Opponents of Dhabiha, most notably some animal welfare groups, contend that some methods of slaughter cause severe suffering to animals and can be a form of animal cruelty, compared to when the animal is stunned before slaughter.
Stunning the animal with a bolt-gun may cause instant death. Muslims regard meat from such a slaughter to be haram "forbidden", considering such meat as carrion.
Muslims are fastidious about the Halal meat and if they cannot find it, they usually use alternatives like fish or egg for protein sources. Oddly enough, even the Muslims who do not respect the Islamic restrictions regarding prohibition of drinking alcohol or other moral codes, hardly ever go for non-halal meat. When asked about this phenomenon, they say; it’s a sin with no pleasure.
Islamic Animal Slaughtering
The act of slaughtering itself is preceded by mentioning the name of God. Invoking the name of God at the moment of slaughtering is sometimes interpreted as acknowledgment of God's right over all things and thanking God for the sustenance he provides: it is a sign the food is taken not in sin or in gluttony, but to survive.
According to Islamic tradition, the animal is brought to the place of slaughter and laid down gently so as to not injure it. The blade must be kept hidden until the very last moment while the jugular of the animal is felt. The conventional method used to slaughter the animal involves cutting the wind pipe, jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides with one swipe of a non-serrated blade.
Care must be taken that the nervous system is not damaged, as this may cause the animal to die before exsanguination has taken place. During the swipe of the blade, the head must not be decapitated.
Scientific Research Studies Pain
In the west after World War II, most governments decided to put a ban on the ancient religious method of animal slaughter, only to replace it with captive bolt stunning; a new system that they thought was more scientific and humane to animals.
They stun the animals with a shot to the head before the slaughter, logically for two reasons; to render the animal unconscious and to prevent it from reviving before it is killed so as not to slow down the movement of the processing line – and it is also used to prevent the animal from feeling pain before it dies. If we assume the latter is true, which reason you think is more important to the meat industry!?
Since there are many similarities between the rules concerning dhabiha and shechita, the Jewish ritual slaughter, both Jews and Muslim’s religious sectors struggled to bring back their ancient religious method of animal slaughter and make it legal again.
Well, as it happens, years later the technology to monitor the pain during slaughter was developed and finally could prove it either way. It may come as a surprise to those who have made such acclimations to learn of the results of a study carried out by Professor Wilhelm Schulze and his colleagues between 1974 and 1978, at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover University in Germany.
The study: ‘Attempts to Objectify Pain and Consciousness in Conventional (captive bolt pistol stunning) and Ritual (knife, Halal) Methods of Slaughtering Sheep and Calves’, which is reported on Islamic Online to have concluded that "the Islamic way of slaughtering is the most humane method of slaughter and that captive bolt stunning, practiced in the West, causes severe pain to the animal.
In the study, several electrodes were surgically implanted at various points of the skull of the animals, and then they were allowed to recover for several weeks. Some of the animals were then slaughtered using the Islamic method, and others were stunned using a Captive Bolt Pistol. During the experiment, an Electroencephalograph (EEG) and an Electrocardiogram (ECG) recorded the condition of the brain and the heart of all animals during the course of slaughter and stunning. The study concluded that the slaughter in the form of a ritual cut if carried out properly is painless in sheep and calves, and the missing defensive actions of the animals and that for sheep, there were in part severe reactions both in bloodletting cut and the pain stimuli when captive bolt stunning was used.
In 2008, the French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing published ASIDCOM’s Bibliographical Report on religious slaughter and the welfare of animals, as a contribution within the framework of a meeting on animals and society. Similar to Professor Wilhelm Schulze study, this report also quotes many scientific papers and supports the equality or even possible superiority of religious slaughter to other methods of slaughter.
Quality Comparison Of Halal Meat
Dr V. K. Modi, head of department of meat technology at the Central Food Technology Research Institute in Mysore-India – says, meat of animals which are slaughtered according to Halal method tend to be softer compared to the other meats. He continued, Halal method is effective in draining out most of the blood from a slaughtered animal, which is vital if its meat is to be soft.
Dr Modi, who was responsible to train butchers to implement right conducts of slaughtering at the institute’s abattoir, explains; another reason that makes the Halal meat softer is because the pH of meat is less than 7 as a result of less struggle by the slaughtered animal, since the struggling of animal will increase pH of meat which will lead the meat to become tougher and drier.
Dr. Karuna Chaturvedi, consultant nutritionist at Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, confirms Dr. Modi’s opinion and says; Halal method is also healthier because after slaughter, blood is drained from the animal's arteries, ejecting most toxins, as the heart continues to pump for a few seconds – leaving less room for growth of micro-organisms.
When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen. Do your research and as you learn more about your present diet, as well as others, better your diet because if you want to live a healthy life you first need a healthy body. Just remember, there are healthy foods and there are healthier foods – your choice!
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