Halal is an Arabic word which means permissible or lawful. In the Holy Quran, God commands Muslims and all of mankind to eat of the Halal things - "O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome, and follow not the footsteps of the devil.  Lo! he is an avowed enemy of you." (2:168)
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The Islamic Way of Slaughtering Animals

The Islamic Way of Slaughtering Animals

Not all animals require slaughtering before they can be consumed by Muslims. Marine animals, bloodless animals and locusts need not be slaughtered. Allah says, " Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and their use for food for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel."[Al-Maidah (5), verse 96].

Slaughtering of edible animals for food is a ritual of the Shari'ah that is observed by Muslims worldwide. It is a ritual that purifies an animal from blood and filth thereby making it good and wholesome for consumption.

Conditions for Slaughter

The slaughtering of Halal animals must be separated from Non-Halal animals and should adhere to the following conditions:

• It must be performed by a Muslim (who is of sound mind, mature, and fully understands the Islamic procedures, conditions and methodology for slaughtering of animals;

• Dressing of carcasses should commence only after the animal is dead;

• The meat of the animals to be slaughtered must be edible by Muslims (eg. pork is prohibited);

• Slaughtering tools and other implements used must be for the slaughter of Halal animals only;

• The animals must be alive or deemed to be alive at the time of slaughter;

• For animals with normal necks, the act of slaughter must begin with an incision to the animals neck just before the glottis. For animals with long necks such as chicken, turkeys, ostriches, camels etc., the incision must be before the glottis;

• The animal's trachea and aesophagus must be severed. The spinal cord should not be cut and the head not severed completely so as to induce immedite and massive hemorrhage;

• Uttering the full phrase of "Bismillah" immediately before the slaughter is compulsory .

• Slaughtering must be done once only. The slaughtering implement must not be lifted off the animal during slaughtering. Any lifting is construed as one act of slaughter. Multiple acts of slaughther on one animal is prohibited;

• Slaughtering must be for the sake of Allah only and not for other purposes e.g. for ritual offerings.

• Bleeding must be spontaneous and complete;

Note: The above conditions are for information only and are not intended to qualify any individual for slaughtering of animals.

New Methods of Slaughter

There are basically two new methods of slaughtering animals that have been adopted to cope with growing concerns towards animal cruelty and increasing demands: stunning prior to slaughtering and mechanical slaughtering.

Stunning of Animals Prior to Slaughtering

The alleged cruelty to animals during slaughter using the simple knife-based method is a growing concern among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. With the advance of technology, new methods that seem to be less cruel have been adopted and carefully employed to ensure Halalness. The methods involve stunning of animals prior to slaughtering.

For the stunning to be acceptable in Islam, the following conditions must be complied with:

- The use of stunning equipment must be under the control of a Muslim supervisor, or a slaughterman or Halal Certification authority at all times.

- The animal should be stunned temporarily only. The stunning should neither kill nor cause permanent injury to the animal.

- Gadgets used to stun pigs must not be used to stun halal animals.

There are three acceptable methods of stunning - electrical, mechanical and pneumatic:

Electrical Stunning

- The stunner should be of the type approved by the authority and of the type Head-Only -Stunner i.e where electrodes are placed on the head region only.

- Stunning should not damage the heart or brain or cause physical disability or death.

- Electrical stunning of poultry is allowed using water bath stunners only.

Mechanical Stunning

- Mechanical stunners can be used on cattles and buffaloes only.

- Only non-penetrative type is allowed.

- The stunner must not penetrate or break the head. Any injury caused should not be permanent.

- The skull of the animal, after being skinned, should be checked for permanent injury. If found to be broken or penetrated, the carcass shall be deemed non-halal.

Pneumatic Stunning

- A pneumatic stunner uses high pressure air to stun animals and must be directed at the atlantooccipital to render the animal unconcious for a few seconds.

Mechanical Slaughtering of Poultry

Slaughterting of poultry using mechanical knife is permitted subject to the following:

-The operator of the mechanical knife is a Muslim and should utter the full phrase of "Bismillah" prior to switching on the machine.

-The slaughterman who switches on the machine must be present at the slaughter area at all times during the slaughter.

- If the slaughterman has to leave or be replaced, he has to stop the mechanical slaughter and his replacement will first utter the full phrase of "Bismillah" prior to restarting the machine.

- The knife used must be of single blade type and kept sharp.

- The throat, the aesophagus and major blood vessel in the neck region (jugular vein and carotid artery) of the poultry must be severed.

- Each bird must be checked that it is properly slaughtered and only dead birds are subsequently sent for scalding.

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