IslamQA

Stunning the Birds before slaughter

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net

In a recent published article regarding ‘Halaal Chicken’, it was shown that the Nutrimix processing plant was visited by a group of Scholars, and that they had seen everything to be ‘okay’ at the plant. Upon this, the chicken was approved and certified as halal. In addition, the article also showed the permissibility and allowance for the use of electrical stunning for the chickens.

Seeing that the Darul Uloom Halal Committee is one that did not grant a certificate of halal approval for the Nutrimix processing plant, many Muslims have asked that we clarify the issue and also give an explanation on our position regarding the article which was read by many.

Before going into any detailed explanation, we will like to reproduce the article which was published and circulated among Muslims regarding Nutrina chickens and then present our explanation.

The Article which was sent to the Darul Uloom for a response was:

HALAAL CHICKEN

Prepared by Maulana Dr. Waffie Mohammed
Markaz al Ihsaan (Centre of Refinement)

Halaal is an Islamic term used to indicate things that are lawful, permitted, allowed and are legal. In the general sense it means anything that is permissible according to Islamic law. This includes human behaviour, speech, clothing, conduct, manners and dietary laws. When the term is used to categorise lawful food, it specifically refers to what food and drink is lawful as against what is prohibited (Haraam). When the term Halaal is used to specify the types of meat permissible for Muslims to eat, it implies what is in accordance with the Qur’anic injunction.

Allah says: (O you who believe)! Eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good. (5:88)

For a food (meat) to be considered lawful and good it must be:
* Not from the categories of those prohibited in the Qur’an.
* The animal must be slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law, i.e. a person has to slaughter it.

In this connection Allah says: Do not eat of (meats) on which Allah’s name was not mentioned; that would be impiety. (6:121)
* The name of Allah must be mentioned at the time of slaughtering.
* The instrument (knife) used for slaughtering must be sharp.
* The blood must flow out; the best way to do so is to cut the jugular veins, the food tract and windpipe.
* The alimentary cord must not be damaged and the neck must not be severed.

About proper slaughtering of animals, Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said: Verily, Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you slaughter, slaughter well and if you kill, kill well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade, and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters. (Muslim).

Use whatever causes blood to flow, and eat the animal if the name of Allah has been mentioned on slaughtering them. (Bukhari)

Slaughtering of animals for commercial purposes is now engaging the attention of researchers as well as theologians. This is due to the fact that many animals are slaughtered at a time; some may be dangerous, powerful or may cause loss to the producer due to damage caused at the time of slaughtering. In order to minimise loss or to be able to control the animal a process called stunning has been developed. The scholars are concerned as to whether the process conforms to Islamic requirements or not. Stunning is the process of rendering the animal immobile or unconscious prior to it being slaughtered for food. It should not be killed before it is slaughtered as Islam prohibits eating the flesh of animals that were not slaughtered in accordance with Shariah (Islamic law). Stunning ensures a humane end with no pain. It also results in decreased stress of the animal and superior meat quality. In poultry the birds are calmed and do not flap their wings, as these can get broken at the time of slaughtering if the bird is not quiet. Before modern methods of calming the animal were introduced pigs, sheep, cattle and other animals were simply struck while fully conscious; some with knives or pistols at the back of the head and others on their heads. This process was painful and was considered to be a cruel way of handling the animal. In order to avoid causing pain and to satisfy some governmental requirements modern methods of stunning was developed. These include:
1. Electrical stunning,
2. Gas stunning;
3. Percussive stunning.

In the case of electrical stunning the power supply must remain constant, the current must not fluctuate but should increase or decrease, depending on the size of the animal (in poultry, on the size of the bird) and it must be able to stun the animal (bird) without causing pain.

Stunning is a controversial issue due to the fact that some of the animals can die from the shock they may get from the stunner. However, in the case of poultry, if the chicken should die before being slaughtered, the blood will not flow out and the bird will retain a red colour in the meat. Such a bird cannot be sold as it will not be wholesome. In the past a lot of chicken used to die from stunning, due to the fact that the equipment used was not properly developed. According to the HMA (Halaal Monitoring Authority) of CCMT (Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians), “a research done by FWAC in Britain showed that more than 33% of chickens die prior to slaughter due to stunning”.

This problem has been greatly reduced, by modern stunners adjusting the current automatically to suit the size of the bird. This has reduced the considerable loss experienced by producers of poultry for food. This is one reason why some Muslim Organisations approved the use of some types of stunners in the process of slaughtering chickens for food.

The joint Muslim World League/World Health Organisation in a meeting held in Jeddah during Rabia al Awwal 1406 A.H. (December 1985) agreed that “if it could be shown that stunning with electric shock enabled the animal to die peacefully, then it would be Islamically lawful.

In a document prepared by the Department of Standards Malaysia, entitled “Malaysian Standard” the following requirements were allowed for stunning of chickens.
A1.2: The animal shall be alive or deemed to be alive at the time of slaughter.
A1.4: The stunning shall not kill or cause permanent physical injury to the animal.
A2.3: Electrical stunning of poultry is allowed using water-bath stunners only.

Those scholars who are against stunning uphold that:
* Stunning causes pain to the animal that is to be slaughtered.
* The instrument may cause paralysis to the animal, and this is not proper.
* Stunning may affect the flow of blood from the body; in that case it is not permitted.
* Those that adopt the method of stunning might consider it to be more preferred than what is prescribed by Shariah (i.e. the animal is not made unconscious)

(Fatwa regarding stunning by Mufti Shabir Ahmad, Darul Uloom Bury. Fatwa Number 145, dated 6-2-84)

Are the chickens processed by Nutrina Farms Halaal?

In February 2007, a delegation from ASJA, including Maulana Zaid Allaham and Imam Rasheed Karim visited the Nutrimix Processing Plant at Harmony Hall, and made the following observations:
* Birds are placed in “holding” bay before they are placed on the conveyor line.
* Cold water is sprayed on the birds to reduce stress level. When placed on the conveyor, they are washed clean with cold water.
* The stunning trough is kept at a constant temperature and current. The systems monitoring these are fully automated.
* The reason for stunning is that research done by his (Chairman) company has proven that stunning helps to get most of the blood out. If a bird “dies” during the stunning process and is slaughtered, this bird will not bleed and so those personnel working on the processing line, and who are hired for inspection of the birds just as they leave the scalding and “plucking” areas will identify such birds since they will have a reddish colour. Birds that have not bled enough are immediately removed from the conveyor and placed in the discarded bin to be “rendered”. This is to ensure that they do not contaminate healthy birds.

The Findings of the ASJA delegation were as follows:
* The slaughterers, who were on the slaughtering line, were Muslims.
* The birds were alive before “dipping” in the stunning bath.
* All the birds showed signs of struggle after being stunned.
* Sanitation at the plant was higher than some of our expectations.

At the Nutrina processing plant the current remains constant, as the machine used for stunning uses “a high frequency current to render the chicken unconscious without damaging effects or severe muscular contraction and low frequency current to give an irreversible stun.”

(Simmons SF-7001, Step-up Stunner for Chickens).
With this stunner “a saline solution is used to wet feathers and skin and thereby aid in conductivity.” Birds electrocuted by stunning and those that are not properly slaughtered are not processed for marketing. In March 2008, a total of 245 birds i.e. .04% of those processed were removed from the processing line and were sent to the rendering plant.

I visit the Processing Plant to ensure that the Islamic requirements are maintained at all times by the Company in order that the chickens processed are certified Halaal. After reviewing all the facts required for determining whether a chicken is Halaal or not, one can safely conclude that the chickens processed at the Nutrimix Processing Plant are Halaal. Allah knows best. (End of article).

DARUL ULOOM’S EXPLANATION

In clarifying this issue, we will like to (first of all) present a short report on the DUHC’s (ie. Darul Uloom Halaal Committee) visit to the Nutrimix Processing Plant. This report was submitted by Maulana Sheraz Ali of the Darul Uloom Halaal Committee and it states:

1. In October 2003, some members of the DUHC, namely Mufti Kahiam Hosein, Mufti Majid Khan, and myself visited the Nutrina Chicken Processing Plant at Harmony Hall, Gasparillo. This was a planned visit organised by myself with Mr. Ronnie Mohammed, vice president of the company.

2. At the plant, the DUHC committee was given a tour of the facilities and observed that a water bath stunner was in operation in the slaughtering facility and that only one vessel in the birds’ necks was being severed by the slaughterer.

3. The Committee met with Mr. Ronnie Mohammed and expressed their concerns. Mr. Mohammed decided to remove the stunner and requested the committee’s assistance in the proper method of slaughter. Subsequently, Mufti Kahiam visited the plant and demonstrated the proper method of slaughter. Mufti Kahiam also noticed that the stunner was removed.

4. On 14th of October 2003, a visit was made to the plant again by the DUHC. Much improvement was seen. The DUHC again spoke to Mr. Ronnie Mohammed who requested a halaal certificate.

5. On the 29th of October, Mr. Mohammed’s secretary called and again requested a halaal certificate.

6. On the 4th of November 2003, a DUHC contract was signed by Mr. Ronnie Mohammed and on the 11th of November a halaal certificate was prepared and signed by Mufti Kahiam, Mufti Majid, Mufti Waseem and myself.

7. On a visit to the processing plant on the 3rd of December 2003 to deliver the halaal certificate, the DUHC noticed that the stunner was back in operation. At this time Mr. Mohammed was not in office and so the DUHC returned with the certificate. When Mr. Mohammed was contacted, the DUHC was informed that the stunner was reintroduced due to excessive losses at the time of slaughter by the birds beating up their wings and legs after the slaughter.

8. The DUHC then discontinued the process, and was later informed that Dr. Waffie Mohammed had certifed their products as halaal.

9. On January 24th 2006, the DUHC again visited the plant, and was told by Mr. Mohammed that whilst the stunner is in use, any bird killed by the stunner will be seen as a red bird and removed from the processing.

End of report submitted by Maulana Sheraz Ali of Darul Uloom Halaal Committee dated 30th October 2008.

The following points are to be noted from the above report:

* The effort of the DUHC to approve Nutrina Chicken as halaal started five years ago in October 2003.

* Competent and qualified Islamic Scholars visited the processing plant, along with Maulana Sheraz Ali who, besides being a graduate Alim, holds a degree in Food Technology (all of whom are members of the Darul Uloom Halal Committee).

* Two things were seen at the plant which where in conflict with DUHC’S standard for Halal Approval. They were:
(1) The presence of a water bath stunner in which the birds were dipped before the actual slaughter.
(2) Only one vessel (of the four vessels) was severed.

On the first issue, it should be understood that the DUHC does not approve ‘stunning the birds before slaughter’. All other chicken Processing Plants, and other chicken Depots which have been certified by the DUHC do not use stunning. Following this guideline has never been a problem for them, and they continue to provide quality and healthy chickens to the Muslims and the general public.

Before visiting a Processing Plant, the DUHC would inform the manager etc. of the DUHC’s standards. They are told that the DUHC does not approve of stunning the birds before slaughter, and if they wish to comply, then the DUHC would go ahead with the certifying process. If the company does not wish to avoid the usage of the stunner, then the DUHC would not proceed any further.

On the other issue of severing only one vessel, this was in total conflict with the guidelines given by the Shariah.

Based on these observations, the members of the DUHC had a meeting and discussed these concerns with the management. Out of this meeting two decisions were made, they were:

(1) Mr. Mohammed decided he will remove the stunner and

(2) Mufti Kahiam would teach the slaughterers the proper way of Islamic slaughtering.

The report goes further to show that a halal certificate was prepared and signed by all relevant persons. It was then taken to be delivered to the processing plant, however, it could not be given since the stunner was re-introduced.

A visit was made in 2006, but the stunner was still in use.

Until this time, the DUHC has not certified Nutrina Chicken. This is based on the fact that while the committee has established the standard of ‘no stunning’ to the birds, the company continues to adopt this method.

Although some Muslim Scholars have allowed the use of ‘Stunning’ before slaughter, (in the case of chickens), many have disallowed it and have not encouraged its use.

Based on research which has been done on this issue, there are serious concerns which have been highlighted in the matter of stunning the birds before slaughter. As a result, many Islamic Scholars as well as Muslim Food Scientists have opposed the act of stunning the birds before slaughter.

In this regard, Dr. Majid Katme, (Chairman of the Islamic Medical Association of the UK) has given much details and has shown why stunning the birds should not be encouraged.

In his article on the topic, he explained the issue as follows:

‘Electrified water Bath for Poultry Stunning – The birds are suspended on a shackle (upside down), then the head is intended to come into contact with the water and the passage of an electric shock through the brain would occur’.

‘Shock, especially in this uncomfortable position. Drowning and suffocation resulting in death. One third of the birds are killed in the stunner and one third are not stunned (FAWC 1982)’.

‘A substantial number were killed as a result of the shock from the stunner (FAWC 1982). With regards to pain, apart from the above suffering, the FARC reported, ‘a substantial number may still be sensitive to pain’.

‘It cannot be guaranteed that the chickens will remain alive after stunning. The variations in sizes of the chicken and their individual resistance capacities mean that a blanket magnitude of current cannot be set. The health of each individual chicken will also influence its endurance capacity. Legislation does not specify any specific magnitude of current’. (Taken from Legal rulings on slaughtered animals’ Pg. 154).

In the article on ‘Halaal Chicken’ which was circulated, mention was made about the adjustment to the current in order to suit the size of the bird (chicken). About this, it was stated, ‘in the past, a lot of chickens used to die from stunning, due to the fact that the equipment used was not properly developed. This problem has been greatly reduced, by modern stunners adjusting the current, automatically to suit the bird’.

In response to this, Mufti Muhammad Zubair has stated, ‘Finally, the assertion that constant current stunning equipment may be used to ensure that each bird receives a predetermined current sufficient to stun but not kill is very questionable. The individual endurance capacities and state of health of the various sizes of chicken renders it impossible to set a minimum rate, as the minimum magnitude of current required to only stun the healthier and more enduring birds may be enough to kill the less healthier and less enduring chickens’.

‘Furthermore, all this is in addition to the fact that stunning is not permissible within the Islamic parameter due to the unnecessary pain it inflicts on the animals’. (Legal rulings on slaughtering animals Pg. 157).

At another place in the article of ‘Halaal Chicken’, it is written, ‘The reason for stunning is that research done by his (Chairman) company has proved that stunning helps to get most of the blood out’. At another place, the following is mentioned, ‘Birds that have not bled enough are immediately removed from the conveyor’.

Note that in both statements, there is an indication to ‘Birds not bleeding enough’ and ‘to get most of the blood out’. Statements such as these, give a clear indication to readers (like myself) that the concern is only about getting most of the blood out or letting the chicken bleed enough and is not about getting all the blood out, which is the requirement of the Islamic law of slaughter. The Holy Quran has clearly informed the believers that blood is totally Haram and cannot be consumed. Hence, when the blood of the birds has not been drained properly, it is clear that some of it will remain with the meat which makes it Haram to consume. It is for this reason, the Prophet (SAW) has given clear guidelines to the believers that they must ensure that the blood of the slaughtered animal or bird be drained properly. In this regard, the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said, ‘Eat from those animals whose blood was drained out and upon which the name of Allah was recited’. (Sahih Al Bukhari). It is for the purpose of draining the blood properly, the jurists have stated that the vessels to be cut are four, the windpipe, esophagus and the two jugular veins’ (Badaa’I us Sanaa’I Vol. 5 Pg. 41).

Based on these guidelines, it is an acceptable requirement of Islamic slaughter that the blood of the animal/bird be completely drained and it is not a matter of simply getting ‘most of the blood out’ or ‘ensuring that the birds bleed enough’.

Additionally, the ‘Halaal Chicken’ article states ‘The reason for stunning is that research done by his (Chairman) Company has proven that stunning helps to get most of the blood out’. An investigation into this issue proves otherwise. An article written by Dr. Majid Katme, having researched and investigated the entire process of stunning, states “Less bleeding out, more blood in the meat – stunning causes salt and pepper hemorrhage inside the meat and blood cannot be taken out. The animals bleed less because of stunning, especially when the heart stops. There is rupture of the small blood vessels inside the meat oozing more blood which does not go out at all”. (Taken from Legal rulings on slaughtered animals’ Pg. 152).

Dr. Majid Katme, writes further, ‘stunning is painful and cruel to the animal according to many medical studies with the recording of the EEG (electro recording of the brain). The EEG indicates severe pain being experienced by the animal, immediately after stunning. The heart of the stunned animal stopped beating earlier than the animal that is slaughtered according to the Islamic method of slaughtering, which results in the retention of more blood in the carcass. Meat thus produced for consumption is unhygienic (and can cause poison and disease to the consumer). (Legal rulings on slaughtering animals Pg.150)

This explanation shows that stunning does not help in getting most of the blood out of the bird/animal. Based on the above investigation, it is proven that stunning is more cruel and painful to the animal/bird. The question remains as to why should one turn to this practice when the Holy Prophet (SAW) has outrightly condemned all forms of unnecessary pain and suffering to animals. In this regard, the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said, ‘Verily Allah has prescribed kindness to all things. Thus, if you kill (an animal) kill well (painless) and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters’ (Sahih Muslim).

While discussing the point that direct slaughter (without stunning) is more humane, Dr. Aisha E C Awady, in an article entitled, ‘Is Islamic Slaughtering cruel to animals’ – (dated 2/2/2003), has shown from the research done by Medical experts that stunning is more painful and cruel to animals and that Islamic method of slaughter is the most humane to animals. Having shown the relevant evidence, Dr. Aisha went on to write, ‘As one can see from the previous studies, Islamic slaughtering of animals is a blessing to both the animal and the human alike. In order for the slaughtering to be lawful, several measures must be taken by one performing the deed. This is to ensure the highest benefit to both the animal and the consumer. In this regard, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, ‘God calls for mercy in everything, so be merciful when you kill and when you slaughter, sharpen your blade to relieve its pain’.

‘The object used to slaughter the animal should be sharp and used swiftly. The swift cutting of vessels of the neck disconnects the flow of blood to the nerves in the brain responsible for pain. Thus the animal does not feel pain. The movement and withering that happen to the animal after the cut is made are not due to pain, but due to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles deficient in blood’.

‘The Prophet (SAW) also taught Muslims neither to sharpen the blade of the knife in front of the animals nor to slaughter an animal in front of others of its own kind. (This is to avoid undue harm and suffering to the animals)’.

The above makes it clear that stunning is indeed more cruel and painful to the animal/bird while the natural way of Islamic Slaughtering is free from pain and cruelty to the animal/bird.

An interesting point which has been mentioned in the ‘Halaal Chicken’ article, is that ‘Birds electrocuted by stunning and those that are not properly slaughtered are not processed for marketing. In March 2008 a total of 245 birds i.e. .04% of those processed were removed from the processing line and were sent to the rendering plant’.

From this statement, two things are evident:

(1) Until March 2008, birds actually died of the stunning.
(2) Birds were not properly slaughtered.

Both these are alarming, since readers would have deduced from the different statements made in the article that all went well with the stunning and birds did not die on account of it. The reason for such a deduction is that prior to the above mentioned statements, the report of the ‘Halaal Chicken’ article stated:

* ‘All the birds showed signs of struggle after being stunned.’

* ‘At the Nutrina Processing Plant the current remains constant, as the machine used for stunning uses a high frequency current to render the chicken unconscious without damaging effects or severe muscular contraction and low frequency current to give an irreversible stun’.

The first statement suggests to the reader that the birds, after passing through the process of stunning were alive hence, they ‘showed signs of struggle’. Note that this statement was used for all birds. Yet, the reader is told, that ‘some died out of the stunning’.

This situation brings another matter to mind which suggests that it was highly possible that some birds which showed signs of struggle were actually dying or were already dead due to the stun. No one is placed before the birds are slaughtered to check the birds to see if they are dead or alive. Even if there is someone, it is very difficult to determine which of the birds are alive or dead, since they all look the same way after been stunned, (because they fall unconscious). To say that ‘showing signs of struggle depicts life, (in the bird), itself is questionable, since the ‘Halaal Chicken’ article admits that even after ‘All birds showed signs of struggles, some were actually ‘electrocuted by stunning’. (That is, they were dead).

Besides this, those who have slaughtered a chicken (before) know very well that even after completely cutting the vessels, (to kill the chicken) it ‘beats up’ (after being fully slaughtered). At this time, no one would think that it is still alive, (since it was completely killed). The movement and the struggle (after being killed) is due to the contraction and the relaxation of the muscles deficient in blood and in no way, tells of life in the bird. Hence, it will be totally wrong to assume that ‘the signs of struggle’ in every bird show that the bird is still alive. This is a wrong and misleading supposition.

The ‘Halaal Chicken’ article also informed us that, the dead/stunned bird was not determined before being slaughtered, instead, only when a red colour was seen on the bird, it was taken out, (having been considered to be killed by stunning or improper slaughtering). The article states, ‘However in the case of poultry, if the chicken should die before being slaughtered, the blood will not flow out and the bird will retain a red colour in the meat. Such a bird cannot be sold as it will not be wholesome’.

This statement tells us that the birds would only be recognized as having been killed by stunning when they retain a red colour. It should be known that the red colour would only be detected after it has been placed in the scalder (utensil containing hot water) and the feathers have been removed. It is not recognized before this. One should know at this point that a bird which dies on its own without being slaughtered according to the Islamic guidelines is known to be ‘Maitah’ (carrion/dead) and Unlawful to consume. As such, the birds that dies on account of stunning before they are slaughtered are actually Maitah (carrion).

Based on the fact that the ‘red colour’ in the bird can only be spotted after the feathers are removed, it can be said that where the process of stunning takes place, Muslim slaughter-men slaughter both living and dead birds and then both Halal (lawful) and Haram (unlawful) birds are placed together in the same scalder. This obviously is not in accordance to the teachings of Islam.

It should be noted that experiments done by many Islamic Scholars in the U.K. showed that some of these birds died after a few seconds, when they were taken off the conveyor belt (to see the effect of the stun). This goes to show that it is a reality that some of these birds (on the conveyor belt) which are going to be slaughtered, are actually dying out of the stun while they are carried briskly on the conveyor belt.

The slaughter man, on the other hand simply passes the knife on the throat without finding out which of the birds are actually dead or dying, and which are fully alive. All looks the same to him and it is difficult for him to figure it out.

What is therefore clear, is that some of these birds which are stunned are actually dead or are on the verge of dying at the time when they are slaughtered. As for what extent of life remains in these birds at the time of slaughter, this is doubtful, however, what is certain is that stunning does have a heavy impact on the birds which actually leads to their death as admitted in the ‘Halaal Chicken’ article. If they are not dead by the time they (the birds) reach the slaughter man, then at least a portion of the life (big/small) would have already been killed by the process of stunning. It can therefore be deduced from this explanation that where the process of stunning the birds takes place, Muslim slaughter-men may be slaughtering dying birds, some of which may have already lost 75% or 50% or 90% or probably 10% of life.

This is totally against the Shariah, as the laws of Islamic slaughter tell us that the cutting of the vessels to allow the flow of blood must be the main cause of death. As for the process of stunning, we see that the stunning could be (and most likely may be) the main cause of bringing death to the bird. Cutting the vessels (to end the life) may be a small contributor. When this is the case, it means that less blood will flow due to the electric shock which has made some of the organs in the bird dead or unconscious. This fact is borne out from the research of Dr. Majid Katme as mentioned before.

The Prophet (SAW) guided his followers in this regard by saying, ‘Eat from those animals whose blood was drained and upon which the name of Allah was recited’. (Bukhari). In another tradition the Prophet (SAW) said to Addi bin Hatim (RA) ‘Make the blood flow with the instrument of your choice and recite the name of Allah’. (Abu Dawood).

Based upon these teachings, the jurists of Islam have unanimously declared that it is necessary to make the blood flow by cutting the vessels.

The great scholar Qarrafiy, while explaining about severing the jugular veins, states ‘the blood will only “flow complete” from the jugular veins’. (Adh Dhakhirah)

From the above, it is enjoined upon the Muslims to ensure that: (1) vessels are cut completely to ensure the proper drainage of blood and (2) the name of Allah is recited upon the animal/bird.

In the case of stunning, medical research has shown that this process brings about such an effect on these birds /animals that prevents the proper and complete drainage of blood. It therefore means that the process becomes an obstacle in fulfilling the guidelines of the Islamic law of slaughtering, which is to make the blood of the animal/bird flow out properly.

Another concern is whether a bird can die (out of the stun) before the actual slaughter, and yet show up as a red less bird. The article written regarding ‘Halaal Chicken’ suggests that such bird which dies of the stun would not bleed and hence would be removed as it would have a reddish colour.

The article states, ‘If a bird ‘dies’ during the stunning process and is slaughtered, this bird will not bleed and so those personnel working on the processing line, and who are hired for inspection of the birds, just as they leave the scalding and ‘plucking’ areas will identify such birds since they will have a reddish colour’.

‘Birds that have not bled enough are immediately removed from the conveyor and placed in the discarded bin to be rendered. This is to ensure that they do not contaminate healthy birds’. (Article Halaal Chicken).

From the above, the following can be deduced:

1) A bird which dies on account of the stun will not bleed

2) Due to the fact that it did not bleed, it will show up as a red bird.

3) The reddish colour in the bird reflects that the bird would have been killed by the process of stunning (and not through the slaughter) and thus be removed from the conveyor and discarded.

4) The birds that remain on the conveyor are from among those which did not die from the stun and hence, halal.

These statements which are well established from the article are easily understood and accepted by many since it is clear that a dead bird would not bleed. This however, in reality, is not the case at processing plants, and based on investigations, it is proven that birds that die due to the process of stunning bleed in the same manner as other birds.

On this issue, we have contacted an expert in this field who explained that due to the fact that there is a very short period between the stun and the actual slaughter and also, due to the fact that the birds are hanged upsided down, it makes it easy for the birds to bleed, even if they died on account of the stun before slaughter. The duration between stunning and the slaughter is only 5-6 seconds and this time is so short that the death of the bird due to stunning does not have a significant effect on preventing the flow of blood when the vessels are cut. It therefore means that such (dead) birds (due to the stun) would bleed and would not show up with the reddish colour. When it is not identified as a red bird, it would not be removed from the processing line and would not be discarded. This means that when these birds are not discarded, they remain with the other birds with the understanding that they are all halal (birds) which did not die due to the stun.

Taking this case into consideration, it means that it is possible that a bird which is carrion (which died out of the stun and not the Islamic slaughter) can actually pass as a halal, wholesome bird since it did not show up red.

When this possibility exist and there is no one in charge of checking this, it is likely that Muslims may well be consuming unlawful chicken which were killed through the means of an electric current and not through the process of Islamic slaughter.

Further in the article ‘Halaal Chicken’ it was mentioned that ‘ The Joint Muslim World League/World Health Organization in a meeting held in Jeddah during Rabiul Awwal 1406 A.H. (December 1985) agreed that if it could be shown that stunning with electric shock enabled the animal to die peacefully, then it would be Islamically lawful’.

It is clear that this statement was quoted to show that stunning the chicken with electric shock is allowed and so it is lawful in Islam.

It is however interesting to know that a careful examination of this statement shows that this allowance is not clear from the statement. The Fatawa commenced with the word ‘If’ and this tells us that only ‘if’ it can be shown that the birds die peacefully out of the electric shock ‘then’ (and only then) can it be allowed in Islam.

It therefore means that one must first look to see ‘if’ this is the case in the issue of ‘stunning the birds’. Based on the research and investigations done, it is well established by medical experts that stunning is painful and cruel to the animal/ bird and hence cannot lead to a peaceful death. According to the report submitted by Dr. Majid Katme, the following points were highlighted:

I. Stunning is painful and cruel to the animal according to many medical studies done with the recording of the EEG (electric recording of the brain). Islam forbids us to inflict any type of pain or cruelty on any type of animal. Similarly, EEG medical studies have shown that the direct method of slaughter (Dhabh) is painless to the animal. New scientific and medical researches done by doctors, vets, pharmacists, pathologists and members of parliament in Syria have shown clearly the therapeutic effect of saying ‘Bismillah Allahu Akbar’ on the animals. If the animal hears it, it gives it the tranquility and it takes away any germ or infection to give you pure healthy meat. However, the animal has to be fully conscious and alive before the slaughter, and not unconscious or dead as happens with some animals/birds when stunning is used.

II. The animals bleed less because of stunning, especially when the heart stops.

III. Some stunning techniques cause strangulation/ suffocation to the animal, as in the electric water bath used for stunning the chickens. Strangulating/ suffocating the bird/animal is prohibited in the Quran.

IV. There are today in the West many non-muslim scientists who oppose stunning for humane and welfare reasons like: Van der wal, Wernberg, Mc Loughlin, Pollard, Winstanly, Merple, etc. Also the Jews oppose all types of stunning.

V. The official Muslim View to the Government of U.K, by the major Muslim Organizations like The Muslim Council of Britain, Union of Muslim Organizations, Sharia Council, Regent Park Mosque, etc. is that any type of stunning cannot be accepted by the British Muslims.

VI. The European Council for IFTA and RESEARCH has prohibited stunning in 1999 (about 50 European Ulama and Muftis in Europe).

VII. The British Government has allowed the Muslims (and Jews) to slaughter their animals according to their religion (exemption from stunning) and without any type of stunning. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has confirmed this fact in correspondence dated 5th October 1999 in the following words, ‘I confirm that the law permits slaughter by the Jewish or the Islamic methods that is without stunning’.

Based upon the investigation of doctors and experts, it is clear that stunning does not bring about a peaceful death to the bird/animal. Hence, based upon the Fatawa of the MWL and WHO, stunning would not be allowed.

In addition to the fatawa of the Muslim World League, the ‘Halaal Chicken article also gave requirements of the ‘Malaysian Standard’, which (supposingly) gave the allowance of stunning the birds through electric shock.

The first requirement mentioned in the article under A1.2 states: ‘The animal shall be alive or deemed to be alive at the time of slaughter’.

This requirement indicates to the fact that no bird shall be dead at the time of slaughter. However, based on the explanations which have been given, some birds were actually dead at the time of slaughter. The ‘Halaal Chicken’ article identified this clearly when it stated:

‘Birds electrocuted by stunning and those that are not properly slaughtered are not processed for marketing. In March 2008, a total of 245 birds i.e .04% of those processed were removed from the processing line and were sent to the rendering plant’.

Here, in this statement, it is admitted that birds were electrocuted (killed) by stunning. This obviously occurs before the slaughter and not after.

Hence, based on the afore mentioned requirement of the Malaysian Standard, it means that the electric stunner for the chicken is not acceptable.

The other requirement of the Malaysian Standard which was given is that which was mentioned under the heading A1.4. It states:- The stunning shall not kill or cause permanent physical injury to the animal’.

A careful look at this requirement also shows that this (requirement) is not met (fulfilled). The reason is that it has been admitted in the ‘Halaal Chicken’ article that the electric shock kills the bird. The article’s statement clearly stated, ‘Birds electrocuted by stunning and those…. were removed from the processing line….’.

Here again, there was a clear indication that birds were actually killed by the stunning. As such, based on the second requirement of the Malaysian Standard that ‘the stunning shall not kill’, the electric stunning would not be acceptable.

The ‘Halaal Chicken’ article also highlighted a Fatawa regarding stunning which was given by Mufti Shabir Ahamad of Darul Uloom Bury. The Fatawa which was documented was in reality a very short format of the original Fatawa. This however, did not convey the real essence of the ruling of the respected Mufti, and for clarity and complete understanding, the complete Fatawa is reproduced as follows:

“FATWA REGARDING STUNNING”
Mufti Shabbir Ahmad, Darul Uloom Bury

Making an animal unconscious prior to slaughter, whether by means of a current or pistol, contains from a Shar’ee perspective a number of major flaws which have been detailed by Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanwi in Imdadul Fatawa and then by my teacher Shaykh Mufti Muzaffar Hussain, Director and Mufti of Madarsah Mazahir Uloom, Saharanpur in response to a legal query. I briefly present an exposition of this. This method of practice (due to the reasons given) is, therefore, in no way permissible. It is an obligation on Muslims to make all efforts in trying to bring this method of practice to an end and under no circumstances accept this method.

1. The Fuqahaa have specifically mentioned that it is forbidden to cause unneeded pain and suffering to the animal to be slaughtered.

Since the above shock cannot constitute slaughter, it is apparent that it is, therefore, a means of unneeded pain and suffering which is not permitted by the Shariah. If it is claimed that this act does not cause the animal pain and suffering but rather aids the expulsion of blood from the body and annuls the animal’s senses, this too would be incorrect as prior to being made unconscious, the animal’s senses were in working order and so, their suspension after unconsciousness is not certain as it is possible that this instrument may have caused a suspension in movement (paralysis) whilst senses are still functioning, and it is obvious that in the case of the senses remaining, the usage of these instruments will be a means of increased suffering.

2. The Shariah has declared the releasing of flowing blood as the reason behind slaughtering. Now it is apparent that the working of the physical organs are strongest in the state of consciousness, and it is also apparent that the expulsion of the blood is a physical act. Therefore, the stronger (and more actively) the organs function, the more blood will be released and the objective of the Legislator will be well realised. Thus, to intentionally enervate the organs and thereby cause a decrease in the amount of blood pumped out, would not be permitted by the Shari’ah as this clashes with the objective of the Legislator.

3. The third reason, which is more abhorrent than the others, and would suffice in making this matter impermissible, is that those who adopt such methods consider them preferable to the way prescribed by the Shari’ah (in which the animal is not made unconscious), and consider the method of Shari’ah inferior and deficient, and giving preference to the Innovated over the prescribed is close to Kufr.

03/ 05/ 1404 – 06/ 02/ 84 Fatwa Number 145
Mufti Shabbir Ahmad
Darul Uloom AI-Arabiyyah Al-Islamiyyah
Holcombe Hall, Holcombe, Bury
Translated on 29/ 01/ 04

In conclusion we hereby give the official (Fatawa) religious verdicts of a few of the leading and World’s renowned grand Muftis of the recent past, regarding stunning and the Islamic law.

The act of stunning is not permissible within the Islamic parameters.

Hakimul Ummah Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanwi Sahib rahmatullahi alaih issued a Fatwa on 17 Rabi Ath Thani 1335 AH corresponding to January 1917 AD on the issue of stunning prior to slaughter. He has stated it to be a forbidden practice. (See Imdaadul Fataawaa Vol. 3, Pg. 605-606.) He concludes that if one regards stunning prior to slaughter to be better than the Islamic method, it is akin to Kufr!

Maulana Mufti Mahmoodul Hassan Gangohi Sahib (Rahmatullahi Alaih) (the former grand Mufti of India) has described the practice of stunning with electrical current to be contradictory to the established Sunnah method and Makroohi Tahrimi (a sinful act). (See Fataawaa Mahmoodiyyah Vol. 17, Pg 247).

In Safar 1410 AH (October 1989) issue of Bayyinaat, Pg. 28, the practice of stunning chickens using waterbath stunners has been described by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi Sahib (the former grand Mufti of Pakistan) as a cruel practice.

Maulana Mufti Yusuf Ludhyaanwi Sahib has written concerning the stunning of chickens. “This method of slaughter is incorrect. If there had been any relief for the animal in striking the head and Allah had preferred this method, then the Messenger of Allah himself would have taught this method. Those persons who have devised this method are essentially trying to prove themselves cleverer than the Messenger of Allah. If this method is prevalent in Pakistan or any other Muslim country, it should be stopped immediately. ‘See Aap ki Masaail Aur un Ke Hal’, Vol. 4, Pg. 205.)

Mufti Waseem Khan

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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