Essays by the halaal foundation pakistan

Stunning

Islam stipulates that the allowed animals such as cow, ox, etc. must also be slaughtered according to the Shariah in order to render them Halaal, especially for oral consumption.
As it is common to use Haraam and Mashbooh ingredients in products, the conditions of Islamic

slaughter are not being fulfilled. So, there are some worth-considering issues regarding slaughter which are as follows:

    1. Stunning;
    2. To pass the birds with their stomachs and innards through the scalding tank which contains hot water;
    3. To slaughter with mechanical blade, etc.

In this article, a Shariah review of only stunning with focus on the following points is being presented:

  1. Definition of Stunning.
  2. Beginning of Stunning.
  3. Objectives of Stunning.
  4. Different Methods of Stunning.
  5. Defects of Stunning.
  6. Stunning in the Islamic Perspective.
  7. Shariah Ruling on Animals Slaughtered after Stunning.

1) Definition of Stunning

Stunning means “to make an animal or a bird unconscious before slaughter”.
According to oxford Dictionary,
“Stun somebody/something
To make a person or animal unconscious for a short time”
Wikipedia has defined stunning as follows:
“Stunning is the process of rendering animals immobile or unconscious without killing the animal, prior to their being slaughtered for food.”

02) Beginning of Stunning

Stunning was introduced in 1929 in England.
It was made mandatory in 1979 in Europe. However, the member countries were allowed to exempt the religious groups from it. But after that, due to the campaign of animal welfare organizations, United Nations made the stunning mandatory for everyone.
It is now mandatory in the European countries to the extent that any meat imported to these countries must be of the stunned animals.

03) Objectives of Stunning

The First Objective of Stunning : To Protect Animals or Birds from the Pain of Slaughter

According to the supporters of stunning, the main reason for making it mandatory is to reduce the pain of animals and birds prior to slaughter. They believe that animals and birds are more hurt if they are slaughtered while they are conscious. Therefore, they should be stunned before slaughter.

The Second Objective of Stunning: To Control Animals or Birds for Slaughter

The second reason for stunning is said to control animals and birds for the act of slaughter because, according to their so-called belief, it is easy to slaughter the stunned animals, and as a result of this, the production increases.

04) Different Methods of Stunning

Some of the methods used for stunning are as follows:

  1. Electrical Stunning
  2. Gas Stunning
  3. Captive Bolts Gun Stunning

These methods are described as under:

I.Electrical Stunning

Electrical stunning means to render animals or birds unconscious by electrical current. It is of two kinds:

    1. Electrical Stunning for Poultry
    2. Electrical Stunning for Goats/Sheep, etc.

Electrical Stunning for Poultry

The method of electrical stunning for poultry is that there is cold water with electrical current in a box called stunning box. The birds are passed through this water, whereupon they get unconscious; but this unconsciousness is reversible which means birds can get conscious in a few minutes.
I observed during my visit to a poultry abattoir in South Africa that three birds were taken from the chain after passing through the stunning box and put on the floor. They got conscious after a while. Anyhow, the stunned birds, being hooked in a chain, pass to the slaughterer where they slaughter them.

Electrical Stunning for Goats /Sheep, etc.

Goats and sheep are stunned by electrical current. A device like head phone is applied to ears of a goat or sheep which becomes unconscious. After that it is slaughtered. This kind of stunning is also reversible. According to the experts, this current is not strong enough to kill an animal. But if the animal is weak or sick, this current is enough to render it dead prior to the slaughter.

II.Gas stunning

In this method goats and sheep are stunned by gas. They are put in a close place which contains carbon dioxide. There they get unconscious after which they are slaughtered. In this case, it is also possible that the animal may suffocate before slaughter.

III. Captive Bolt Gun Stunning

This type of stunning is used for big animals such as cow, ox, etc. In this method, a gun like a rod, which is called captive bolt gun, is used. This gun is also known by the following names:

        • Cattle Gun
        • Stun Bolt Gun
        • Bolt Gun
        • Captive Bolt Pistol
        • Stunner

In this method, the captive bolt gun is fired on the forehead of a cow. A bar comes out of this gun and enters the forehead of the cow forcefully.
The cow, then, gets unconscious and falls. If it is not slaughtered within three to four minutes, it dies itself.
Therefore, there is no chance of delay in slaughter in this method because if the slaughter is delayed, the stunned animal will die.

05) Defects of stunning

It has been referred previously to the following two objectives of stunning as its supporters believe:

      1. To protect animals and birds from pain of slaughter;
      2. To control animals and birds for slaughter.

Review of the First Objective of Stunning

It is just a so-called belief that stunning reduces the pain. This is not right because some methods of stunning are more painful than slaughter such as captive bolt gun stunning. In this method, a captive bolt is fired on the forehead of a cow. This hit is so severe that if the animal is not slaughtered within three to four minutes, it dies by the same hit caused by the stunner.
Even the non-Muslims have also endorsed this fact. Professor Wilhelm Schulze from “University of Veterinary Medicine” has proved by ECG and EEG tests that the pain caused by stunning is more than that of slaughter without stunning.

Review of the Second Objective of the Stunning

As far as the second objective of stunning is concerned, it is not acceptable in the case of cow, ox, etc. As these are controlled for stunning, too, in the stunning box, this stunning box can easily be converted to a slaughter-box which will control the animal for slaughter, and there will be no need of control by stunning. This kind of slaughter-box has been experimented within Pakistan successfully.
And birds are also hooked in a chain in such a way that they can be slaughtered without stunning. It may be possible that the number of birds slaughtered decreases a bit. But if the consumers demand only Halaal and doubt-free products, the supplier will be compelled to fulfill this demand.
If the Halaal certification bodies develop a consensus that the meat must be unstunned for Muslims, the suppliers will accept it for the sake of business.
The Jews convinced the suppliers to provide them with unstunned and Kosher-compliant meat. If the Jews can get rid of stunning in spite of being in minority, why should Muslims, who are in majority, be forced to use stunned meat despite the possibility that the animal dies during stunning before slaughter.

A Worrying Aspect of Stunning:

The main defect of stunning is that it kills animals or birds before slaughter. It has been observed in poultry that they die during stunning if they are delayed in the stunning box than the fixed time or if the current increases.
We, a delegation from Pakistan to South Africa, visited there a Halaal certified poultry slaughterhouse and observed a strange thing. The machine stopped for a while for any reason and the birds in the stunning box died. When the machine started again, those birds were taken from the chain so that they may not mix with the Halaal birds.
It was just a coincidence as we observed along-with a Halaal certification body of South Africa that had certified that poultry slaughter house. On such occasion it is tried to project the company in a better way. But if we can face such situation, what will be happening when the supervisors are absent.
In the same way, we saw in a beef slaughterhouse that when a cow was stunned, it got stuck in the stunning box. It was supposed to leave the stunning box and pass to the slaughterer hung up on a chain upside down. If it had been delayed in the stunning box, it would have died, but a slaughterer came to the stunning box rapidly and slaughtered it in the same box. This slaughterhouse was under strict supervision of an authentic Halaal certification body of South Africa. Therefore, they slaughtered the stuck cow in the stunning box, but where supervision is weak and the company has got certified just to make Muslims their clients, it is not impossible that some of animals die before slaughter, especially if the slaughterhouse is owned by a non-Muslim. The above slaughterhouse was also owned by a non-Muslim.
Therefore, it is necessary for Halaal certification bodies to get rid of stunning and confine the slaughterhouses just to the Shariah method of slaughter so that Muslims can have Halaal meat free from any doubt, as Jews confined them to only kosher slaughter and rejected stunning.

6) Stunning in the Islamic Perspective

There is a danger of dying animals or birds before slaughter. Therefore, it must be avoided, and the practice must be confined to the Shariah slaughter only.

7) Ruling on Animals Slaughtered after Stunning

Even though stunning is an inappropriate act, if animals or birds are slaughtered after stunning according to Shariah, fulfilling the conditions of Dhabh and they do not die by stunning before slaughter, the meat is Halaal. But as stunning may render animals or birds dead prior to slaughter, especially in case the slaughterhouses are owned by non-Muslims, the Muslims should reject stunning while certifying such abattoirs and slaughterhouses.