Opinion: Halal Meat and Science


Halal or ‘Dhabiha’ meat is the meat derived after slaughtering the animal in accordance with Islamic way. In Islamic way of slaughtering; the animal’s main arteries in the neck are cut swiftly with a sharp knife, without cutting the spinal cord and the animal is left to die, while the heart pumps out the last bit of blood from the body. Muslims are very particular about the Halal meat and if they cannot find Halal meat, they usually eat eggs or fish for protein source, but don’t eat non-halal meat. Strangely enough; even the Muslims who do not respect the Islamic restrictions regarding prohibition of alcohol or other moral codes, hardly ever go for non-Halal meat. When asked about this phenomenon; they say it’s a sin without pleasure.

Technically; Muslims are allowed to eat the food of the ‘people of the book’. Quran calls Jews and Christians as ‘the people of the book’. But there is another mention in this respect according to which ‘an animal cut without taking God’s name while cutting, is prohibited to Muslims’. This is the reason why ‘Kosher’ meat is allowed to Muslims as Jews cut the animal in pretty much same way. The Orthodox Christians also take the name of God while cutting the animals but they usually don’t follow the specific method of cutting the animal explained in Islam. Here one thing should be kept in mind that, out of the popular meat sources like; sheep, goat, lamb, cow, buffalo, camel, turkey and chicken etc., the Pig meat (pork) is not allowed to Muslims. It is interesting that even the Jews don’t eat pork the Kosher laws and Halal Laws in Islam are very much similar.

Animal Aspect–Humane Way of Slaughtering the Animal

The animal protection agencies have always had problems with religious slaughter of both Jews and Muslims called the Halal and Kosher respectively. They thought that science tells that the Captive bolt Stunning method which apparently takes less time for the animal to die– is more painless for the animal. Furthermore; they also had problems of accepting a method of cutting animals– following thousands of years old religious methodology. Religion was considered as obsolete and religious slaughter was banned in many European countries after the World War II as the scientific revolution rolled on.

After World War II, most Governments in Europe decided to ban the ancient religious method of animal slaughter and replaced it with captive bolt stunning which they thought was more scientific and humane to animals. But religious sectors of both Jews and Muslims kept their struggle to make it legal again. It took decades before techniques to monitor pain during slaughter were developed to finally prove it either way. The findings of such experiments surprisingly came out to be exactly opposite to what was widely believed at that time. Following researches clearly show that the Source which created the Abrahimic religions was more knowledgeable than the Scientists or animal welfare societies who were against the religious slaughter.

In 1978, a study incorporating EEG (electroencephalograph) with electrodes surgically implanted on the skull of 17 sheep and 15 calves, and conducted by Wilhelm Schulze et al. at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany concluded that “the slaughter in the form of a ritual cut is, if carried out properly, painless in sheep and calves according to EEG recordings 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 (CBS) was used. This study is cited by the German Constitutional Court in its permitting of ‘Dhabiha slaughtering’.

Similarly; in April 2008,the French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing has 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 organized in 2008. This report quotes scientific papers and French veterinary PhD which support the equality or even possible superiority of religious slaughter to other methods of slaughter.

This report quotes in particular the Ph.D work of Dr Pouillaude which concludes by:“religious slaughter would thus be a less stressing mode of slaughter. Conclusions of all the scientific experiments converge towards a firmly supported certainty: properly carried out, religious slaughter is the most humane way because it leads to less trauma to animals to be killed to be consumed for its meat”.—- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal

Human Aspect– Healthier Meat

Enough has already been written on religious slaughter with respect to being humane way of killing an animal to consume its meat; hopefully that would be enough to satisfy the animal welfare societies. But very little is written on the benefits of Dhabiha meat’s health benefits.

We all know that in case of Dhabiha meat, the animal’s spinal cord is left intact with main arteries in the neck cut, and the heart keeps beating to pump out almost all the blood from the body. Blood is not only prohibited in Islam but also carries all the viruses and bacteria—not to mention the toxins. Therefore; the Dhabiha meat is even more hygienic. We know that blood transfusion is a definite cause of transfer of diseases from on person to another.

But that is not all; the red meat is proven to be harmful to human health in numerous medical conditions. For this reason fish and chicken have become more popular these days. Halal meat is always of light color due to the fact that it allows the animal to drain out all the blood, even from the very tiny veins present inside the meat contributing to the red pigmentation. That makes Halal meat even less injurious to health, than the meat of same animal cut by captive bolt stunning (CBS) that includes; Electrical stunning, Gas stunning and Percussive stunning– widely used today. Even the Halal meat has more shelf life for the reason explained above