Stunning Animals prior to slaughter

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Question:

My questions is regarding stunning(electrification) of animals permissible; they are made unconscious & then slaughtered? Is this the halal way as this is what’s being done in Australia or western countries before slaughtering them?

Answer:

نحمده و نصلى على رسوله الكريم
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

The practice of stunning is an unislamic practice that should be avoided as it contains many objectionable and undesirable elements.
Unfortunately all commercial slaughter houses in Australia use the method of stunning animals prior to slaughter so all the meat that we eat from the shops have gone through this stunning process.
They say that this is the most humane way of slaughtering but it has as much to do with this being an effective way for them to bolst their profits being able to mass produce meat at a faster pace.
To claim that this is the most humane way is highly debatable.

Research presented at a recent symposium on the humane slaughter of farm animals suggests that birds may still be able to experience pain after electrical stunning but are not able to display a pain reflex because of temporary paralysis. A study authored by four British poultry slaughter supervisors concluded that electrical stunning is fraught with problems and acknowledged that “electrical paralysis may occur under certain conditions in man and other animals, during which pain can be perceived but reaction to it is impossible.” And several researchers have presented evidence that even the shock, which is supposed to render the animal immediately and painlessly unconscious, is, in fact, intensely painful. (Research paper by Cem Akin).

The numerous methods of stunning include the pneumatic stunner which delivers a blow to the head of the animal, the captive bolt pistol which shatters the brain of the animal, an electric brain stunner for sheep, electric water through which an electric shock is delivered to poultry, some poultry abattoirs now use gas.

In some of the above cases if the force is disproportionately strong or the voltage too high or the skull of the animal is cracked then this could cause the death of the animal prior to slaughtering.

If this act is such that it does not cause the animal to lose consciousness completely, then there is a possibility that the animal’s pain and suffering will have been unnecessarily increased.

There is also a risk that the stunning will cause a reduction in the amount of blood that will flow from it at the time of slaughter, compared to what might have flowed out in the case of the animal being fully conscious and if the blood flow is reduced due to the animal’s weakness, then there is a risk that the remaining non-discharged blood will be absorbed into the meat of the animal which is an undesirable outcome both from a medical point of view as well as according to Shari’ah.

However, although the act of stunning is not an approved practice for domestic animals, if an animal like a cow becomes difficult to slaughter due to wild and aggressive behaviour, then it would be permissible to stun it prior to slaughtering in cases of necessity.

The halal status of an animal which has been stunned depends on whether the animal was alive at the time of slaughter. If the animal was indeed alive then the meat of such an animal will be lawful to consume provided all the other conditions of a halal slaughter are also met. On the other hand, if it is established that the animal was indeed dead at the time of slaughter, such an animal will be unlawful to consume.

It is imperative that the Halal organizations and authorities have strict measures in place to ensure that the level of voltage and the application of the stunning mechanisms be closely monitored by Halal inspectors and supervisors to ascertain that the stunning is not the cause of death of the animal.
Amongst the guidelines established for a Halal slaughter is the unwavering fundamental that the cause of death of the animal must be the act of slaughter itself and nothing else.

Allah knows best.

Mohammed Shakeeb.

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