Question # 023
As-salamu alaykum Firstly, I'd like to thank you for offering such a service. It is really helpful in keeping the community strong and allow us to find out the answer to questions we struggle to understand. My question is geared towards the understanding if "Halal Machine Slaughtered Meat" is permissible? In addition, I'd like to find out weather the HMA https://hmacanada.org/what-is-halal-2/ certifies meat pertaining to both hand and machine? Best Regards,
In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullaahi wa-barakaatuh.
Jazakumullahu Khairan for your inquiry. May Allah Ta’ala grant us all the ability to act upon the teachings of Islam in a matter that pleases Him. Ameen. It is very important for us as believers to be extremely cautious with regards to what we eat. We are responsible to do as much research as possible to make sure that what we eat is halal for our physical and spiritual health.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
يٰٓاَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوۡا مِمَّا فِى الۡاَرۡضِ حَلٰلًا طَيِّبًا ۖ وَّلَا تَتَّبِعُوۡا خُطُوٰتِ الشَّيۡطٰنِؕ اِنَّهٗ لَـكُمۡ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِيۡنٌ
“O people! Eat of what is in the earth, Halal and Pure, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, for you he is an open enemy.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 168)
What is Mechanical Slaughter?
In brief, hundreds of live chickens are transported and delivered in large trucks to the slaughterhouse. The chickens are transferred through a conveyor belt to the place of slaughter. Each chicken is hung by its legs on the belt, with its legs attached to the hook of a shackle (hanger) whilst the rest of its body hangs upside down. The shackles with the chickens fastened unto it move along the line. The heads then enter into a water tub containing electricity which stuns the chickens. The shackles then move to the central point of slaughter wherein there is a knife/blade rotating at an extremely high speed. This rotating knife is placed such that the necks of the chickens can easily be cut. When the shackles reach this point, the chickens move around the rotating blade in a circular way allowing more chickens to make contact with the blade’s edge. The knife automatically cuts every throat that hits it, and the shackles continue to move. Soon after slaughter, there is a point where they are immersed into a hot water dip to remove the chickens’ feathers. After the de-feathering stage, there are other stages of processing, cleaning and cutting which are handled by the machine but are not of direct concern from an Islamic perspective.The electric machine continues to run throughout the day killing thousands of chickens (up to 100,000 a day), not stopping unless required to do so. The Tasmiyah is not read on every animal slaughtered as there is no human slaughtering. Instead, different methods have been introduced as an alternative to the Tasmiyah and they differ in each slaughterhouse. They are as follows:
No Tasmiyah at all
Recorded Bismillah is played through a tape or CD
Bismillah is written or engraved on the rotating blade
Bismillah is written on the nearside wall
A person stands near the slaughter point and merely recites Bismillah
A person is appointed to recite Bismillah as he switches the machinery on at the beginning of the day
In summary, the slaughter is carried out by mechanical rotating blades with no Muslim slaughterman present either to perform the slaughter, or to recite the Tasmiyah on each individual slaughter.
To understand the Shari῾ah ruling with regards to machine-slaughter, one must remember that for an animal to be considered Islamically lawful (halal), the Fuqaha of the Hanafi school of thought state the following conditions:
The slaughterer must be Muslim
Any three of the following four veins must be cut with a knife, blade or any tool that is sharp and has a cutting edge
the trachea (windpipe)
the two jugular veins
The name of Allah (tasmiyah) must be pronounced at the time of slaughtering and is a condition for the slaughtering
Issues of concerns
The issues of concern in the process mentioned above from a shar’i perspective are:
The passage of chickens through electrified water to stun prior to slaughter. Prior to slaughter, the chickens are immersed (stunned) in a water tank (or electrified water is poured over them) containing a current of electricity. This current may cause death prior to slaughter.
The cutting of throats with a rotating blade. Even though the rotating blade does cut the jugular veins most of the time, it is possible that some of the chickens’ necks do not reach and make full contact with the blade. In such cases, it would not cut their necks at all, or only cuts them partially, and so their jugular veins remain uncut.
The obligation of mentioning Allah’s name. As indicated above, it is impossible to recite the name of Allah over every chicken. The different methods adopted do not seem to fulfil the requirements of the Islamic law.
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah says,
وَلَا تَأۡكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا لَمۡ یُذۡكَرِ ٱسۡمُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَیۡهِ وَإِنَّهُۥ لَفِسۡقࣱۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلشَّیَـٰطِینَ لَیُوحُونَ إِلَىٰۤ أَوۡلِیَاۤىِٕهِمۡ لِیُجَـٰدِلُوكُمۡۖ
Translation: “Do not eat that (meat) over which the name of Allah has not been pronounced. This is surely a sin. The shayateen inspire their friends to dispute with you. (Surah Al-An'am 121)
It is understood from this verse that Tasmiyah should be read on each animal. In the case of machine slaughter, only one Tasmiyah is read at the beginning for the hundreds and thousands to come.
There are possible issues related to the hot water bath for the defeathering. One issue is when the throat of the chicken is not cut by the rotating blade in a manner which is acceptable in Islamic law, then when it is immersed in hot water it will still have some life left in it. Thus, such a chicken will die because of the heat of the water, making it unlawful to consume.
The process of mechanical slaughter reflects multiple issues of concern. Even if one part of the procedure is modified and customised to Shari’ standards, others are left requiring urgent attention. Therefore, as a whole, the mechanical slaughter process is not permissible unless the following issues are reviewed and adjusted to meet Shari’ standards:
The throat is cut correctly with the necessary veins cut each time.
Each and every animal is singled out with the tasmiyah.
The tasmiyah is administered by the slaughterer himself and not played on a tape or written somewhere
including many other aspects of the procedure that can also be changed, such as the electrical and hot water bath. Manual slaughter can be very efficient and the production can meet the current global demand if organised and configured accurately.
In conclusion, there is no justification of machine-slaughtered chicken, neither is there a great need for it. Shaykh justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him) has mentioned the solution to this problem in his Arabic book Ahkam al-Zaba’ih and in his English book Contemporary Fatawa, and mentioned that many firms have employed the method suggested by him and that it did not have an effect on mass production. Given this and all the other proofs outlined above, it will not be permissible to mechanically slaughter where the necessary conditions are not fulfilled. However, if they are fulfilled, then the animal would be lawful (halal) to consume.
With regards to the second part of your inquiry, HMA does not certify machine slaughtered animals. For more information regarding HMA’s certification process, please refer to the following link inshaAllah: https://hmacanada.org/slaughter-criteria/
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Student - Jamiah Islamiyah Abu Bakr
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Kasim Ingar
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