Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim
Brother Isa Martin writes:
...So I have a leather L.L. Bean cowhide belt made in the USA? As a
Hanabali, can I wear this during the prayer? ...
And in another message:
...The two shaykhs said that if it came from either a Muslim country
or a country where the people of the Book reside, that is would not be
necessary to investigate. However, would it not be very fair to
assume that most of the leather would come from slaughtered animals but
some of the leather would come from unslaughtered nimals. For
instance, if a cow dies of natural causes, most likely they would
definitely use the skin to tan(all Shafi'i and Hanafi Muslims and all
ahlal-Kitab) and discard the carcass? I assume that the two shaykhs
you discussed this with have also taken this into consideration. Is
The first question boils down to whether or not leather from the USA is
considered ritually pure according to the Hanbali mathab. When initially
asking this question, the answer is "yes", based on making an analogy that
the leather is from the People of the Book and has been slaughtered
according to their laws. But the reasoning to this answer is based on two
issues that must be answered: (1) is it most likely that the person doing
the slaughtering is from the People of the Book, and (2) do they slaughter
the animals according to their own religious laws.
This is going to require a bit of investigation to completely settle,
since answering these two issues requires first getting answers to a few
other questions, such as: (1) what is the definition of "People of the
Book" in the Hanbali mathab, and when did the various peoples who make up
the USA enter those religions; (2) what is the rough demographic makeup of
the people working in the slaughtering industry; (3) do the other religions
have religious laws regarding slaughtering; (4) do the current methods of
slaughtering meet those laws?
I cannot answer the first two questions given the resources I have at my
disposal. The third question is obviously "yes" for the Jews (Kosher), and
most likely "yes" for the Christians, however it is quite obvious that they
haven't a clue today what those laws are. This means that the answer to the
fourth question is a very highly likely "no".
Given the conditions for the leather being ritually pure and given the
tentative conclusion that slaughtering in the US does not even meet the
religious requirements of People of the Book, it seems more likely that
leather from the USA is ritually filthy and so it must be taken off for
As for the second question: provided the overwhelming majority of the
leather is ritually pure, you would assume that the one you are getting it
halal. This is like a scenario where you want to get married and you know
that one of the woman eligible for marriage is actually one of your close
relatives: if the number of women is small, it is unlawful for you to marry
a single one, while if the number of women is large it is lawful.
I apologize for giving answers that are tentative at best.