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Ritual Slaughter in Islam (Zabihah)

Islamic Slaughter is Humane and Produces Healthy Halal

© Christine Benlafquih

Oct 17, 2008

The United States Humane Slaughter Act recognizes ritual slaughter according to Islamic and
Jewish dietary guidelines is acceptable and humane.

Both the Jewish (shechita) and Islamic (zabihah or dhabihah) methods of slaughter involve
making a single, swift incision to the throat of the animal – deep enough to sever the jugular
vein, carotid arteries, trachea and esophagus, but not so deep as to cut the spinal cord.

Although the image of this may be disturbing, ritual slaughter when performed correctly is
painless to the animal. This is because the immediate severance of both the blood and oxygen
supply to the brain causes the animal to quickly lose consciousness and all sensation. Anemia of
the brain occurs within seconds.

Scientific Research Proves Islamic Slaughter is Humane

Professor Wilhelm Schulze of the Hannover University's School of Veterinary Medicine in

Germany, and his colleague Dr. Hazim, compared the response of the brain and heart during and
immediately after ritual slaughter and slaughter with captive bolt stunning, a method widely used
in many slaughterhouses.

The results of electroencephalograph (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings showed that
Islamic ritual slaughtering caused a loss of consciousness before pain could be felt, while the
captive bolt stunning caused severe pain to the animal before it lost consciousness.

Dr. Temple Grandin, an expert on livestock handling facilities and a professor of animal science
at Colorado State University, has witnessed ritual slaughter many times while inspecting and
advising kosher slaughterhouses. She notes on her website: “When the cut is done correctly, the
animal appears not to feel it. From an animal welfare standpoint, the major concern during ritual
slaughter are the stressful and cruel methods of restraint (holding) that are used in some plants."

Conditions for Islamic Slaughter (Zabihah)

Inhumane restraint of an animal at the time of slaughter goes against Islam, which requires kind
and merciful treatment before and during the slaughter. This includes raising the animal in a
natural -- preferably organic -- free range manner.
Other conditions for Islamic slaughter to yield halal (permissible) meat are:

 the animal must be healthy and permissible to eat

 a sane and competent Muslim must perform the act
 a very sharp knife must be used, to facilitate rapid and painless cutting
 the slaughter should not take place within view of other animals
 the animal being slaughtered should not see the knife
 the Muslim performing the cut (zabih or dhabih) must invoke God (Allah) by saying, “In
the name of God” and “God is the Greatest” at the time of the slaughter
 the cut should not be so deep as to sever the spinal cord or head

Ritual Slaughter Produces Healthier Meat

Both Jews and Muslims are forbidden from consuming blood. Ritual slaughter causes a rapid
draining of bacteria- and hormone-carrying blood from an animal’s body, which is critical to
healthy, blood-free meat.

The German study found that the heart pumps longer after Islamic slaughter than it does after
captive bolt stunning, resulting in a better drain of blood and more hygienic meat. Painless body
convulsions and leg kicks brought on after ritual slaughter are natural reflexes and further help to
flush and drain the meat of blood.

Only after the blood has stopped draining should an animal be hoisted for skinning, removing of
innards and butchering.


“Attempts to Objectify Pain and Consciousness in Conventional (Captive Bolt Pistol Stunning)
and Ritual (Halal, Knife) Methods of Slaughtering Sheep and Calves,” by Professor Wilhelm
Schulze and Dr. Hazim, Hannover University's School of Veterinary Medicine in Germany

"Religous Slaughter and Animal Welfare: A Discussion for Meat Scientists," by Temple Grandin
and Joe M. Regenstein, Meat Focus International (March 1994), pages 115-123

United States Humane Slaughter Act (7 U.S.C.A. § 1902. Humane methods)

The copyright of the article Ritual Slaughter in Islam (Zabihah) in Islamic Practices is owned
by Christine Benlafquih. Permission to republish Ritual Slaughter in Islam (Zabihah) in print
or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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