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KuTha Meat in Gurmat

By:- Gurmukh Singh

KuTha in Light of Gurbani

KuTha in Light of Bajjar Kurehats

Slaughter Methods and Halal in Islam

        First Condition: The Slaughter Method

        Second Condition: Invoking Allah

        Third Condition: People of the Book

        Beyond the Conditions



One of the many misconceptions raised in the defense of eating meat is the misinterpretation of the word ਕੁਠਾ (KuTha) in Gurbani. Pro-meat advocates proclaim that KuTha refers to meat of an animal slaughtered according to Islamic rituals. To make the matters worse, the same misinterpretation appears in the Sikh Rehat Maryada as a footnote, which confuses many Sikhs in regards to eating meat. Thus, it becomes absolutely necessary to take up this subject in detail and discuss usage of KuTha in Gurbani from its contextual and literal sense as well as examine Islamic slaughter rituals to ascertain if KuTha really refers to Islamic ritual slaughter.

KuTha in Light of Gurbani

Before we start discussing all the Shabads in which the word KuTha appears, it is pertinent to start with its definition in light of Gurbani as understood by eminent Sikh scholars.

According to Bhai Randhir Singh, word KuTha is an abstract noun derived from the root verb ਕੁਹਣਾ i.e. Kohna.[1] The word Kohna is a verb meaning ‘to kill mercilessly’. The form derived from the root verb Kohna, that functions as a noun (its gerund) is ਕੁਹਣ (Kohn). The definition of Kohn, thus, is simply the killing of an animal irrespective of the slaughter method.

Bhai Veer Singh in Guru Granth Sahib Kosh confirms the same definition with the following meaning of KuTha.

ਕੁਠਾ ਕੁਹਣਾ ਤੋਂ ਬਣਦਾ ਹੈ। ਕੋਹਿਆ ਤੋਂ ਕੁਠਾ ਬਣਨਾ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਵਿਆਕਰਣ ਦਾ ਤਰੀਕਾ ਹੈ ਜਿਸ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਮੋਹਣਾ ਤੋਂ ਮੁਠਾ ਤੇ ਲੋਹਣਾ ਤੋਂ ਲੁਠਾ ਬਣਦਾ ਹੈ।

Translation: KuTha is derived from the word Kohna. Derivative of KuTha from Kohna is a rule in Punjabi grammar just as MuTha is derived from Mohna and LuTha from Lohna.[2]

Prof. Surindar Singh Kohli, in his Dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib, adds further credence to the definition of KuTha as follows:

KuTha - slaughtered (from Kohna)[3]

Pandit Tara Singh Narotam in his Shri Guru Girarath Kosh Vol 1 defines the words Kuhi (ਕੁਹਿ) and KuTha having the same meanings.

ਕੁਹਿ - ਗਲਾ ਕਾਟ ਕੇ ਯਥਾ "ਕੁਹਿ ਬਕਰਾ ਰਿੰਨਿ ਖਾਇਆ"[4]

ਕੁਠਾ - ਛੁਰੀ ਸੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਾਟ ਕੇ ਮਰਾ ਹੂਆ, ਯਥਾ ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਬਕਰਾ ਖਾਣਾ[5]

Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha in his monumental work, Mahan Kosh, also provides same meanings for both words.

ਕੁਹਿ - ਕੁਹਕੇ, ਜਿਬਹਿ ਕਰਕੇ, "ਕੁਹਿ ਬਕਰਾ ਰਿੰਨਿ ਖਾਇਆ"[6]

kuhi - after killing, after butchering[7]

ਕੁਠਾ - ਜਿਬਹਿ ਕੀਤਾ[8]

kutha - slaughtered, butchered. See Kohna[9]

It is interesting to note the presence of the word zibah (Arabic for slaughtered) in both definitions given by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha. Just as the word Kuhi refers to ‘merciless slaughter’ or animal that is zibah, KuTha also refers to zibah. Hence, the word KuTha is the same as the word Kuhi meaning merciless slaughter.

From the above evidence, it is clear that in the opinions of many Sikh scholars, KuTha refers to a slaughtered animal in general, and not to any particular religious ritualistic slaughtering of an animal. Given the above definitions of KuTha, we will now discuss Gurbani Shabads in which the word KuTha is used to provide a more accurate translation of verses commonly misinterpreted due to the propaganda by pro-meat advocates.

ਇਕੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਰਵਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਾਉ ਦੁਯਾ ਕੁਠਾ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮੰਗੈ ਜੋੜਿ ਕਰ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਦੇਵੈ ਤੁਠਾ ॥੧੩॥ (੩੨੧)

The One Immaculate Lord is pervading everywhere; He destroys the love of duality. Nanak begs for the Lord's Name, with his palms pressed together; by His Pleasure, God has granted it. ||13|| (Ang 321)

In the above given verses, the meanings are self-explanatory i.e. One God is Omnipresent and due to His presence, duality of mind has been destroyed. In this verse, KuTha refers to destruction. It does not refer to any specific method. This shows that the word KuTha is neither exclusively used for meat of an animal slaughtered according to Islamic rituals nor does it refer to any specific method for that matter. Let us consider the second Shabad.

ਤਿਸ ਦਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੇਖੁ ॥ ਲੋਹੂ ਲਬੁ ਨਿਕਥਾ ਵੇਖੁ ॥ ਹੋਇ ਹਲਾਲੁ ਲਗੈ ਹਕਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਦਰਿ ਦੀਦਾਰਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੨॥ (੯੫੬)

If the Sheikh is killed with this knife (his lifestyle is filled with truth, spiritual beauty, practice of Guru’s Word and God-like attributes) his blood (of greed) will be spilt. This will make him halal (pure and acceptable). Nanak (Guru Sahib says that), such a Sheikh will surely reach the Court of God and he will become one with God.||2|| (Ang 956)

Although the above translation is very clear, some Sikhs remain adamant in twisting the meanings to suit their preconceived notions and claim that the translation “in this ritualistic way” refers to the word KuTha. However, as proven above, the word KuTha has been translated as “killed”. We have already quoted Bhai Veer Singh, Bhai Randhir Singh and Prof. Surinder Singh Kohli on this matter. Prof. Sahib Singh while interpreting this Shabad also provides the same definition. The translation “in this ritualistic way” in fact refers to the word “Halal” (lawful) which is the correct use of the word to describe the Islamic practice. Also, if the translation “in this ritualistic way” refers to KuTha in the first line then what does “Halal” mean in the third line and how does it apply to the context of the Shabad? To further elaborate, it is pertinent to look at the preceding four line of the Shabad:

ਸਚ ਕੀ ਕਾਤੀ ਸਚੁ ਸਭੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਘਾੜਤ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਅਪਰ ਅਪਾਰ ॥

ਸਬਦੇ ਸਾਣ ਰਖਾਈ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਣ ਕੀ ਥੇਕੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ (੯੫੬)

Truth must be the knife and its make should be infinite beautiful and perfect. This knife should be sharpened on the whetstone of the Guru’s Divine Word and kept safe in the sheath of God’s divine attributes. (Ang 956)

In the above four lines, the “ritualistic way” is explained as Halal (lawful) that is redefined within Gurmat. Guru Sahib explains that in order to become accepted in Vaheguru’s (God) Court and have His vision, one must go through true ritual. In this ritual: Truth must be the knife and its make should be infinite beauty and perfection. This knife should be sharpened on the whetstone of the Guru’s Divine Word and kept safe in the sheath of (remembrance of) God’s divine attributes. If the Sheikh is killed with this knife (his lifestyle is filled with truth, spiritual beauty, practice of Guru’s Word and God-like attributes) his blood (of greed) will be spilt. This will make him halal (pure and acceptable). Nanak (Guru Sahib says that), such a Sheikh will surely reach the Court of God and he will become one with God.

From the interpretation above, we conclude that the word KuTha refers to slaughtered and not any particular ritual. The next shabad is yet more proof that according to Gurbani, KuTha does not translate to ritualistic slaughter:

ਪਾਪ ਕਰੇਦੜ ਸਰਪਰ ਮੁਠੇ ॥ ਅਜਰਾਈਲਿ ਫੜੇ ਫੜਿ ਕੁਠੇ ॥ ਦੋਜਕਿ ਪਾਏ ਸਿਰਜਣਹਾਰੈ ਲੇਖਾ ਮੰਗੈ ਬਾਣੀਆ ॥੨॥ (੧੦੧੯)

Those who committed sins are sure to be ruined. Azraa-eel, the Angel of Death, seizes and tortures them. They are consigned to hell by the Creator Lord, and the Accountant calls them to give their account. ||2|| (Ang 1019)

In the above verses, Guru Sahib explains that those who commit sinful acts are destined to be ruined and they will be seized and tortured (KuThay) by the Angel of Death. No way does this Shabad refer to any Islamic ritual slaughter otherwise it would have meant that the Angel of Death would literally slaughter the sinful people according to Islamic method, which consists of reciting the name of Allah, and cutting of the throat in a specific way.

Now we move on to the last Shabad in which word KuTha is used.

ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਬਕਰਾ ਖਾਣਾ॥ ਚਉਕੇ ਉਪਰਿ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ॥ (੪੭੨)

They eat the meat of goat, slaughtered after the unholy language (Muslim prayers) is read over it, but they do not allow anyone else to enter their kitchen areas. (472)

The above couplet can be correctly understood only when the word ਅਭਾਖਿਆ (Abhakheya) is defined accurately. Bhai Veer Singh in his Guru Granth Sahib Kosh defines this word as follows:

ਅ+ਭਾਖਿਆ = ਅਭਖਸ਼ (ਨਾ ਖਾਣ ਵਾਲੀ ਵਸਤੂ), ਬੁਰੀ ਭਾਖਾ ਭਾਵ ਅਰਬੀ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ, ਕਲਮਾ ਪੜ੍ਹ ਕੇ ਜੋ ਜੀਵ ਕੋਹੇ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ[10]

Translation: Uneatable food, bad (impure) language i.e. Arabic, animals slaughtered while reading Kalima.[11]

Prof. Surindar Singh Kohli gives the following definition:

“Uneatable, bad language not to be uttered”[12]

During Mughal Empire, languages of the Muslims i.e. Arabic and Persian were considered bad, impure and unholy by the Hindus (especially Brahmins). Thus, uttering any word in such languages was considered an irreligious act by them. Any food prepared while reciting Arabic/Persian language (Quranic verses etc.) was also considered unholy and uneatable by the Hindus who used words like “Abhakkh” (uneatable) and “Malechh” (unholy or impure) for Muslims and their food.

In the Shabad under discussion, Guru Sahib is revealing the hypocrisy of Brahmins. Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha in Mahan Kosh gives the following explanation of the word Abhakheya:

ਅਭਾਖਿਆ: ਨਾ ਬੋਲਣ ਯੋਗ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ, ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮਤ ਵਿਚ ਯੂਨਾਨੀ ਅਰਬੀ ਆਦਿ ਬੋਲੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਮਲੇਛ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ ਕਹਿ ਕੇ ਆਰਯਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਹਦਾਇਤ ਕੀਤੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਓਹ ਕਦੇ ਯਾਵਨੀ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ ਨਾ ਬੋਲਣ..."ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਬਕਰਾ ਖਾਣਾ" ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕਿਸੇ ਬੋਲੀ ਨੂੰ ਮਲੇਛ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਮੰਨਦੇ, ਕੇਵਲ ਇਕ ਪਾਖੰਡੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਨੂੰ ਉਸ਼ਟ੍ਰਲਗੁਡ ਨਯਾਯ ਕਰਕੇ ਸਿੱਖਿਯਾ ਦਿੰਦੇ ਹਨ ਕਿ ਆਪਣੇ ਧਰਮ ਵਿਰੁੱਧ ਤੁਸੀਂ "ਬਿਸਮਿੱਲਾ" ਆਦਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਕਹਿ ਕੇ ਜਿਬਹਿ ਕੀਤੇ ਜੀਵ ਦਾ ਕੁੱਠਾ ਮਾਸ ਖਾਂਦੇ ਹੋ, ਪਰ ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਆਖਦੇ ਹੋ ਕਿ ਸਾਡੇ "ਚਉਕੇ ਉਪਰਿ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ" ਇਹ ਕੇਹਾ ਅਣੋਖਾ ਮੰਤਕ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝਾਉਂਦੇ ਹੋ[13]

Abhakheya - Language not worthy to be uttered. In Hinduism, Aryans are warned that they must not utter the Semitic languages such as Arabic which were considered unholy….“They eat the meat of goat, slaughtered after the unholy language (Muslim prayers) is read over it” Guru Sahib does not consider any language unholy, He is simply giving counsel to a hypocrite Brahmin by saying that against the injunction of your religion you eat slaughtered animal after the recitation of “Bismillah” etc. verses over it, and at the same time, tell others not to enter your kitchen area.

Giani Harbans Singh in his Guru Granth Sahib Darshan Nirnay provides the following meanings:

ਅਭਾਖਿਆ - ਦੂਜੀ ਬੋਲੀ ਦਾ, ਭਾਵ ਕਲਮਾ ਪੜ੍ਹ ਕੇ ।[14]

Abhakheya - Of foreign language i.e. by reading Kalima

ਕੁਠਾ - ਕੋਹਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ

KuTha - Tortured or Slaughtered

Bhai Veer Singh in his commentary of Guru Granth Sahib provides the following explanation:

ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਕੁਠਾ – ਕਲਾਮ ਪੜ੍ਹ ਕੇ ਕੋਹਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ। ......ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਤੋਂ ਮੁਰਾਦ ਅਰਬੀ ਦੀ ਹੈ, ਜਿਸਦੇ ਲਫਜ 'ਬਿਸਮਿੱਲਾ' ਵਗੈਰਾ ਕਹਿ ਕੇ ਕੁੱਠਾ ਕੀਤਾ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ।[15]

Translation: Slaughtered after reading verses. Abhakheya refers to Arabic in which after reciting words like “Bismillah” etc. the animal is slaughtered.

Dr. Ratan Singh Jaggi explains the verse as follows:

ਅਭਾਖਿਆ - ਵਿਪਰੀਤ (ਆਪਣੇ ਧਰਮ ਤੋਂ ਉਲਟੀ) ਭਾਸ਼ਾ ਦੇ 'ਬਿਸਮਿਲਾ' ਸ਼ਬਦ ਦੇ ਉਚਾਰਣ ਨਾਲ ਕੋਹਿਆ ਗਿਆ ਪਸ਼ੂ (ਬਕਰਾ)। ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਕਰਮਕਾਂਡੀ ਜਾਂ ਪਾਖੰਡੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਨੂੰ ਉਸ ਦੇ ਆਚਾਰ ਦੇ ਵਾਸਤਵਿਕ ਸਰੂਪ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝਾਉਂਦੇ ਹੋਇਆਂ ਦਸਦੇ ਹਨ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਆਪ ਤਾਂ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਕੋਹੇ ਬਕਰੇ ਦਾ ਮਾਸ ਖਾ ਲੈਂਦਾ ਹੈ, ਪਰ ਚੌਕੇ ਉਪਰ ਕਿਸੇ ਨੂੰ ਨਾ ਜਾਣ ਦੇਣ ਲਈ ਸਾਵਧਾਨ ਰਹਿੰਦਾ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਆਪਣੀ ਪਵਿੱਤਰਤਾ ਦਾ ਪਾਖੰਡ ਪੂਰਵਕ ਪ੍ਰਦਰਸ਼ਨ ਕਰਦਾ ਹੈ[16]

Abhakheya – Slaughtering of an animal (goat) while reciting ‘Bismillah’ in a language against one’s own religion. Guru Nanak Dev gives counsel to a hypocrite Brahmin by drawing his attention to his own character and double standard that while he unhesitatingly eats the meat of a goat slaughtered by a Muslim, he remains vigilant about preventing everyone else from entering his kitchen area.

It is apparent from the above that Guru Sahib used the same word that was used by Brahmins for Muslims, Abhakheya, to expose their hypocritical nature of eating “unholy food” of the Muslims, but at the same time not letting others to enter their kitchen areas as dictated by their holy law. The word Abhakheya refers to food that is uneatable because it is prepared according to Islamic way by reading Arabic verses of Quran, and therefore, unacceptable to a practicing Hindu. If the word KuTha referred to Islamic meat, then use of the word Abhakheya would have been useless and redundant. Brahmins despised the recitation of verses in Arabic which they considered unholy and impure. They considered slaughtered animal (KuTha) uneatable food because it was prepared according to Islamic way. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that the word KuTha refers to slaughtered animal.

One last question that is put forth by pro-meat advocates is if Guru Sahib wished to prohibit any type of meat, then why did he not use the word “maas” (common for meat in Punjabi) instead of using KuTha? The answer is very simple, “maas” refers to flesh or meat in general and its usage by Guru Sahib would have given the impression that “maas” itself is bad and must be despised. This is not the Gurmat principle as all humans are also made of “maas”. Usage of KuTha is specific to slaughtering of an animal for the sake of eating its meat. Sikhs must not shun “maas” but the act of slaughtering animals. To further elaborate, many microorganisms get killed while walking, sleeping, eating etc. but they cannot be considered KuTha or an act of bajjar kurehat (cardinal sin) because their death is natural and not a merciless slaughter for the sake of satisfying one’s taste buds. Sikhs have no intention of killing these beings or eating them. On similar lines, hunted ferocious animals cannot be considered KuTha because the intent is not to consume their meat by slaughtering them. This is why KuTha is specific to slaughter of an animal for the sake of eating its meat. Bhai Randhir Singh affirms:

Had Guru Gobind Singh Ji used the word “maas” in four cardinal sins, many Singhs (Sikhs) would have started to hate the mere sight of meat or sound of the word itself. Gurmat does not allow hate towards maas. If hate to maas is allowed, then all creatures (humans, animals etc.) are made of maas. Hating maas should not be the practice of Sikhs but an act of slaughtering animal to eat its flesh should be hated….This is why word KuTha instead of maas is used in four cardinal sins so that Sikhs do not indulge in the act of slaughtering animals and eating meat.[17]

The above discussion proves conclusively that the word KuTha is a reference to slaughtered meat and not to any religious ritual. Other Gurbani Shabads echo the same concept and condemn mercilessly slaughtering the animals forcefully. Here are just a few Shabads:

ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀਅ ਜੁ ਮਾਰਹਿ ਜੋਰੁ ਕਰਿ ਕਹਤੇ ਹਹਿ ਜੁ ਹਲਾਲੁ ॥

ਦਫਤਰੁ ਦਈ ਜਬ ਕਾਢਿ ਹੈ ਹੋਇਗਾ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ॥੧੯੯॥ (੧੩੭੫)

Kabeer, they oppress living beings and kill them, and call it proper. When the Lord calls for their account, what will their condition be? ||199|| (Ang 1375)

In the above Shabad, forceful killing is condemned not any specific method because method itself is irrelevant. It also does not matter whether one calls the meat a jhatka, halal or anything else. The principle being advocated here is not to kill animals and those who do will not find any support when their deeds are evaluated in Vaheguru’s court. Same concept is elucidated in the following Shabad:

ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੀ ਕੀਏ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਹਲਾਲੁ ॥

ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਮਾਂਗੀਐ ਤਬ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ॥੧੮੭॥ (੧੩੭੪)

Kabeer, to use force is tyranny, even if you call it legal. When your account is called for in the Court of the Lord, what will your condition be then? ||187|| (1374)

Again, forceful killing of animals is condemned. The following Shabad leaves no doubt about Gurbani’s stance on killing animals. In particular this Shabad pertains to Hindus slaughtering animals. Therefore, if KuTha meant ‘animal slaughtered in accordance to Muslim rites’ then why not extend the prohibition to animal slaughtered in accordance to Hindu rites as this following Shabad condemns the Hindu Pandit (religious scholar) for killing animals and claiming to be a religious person at the same time.

ਜੀਅ ਬਧਹੁ ਸੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਅਧਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਤ ਭਾਈ ॥

ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਮੁਨਿਵਰ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਕਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਸਾਈ ॥੨॥ (੧੧੦੨)

You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? You call yourself the most excellent sage; then who would you call a butcher? ||2|| (1102)

It is unambiguously clear that killing animals is not a religious act irrespective of the slaughter method and religious tradition. In fact, those who kill animals are called butchers, and a butcher is not considered a true religious person in Gurbani. Hence, a God-oriented person does not engage in killing animals.

The above arguments prove that KuTha has the same meaning as Kohna and Kuhi in Gurbani. It does not at all refer to Islamic ritual slaughter. Instead, it refers to merciless slaughtering of an animal. A God fearing person as envisaged in Gurbani cannot be a religious person and a butcher at the same time and therefore, does not engage in sinful acts of slaughtering animals.

KuTha in Light of Bajjar Kurehats

Interpreting KuTha as ‘Islamic ritual slaughter’ poses some serious problems vis-à-vis consistency of bajjar kurehats (cardinal sins). Leaving eating meat aside, let us take a cursory look at the other three bajjar kurehats:

  • Having illicit relations with another person – This refers to having any intimate relationship with anyone other than the spouse. The method of relationship, its mode or with any particular person is irrelevant.
  • Taking Intoxicants – This refers to consumption of tobacco, alcohol and other intoxicants. It does not matter how one indulges in this practice i.e. whether one chews or smokes tobacco is irrelevant.
  • Removing Hair – This refers to removing hair from any part of the body. Method of removal is irrelevant be it plucking, threading or simply cutting.

It is obvious from the above that the three bajjar kurehats invariably refer to acts and not the methods. Hence, the acts are unlawful. For example, no one can claim that having illicit relations only with a Muslim woman is unlawful (while no prohibition with other women), removing hair only in a certain fashion is impermissible or smoking a hukkah is unacceptable as opposed to smoking a cigar. The methods are not given any consideration but only the acts committed by human beings are considered relevant. Consequently, it becomes evident that the fourth kurehat would also be consistently in line with the other three kurehats. In other words, the kurehat would refer to eating meat not how the animal is slaughtered. Therefore, KuTha is correctly interpreted as slaughtered meat and the bajjar kurehat refers to its consumption. How the animal is slaughtered is irrelevant because it is the act that is unlawful not just the method itself. All four bajjar kurehats make acts unlawful thereby declaring eating meat as unlawful. Making a particular method unlawful is simply ridiculous and not in line with Gurmat. Guru Sahib would not have made any reservations against other slaughtering methods if His intent had been to declare slaughtering a bajjar kurehat. In such a case, any Sikh who slaughtered animals Islamically would have become patit (apostate) but this is not so. Specifically outlawing the Islamic method does not make any sense because whereas the first three bajjar kurehats are predicated upon the acts, the last one is predicated upon the method alone leaving it inconsistent with the other three. Therefore, one can see that interpreting KuTha in any other way breaks the consistency in the bajjar kurehats.

Further, Gurbani principles are so well defined, explained and explicated that there is no room for doubt to cloud one’s judgment concerning any moral principle. Since KuTha is related to a bajjar kurehat and results in apostasy, Guru Sahib would not have left it ambiguous in Gurbani. Thus, if KuTha really meant Islamic ritual slaughter then it would have been very explicitly stated in Gurbani. However, KuTha is defined as ‘slaughtered’ and not as method in which the animal is slaughtered. Alternatively, Guru Sahib would have clearly mentioned acceptable slaughter methods for Sikhs to use. Besides, we must ask what could have been a valid reason behind prohibiting just the Islamic slaughter method. We are generally given two answers by meat-eaters in response:

  • It results in animal cruelty

In this case, Jewish method Shechita is equally cruel but there is no mention of its prohibition in any Sikh source. Other methods such as stunning and jhatka (single blow) are also cruel and not free from pain. There is no such thing as humane or happy method of slaughtering an animal. If one was to change the argument that any method that results in animal suffering is wrong then they must explain why KuTha specifically refers to Islamic slaughter method (according to their own interpretation) and does not encompass a comprehensive meaning? Hence, this argument does not hold. Why did Guru Sahib not prohibit animal cruelty altogether rather than just outlawing a specific method? If a non-Muslim community in the future was to invent a new method more cruel than the Islamic method, it would not be outlawed under the current definition of KuTha because KuTha misinterpretation pertains to a method whereas the other three bajjar kurehats are grounded in moral principles.

  • It is sacrificial meat

It is only sacrificial if the name of God is recited upon the slaughtered animal. Otherwise it is not. Nonetheless, if meat is sacrificial because the animal was killed in a certain ritual then Hindus and Jews also kill animals in a set ritual. Pro-meat Sikhs, too, slaughter meat in the supposed ‘Sikh method’ termed Jhatka, in which God is invoked by uttering ‘Sat Siree Akaal’ and reciting Chandi Di Vaar scriptural composition. Meat prepared by Hindus, Jews and pro-meat Sikhs is also no different and is ritualistic as well. If meat is rejected solely because of the ritual then what if a Hindu, Buddhist or an atheist uses the same method without reciting anything? Would the meat be acceptable to our Sikh brothers? The obvious answer would be a no.

Due to absence of prescribed slaughter methods in Gurbani and dearth of injunctions prohibiting Sikhs from eating animals slaughtered in a specific method leave no doubt that KuTha does not at all refer to Islamic ritual slaughter.

Slaughter Methods and Halal in Islam

Some meat eating Sikhs take shelter behind the Sikh Rehat Maryada in a vain attempt to misinterpret the word KuTha. They are keen on interpreting KuTha as meat of an animal slaughtered in Islamic way. But little do they realize that such a misinterpretation based argument adds little to their case and only makes matters worse. Our discussion so far has been confined to the parameters of Gurmat but since misinterpretation of KuTha refers to Islamic ritual slaughter, it becomes pertinent to discuss this topic from Islamic viewpoint to understand Islamic laws concerning slaughter methods and concept of halal (permissible or lawful) in Islam. Therefore, in this section, for the sake of argument, we will assume the definition of KuTha given in the footnote of the Sikh Rehat Maryada to be correct. This will help us determine if interpreting KuTha as Islamic ritual slaughter adds any weight to the pro-meat argument.

Sikh Rehat Maryada’s definition of KuTha is the result of not properly understanding Islamic ritual slaughter and Islamic laws governing halal (lawful) and haram (unlawful). Incorrect interpretation of KuTha stems from the assumption that slaughter method alone makes the meat lawful for Muslims to eat. However, in Islam there is a clear distinction between the two as we shall reveal in this section.

First, let us discuss the slaughter method alone. An important point to keep in mind is that not a single Islamic dictionary defines KuTha as an Islamic slaughter method. The appropriate Arabic word for Islamic ritual slaughter is Zabihah or Zibah. Since Qur’an does not outline the slaughter method, different Muslim scholars have formed their own opinions often conflicting with each other concerning the proper method.

According to Imam Al-Shafi‘I, the ritual slaughter involves cutting of the windpipe and the gullet. He recommends cutting these two along with two major blood vessels. If one is cut without the other, the slaughter is not considered valid.[18] In contrast, according to Malik ibn Anas, “the two blood vessels are like the throat and cutting of the two of them is the only requirement of the ritual slaughter”.[19] Abu Hanifa requires cutting of windpipe, gullet and most of the vessels. Otherwise, it is not a proper ritual slaughter. Abd al-Rahman al-Awza'I states that cutting of blood vessels alone is sufficient.[20]

Lack of clear cut explanation leaves one astounded as to the proper slaughter method in Islam. In light of this, what slaughter method do Sikh meat eaters refer to as KuTha? Generally referring to KuTha as meat prepared by Islamic slaughter method is not enough especially when Islamic jurists are not even unanimous on the proper slaughter method then what hope do Sikh meat eaters have in selecting which Islamic method is defined as KuTha and thereby prohibited in Gurmat?

Even if an animal is slaughtered by acceptable Islamic standards, it still does not become halal or lawful for consumption. In other words, slaughter method alone does not make it lawful for Muslims to eat the meat. Two more conditions must be met:

  1. Name of Allah or Bismillah must be invoked
  2. Slaughter method must be performed by either a Muslim or someone from the ‘People of the Book’ (Jews and Christians)

If either of the criteria is not met, the meat becomes unlawful or impermissible for consumption. We provide few references from authentic Islamic sources as a proof.

Quran states:

Eat not (of meats) on which Allah's name has not been pronounced. (Quran, 6:121)

Explaining the meaning of the verse above, Ibn Kathir states:

This Ayah is used to prove that slaughtered animals are not lawful when Allah's Name is not mentioned over them -- even if slaughtered by a Muslim.[21]

Maulana Shafi affirms:

It has been made necessary ('Wajib') that the name of Allah be invoked while slaughtering them - and if, anyone were to leave out the name of Allah at the time of the slaughter, the animal was declared to be carrion, and unlawful.[22]

Regarding food of the ‘People of the Book’, Qur’an states:

The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (5:5)

Ibn Kathir explains the above verse as follows:

Allah then mentioned the ruling concerning the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book, the Jews and Christians, (The food of the People of the Scripture is lawful to you..) meaning, their slaughtered animals, as Ibn `Abbas, Abu Umamah, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, `Ata', Al-Hasan, Makhul, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan stated. This ruling, that the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book are permissible for Muslims, is agreed on by the scholars, because the People of the Book believe that slaughtering for other than Allah is prohibited. They mention Allah's Name upon slaughtering their animals, even though they have deviant beliefs about Allah that do not befit His majesty.[23]

While there are myriads of other conditions, we have limited our discussion to three major conditions only. From the brief discussion above, we learn that the following three conditions are required for meat to be lawful for Muslims:

  1. Animal must be zibah (slaughtered) according to the prescribed method
  2. Name of Allah or Bismillah must be invoked
  3. Either a Muslim or someone from the ‘People of the Book’ must perform the slaughter

At this point we must iterate that the slaughter method itself is futile and does not make the food lawful for Muslims. Islamic ritual slaughter must have all three conditions satisfied. Otherwise, the meat is not considered Islamic. Thus, the definition of KuTha given in the Sikh Rehat Maryada is not restricted to the slaughter method alone but must be conclusive of all three conditions given above. Otherwise, the slaughter method alone (condition 1) is not sufficient for the meat to be considered Islamically lawful. Therefore, definition of KuTha must pertain to all types of meat considered halal or lawful for Muslims. But this is where it gets much more complicated; in Islam, the above conditions are not applicable to all life forms and have exceptions depending on the circumstance. We shall elaborate on this later in this article but it is suffice to say that as definition of halal changes in Islam, so does the definition of KuTha in the Rehat Maryada, which has a bearing over what Sikhs can and cannot eat. In order to understand how definition of KuTha varies from Islamic context, it is necessary to have detailed discussion on each condition to understand the specifics of the Islamic laws.

First Condition: The Slaughter Method

Let us take the first condition for example; it is only applicable to certain terrestrial domestic animals such as a cow, camel, sheep etc. All terrestrial predatory wild animals[24] such as a lion, cheetah, tiger, leopard, wolf etc. and all birds that hunt with their claws/talons are considered unlawful.[25] Also, swine[26] (pig) and donkey[27] are considered unlawful. There is no method prescribed in Islam to make these creatures lawful. They remain unlawful indefinitely.[28] For meat eater Sikhs, few questions are worth pondering over vis-à-vis meat of these creatures in light of the definition of KuTha given in the Rehat Maryada:

Can Sikhs eat flesh of animals/birds that are declared unlawful in Islam? The obvious answer seems to be a positive one. Now let us add a caveat to the same question: What if these same animals/birds were slaughtered following the Islamic conditions? We must remind our readers that in this case these creatures still remain unlawful in Islam. Both yes and no answers pose serious paradoxes. Let us consider both answers and their respective consequences:

  • No - If Sikhs answer no due to the fact that all the Islamic injunctions were followed in the slaughter despite the meat being unlawful in Islam, then it goes against the very definition of KuTha advocated by them as given in the Rehat Maryada. Thus, their definition of KuTha is wrong because in this case what is unlawful for Muslims is also unlawful for Sikhs. This requires a whole new definition of KuTha to be fabricated to accurately define what meat is lawful or unlawful for Sikhs in light of Islam and in general. If the argument is advanced that as long as all Islamic injunctions are followed, the meat is KuTha then we must ask why the need to specifically define KuTha as meat prepared by slaughtering an animal in Islamic way? Islamic way refers to what is considered lawful in Islam. Hence, meat of forbidden animals/birds cannot be considered prepared according to the Islamic ritual slaughter for the very reason that Islam categorically declares them unlawful. This results in meat eater Sikhs acting against the Rehat Maryada which they so dearly hide behind to justify non-vegetarianism. A negative answer makes the definition of KuTha even more obscure. Hence, this is not the correct position.
  • Yes - If the answer is affirmative then while definition of KuTha remains consistent we face other problems. Now KuTha becomes a relative term which varies as the definition of halal changes in Islam. KuTha no longer pertains to the slaughter method or invoking Allah’s name etc. but any meat that is unlawful to Muslims. One can follow all the Islamic injunctions of ritual slaughter but if the animal is a cow then it is KuTha but not so if it the animal is a lion. This makes a Gurmat principle (or definition of a bajjar kurehat) entirely dependent upon another religion. What type of meat a Sikh can or cannot eat becomes regulated by Islamic laws rather than Gurbani. Islamic sources and Muslim jurists become the guiding standard for Sikhs to decide what is lawful for them (or unlawful for Muslims) and what would make them apostates in Gurmat. So what good is a life of a Sikh when it is not according to Gurbani but according to Islam? Since Guru Sahibans gave clear cut instructions to ensure that Gurmat principles and laws do not remain ambiguous and dependent upon another religious scripture, this position is unacceptable, illogical, and irrational.

In light of the above, both positions have shortcomings and raise serious questions on Gurmat way of life. Since first three bajjar kurehats are absolute i.e. without any exceptions, the remaining one about meat must also be absolute prohibiting all types of meat regardless of the slaughter method.

Continuing our discussion, we find that exceptions in Islam do not just end here. There are different methods and injunctions to be followed during hunting. Muslims can hunt using weapons, trained dogs or falcons. It is written in the Qur’an:

They ask thee (O Muhammad) what is made lawful for them. Say: (all) good things are made lawful for you. And those beasts and birds of prey which ye have trained as hounds are trained, ye teach them that which Allah taught you; so eat of that which they catch for you and mention Allah's name upon it. (5:4)

For animals not within the range, inflicting a wound with a sharp weapon after saying Bismillah is sufficient enough to make the animal lawful. Maulana Shafi explains:

An animal not within range for the hunter to slaughter can become halal without having been slaughtered if the hunter, after saying Bismillah, inflicts a wound on it by means of a sharp-edged weapon such as an arrow. Merely being wounded is not enough; it is necessary as a condition that it be wounded with some sharp-edged weapon.[29]

If using trained animals, it must be ensured that the trained animals are groomed in such a manner that they hunt not for themselves but for their Muslim masters. Before releasing a dog or a falcon, name of Allah must be recited. If the animal dies before it is brought back by the dog or a falcon then it is lawful. Otherwise, it must be slaughtered in the prescribed manner. Maulana Shafi elucidates:

If [the game is] dead before it reaches you - will still be lawful with no need to slaughter. If otherwise, it will not be lawful for you unless slaughtered.[30]

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states:

If one shoots an arrow at the animal or if his hunting dog has brought it down, as long as he reaches the animal while there is still abundant life remaining in it, its throat must be cut.[31]

We observe that there are at least two different ways of making an animal lawful while hunting. First one requires using a sharp edged weapon and saying Bismillah and the second one necessitates proper slaughter method.

The bottom line is that the slaughter method in Islam is neither consistent nor always required for the animal to be halal for consumption. So how would our Sikh brothers define KuTha in light of this? It will be changing in every different situation. Any animal that is wounded by a Sikh during hunting from which it subsequently dies must be KuTha and unlawful because it is the same method that makes the creature halal in Islam. Hence, KuTha does not remain a clearly defined term. It can vary from regular slaughter of cutting throat to wounding an animal with a weapon, dog or a falcon.

We have observed so far that out of the three pertinent conditions, the first one is not always required and varies depending on circumstance and types of animals. As a consequence, KuTha in the Rehat Maryada acquires new definitions variously.

Second Condition: Invoking Allah

In our discussion on the first condition we have learned that invoking Allah’s name is necessary in order to render an animal halal. Qur’an states:

He has only forbidden you what dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that over which any other (name) than (that of) Allah has been invoked. (2:173)

It is also confirmed in the hadith.

Narrated Adi ibn-e-Hatim: I said: Apostle of Allah, tell me when one of us catches game and has no knife; may he slaughter with a flint and a splinter of stick. He said: Cause the blood to flow with whatever you like and mention Allah's name.[32]

Al-Qaradawi explains the reasoning behind such an injunction:

Pronouncing the Name of Allah while slaughtering an animal is a declaration that one is taking the life of this creature by the permission of its Creator, while if one invokes any other name, he has forfeited this permission and must be denied the use of its flesh.[33]

Al-Qaradawi further explains:

These animals, like human beings, are creatures of Allah, and like them they have life. How then can a man take control of them and deprive them of life unless he first obtains permission from his, and their, common Creator, to Whom everything belongs? Mentioning the name of Allah while slaughtering the animal is a declaration of this divine permission, as if the one who is killing the animal were saying, " the name of Allah I slaughter…."[34]

What we understand from the evidence presented above is that invoking the name of Allah means asking His (Allah’s) permission to slaughter the animal. Hence, a logical assumption thus follows that if Allah’s name is not invoked, the permission is not obtained rendering the animal unlawful. However, such is not the case in every instance. If a person just so happens to conveniently forget the name of Allah while hunting, there is no objection. He can make it up afterwards before eating. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi says:

If one forgets to mention Allah's name while dispatching his weapon or the hunting animal, he can make up for it by mentioning it at the time of eating, for Allah has forgiven the Muslim Ummah the errors it commits due to oblivion or error.[35]

Therefore, the second condition of asking Allah’s permission is not necessary in every instance and has exceptions. This renders the principle of invoking the name of Allah as futile and useless. If invoking Allah’s name is of utmost importance and partly required to render the game halal then why introduce an exception to it? Nonetheless, this is how almost all rules are in Islam which are so contrived to provide maximum benefit to Muslims to satisfy their base desires. In contrast, this is not the case in Gurmat. Exception are rarely stated if at all because exceptions provide leeway to humans to choose their desires over truth. This is a testament of having highest moral standards in Gurmat providing no room for humans to fall astray by making excuses.

In light of the discussion above, KuTha can be a hunted animal over which name of Allah is either invoked or not invoked. This is not only vague but contradictory. In Gurmat, only one case can be accepted not both because Gurmat has no room for contradictions. What this means is that if a Sikh hunts an animal and ends up killing it, it is KuTha for him. Whether he says Allah or Vaheguru does not matter because for a Sikh reciting Allah is no different than any other attributive name of God. So saying Ram, Gopal, Rahim etc. are all equivalent and serve the same purpose. Whether it is said before releasing the weapon, dog or a falcon or at the time of eating the game, the method is same as Islamic.

So far from this discussion, we can conclude that KuTha is variously defined depending on the circumstance, environment in which the animal is captured (or roaming free), and human error. KuTha can be referred to something that is hunted, slaughtered, not slaughtered, captured with Allah’s name invoked over it before or after the slaughter or not at all. All we can say is that while such a ridiculous definition is acceptable in Islam, it cannot be accepted in Gurmat at all. Therefore, the definition of KuTha given in the Rehat Maryada is not correct.

Third Condition: People of the Book

So far what we have observed is that definition of halal has gone from very specific to something so obscure that it is not easy for an ordinary Muslim to eat meat without consulting the Islamic manual. This consequently affects the definition of KuTha to the same extent. What we have learned is that two of the important conditions are required yet not required all the time. What we are left with is the last condition which stipulates that the slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, Christian or a Jew. According to Qur’an:

The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. (5:5)

If anyone else (Sikh, Hindu, Jain etc.) performs the slaughter despite following all the Islamic injunctions, the animal will not be considered lawful. Maulana Shafi states:

Out of all groups of non-Muslims in this period of time, the Jews and the Christians are the only two religious communities which can be counted as 'The People of the Book.' None of the rest belonging to present religions are included within 'The People of the Book.' This general rule applies to fire worshipping Magians, idol worshipping Hindus, or Sikhs or Aryans or Buddhists and to others similar to them.[36]

While it is not our intent to examine Islamic beliefs, the matter becomes a complicated one for meat eating Sikhs in terms of KuTha? If they go by Islamic standard then the definition of KuTha in the Rehat Maryada becomes faulty and contradictory because it would then also refer to any meat prepared by Jews and Christians because it is halal for Muslims. If they (meat eating Sikhs) go with Gurmat standard of keeping everything consistent and non-contradictory then meat prepared by Jews and Christians has to be considered unlawful and therefore not KuTha for Sikhs. In this case, KuTha would no longer match the Islamic definition of halal and the definition given in the Rehat Maryada would have to be revised.

Another major problem for meat eating Sikhs is that Christian and Jewish slaughter methods do not match Islamic methods. While it is not in our scope to discuss all the differences, it is sufficient to highlight few facts. Judaism strictly prohibits stunning prior to slaughtering while Muslims do not have a consensus. Also, list of animals considered Kosher is more restrictive i.e. mammals must chew cud and must have cloven hooves. In contrast, halal only requires that an animal survive on grass and leaves. This means that a camel is permissible under halal but not kosher. Further, neither Jews nor Christians invoke the name ‘Allah’ during their slaughter. As a result, both requirements of the slaughter method and invocation of God’s name do not match Islamic method. Regardless, as long as the meat is lawful for Christians and Jews, it is lawful for Muslims. Al-Qaradawi affirms:

As long as they [Christians and Jews] consider it lawful in their religion, it is halal for us.[37]

What we intend to emphasize here is that more the obscurity and contradictions in Islam regarding halal, more the confusion for Sikhs to accurately define KuTha. Initially, three conditions were required two of which had exceptions but in the third condition, previous two conditions stand nullified. Thus, KuTha is now any meat that is slaughtered by Christians or Jews. Method of slaughter and invoking Allah’s name do not matter anymore.

This is where the problem becomes more acute. How do we know if any Christian or a Jew is committed to his faith and practices it wholeheartedly? This is important for meat eating Sikhs to know if they do not want to become patit (apostates) by consuming KuTha (meat of Christians and Jews). We must reiterate that in our discussion we assume that KuTha refers to any meat that is considered halal in Islam. Therefore, definition of KuTha now gets expanded to include meat prepared by Christians and Jews since it is considered halal in Islam. Islam provides no method of determining who a true Jew or a Christian is. Instead, it very conveniently forgoes this problem by considering every person to be a Jew or a Christian as long they do not renounce the faith completely. Maulana Shafi states:

Unless the Jews and Christians were to abandon Judaism and Christianity totally - they shall continue to be the people of the Book, no matter how involved in false beliefs of their religion and dark doings they may be.[38]

As long as a person remains a Christian or a Jew in the name only, his food is halal for Muslims. In other words, a person who does not follow Christianity or Judaism is considered a Christian or a Jew nonetheless. This is not an acceptable answer in Gurmat because if one does not live according to the principles of their faith, they are not considered its true follower.

There is also another problem in this condition. If a Muslim converts to Judaism or Christianity then he is not considered ‘People of the Book’ and his food is not halal in Islam. However, if any non-Muslim was to become a Christian or a Jew, they are readily given the status of ‘People of the Book’. Maulana Shafi affirms:

A Muslim who, God forbid, becomes a Jew or Christian. He will not be included under the definition of the people of the Book….An animal slaughtered by him is unlawful…However, if someone from another religion or community were to abandon his religion or community and become a Jew or Christian, he or she would be included under the category of the People of the Book - and an animal slaughtered by him or her would be considered lawful.[39]

Mawlana Madani echoes:

The animal slaughtered by a murtad (one who left the fold of Islam) will be Unlawful (Haram) even though he may have become a Jew or a Christian.[40]

This creates further problems for Sikhs in regards to KuTha. In light of this case, meat of Christians and Jews is halal for Muslims and thereby KuTha for Sikhs. However, at the same time, meat by Christians and Jews could also be unlawful or non-KuTha if they converted from Islam.

This unnecessarily complicates definition of KuTha because in this case, parameters of bajjar kurehat (apostasy) not only depend upon Islamic rules but also on past belief system of Christians and Jews. This takes us far away from Gurmat and Gurbani. If we follow the definition of KuTha as given in the Sikh Rehat Maryada, Sikhs will have to accept and reject meat from Christians and Jews after enquiring about their previous faiths first. Every Sikh will have to ask a Christian or a Jew if they converted from Islam before accepting their meat. If they did then it is unlawful otherwise it is not. This is not the end of problems. Any person could easily lie about themselves which could result in Sikhs consuming unlawful meat. We must ask: does the definition of bajjar kurehat depend upon a person’s statement about his previous faith? The obvious answer is no, thus, the definition of KuTha in the Rehat Maryada is wrong and unacceptable. Sikhs will also have to decide on a number of questions. Suppose a Christian or a Jew converts to a different faith but reverts back, should meat prepared by him be accepted? Islamic answer would be affirmative. So Sikhs will have to follow along and consider their meat KuTha. Now suppose the same person converts to Islam and reverts back to either Christianity or Judaism. Is meat prepared by him lawful now? Although Islam provides no answer to this question but we can assume that it will most likely be negative. But what would Sikhs decide? For Sikhs, at the end of the day, that person remains ‘People of the Book’ but not so for Muslims. Again, what this means is that as definitions of halal and haram change in Islam, so does the definition of KuTha and under certain circumstances where it does not match, it becomes self-contradictory. We summarize different cases and scenarios in the table below which includes few scenarios where Sikhs would have to differ from Muslims and Islamic halal cannot be considered KuTha:


Halal (Islam)

KuTha (Gurmat)

Meat prepared by Muslims



Meat prepared by Christians and Jews



Meat prepared by Christians and Jews who do not practice their faiths at all



Meat prepared by Muslims who become Christians or Jews



Meat prepared by Christians and Jews who become Muslims



Meat prepared by Christians and Jews who converted from other faiths



Meat prepared by Christians and Jews who convert out of their faiths and then revert back



Meat prepared by Christians and Jews who convert to Islam and then revert back



Our answers provided in the KuTha column are based on our understanding of Gurmat that there is no room for contradictions, variability, and paradoxes in defining bajjar kurehats and rehat principles. If we follow along with Islam, Gurmat becomes entirely dependent upon Islamic injunctions and definition of KuTha depends on people’s faiths and not on Gurbani principles. KuTha definition changes in every circumstance and situation. We can summarize from our discussion so far that halal is not standardly defined in Islam, and does not require a specific slaughter method and invoking of Allah’s name in every situation. Hence, all three conditions are required yet not required every time. Inconsistencies and contradictions in the definition of halal directly affect the definition of KuTha and Sikh way of living.

What is revealed from the table above is very simple to understand. Either we align KuTha with Islamic concept of halal making it inconsistent and contradictory, which goes against the principles of Gurmat or have a standard and a consistent definition of KuTha which would require not only distancing it from Islam but also invalidating the definition given in the Rehat Maryada. The latter case is clearly the wise and sound option. In light of this, we can safely conclude that the current definition of KuTha given in the Rehat Maryada is not correct and KuTha does not refer to meat considered halal in Islam. While the Rehat Maryada correctly states that eating KuTha is a bajjar kurehat, the definition of KuTha as given in the footnote is proven to be incorrect. According to Gurmat’s standard of having consistency in principles, KuTha can only refer to something that is slaughtered irrespective of the method, invocation of God’s name and who performs the slaughter. Therefore, KuTha cannot be defined as halal meat in Islam.

Beyond the Conditions

Up to this point, we have analyzed all of the three conditions and shown that all carry exceptions and provide a great amount of latitude to make it easier for Muslims to satisfy their taste buds. However, each condition is applied to some extent in a certain situation. In this section we go beyond these three conditions and discuss cases where none of the three conditions are applicable or required.

Marine Animals

In case of marine animals, no injunction is prescribed. All marine life is completely exempt from all conditions. Quran states:

Allowed to you is the game of the sea and its eating. (5:96)

And it is He Who has subjected the sea (to you) in order that you may eat fresh meat from it. (16:14)

Quran clearly allows the consumption of sea creatures without requiring any slaughter method. Maulana Shafi expounds:

Slaughtering sea-life is not necessary as a condition; it is permissible even without it. It is on this basis that, in authentic hadith, fish and locust have been determined as exceptions to the category of maitah (unslaughtered) and thus made halal.[41]

Al-Qaradawi affirms:

Marine animals, that is, those which live in water and cannot survive outside it, are all halal. It does not matter in what way they are obtained: whether they are taken out of the water dead or alive, whole or in pieces, whether they are fish or marine animals, whether they are called sea dogs or sea hogs, or whether they are caught by a Muslim or a non-Muslim.[42]

Since marine animals cannot survive outside of water, the slaughter method cannot be applied to them. This is simply a cunning way of hiding Islam’s shortcoming of providing a consistent method of making meat halal. If the food becomes halal in a certain way then no food can be an exception to this. Nonetheless, Islam declares all marine animals as lawful unconditionally. Even invoking the name of Allah to ask for divine permission or requiring either a Muslim or someone of ‘People of the Book’ to hunt the sea creatures are not considered necessary conditions. What this means for Sikhs is that all the marine life becomes KuTha because it is halal in Islam. In light of this, Sikhs will either have to abstain from all sea creatures or write a new definition of KuTha specific to marine animals.

Hunger Games

The second case in which all three conditions are completely abandoned is the necessity to eat. Qur’an states:

Whosoever is constrained, neither being inequitable nor aggressive, then no sin is on him (2:173)

But whoever is compelled by severe hunger with no way out, having no inclination, then Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (5:3)

Explicating the verse 5:3, Maulana Shafi states:

The statement: (But, whoever is compelled by severe hunger with no way out) relates to animals the unlawfulness of which has been mentioned in the earlier part of the Verse. The purpose of the sentence is to exclude a particular condition from the general rule. If a person is subjected to severe hunger to a point where death becomes likely, then under this condition, were he to eat a little from unlawful animals mentioned in the Verse, there will be no sin on him.[43]

Maulana Shafi further explains:

For a person whose hunger has driven him to a point beyond which he must either eat or die, there is an option; he can eat things made unlawful on two conditions. Firstly, the aim should be to save life and not to enjoy eating. Secondly, he must eat only as much as would serve to save his life; eating to fill up one's stomach or eating much more than one needs remain prohibited even at that time.[44]

Al-Qaradawi approves:

The jurists unanimously agree that necessity in this case signifies the need for food to alleviate hunger when no food is available. Some jurists hold the opinion that at least one day and one night should pass without food. In such a situation a person may eat as much will satisfy his hunger and thus save himself from death.[45]

The problem with such an exception is that its definition and parameters become subjective and open to personal opinions. There is no method of determining how long a particular person may survive without food and just about how much food is necessary to keep him alive. Amount of food and length of time varies depending on the person and their health. A person driven by hunger needs would naturally want to consume as much as he can to his heart’s content. Since even prohibited foods become permissible in Islam, pretty much everything for Sikhs becomes KuTha. The three conditions discussed earlier hold no importance at all.

We must consider the importance of restrictions on eating and drinking a religious system places on its adherents. The intent it to prohibit the consumption of foods and drinks that are physically and spiritually harmful and unsuitable to the way of living prescribed by the particular religious system. In Gurmat, for example, tobacco is unlawful and under no circumstance is its usage allowed. Death is preferred over its usage. Cutting hair is not allowed in Gurmat even if prices are put on Sikhs’ heads. Having illicit relation with another person is not allowed no matter how strongly the sensual desires overpower the individual. Gurmat rather provides a working solution in dire circumstances and instructs Sikhs to seek the sanctuary of Naam Simran that builds a direct connection with God and empowers the individual to control their mind. Contemplative meditation enables a Sikh to be content, steadfast, committed, and dedicated to Gurmat principles. A Sikh prefers death over compromising religious principles.

In contrast, Islam terribly fails to provide a viable solution to Muslims to keep them dedicated to the religion and conveniently allows them to consume the food that is otherwise considered unlawful. In other words, if a Muslim is suffering from hunger in extreme measures, he/she is allowed to eat food that is considered unlawful under normal circumstances. A Muslim does not have to consider the slaughter method, invocation of Allah or even who prepared the food. Being extremely hungry means out go the religious principles and in goes the food. Life is considered more important and religion is compromised.

In light of the facts presented above, it becomes evident that the definition of halal is situation bound and ever-changing in different circumstance. It is also contradictory and inconsistent. Hence, we conclude this section stating that KuTha as defined in the Rehat Maryada is not as clear as one assumes it to be. Current definition of KuTha given in the footnote of the Rehat Maryada makes Gurmat dependent on Islamic laws, and introduces contradictions and variability in defining Gurmat principles and bajjar kurehats, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the Rehat Maryada definition as held by meat-eating Sikhs is irrational, illogical, and anti-Gurmat thereby making it false and unacceptable.


In conclusion, we have categorically proven beyond the shadow of any doubt that the word KuTha can only refer to merciless slaughter of an animal as is defined in Gurbani. This definition is also accepted and vouchsafed by many Sikh scholars. While word ‘maas’ generally refers to flesh or meat, it does not refer to the act of slaughter. This is why KuTha word was used by Guru Sahib to reject the practice of slaughtering animals for the sake of eating their meat. This is not only accurate in light of Gurbani but also consistently in line with the definition of other three bajjar kurehats. While the list of bajjar kurehats given in the Rehat Maryada is absolutely correct, the definition of KuTha in the footnote needs to be corrected to ‘slaughtered meat’ which is advocated in Gurbani and by eminent Sikh scholars.

Gurbani always rejects a sinful act not just a particular method alone. We have shown with ample amount of evidence that misinterpreting KuTha as Islamic ritual slaughter is not only illogical and absurd, but it also leads to numerous problems such as contradictions in interpretations, making Gurmat dependent on Islamic laws, and obscurity in defining Gurmat principles concerning lawful foods. The foregoing discussion leads us to conclude that relating KuTha to any specific slaughter method or defining it in any other way is against the tenets of Gurbani.


[1] Randhir Singh, Bhai. Jhatka Maas Parthaye Tatt Gurmat Nirnay. Amritsar: Khalsa Brothers. Print, p. 163

[2] Veer Singh, Bhai. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Kosh (6th ed.). Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 1995. Print, p. 161

[3] Kohli, Surinder Singh. Dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 1996. Print, p. 205

[4] Narotam, Pandit Tara Singh. Gur Girarath Kosh Vol 1. Ed. Dr. Harbhajan Singh. Patiala: Punjabi University, 2010. Print, p. 152

[5] Ibid. p. 153

[6] Nabha, Kahan Singh. Gur Shabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh. PDF file, p. 1211

[7] Singh, Bhai Kahan. Gur Shabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh. Vol 2. Ed. Tejwant Singh Gill. Trans. Amarjit SIngh Dhawan. Patiala: Punjabi University, 2008. Print, p. 851

[8] Nabha, Kahan Singh. op. cit., p. 1219

[9] Ibid. p. 856

[10] Veer Singh, Bhai. op. cit., p. 35

[11] Veer Singh, Bhai. op. cit., p. 35

[12] Kohli, Surinder Singh. op. cit., p. 1

[13] Nabha, Kahan Singh. op. cit., p. 301

[14] Singh, Harbans Giani. Guru Granth Sahib Darshan Nirnay Vol 6. Patiala: Punjabi University, 2011. Print, p. 279

[15] Veer Singh, Bhai. Santhiya Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Vol. 6 (Dr. Balbir Singh, Ed.). New Delhi: Bhai Veer Singh Sahit Sadan, 1998. Print, p. 2911

[16] Jaggi, Ratan Singh. Guru Granth Vishavkosh Vol 1. Patiala: Punjabi University, 2002. Print, p. 43

[17] Randhir Singh, Bhai. op. cit., p. 165-66

[18] Rippin, Andrew and Jan Knappert. Textual Sources for the Study of Islam. University Of Chicago Press, 1990. Print, p. 107

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibn Kathir, Ismail. “The Prohibition of what was Slaughtered in other than Allah's Name”. M Q u r a 10 November 2006. Web. 02 Nov 2015

[22] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 3. Trans. Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari and Prof. Muhammad Shamim. PDF file, p. 60

[23] Ibn Kathir, Ismail. “Permitting the Slaughtered Animals of the People of the Book”. op. cit.

[24] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 76, Hadith 92

[25] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 72, Hadith 56. See also Sahih Muslim 4748

[26] Surah Al Baqarah Verse 173.

[27] Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 72, Hadith 48

[28] Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf. The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. PDF file, p. 52

[29] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 1. Trans. Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari and Prof. Muhammad Shamim. PDF file, p. 426

[30] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 3. p. 55

[31] Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf. p. 63

[32] Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 15, Number 2818

[33] Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf. p. 42

[34] Ibid. pp. 55-6

[35] Ibid. pp. 65-6

[36] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 3. p. 78

[37] Ibid. p. 59

[38] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 3. p. 63

[39] Ibid. p. 77

[40] Madani, Mufti Muhammad Aashiq Elahi Muhajir. Tafsir Anwarul Bayan Vol 2. Karachi: Darul Ishaat, 2005. Print, p. 44

[41] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 1. Trans. Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari and Prof. Muhammad Shamim. PDF file, p. 426

[42] Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf. p. 50

[43] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 3. p. 53

[44] Shafi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad. Ma‘ariful-Qur’an Vol 1. pp. 435-6

[45] Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf. p. 47