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DHABIHA The Significance of Slaughter in the Sahri’ah
Islamic Norms and Regulations
Respected readers. This pamphlet attempts to provide complete information about animals which are lawful for consumption and the method of their slaughter as laid down in the Islamic Shari’ah. It also touches on animal welfare benefits using the Islamic method, as scientifically advocated. After assimilating this knowledge, you too may be able to guide others. We should be obliged if you could inform us if you think that some aspects of the subject have been left unexplained. Please feel free to do so.
MOTIVE OF LIFE Allah created man to be the most eminent of all His creatures. The purpose of man’s creation by Allah is explained in the following verse
“I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve (worship) Me.” (The Holy Qur’an 51:56)
So that this service or worship might be appropriately carried out, the Creator filled this universe with innumerable bounties which human beings are supposed to make use of in order to serve only their Creator, without there being any shortcoming in the fulfillment of this obligation. The following verse is a testimony to this:
“Do you not see how Allah has subjected to you all that the heavens and the earth contain?” (The Holy Qur’an 31:20)
Food is man’s basic need. Without food it is not only difficult but quite impossible to survive. Man must, therefore, eat food in some form or another. Whatever man regularly eats can be divided into two broad categories, namely vegetables and meat, both of which are abundantly available.
There has never been any objection to the consumption of vegetables, by human beings. The vegetation around us does not appear to possess life, yet there is some sort of life in it. Had it not been so, plants and trees would have neither grown nor borne any flowers or fruits. Whereas on the issue of consuming meat, there has been a difference of opinion everywhere and in every community. Religion has been guiding man as to which animal is lawful and which is unlawful for his consumption.
From the time of the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh), a guideline has been provided for all of humanity, which will remain valid until the Day of Resurrection. It is up to human judgment to accept or reject it. But nowhere in the world can Muslims ever turn away from Islamic guidelines on the slaughtering of animals. Islam has described pure things as lawful. Allah says:
“0 people: Eat what is lawful and good on earth. And do not follow in the footsteps of Satan, for he is to you an avowed enemy.” (The Holy Qur’an 2:168)
Basically there are four things forbidden, as is laid down in this Divine edict:
“Believers.’ Eat the good things that We have provided for you. And be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship. He has only forbidden you dead meat, and the blood and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name has been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced to this by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor the transgressing of due limits, then is he guiltless. For Allah is Forgiving, and Merciful.” (The Holy Qur’an 2: 172-173)
These same four things have been described again in the chapter entitled, Al-Maidah, and by way of elaboration six more types of animals have been mentioned in Surah Maidah:
“Forbidden to you (for food) are dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoiced the name of other than Allah, that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been partly eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter in due form and that which is sacrificed on stone altars. (The Holy Qur’an 5:3)
In addition to this, the Prophet (pbuh) himself described the domesticated donkey as unlawful. (Bukhari)
The Prophet (pbuh) also forbade the eating of the flesh of “sloughed beasts and cleaved birds”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
In another tradition, the Prophet (pbuh) described fish and locusts as lawful, saying that the sea water is pure and the dead beings in it are lawful. (Ahmad and Ashab-e-Sunun)
That is why we may eat fish without killing them ourselves. After this preliminary explanation, let us see what conditions Islam has
laid down for the slaughtering of animals which are lawful for consumption. It is a blessing of Islam to mankind that it has described most of the animals as lawful. But it does not mean that man is free to consume animals in any way he pleases. One has to slaughter them according to the norms set by Islam. If we slaughter lawful animals un-Islamically, eating their flesh will be unlawful according to the Shari’ah.
CONDITIONS FOR THE LAWFUL, ISLAMIC WAY OF SLAUGHTER
The Holy Qur’an makes it obligatory to invoke the name of Allah while slaughtering a lawful animal and it forbids eating the flesh of any animal on which the name of Allah has not been invoked. Allah says:
“So eat that meat on which Allah’s name has been pronounced if you have faith in His signs.” (The Holy Qur’an 6:118)
Allah further commands:
“Do not eat meat on which Allah’s name has not been pronounced. That would be impiety.” (The Holy Qur’an 6:121)
And again Allah says:
“And proclaim to mankind the pilgrimage ………………..so that they may witness the benefits (provided) for them, and celebrate the name of Allah, through the days appointed, over the cattle which he has provided for them (for sacrifice)”: (The Holy Qur’an 22 : 27-28)
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Eat the flesh of the animal which is slaughtered and on which the name of Allah has been pronounced.”
However, there are no details given in the Qur’an as to how to perform the slaughtering. Such details are contained in the Holy traditions of the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) himself sacrificed 100 camels on the occasion of hajjatui wida. In another tradition it is narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) put one foot on the neck of the animals to be slaughtered, and pronouncing the name of Allah, slaughtered the camels on behalf of his kinsfolk.
REQUIREMENTS FOR SLAUGHTERING ANIMALS FOUND ON LAND:
1. The person slaughtering an animal should be a mentally sound male or female adult. He or she may be a Muslim or a Christian. Slaughter performed in a state of madness or drunkenness, or by a child, will not be deemed lawful and valid.
2. At the time of animal slaughter, one should pronounce the name of Allah. Pronouncing the name of any being other than Allah will
render the slaughter invalid. The revealed religions agree on the point that any slaughter, performed in the name of any being other
than Allah, or associated with anything else, will not be considered as lawful. There is no harm if one forgets to pronounce the name of Allah, but omitting it intentionally shall render the slaughter unlawful.
3. The knife used for slaughtering may be made of any metal like iron, or material like wood, but it should be so sharp that the veins are cut, causing blood to flow out. However, the use of teeth and nails is prohibited.
4. The knife should be applied to the animal’s neck in such a manner that the throat, food pipe and the two inside veins are cut, or it
should be thrust into the lower part of the throat as is done with the camel. This act is called ‘Nahr’. The condition of applying the knife to the animal’s neck will be waived if there is no opportunity to slaughter the animal, as in the case of the animal falling headlong down a well, so that its neck cannot be held, or if it goes berserk. In such a situation it will be treated as is done in the case of hunting. That is, it will suffice to wound the animal with a sharp edged weapon in any part of its body, so that it may die by bleeding.
The Shari’ah has permitted sea animals which thrive only in water to be consumed without being slaughtered. Allah says:
“It is He who has subjected to you the ocean, so that you may eat its fresh fish.” (The Holy Qur’an 16:14)
“To hunt and eat the fish of the sea is lawful for you.” (5: 96)
However, those animals which can live both on land and in water are necessary to be slaughtered, while unlawful animals like the dog and the cat will not be considered as lawful even when slaughtered with the invocation of Allah’s name. In the light of the conditions described above, it is our duty to ensure that the meat we purchase and consume is slaughtered in an appropriate manner.
Niujie Mosque (996AD), Beijing, China
SLAUGHTER BY CHRISTIANS AND JEWS (The people of the Book)
Many problems arise in the social life of every region due to diversity in habits, customs and beliefs . One of the issues facing Muslims during the revelation of the Holy Qur’an was whether Muslims would be permitted to consume the flesh of a lawful animal slaughtered by the people of the book. The Qur’an made it clear that Muslims were permitted to partake of the food of the Jews and Christians (The Holy Qur’an 5:5) including animals slaughtered by them. However, the jurists have also made it clear that, where the people of the book attribute the slaughtered animal to any of their gods, or to the church itself, instead of following the norm prescribed by the Islamic Shari’ah, the slaughter shall not be treated as lawful. Moreover, the Jewish and Christian scriptures still contain commands on slaughtering animals that correspond to the Qur’anic commands. Examples are:
No person among you may eat blood nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.
And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, it is unclean for you. You shall not eat any of their flesh nor touch their
Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it on the ground, like water.
You shall not eat anything that dies itself.
… that you abstain from blood and from things strangled, from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do
The Islamic stand on hunting is that, chasing and killing any living being solely for entertainment, or even without any purpose at all, is prohibited. Only those creatures are to be hunted which are neither pets nor domestic animals. The lives of pets may be humanely terminated and farm animals may be slaughtered, rather than hunted down. Hunting is generally done by either of two means. One is to make use of a trained animal like a dog, or a bird like a falcon, etc., and the second is by using weapons like guns or arrows, etc. Before going into the details, two things need explanation: one is the place of hunting and the other is the condition of the hunter.
PLACE: the whole of the earth’s surface, whether land or water, may be hunted upon with the exception of Haram. Haram is the area in Makkah surrounding the Masjid al-Haram or Ka’bah, the boundaries of which have been demarcated. Likewise, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) declared the area surrounding the Masjid an-Nabawi as Haram. Within the boundaries of these two Harams, hunting is strictly and unconditionally prohibited. Even grass cannot be uprooted.
CONDITIONS: So long as people who are performing umrah and Hajj are in the state ehram, they may not hunt on land, but the Shari’ah allows them to catch fish and other sea creatures from the sea while they are still in this state.
Terms and conditions:
a) Like the conditions applying to slaughter, the basic requirements for hunting are that the hunter should be Muslim, sound of mind and
mature. Moreover, the following things should be borne in mind:
b) The name of Allah should be uttered at the time of striking a blow with a weapon or when giving the signal to an animal to start hunting,
c) The animal, which is to be used in hunting must first be tamed. The use of an untamed animal in hunting will not be Halaal. Moreover, if the animal attacks on its own, or eats some part of the prey, this will not be Halaal.
d) If any other animal attacks along with the tamed animal, this will not be Halaal, because it cannot be ascertained which one has hunted down the prey – the tamed or the untamed! Likewise, if along with the bullet or arrow of the hunter, any other bullet or arrow is found, this will not be Halaal either, because it will not be known which weapon killed the animal. Likewise, if the animal falls in water, eating it will not be acceptable, because it cannot be ascertained whether the animal drowned or died by a flesh wound made by a bullet or other instrument.
f) The weapon used in hunting should be such as should cause bleeding. No animal which has died of a blow which shows any visibly bleeding wound, may be eaten.
g) If the hunted animal is going to die soon, slaughter is not permissible. Only if the animal is found to be still fully alive, may it be slaughtered.
h) In conclusion, if the slain animal is found after two or three days, but is still in good condition, it may be eaten, but if it has rotted, it may not be eaten, because, according to the Shari’ah, it is Haram to eat anything which is rotten.
THE EXISTING STATE OF AFFAIRS:
On the one hand, there is Divine approval for Muslims to eat the flesh of lawful animals slaughtered by the people of the book while, on the other hand, we see that in our generation the majority of the people of the book have turned away from their religion to the extent of becoming unbelievers. However, of all the people of the book, there are Jews who still adhere to their faith. It is due to this adherence that we can obtain the meat of animals slaughtered according to Jewish religious norms at particular shops known as Kosher Meat Shops. This slaughter conforms to the Islamic Shari’ah. Those animals which are shot in the head with a bullet out of “compassion” before their being slaughtered with a sharp edged weapon or knife, or which are given electric shocks, will be held unlawful in the light of the Shari’ah. The /act is that, as a result of this “excessive compassion”, the animals, in most circumstances, die – particularly, chicken and duck. It is because of the method of this act of killing, (maitah) that the Shari’ah forbids us to eat carrion.
In the slaughter houses of Britain, Europe and the Allied countries the blood is not allowed to flow out of the body of slaughtered animals, so that greater profit may be made. In lawful slaughtering, however, the blood is allowed to drain out of the animal’s body. In these slaughterhouses, they make a small incision in the animal’s neck and skin it before the blood is fully squeezed out of the body. Obviously, this procedure must be extremely painful. Besides the people of the book, there are also other communities, such as Parsis, Hindus and Sikhs, in which the consumption of meat is permitted. In these communities animals are not just slaughtered, but their heads are brutally severed from their bodies, which is an extremely cruel act and should never be permitted.
COMPASSION TO ANIMALS AND ISLAM Islam being the religion of mercy, all its teachings, be they for humans or animals, embody nothing but blessings. Even the method prescribed for slaughter is the best method, because it is based on compassion. Nevertheless, many allegations have been made that Islamic slaughter is not humane to animals. However, Professor Shultz and his colleague Dr. Hazim of the Hanover University, Germany, proved by experiments, using Electroencephalogram (EEG-An instrument that records the electrical activity of the brain) and Electrocardiogram (ECG- An instrument that records the electrical current generated by heartbeat) that:
1. Islamic slaughter is a humane method of slaughter: and,
2. Captive bolt stunning, practiced in the west, causes severe pain to the animal.
Several electrodes were surgically implanted at various points on the skull of all the animals, touching the surface of the brain. The animals were allowed to recover for several weeks. Some animals were slaughtered by making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides; and also the trachea and oesophagus, i.e. the Halaal method. Some animals were stunned using a captive bolt pistol by the western method. During the experiment, EEG and ECG were used on all the animals to record the condition of the brain and heart during the course of slaughter and stunning.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION:
THE HALAAL METHOD
The first three seconds subsequent to slaughter by the Islamic method, as recorded on the EEG, did not show any change when compared with the graph before slaughter, thus indicating that the animal did not feel any pain during or immediately after the incision. For the following 3 seconds, the EEG recorded a condition of deep sleep-unconsciousness. This is due to a large quantity of blood gushing out of the body. After the above mentioned 6 seconds, the EEG recorded zero level, showing no feeling of pain at all. As the brain message (EEG) dropped to zero level, the heart was still pounding and the body convulsing vigorously, (a reflex action of the spinal cord) driving the maximum blood from the body, resulting in hygienic meat for the consumer.
THE WESTERN METHOD by Captive Bolt Stunning
Ref: http://www.grandin.com/humane/captive.bolt.html Although the animals apparently became unconscious soon after stunning, the EEG showed severe pain immediately after stunning. The hearts of the animals stunned by C.B.E stopped beating, as compared to those of the animals slaughtered according to the Halaal method, resulting in the retention of more blood in the flesh. This in turn is unhygienic for the consumer.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Allah has commanded you to treat all creatures with kindness. When you slaughter an animal do so kindly. Sharpen the knife well and give comfort to the animal being slaughtered” (Muslim).
Al Shaddad Bin Aous (raa) has quoted this tradition of the Holy Prophet (pbuh); “Allah calls for mercy in everything, so be merciful when you kill and when you slaughter. Sharpen your blade to relieve the pain.”
Abbas (raa) narrated a tradition that once a man started sharpening his knife after laying down a goat for slaughter. The Prophet said to him, “How many times do you want to kill this goat. Why did you not sharpen your knife before laying the animal down?” (Hakim)
Umar (raa) saw someone dragging a goat along by its leg to be slaughtered. Seeing this he said, “May Allah have pity on you. Lead this animal to its death with kindness.”
In the Days of Ignorance people used to cut off the humps of camels and the fatty tails of rams, which was very cruel and painful to the animals. Therefore, the Prophet (pbuh) held the practice of severing the limbs of live animals to be unlawful. He said, “If a part of the limb of a live animal is cut off, it will be treated as carrion.” (Ahmad Abu Dawood), These examples show the extent of the emphasis laid by Islam on the importance of kind treatment to animals.
The Islamic Teachings on the slaughter of animals are unambiguous. We appeal, therefore, to our Muslim brothers and sisters to make sure, before buying chicken and meat (whether fresh or frozen or canned) or ready- made curry, that the animal concerned was slaughtered according to the norms of the Islamic Shari’ah, so that we may consume what is permitted and lead our lives as the grateful servants of Allah. This responsibility becomes all the greater when we are living in non-Muslim societies. It is our bounden duty to keep ourselves and others informed.