Somaliland Cyberspace

Time to End the ‘Zabiha’ halal slaughter

Applicable verses

Eat not (O believers) of that meat on which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of slaughter) for sure it is disobedience of Allah (a sinful conduct). And certainly, the Shayaatin (devils) do inspire their friends (from mankind) to dispute with you, and if you obey them [making al-Maytatah legal to eat (Maytatah - a dead animal or animal/bird slaughtered without taking the name of Allah during slaughter)], then you would indeed be a polytheists (doing shirk, ascribing partners to Allah) Al-Qur'an (6:121)

“Forbidden to you (for food) are dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah [God], 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 it (in due form).” (Quran, 5:3)

“Forbidden to you are Maytah (carrion), flowing blood, the flesh of swine and that slaughtered for other than Allah as well as the (animal) expiring by strangulation, illness or pain, falling (from a height), by a wound (sustained through fighting) and by falling to a predator and (about to be consumed), excepting those (animals) upon which you effect Zakah (Shar'ee slaughter).” (Al-Maidah 5:3)

From animals' perspectives, Eid al adha festival is the worst time for them. Slaughtering animals while being fully conscious leads to most horrific method of dying. To lessen the pain and the shock, the animals should first be stunned with a bolt-gun through the brain or electrocution to induce temporary unconsciousness.

The U.S. Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 was passed to prevent excessive cruelty to animals and requires that they be made insensitive to pain before being "shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast or cut.", as per Animal Welfare and Humane Slaughter guidelines.

This is the standard practice in government-approved slaughtering houses in Western societies, except where exception exists as in UK and U.S. This leads to the actual zabiha, or ritual slaughter, whereby the animal will experience unnecessary pain and suffering associated with the throat being cut and subsequent bleeding out while being fully conscious.

Under the halal method, the professed requirement is that the killing is to cause minimum pain and that it be done by hand and certain blessings, 'Bismillah' ("In the name of God"), or '“Allahu akbar' ("God is the greatest"), or Tasmiyah uttered by a specially-trained slaughterman, who is supposed to be either a Muslim, or Ahla Kitab, "People of the Book" (practicing Jews and Christians). In other words, the Zabiha (animal slaughtered) by a Kafir (non-believer) or Mushrik (polytheist) is haram (unlawful). Additional requirement is that the head of an animal that is slaughtered according to halal methods should be aligned with the qiblah (a Muslim shrine in Mecca, Saudi Arabia).

The actual cutting requires a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife that cuts the four main arteries of its neck (the jugular artery, foodpipe, jugular vein and windpipe) of the animal, but leaving the spinal cord untouched. Since eating blood is not halal, this method then allows the blood to drain out completely before the head is removed, a key but a messy requirement but it is believed nonetheless that it makes the meat cleaner.

The trouble is for the meat to be considered halal, the animal must be alive and fully awake before it is fully killed, which leaves the brain and spinal cord still intact, following the slashing of the esophagus and vertebrate trachea. Throughout the time the animal remains fully conscious long enough to feel severe pain. As the spinal cord remains intact, the heart is still beating, preventing stagnation and allowing a constant flow of blood from the body until death. Some halal apologists claim that the animal killed in this fashion does not suffer if the cut is made quickly and speedily enough, because it loses consciousness before the brain can perceive any pain. But there's no hiding that the slaughtermen seem to take pride in slaughtering animals, so that they die terrified and in agony, screaming and writhing in pain for as long as possible.

Finally, according to the rules of zabiha, it is compulsory that each animal must be slaughtered individually and in seclusion. In a halal slaughterhouse or any other place, the knife must not be sharpened in the animal's presence, one animal must not witness another animal being slaughtered, otherwise it is considered makrooh, or ritually objectionable. Under the halal slaughter, in reality, the animals watch other animals die during the blood-letting festival, smelling their fear and raising their own stress. These stress chemicals “marinate” the meat in hormones known to raise levels of aggression and violence in nearly all mammal species (including human).

To lessen the immeasurable pain, all the animals should be effectively stunned before slaughter to improve the welfare of the animals during the slaughter and prevent the unnecessary suffering. This ensures the rights of the animal, while respecting religious rites and doesn't compromise human health. In UK, the Halal Food Authority, a major halal certifying organisation says that all meat animals can be stunned. It is adamant, however, that animals should not be stunned to death prior to slaughter.

Following much outcry from animal rights groups, the Danish government decided in 2014 to remove the existing halal and Kosher exemption and requires now pre-stunning before killing. It joined Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland in banning the religious slaughter. It is time for UK to eliminate the religious killing exception and require pre-stunning the animals.

Please Sign petition to end halal slaughter in UK

First you see the humane way to cull animals as used in Western countries, then you get to look at the traditional way of Zabiha.

Sources and further reading:

Halal: Islamic Dietary Laws Islam
What Is Halal Food? Middle Eastern Food
Where Kosher Meets Halal
Baltimore Jewish Times, 30 December 2011
Halal Not Just for Muslims Anymore
United Press International, 17 July 2011
Food Preparation Standards in Muslim Community Up for Interpretation
Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 September 2011
Are Kosher and Halal Meats Better for Your Health?, 2 February 2010

Last updated 05/28/14

Dr Mohamed Bali
29 Sept, 2014