Monday, January 12, 2009

ZABIHA (ذبيحة): Slaughter

What is Zabiha (ذبيحة)?
Zabiha is the Islamic method of slaughtering halal (permissible) land animals and birds for food. In the Arabic language, zhebH means "to slay (by drawing blood)". For zhebH to be religiously correct, a few other conditions must be met:
  • The animal must be in good physical and emotional health.
  • The animal must be made to be comfortable (not anxious). 
  • The animal cannot see other animals being killed, nor see their bodies.
  • The animal must not see the slaughtering knife.
  • The animal cannot be rendered unconscious, electrocuted or stunned by a blow to the head. 
  • The knife must be sharp enough to sever the major arteries of the neck with one sure swipe.
  • The slaughterer should be a Muslim. (Muslims are permitted to eat the food of People of the Book [Christians and Jews], however; Some Islamic Schools of Thought hold that only a Muslim of good piety can perform zabiha.)
  • Recitation of "in the name of Allah" (bismillah) should be performed before slaughter.
  • The slaughter must be swiftly completed in one swipe.
  • The animal must be exsanguinated - drained of all flowing blood.

Should Muslims buy only Zabiha meat?
This is a complex and personal question. The answer to which is determined by many factors, some of which are:

Availability -
There are many Muslims living in places where it is difficult to find fresh, unprocessed Zabiha meat.

Diversity of Islamic Tradition -
The diverse American Islamic Community brings together people from varying Islamic traditions (Schools of Thought). This diversity creates a situation where Muslims can hold sometimes conflicting opinions on the acceptability of meat from Ahl al-Kitaab (Christians and Jews), supermarket meat and the necessity of zabiha meat.

Regulations -
Some countries, like Great Britain legally require an animal to be stunned before slaughter.

Industry Practices -
Muslims in America and other Western countries may find that it is common practice to electrocute certain animals before slaughter, or that some animals die from blows to the head that were meant to only render them unconscious. In these case, that animal becomes "dead meat" -- forbidden for Muslims to eat. Because it is impossible to discern how the animal who provided the meat in your grocer's butcher died, it is advisable for Muslims to stay away from all meat where that type of animal commonly is stunned before slaughter.

Related topics:
What are the halal animals?
What are the haram animals?
What are the differences and similarities between kosher and halal animals?
What is Factory Farming?
What about Supermarket Meat?
Organic Meat
Does Islam prohibit cruelty to animals?
The jallalah (impure) of halal animals.
How does AMNA judge foods containing meat?

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