By Fahmida Abdul Sattar (IR Analyst) and Tasneem Vali (Architect, Academic Coordinator and Freelance Writer)
“Is this burger Halal?”
“Of course, it is beef!”
“No, I mean to say is it Zabeeha?”
“What is that? Allah (swt) has allowed us to eat beef, right?”
“Alhumdulillah, we are allowed to eat and drink everything, other than those that fall into the category mentioned in Surah Maidah, verse 3.”
“Oh! And what is that, can you explain?”
“Forbidden to You (for food) are: Al-Maytatah (the dead animals – cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and the meat of that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah, or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., or on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering…” (Al-Maidah, 5:3)
The concept that chicken, beef, mutton and all types of meat ‘allowed’ in Islam are permissible (Halal) is erroneous. There is a simple clause, in the verse quoted above, about how that animal MUST be slaughtered.
The next logical question is: why this way and is it harmful to the animal? Most non-Muslims think this is a barbaric way of killing an animal in order to consume it. However, modern science and common sense proves the rationality of this approach. It is also harmless for the animal, which is treated with respect as per the Prophet’s (saw) Hadeeth: “Verily, Allah, has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” (Muslim)
Science also proves that a swift incision at the throat causes severance of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Hence, the animal immediately loses consciousness and sensation. Therefore, Zabeeha is the most painless method of slaughtering an animal, as it feels no pain after its jugular vein is cut swiftly. Moreover, the Islamic method promotes that the animal should be well-fed and relaxed prior to slaughtering. Amazingly, the condition that another animal shall not witness the slaughter is also mentioned.
In most of the slaughterhouses today, captive bolt stunning method is widely used, which is considered to be the most painful method. It causes no loss of consciousness and the animal feels a great deal of pain while being slaughtered. The animal loses consciousness due to extreme pain!
The second reason Zabeeha is the preferred humane method is that it causes swift draining of bacteria-hormone-carrying blood away from the body. The heart pumps longer, which is the sign of healthy and hygienic meat, whereas in captive bolt stunning, blood does not flow out rapidly – it settles in some body parts, as the heart’s pumping is affected after the spinal cord is severed. It must be kept in mind that, while slaughtering the animal according to Zabeeha rules, the cut should not be so deep that it severs the spinal cord or head.
Ultimately, for hygienic and healthy meat, Western countries are resorting to ritual slaughtering in the way of Islam. However, they do not pronounce Allah’s (swt) name and so are deprived of the blessings that are brought by one’s invocation to Allah.
Requirements for meat to be Halal (Image source: http://www.greenZabiha.com/Zabiha)
Mercy Slaughtering has very inspiring videos about how when the Muslim slaughterer recites: “Bismillahillazi La Yathirru Ma Ismi Shayin…”, the animal to be slaughtered willingly lies down on the ground in obedience to Allah (swt) to fulfil his purpose of creation which is to serve human beings. It’s quite amazing!