Science and Ritual

Although I am a Human, an Omnivorous animal and a Muslim but every time ritual slaughter at the time of  Eid ul Adha disturbs me and shakes me. Actually the slaughter itself doesn’t make me sick but the laughing, joking coward crowd and fun just before ritual hurts. After all I am an animal myself (biologically).

Sacrifice doesn’t mean that Islam asks Muslims to be harsh towards animals but it means that we are sacrificing one of the loved thing for most loved LORD, the only God Allah. This explains how much Muslims should love animals.

Al Shaddad Bin Aous has quoted this tradition of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) “God calls for mercy in everything, so be merciful when you kill and when you slaughter, sharpen your blade to relieve its pain”.

The animals to be slaughtered must be handled with mercy and kindness.

The animals to be slaughtered should neither be mercilessly dragged from one place to another nor their bodies be pressed or squeezed, nor should they be frightened at slaughter time by sharpening the blade of a knife or butchering other animals in front of them. Prior to slaughtering or before confirming its death, no body part of the animals shall be cut or mutilated.

Care has to be taken that the nervous system is in no way damaged, for the direct attack on the nervous coil would provide serious pain to the animal before death. If any other method is used or the animal is slaughtered with a dull blade, its meat will not become legal(halal) for consumption. The animal must be brought to the slaughtering place and laid down gently as to not bruise it. The blade must be kept hidden until the very last moment while the jugular of the animal is felt.

Professor Wilhelm Schulze of the Hannover University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Germany, and his colleague Dr. Hazim, compared the response of the brain and heart during and immediately after ritual slaughter and slaughter with captive bolt stunning, a method widely used in many slaughterhouses.

The results of electroencephalograph (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings showed that Islamic ritual slaughtering caused a loss of consciousness before pain could be felt, while the captive bolt stunning caused severe pain to the animal before it lost consciousness.

1. The first 3 seconds from the time of the slaughter (in the Islamic Method) as recorded on the EEG did not show any change from the graph before slaughter, thus indicating that the animal did not feel any recognizable pain during or after the incision.

2. During the following 3 second, the EEG recorded a condition of deep sleep-unconsciousness. This is due to the large quantity of blood gushing out of the body. The sudden and profuse bleeding from the incision on the neck causes a shock resulting in a state of unconsciousness due to severe shortage of blood supply to the vital centers located in the brain.

3. After the above-mentioned 6 seconds, the EEG recorded zero level, showing no feeling of pain at all.

4. As the brain message (EEG) dropped to zero level, the heart was still pounding and the body convulsing vigorously (a reflex action of the spinal cord) driving out a maximum amount of blood from the body, thus resulting in hygienic meat for the consumers.

Dr. Temple Grandin, an expert on livestock handling facilities and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, has witnessed ritual slaughter many times while inspecting and advising kosher slaughterhouses. She notes on her website: “When the cut is done correctly, the animal appears not to feel it. From an animal welfare standpoint, the major concern during ritual slaughter are the stressful and cruel methods of restraint (holding) that are used in some plants.”

The Islamic method indeed demands that the knife to be used for slaughtering animals must be sharp and used swiftly. The swift cut of vessels of the neck disconnects the flow of blood to the nerves in the brain responsible for pain. Thus the slaughtered animal feels no pain.

It may be mentioned in this connection that the movements and withering of the different limbs of the animal after the incision is made are not due to pain, but due to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles deficient in blood. The convulsions are due to the contraction of the muscles in response to the lack of oxygen in the brain cells.

The muscles, by these contractions, squeeze out blood from the blood vessels in the tissues to pour it into the central circulation system to be sent to the brain, but this is lost on the way (due to cutting of big vessels in the neck) and the brain cells consequently keep on sending messages to the muscles to wring out blood, until the animal dies.

Convulsions thus occur when the animal becomes unconscious. And because the slaughtered animal becomes unconscious for massive hemorrhage, it does not feel pain while bleeding.

Lastly, the Islamic method also insists that the cut should involve the windpipe (trachea), gullet (esophagus), and the two jugular veins without cutting the spinal cord. This method results in rapid gush of blood draining most of it from the animal’s body. If the spinal cord is cut, the nerve fibres to the heart might be damaged leading to cardiac arrest, thus resulting in stagnation of blood in the blood vessels. The blood must be drained completely before the head is removed from the body. As most of the blood, which acts as medium of microorganisms, is removed the meat becomes purified and also remains fresh for a longer period as compared to the meat obtained through other methods of slaughtering like gullotining or decapitation, CBPS and electric stunning.

The United States Humane Slaughter Act recognizes ritual slaughter according to Islamic and Jewish dietary guidelines is acceptable and humane.

While offering Qurbani on Eid-ul-Azha most of the Muslims unfortunately, ignore the above-mentioned humane instruction of the Apostle of God (phub) and recklessly slaughter camels and cows and lambs right in front of other animals. We not only fight shy of the holy Prophet’s unique instruction but also very easily forget that the animals feel and suffer stress  in the same way as the humans do.

Thanks to :

National University of Singapore

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