The Islamic method of slaughtering animals has been a point of great criticism for many people, which has only been festering in this day and age where animal rights movements and scientific advancement are on the rise. Hence, this brings us to the question, what is Islam’s take on the subject? Can we back it up with science?
According to Islamic law, the Arabic word for the ritual of slaughtering animals is known as Dhabihah, which essentially deems the slaughtered meat as ‘halal’ or permissible to eat. It is applicable on the slaughter of lawful (halal) animals like chicken, sheep, goat, cow etc., and becomes null and void on the slaughter of unlawful animals like pigs, dogs, cats etc. The method of zabihah is governed by a set of strict rules which need to be followed.
1. The slaughter needs to be carried out by a Muslim or Ahlul Kitab
Only a Muslim or someone who is Ahlul Kitab (people of the Book), can carry out the task for the meat to be deemed halal.
2. Start by reciting Allah’s (SWT) name
The first step is to recite the name of Allah (SWT). This is to take Allah’s (SWT) permission and to carry out the slaughter under His name and His name only; the slaughter cannot be made under the name of any other deity.
3. Slaughter the animal with a sharp knife (sharp cutting tool)
The animal must be sacrificed with a sharp knife in order to minimize the pain and it must be done quickly. A blunt knife will only prolong the whole ordeal, causing more pain to the animal.
4. Directly pierce the throat, windpipe and blood vessels of the animal
The person must place the knife directly over the throat and windpipe of the animal and make the cut as precisely as possible, cutting off all the blood vessels but not the spinal cord itself (cutting the spinal cord can damage the nerve fibers which can cause the animal to go into cardiac arrest, stagnating the blood). This causes the animal to die quickly and with minimal pain.
5. Drain the blood
All the blood needs to be drained from the body before the head of the animal is removed. This is to purify the animal’s body of any type of bacteria, toxins or germs that may reside in the blood of the animal, which can lead to different types of illnesses.
According to scientific evidence, the zabihah method of slaughter is actually one of the most humane types of slaughter. The swift piercing of the windpipe and blood vessels cuts off the main source of blood, oxygen, and glucose which is necessary for the animal to stay alive, hence the animal instantly loses consciousness and cannot feel any pain after it. The movement and convulsions that follow are just muscular spasms due to the rapid flow of blood outside the body - it is not due to the pain.
Islam is a perfect religion. Allah (SWT) has ordained certain things to go a certain way because of reasons the human brain cannot even fathom. The Dhabihah method of slaughter is perhaps the most humane and merciful way of slaughtering animals, minimizing the pain and suffering of the living animal as much as possible. Only Allah (SWT), the Creator, the Wisest, could have deemed it to be so.