Date : 06-11-2022

Question :

What are the obligatory conditions for halal slaughtering? Is it permissible to shackle the animal from its hind leg before slaughtering, as practiced by modern slaughterhouses, and then slaughter it while its head is down? It is worth pointing that the animals can`t see other animals being slaughtered. 

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

In Sharia terms, lawful meat is that of the animal slaughtered in due form, as clarified in the following verse: " unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form)" {Al-Ma`idah/3}. Slaughtering in due form means cutting off the animal`s throat, but if it died or showed no sign of life before cutting its throat, then it is considered dead meat, which is unlawful to be eaten. According to An-Nawawi, "The Islamic form of slaughtering involves cutting the windpipe and the esophagus completely, which is the correct opinion of the Shafie School……Our fellow scholars said: "If any part of the windpipe and esophagus were left uncut and the animal died then its meat is unlawful. Similarly, if the animal was kicking and the uncut part of the windpipe and the esophagus were re-cut, then it is considered dead meat unlawful to eat." {Al-Majmou`, V.9:P.86}.

Moreover, the perfect form of slaughtering consists of four elements: cutting off the windpipe, the esophagus, and the two jugular veins. However, it avails to cut off the windpipe and the esophagus. As for the two jugular veins, they extend around the neck and are usually cut off along with the windpipe and the esophagus. Thus, it is better that the two jugular veins are cut off along with the windpipe and the esophagus; however, if they were left then this is permissible.

Kicking violently and blood gushing out, after the windpipe and esophagus are being cut, are signs of the animal`s stable life, which is a condition for the meat to be considered lawful to eat.

Upon slaughtering an animal, five things are recommended:

First, invoking the name of Allah at the moment of slaughtering. Second, sending prayers upon the Prophet (PBUH). Third, facing the Qibla. Fourth, making Takbir. Fifth, asking Allah for acceptance. Allah the Almighty says {What means}: "So eat of (meats) on which God’s name hath been pronounced" {Al-`An`am, 118}. Anas said that God’s Messenger sacrificed with his own hand two horned rams which were white with black markings, mentioned God’s name and said, "God is most great.” He added: I saw him placing his foot on their sides and saying, "In the name of God. God is most great.” (Bukhari and Muslim.) Narrated `Aisha: A group of people said to the Prophet, "Some people bring us meat and we do not know whether they have mentioned Allah's Name or not on slaughtering the animal." He said, "Mention Allah's Name on it and eat." This Hadith indicates that invoking the name of Allah upon slaughtering isn`t an obligation.

In addition, amongst the key recommended matters when slaughtering an animal are:

1-Not terrifying the animal prior to slaughtering it.

2-Not slaughtering an animal in front of other animals.

3-Offering water to the animal to be slaughtered.

4-Sharpening the knife before slaughtering to guarantee that the windpipe, the esophagus, and the jugular veins are cut off as quick and painless as possible. This is because the Messenger of Allah said: 

"Verily, Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill in the least painful manner you can; and when you slaughter an animal, do it in the best possible way; and any of you should sharpen his blade so that the animal may be spared from the suffering of the slaughtering." {Muslim}.

5-Skinning the animal only after making sure that it is dead.

6-Placing the animal on its left side facing the Qibla. However, if the butcher placed it on its right side or it was shackled from a hind leg, then the slaughtering is valid if other conditions are met. Al-Khatib Al-Shirbini (May Allah have mercy on him) said: "When slaughtering a cow or sheep, it is recommended to place them on the left side. As for the sheep, it is reported in the Sahih of Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (PBUH) placed it on its left side and this was adopted as the measuring stick when slaughtering cows and the like. This is because it is easier for the butcher to hold the knife with his right hand and the animal`s head with the left."

It is from Sunnah to place an animal on its left side when slaughtering it. However, if this wasn`t done and a hind leg was shackled and was slaughtered according to the Islamic form (Cutting off the windpipe and the jugular veins from the first knife strike), then the slaughter process is valid and the meat is halal.

In conclusion, we advise butchers to fear Allah, and be as merciful to animals as possible. And Allah knows best.