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Is the Slaughter of an Unconscious Animal Ḥalāl?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org

Answered by Muftī Khālid Saifullāh Al-Rahmanī

Formatted into English by Yūsuf Badāt

Question:

Is the modern method of CAS (Controlled Atmosphere Stunning) applied to poultry during slaughter permissible in Islam? This involves the use of carbon dioxide or argon gas as part of the processing of chickens or other poultry for the production of human food. This procedure achieves insensibility by exposing broilers to either a mixture of inert gases (nitrogen and argon) or concentrations of carbon dioxide. The gas mixture deprives birds of oxygen, causing them to lose consciousness. Thereafter the birds are slaughtered.

Answer:

In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Kind.

Thank you/ Jazāk Allāh Khayr for contacting Mathabah for your query.

Islamicaly, in slaughter, one important matter is that during the actual slaughter, the animal must be alive. If the presence of life is unknown or ambiguous, then one of two signs must be present:

  1. The slaughter should result in bodily movement in the animal
  2. [Or] the slaughter should cause blood flow

“The slaughter of an animal such as sheep or cow, should result in bodily movement in the animal and flowing blood should emerge. Then only will the animal be permissible (ḥalāl). This is because, these are signs of life in the animal. If flowing blood emerges but no bodily movement, or the slaughter causes movement but no flowing blood, the ruling is the same [meaning, the animal will be permissible for consumption], due to one of the two signs of life being present. If no movement, neither flowing blood exists, the animal would not be permitted for consumption. This is the verdict when its life is unknown during slaughter. If the animal’s life is certain, then it is permissible to consume, even if there was no movement, nor the flow of blood.” – (See: Fatāwa Tatārkhānīyyah)

In the light of this principle, in your scenario, if after the release of gas, it is certain that the unconscious animal is alive, or one of the two above mentioned signs are evident then it is permissible (ḥalāl). As far as the question of whether this manner of rendering an animal unconscious is acceptable or not, the answer is that the appropriate Islamic method is that which is established by Islamic law, and that which has been a consistent practice, that Islamic slaughter of animal must take place while the animal is alive, with a sharp knife, without it being made unconscious. However, if for some reason, one cannot practice this upright method, the described CAS method would be acceptable provided that there is due diligence, in the sense that before dying, the animal is slaughtered [while alive], and that there is no uncalled pain to the animal. If this method, compared to the Islamic slaughtering procedure, is more painful to the animal, then the procedure would be regarded makrūh (religiously disliked). If there is less pain to the animal in this scenario, then it is mubāh (allowed). This is due to the reason that during slaughter, the requirement is to inflict minimum pain to the animal. There are prophetic narrations regarding this matter. Jurists have also mentioned numerous rulings regarding this point. Kindly refer to ḥadīth books and fiqh manuals for details.

And Allāh Knows Best  

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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