Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. In reference to food, it is the dietary standard, as prescribed in the Qur’an (the Muslim scripture). The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. These terms are commonly used in relation to food products, meat products, cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, and food contact materials.
While many things are clearly halal or haram, there are some things which are not clear. Further information is needed to categorise them as halal or haram. Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means doubtful or questionable.
Halal Meat Slaughter
Muslims are only allowed to eat meat that has been prepared according to Islamic law. This method is often challenged by animal rights activists as ‘causing unnecessary suffering to the animal’. Muslims disagree and say that Islamic law on killing animals is designed to reduce the pain and distress that the animal suffers.
AFIC has strict rules with regards to Islamic slaughter. These rules state:
The slaughterer must be a sane adult Muslim.
The slaughterer must say the name of God before making the cut.
The name of God is said in order to emphasise the sanctity of life and that the animal is being killed for food with God’s consent.
The animal must be killed by cutting the throat with one continuous motion of a sharp knife.
The cut must sever at least three of the trachea, oesophagus, and the two blood vessels on either side of the throat.
The spinal cord must not be cut.
Animals must be well treated before being killed.
Animals must not see other animals being killed.
The knife must not be sharpened in the animal’s presence.
The knife blade must be free of blemishes that might tear the wound.
The animal must not be in an uncomfortable position.
The animal must be allowed to bleed out and be completely dead before further processing.
Some experts say that the animal killed in this way does not suffer if the cut is made quickly and cleanly, because it loses consciousness before the brain can perceive any pain: “the Islamic way of slaughtering is the most humane method of slaughter and that captive bolt stunning, practiced in the West, causes 3 severe pain to the animal”
Schulze W, Schultze-Petzold H, Hazem AS, Gross R. Experiments for the objectification of pain and consciousness during conventional (captive bolt stunning) and religiously mandated (“ritual cutting”) slaughter procedures for sheep and calves. Deutsche Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 1978 Feb 5;85(2):62-6.
The argument that halal slaughter is inhumane because animals are allowed to bleed to death is scientifically untrue.
An animal’s throat is cut in one swift motion with a razor sharp knife. Unconsciousness is achieved within seconds and death occurs due to cerebral hypoxia not blood loss
Islam first sets the principles that makes a meat qualified Halal. Halal means permissible or allowed.
Guidelines For Animal Slaughter:
Islam prescribes certain requisites before declaring the meat of an animal to be “Halāl”; permissible for consumption.
1. The person who is doing the “Zabīha” should be a Muslim, whether man or woman, with or without “Wudhu”. If the man doing the slaughtering belongs to the “People of the Book”, then he should be a staunch follower of his own religion; he should not be an atheist, he should slaughter in the name of Allah and should not take any other name.
2. The person who is slaughtering should be sane and mentally capable At the time of slaughter, the name of “Allah” should be taken.
Example: “Bismillahi Allahu Akbar”. He should say it orally and not silently within himself.
3. He should say “Bismillah” with the intention of “Zabīha” and nothing else.
4. He should not add any other name to “Allah”.
5. He should slaughter the moment he says “Bismillah”; there should be no delay.
6. At the time of “Zabīha”, the animal should actually be alive.
6. If more than one animal is to be slaughtered then separate “Bismillah” should be said for each animal.
8. The meat of a Non-Zabīha animal or an animal’s meat which has not been slaughtered as per the Shari‘ah, should not be mixed with Zabīha meat in a way that they cannot be differentiated.
9. While cleaning or processing the meat, the temperature of the water should not be so high, that the heat permeates into the meat.
The heat has going inside the meat is indicated by the smell of the entrails in the stomach entering the meat.
Those animals declared as “Halāl”, if they have been slaughtered according to “Zabīha” rules, only then consuming their meat is “Halāl”. If they have not been slaughtered as per Shar‘i norms, then that meat cannot be called “Halāl”, it would be considered as “Carrion” which is “Haram”. It clearly means that there are no separate forms of “Halāl” and “Zabīha” meat in Islam.
There are some other things which need to be followed as per Su’nah
(i.e. according to the actions of Prophet Mohammed P.B.U.H)
1. The knife should be very sharp.
2. Water should be poured into the animal’s mouth.
3. The animal’s face should be turned towards the “Qiblah”
4. The person doing the slaughtering should face the “Qiblah”
5. The person should have performed ablution.
6. The slaughtering should be done with the right hand.
7. The knife should be used quickly on the throat.
8. While saying “Bismillah” use the “Zer” at the end. Say “Bismillahi Allahu Akbar”.
9. The animal should be laid gently on its left side.
10. The limbs of the big animals like cow, camel, or buffalo should be tied.
Disapproved acts during Sacrificial Slaughter
1. The action of cutting the throat should not be so quick or deep that it severs the neck completely. This is disapproved.
2. It is “Makruh” to start skinning the animal or severing its head from its body, even before the animal is totally lifeless.
3. Slaughtering an animal before another animal is also disapproved etc.
Note : In addition to the above, if any action takes place against the Shari‘ah in the Slaughter house, it will be asked to desist from doing so.
Halāl animal’s organs whose consumption is prohibited
4. Glands in the spinal cord (their marrow is “Haram”)
6. Bile duct
7. Blood (fresh or coagulated)
Compiled from “Fatwa Rahi’mia” Volume 10, Page 80
“Forbidden unto you are: carrion and blood and swine flesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than Allah, and the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which hath been killed by the goring of horns, and the devoured of wild beasts save that which ye make lawful, and that which hath been immolated to idols. And that ye swear by the divining arrows. This is abomination” (Quran V:3)
(يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ كُلُواْ مِمَّا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ حَلَـٰلاً۬ طَيِّبً۬ا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَٲتِ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ لَكُمۡ عَدُوٌّ۬ مُّبِينٌ (ألبقرة ۱۶۸)
O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you.
وَلَا تَأۡڪُلُواْ مِمَّا لَمۡ يُذۡكَرِ ٱسۡمُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡهِ وَإِنَّهُ ۥ لَفِسۡقٌۗ (الانعام ۱۲۱)
And eat not of that whereon Allah’s name hath not been mentioned, for lo! it is abomination.
The following guidelines need to be strictly implemented in order for it to be “Halāl”:
1. It must be slaughtered as per the following Shar‘i norms:
a. The neck of the animal should be cut between the throat and the gullet.
b. While cutting the throat of the animal, it should be ensured that four major veins or blood vessels of the animal have been cut.
(Even if only three have been cut, the slaughter would be considered valid).
The four veins or blood vessels are:
a. The trachea (wind-pipe) from which air enters the lungs.
b. The alimentary canal, from which food and water enters the stomach.
c. The two jugular veins of the neck, which return blood from head to the heart.
The animal must be alughtered according to Zabiha procedure. The animal should not be dead, wounded or detioriating health. Essential Shar’i Conditions for Halāl Zabīha