
In conclusion, both consuming meat and wearing unslaughtered animal hide. e.g. leather, become permissible only after certain conditions are met. Otherwise they remain unlawful or impure.
I hope this clarifies the matter for your friend.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.