Issues of Mechanical Slaughter and Stunning

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The most common practice found in a majority of the larger abattoirs is machine slaughter or mechanical slaughter. This is when the slaughter is carried out by a mechanical rotating blades with no Muslim slaughterman present either to perform the slaughter, or to recite the ‘Tasmiyah’ on each individual slaughter. Thousands of chickens are slaughtered in this manner daily. Again, the practice of blessing the blades, playing prerecorded bismillah or even appointing a Muslim to recite bismillah as he switches the machinery on, is common instead of reciting bismillah on each and every animal slaughtered manually. This practice is directly against the teaching of Islam and will not serve to conduct a Halal slaughter.

The following are fatwas and comments by prominent Islamic scholars regarding mechanical slaughter in Islam:

Mechanical Slaughter  – GMWA Halal Foodguide Service

Mechanical Slaughter  –  Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Mechanical Animal Slaughter – Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari

Mechanical Slaughter – Darul Iftaa, Karachi

The Law Of Shari’ah Regarding Mechanical Slaughter – A’llamah Zia Ul Mustafa A’azami Al Qadri

Issue of Stunning

The issue of stunning is very delicate (whether done by captive bolt stun, electric head stun or electrified water bath), in the sense that there are many conditions and criteria that must be considered. Firstly for reason of the animals’ welfare, the act of stunning is extremely disliked and according to some even reaches the stage of being Haram, as it causes the animal unnecessary suffering. Thereafter even more importantly is how it affects the Islamic ruling on the animal as to whether or not it is fit for Muslim consumption.

The Islamic criteria that must be met while slaughtering the animals are clear-cut; any deviation from them will render the animal unfit for Muslim consumption. Amongst the guidelines established for a Halal slaughter is the unwavering fundamental that the animal must be alive at the time of slaughter and the blood must be drained out.

It has been witnessed that on many occasions animals subjected to stunning arrive at the slaughterer dead. This is due to either the unbearably high voltage or a delay in the time it takes to get to the slaughterer if the stunning is irreversible. Sometimes it can also be because animals are drowned in the stunning tank. It has been noted that the problem of dead animals reaching the slaughterer is invariably present in all the slaughterhouses that use the stunning method. The research also states that animals, especially chickens die prior to slaughter due to stunning. It is also proven that a large amount of blood remains in the animal which renders it Haram. The animal is also deprived of the effects of tasmiyyah as it would be unconscious at the time of slaughter.

Also what needs to be understood is that there is no pressure from the side of the government of the United Kingdom forcing Muslims to adopt such inhumane methods of slaughter. Therefore because of all the negative aspects of stunning, the Halal Monitoring Committee has set a blanket ruling disallowing stunning in any form.

“Stunning the animal before slaughter leaves a huge doubt into the halalness of the animal as many could be killed by the stunning especially in the case of poultry. Furthermore, it prevents the drainage of entire blood resulting in it being retained in the animal and retained blood causes germs and bacteria, it deprives animals from the benefits of tasmiyah due to it being unconscious, it is inhumane to animals and causes unnecessary pain and suffering, it is in reality done not for animal rights purposes, but in order for the industry to kill more animals quicker so as to increase profits. According to the majority of the Ulama stunning is not accepted in Islam and stunning could render the meat Haram in many cases.” (Abu Ibrahim)

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