Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Leather Revisited

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 this correct?


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 prayer.

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.

-- Musa