Islamic method of slaughtering animals: Scientific Not Inhumane

Islamic method of slaughtering animals: Scientific Not Inhumane


The Islamic method of slaughtering animals has come under attack by an independent advisory group and has hit the news headlines.

‘The Revival’ has responded with solid arguments to prove that the Islamic method is scientific and not inhumane. Now updated with more scientific arguments quotes, and comparisons with slaughtering of animals using non Islamic methods.

The Islamic method of slaughtering animals has been the object of much criticism from a large number (link is external) of people.

One may consider the following points, which prove that the Islamic method of slaughtering is not only humane but also scientifically the best:

Islamic method of slaughtering animals

The Islamic mode of slaughtering an animal requires the following conditions to be met:

Animal should be slaughtered with sharp object (knife)The animal has to be slaughtered with a sharp object (knife) and in a fast way so that the pain of slaughter is minimised.

Cut wind pipe, throat and vessels of neck

The ‘slaughtering’ is to be done by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck causing the animal’s death without cutting the spinal cord.

Blood should be drained

The blood has to be drained completely before the head is removed. The purpose is to drain out most of the blood which would serve as a good culture medium for micro organisms. The spinal cord must not be cut because the nerve fibres to the heart could be damaged during the process causing cardiac arrest, stagnating the blood in the blood vessels.

Blood is a good medium for germs and bacteria

Blood is a good media of germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. Therefore the Muslim way of slaughtering is more hygienic as most of the blood containing germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. that are the cause of several diseases are eliminated.

Meat remains fresh for a longer time

Meat slaughtered by Islamic way remains fresh for a longer time due to deficiency of blood in the meat as compared to other methods of slaughtering.

Animal does not feel pain

The swift cutting of vessels of the neck disconnects the flow of blood to the nerve of the brain responsible for pain. Thus the animal does not feel pain. While dying, the animal struggles, writhers, shakes and kicks, not due to pain, but due to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles deficient in blood and due to the flow of blood out of the body.

The Islamic (halal) method of slaughter can be described as follows:

The animal has to be lawful to eat, alive, healthy, to be slaughtered only for the reason of food, in the name of The Creator, ALLAH (s.w.t) and not for any other reasons (it has to be well-fed, not thirsty handled and moved gently and individually).

The slaughter-man must be in possession of a clear mind and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, trained in the job, with an awareness of what he is doing.

The act of slaughter (Al-Dhabh) starts by pronouncing the name of ALLAH (s.w.t), The Creator , to take His permission and in order to make the Slaughter-man accountable and responsible and to give compassion and mercy to the animal during this act. Besides, any action we do in our daily life should be commenced with the mention of the name of ALLAH (s.w.t ) The Most Kind, The Most Merciful.

The Qur’an says:

“And eat not of that where on ALLAH’s name has not been mentioned for verily it is abomination.( Surah Anam 6/121)

Then, by a very, very sharp knife (which should be kept like a surgeon’s knife in sharpness and cleanliness, as previously stated by DR Ghulam Khan (UFAW, 1971), a Deep swift cut done instantaneously and quickly to the blood vessels of the neck (the two caroid arteries which carry blood to the brain and head, the two jugular veins which bring blood from the brain back to the heart), the trachea (windpipe) and the oesophagus (gullet), but the central nervous system (the spinal cord) should be kept safe and intact (not cut).

This deep, large cut through all the blood vessels of the neck causes acute blood loss and haemorrhagic shock: we know the blood is under great pressure , especially in the big carotid arteries (systolic pressure ) and at high speed and, according to physical law, the pressure always goes from the high to low resistance – the point of the cut is the scene of low resistance for blood to and from the brain. As we have a fully intact, alive heart, so most of the blood is going to be pumped and poured out instantaneously and quickly under pressure leading to a rapid fall in the blood pressure.

Thus depriving the brain of its main source of oxygen and glucose, and with no blood which is necessary to keep the animal alive and functioning and able to deal with any perceptive sensation this leads to anoxia and almost immediate loss of consciousness (anesthetization or “stunning” ).

The cerebrospinal fluid pressure falls even more rapidly than the blood pressure because of the jugular veins being cut, and this results in a deep shock and more loss of consciousness.

The animal, at this stage after the cut, is in a stable and quiet state with no movement or any distressed behavior. One would assume, if there was any pain or suffering, it would kick, move or show signs.

After this short resting phase, and because the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood due to the huge amount of bleeding, the heartbeats increase in order to increase the flow of blood to the brain and other deprived areas.

Tonic and clonic involuntary contractions and convulsions start and occur as automatic physiological reflexes in order to send and push blood up, especially to the brain.

These contractions and convulsions are ‘painless’ (not, as the layman would imagine, that the kicking is due to the pain) especially when the animal is already unconscious and still has an intact spinal cord with safe nerve centers to the limbs, muscles and organs. So, we have a huge amount of bleeding from the initial cut then blood loss is continuing with the squeezing pressure of these contractions and convulsions, leading to maximum bleeding-out and less retention of blood in the carcass, giving a better quality of meat [both safer and healthier (this is like direct method of slaughter, “but without stunning”)].

I would like to end this section with at least one testimony from, for example, Lord Horder GCVO, MD, FRCP, who explained this type of slaughtering scientifically (and without the use of stunning):

‘The animal loses consciousness immediately. It is difficult to conceive a more painless and rapid mode of death; for a few seconds after the cut is made, the animal makes no movement its body is then convulsed, the convulsive movements continue for about a minute and then cease. The interpretation of this fact is clear: the cut is made by a knife so sharp and so skillfully handled that a state of syncope with its associated unconsciousness follows instantaneously upon the severing of the blood pressure.

The movement of the animal which begins at about 90 seconds are epileptiform in nature and are due to the blood-less state of the brain (cerebral ischemia with complete anoxaemia). Sensation has been abolished at the moment of the initial syncope.’

Of course, there have been many other statements by eminent scientists giving the same explanations and conclusions about the direct act of slaughtering such as DR Leonard Hill (1923), Sir Lovatt Evans, Professor Harold Burrow, I M Levingen (1979), Professor F R Bell. Mr. Openshaw, Mr. Hayhurst etc. (Some are quoted, in Impact Magazine 1985).

Let me quote Prof. Leonard Hill, F.R.C.V.S, who strongly believed and expressed his views in his article – that the incision applied in the Ritual Slaughter causes no pain. Any Surgeon today knows that sudden big injuries are not felt at the time of infliction. Pain comes later when the wound is (septic, and) inflamed. Structures beneath the skin apart from isolated sensory nerve endings are insensitive to the knife.

Apart from the clear Divine laws and orders to us, and the clear physiological and scientific evidence, I would like to mention one golden rule in Islam which, again, fits into the perfection of mercy to every individual animal.

Methods of slaughter used today by Non-Muslims.

The captive bolt pistol used commonly for cattle, calves and goats.

It is the shooting, by a gun or pistol in the forehead (mechanical method) by a blank cartridge or compressed air. It could be penetrating or non-penetrating (percussion stunning).

It breaks the skull, shatters and destroys the brain. A rod of steel is introduced in the skull hole to smash, cut and destroy the brain [pithing:now to be prohibited in UK and Europe by January 2001]. All this occurs before the real slaughtering cut is made. Recently, a new method by which a steel needle to penetrate the skull and brain and in which air is injected to cause intercranial pressure has been developed.

Problems, harm and results of this method have been reported in different scientific and Government reports, as follows:

  • Improper stunning (failure of stunning leading to re-stunning and double shots (FAWC 1982 and 1984);
  • Paralysis of the animal while still conscious (FAWC 1982 and 1984);
  • ‘Depressed skull fracture’ and considerable damage to the brain (FAWC 1984);
  • Brain contamination (Blackmore 1979);
  • Blood splash (extranvasation of blood from vessels Into muscle and meat with some clotting of the blood) (Blackmore 1979);
  • Brain hemorrhage (Blackmore 1979);
  • Bruising and injuries from the heavy fall of the animal after the shot;
  • Death reported by Lawton (1971); Temple Grandin (1980) stated that tests on sheep and calves indicated that penetrating captive bolt stunning actually kills the animal;
  • Damage or harm to the meat. Marple (1977) stated ‘Captive bolts should be discontinued in view of theirdetrimental effect on meat quality. (Quoted by Biala 1983)

We know that this method is still widely practiced, especially in the UK!

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is done by moving the animal through a room which contains a mixture of CO2 and air (about 65/70% CO2 by volume). It is used only for pigs. It is a form of chemical strangulation. CO2 is a harmful gas to be inside the body.

Problems and harm reported include;

  • Considerable, unacceptable stress (violent excitation, general agitation and convulsions).
  • ‘CO2 stunning is more stressful than either properly applied electrical or captive bolt stunning’ (Temple Grandin 1980).
  • Suffocation, strangulation and death to the animal before the cut; death was reported by Glen (1971).
  • Toxic effect of the gas on the blood and physiology.
  • It is definitely a cruel way for the animal and I would like to quote here also from FAWC (1984) when they discussed pain; ‘It is doubtful whether the animal feels pain or is even conscious’. This method has been banned in Holland and many other European countries

Electrical Stunning

Electrical Stunning could be to head and brain only or to head and back or to the legs, and there are three varieties:

a. Low Voltage Electrical Stunning by a pair of scissors-like tongs with circular or rectangular electrodes which are usually immersed in a saline solution then applied to the side of the head. Voltage is not less than 75 volts (50 Hz mains frequency) for not less than seven seconds.

Problem and harm with this method include:

  • It is cruel, by giving an electric shock directly, with no anesthesia;
  • paralysis while the animal is conscious (pain);
  • doubt about the effect and feeling of pain;
  • unreliable: missed shots and re-stunning;
  • Recovery of the animal usually occurs within 30-40 seconds. Electric stunning only induces paralysis, not unconsciousness, leaving the animal helpless but completely conscious to pain. (E.H. Callow from his book ‘Food Hygiene)

Some scientists and physiologists have expressed serious misgivings; some are of the opinion that the animal is merely paralyzed by the electric current and so prevented from making a sound or a movement while fully conscious and experiences great pain as the current passes through its body. Such views are shared by the following Professors and Scientists:

a) Prof. A.C. Ivey (North Western University of America)

b) Prof. M.J. Hertz, of France

c) Prof. Roos & Koopmans, Holland.

Stunning does not first involve passing an electric current through the animal’s body. The magnitude of the current passed must be adequate; voltage of higher rating could lead to bone fractures.

Voltage of lower rating produces electric convulsions without inducing unconsciousness. A lower voltage rating needs longer application and this being a matter of judgment, the human element could lead to failure. The variations in the sizes of animals and their individual resistance to the current are also important considerations.

One should now realise that the Islamic method of slaughtering animals is not inhumane or cruel at all but is scientifically the best method and it would not be a bad idea if it was carried out by the mainstream.

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