Why stunning Animals Prior to Slaughter cannot be accepted by Muslims?

Much of the current debate surrounding the issue of religious and “humane” slaughter focuses on the supposed barbarity of the former and the assumed decency of the latter. Both methods deserve closer inspection to assess the claims of both camps.

The Common Stunning Techniques are:

  • The Captive Bolt Pistol – for cattle, calves and goats.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) / Chemical Strangulation – for pigs.
  • Electrical Stunning – for sheep.
  • Electrified Water Bath – for poultry.

Scientific and medical research proves that stunning animals prior to slaughter is cruel and painful as many animals remain conscious and paralysed due to improper stunning, re-stunning, bone shattering, suffocation, strangulation, bruising, depressed skull fracture, etc. (Grandin, Blackmore, Schulze, and other researchers.)

It should be borne in mind that electricity is widely used around the world for torturing human beings (in prisons and detention centres), so how can we say with certainty that an animal stunned using electricity feels no pain? In fact, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) in the U.K. in its June 2003 report stated clearly: “IT IS DIFFICULT TO MEASURE PAIN AND DISTRESS DURING THE SLAUGHTER PROCESS IN AN OBJECTIVE SCIENTIFIC MANNER.” (No. 194, Page 34) So why then religious slaughter is criticised as painful and cruel to animals, when the FAWC itself has got no objective scientific evidence to prove its assumption that the animal in religious slaughter “Feels significant pain and distress”? The fact is that there is little or no pain in the religious slaughter (Schulze, Horder, Hill, Sir Evans, Burrow, Levinger, Bell, Openshaw, Hayhurst, etc).

Some of the inhumane effects of pre-stunning include:

  • Many animals die before they are cut (Hillman, Lawton, Glen, Gregory). According to FAWC, one third of chicken die before slaughter. The new method of stunning today is: STUN TO KILL before slaughter, which means the food is less healthy for us, as more blood stays inside the carcass.
  • Causes blood splash into muscles and more harmful blood stays inside the meat (Gilbert, Blackmore). Retained blood in meat is a major cause of food poisoning & infections. “Captive bolts should be discontinued in view of their detrimental effect on meat quality.” (Marple, 1977.)
  • Changes in the natural chemical constituents of the meat (Marple, Biala.) Spread of BSE, especially when the captive bolt pistol is used in cows (European Commission Study, 2002)
  • Fails in at least 15% of cases, so repeated stunning is necessary, resulting in repeated torture and cruelty.
  • Causes stress to the animal in at least 7 research studies.

Islam prohibits Muslims from eating any meat coming from an animal that is dead before the religious slaughter can take place, as well as the consumption of any blood in any amount. These two prohibitions may occur during stunning. Muslims are also advised to avoid eating anything doubtful. Furthermore, meat for human consumption should be natural wholesome and undamaged.

As it is Muslims hold the view that stunning is not only unnecessary but is cruel and painful to the animal, and moreover affects the draining of blood from the carcass thereby producing inferior quality meat. According to animal physiology, the direct religious method of slaying animals for food is painless at the time of death and after the cut, because of the huge haemorrhage induced by cutting the jugular veins in the neck. As the cut is made, blood pressure drops considerably and so the brain is instantaneously deprived of its normal blood supply – this ANAESTHETISES the animal immediately. For people of faith, especially Muslims, religious prescriptions are far more trustworthy than the declarations of the farm animal welfare groups. There is, after all, far more pressing issues that animal welfare organisations should be concentrating on, wherein the real cruelty to animals lies. For example:

  • Battery Cage Factory farming (especially chickens.)
  • Drugging (hormones and antibiotics.)
  • Fox hunting, bull fighting, dog fighting, cock fighting etc.
  • Cruel transportation.
  • Commercial drug testing and experiments on animals.
  • Torture, blindness, bruises, injuries, daily physiological abuse, torture and discomfort: including castration, maternal deprivation, interference with sexuality and fertility, cloning, tail docking, embryotomy, and hysterectomy.

According to Islam, all these horrific types of animal cruelty are forbidden. The Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are full of instructions and guidance on the welfare and the rights of animals. These teachings were introduced before animal welfare or rights organisations were established!