Opinion-- Halal Meat and Science
‘Dhabiha’ meat to be exact or what is commonly called ‘Halal Meat’ these days, is the meat derived after slaughtering the animal in accordance with Islamic principles. Halal and Dhabiha are two different things, for example; a pig even if cut in dhabiha way is still not halal and a halal animal can be dhabiha or non-dhabiha, but this is not the topic we are going to discuss here. So, the meat has to be of a halal animal and preferably dhabiha, unless there is no possibility.
In the Islamic way of slaughtering (dhabiha), 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 almost all the blood from the body. Muslims are very particular about the Halal meat and if they cannot find it, they usually eat eggs or fish for protein source, but don’t eat non-dhabiha 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-dhabiha meat. When asked about this phenomenon, they say;”it’s a sin without the pleasure”.
Technically; Muslims are allowed to eat the food of the ‘people of the book’, but not the infidels. Quran calls Jews and Christians as ‘the people of the book’. Muslims also take the name of God while cutting the animal, which in fact they do before everything from drinking water, to bungee jumping. This is the reason why ‘Kosher’ meat is allowed to Muslims, as the Jews also follow pretty much the same protocol. The Orthodox Christians also take the name of God while cutting the animal, 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 and the Kosher laws are very much similar to the Halal Laws in Islam.
Animal Aspect--Humane Way of Slaughtering the Animal
The animal welfare/protection groups have always had problems with religious slaughter of both Muslims and Jews called; Halal and Kosher respectively. They thought that according to science, 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 accepting a procedure 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 continued their struggle to make it legal again. It took decades before techniques to monitor the 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 (opposed to 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 a 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 one 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. Dhabiha meat is always of light color due to the fact that it allows the animal to drain out most part of blood, even from the very tiny veins present inside the meat-- contributing to the red pigmentation. That makes Dhabiha meat, even less injurious to health, then the meat of same animal cut by captive bolt stunning (CBS) which includes; Electrical stunning, Gas stunning and Percussive stunning-- widely used today. Even the Halal/Dhabiha meat has a more ' shelf-life' for the reason explained above.
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on July 04, 2014:
Danish; the body's mechanism of cleaning itself of toxins, works in a way that the blood collects all the toxins and takes it to the kidneys, which remove them from the body through urine. So, prior to urine, blood is the resting place for all the body toxins. This is the reason why blood carries so much urea. Secondly; you mentioned virus and bacteria in rest of the body as well. Well; I never said that the rest of the body does not have them; my point was that the blood has much higher concentration of micro-organism then the flesh. And third; the flesh is largely protein with high nutritional value, unlike blood. And fourthly; I think this is the reason why the prohibition of blood is mentioned in the books of Jews and Christians as well, and is not prohibited in just Islam alone.
Danish on July 01, 2014:
Arshad, Thanks for putting all the info about islamic way consuming meat. I am still not clear on the comment - taking out all the blood from animal body will make meat better in quality, my point of confusion is how come meat will become less poisnous. As we knows animal body have a mechanism constantly work for cleaning blood. If there is bacteria or virus in blood how come other part of animal body will remain unaffected on the virus
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on April 16, 2013:
Thank you Rachel; I am glad you liked it. Quran asks us to ponder and do research.
Rachel on April 15, 2013:
Masha allah! I am a new Muslim and the rest of my family is Christian. They have a hard time understanding islam and we got on a discussion the other day about halal meat, this article very much helped me in my search to give them the correct information. Good work brother!
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on December 18, 2012:
James-wolve---- Thank you very much, for reading and appreciating my article. I agree with your prognosis that Halal Meat is becoming popular very fast, infect Halal Industry is expanding by leaps and bounds . I think it is because people are becoming more safety conscious these days. And that includes all kinds of safety, including the Shariah Compliant Investments-- but that is another topic.
May Allah bless you too.
Tijani Achamlal from Morocco on December 15, 2012:
This is a very wellwritten and informative article.Thanks for the sharing.According to recent news reports, Halal meat is everywhere.You can findd in hospital canteens, pubs and sporting venues.It might have been "secretly" snuck into your sandwich at a football match:) or fed to your "unwitting" child lol in their school dinner.Ruksana Shain, from behalal.org, insist that cutting an individual animal's throat in a single swipe is less cruel than stunning it first by driving a bolt into its skull, gassing it or electrocuting it.
I voted up.
May Allah bless you brother.Have a nice weekend.
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on October 06, 2012:
Asma--- thank you very much for appreciating the article. I am glad that it turned out to be of some use for the public. That is what I intended it for. Regarding google-- I checked and google is showing my article or hub if you put my name or title of the article and it must be some spelling mistake or some glitch as you mentioned. May Allah bless you too for doing the good work.....Ameen.
asma on October 06, 2012:
Further to my comment earlier, my mistake! the key search words are 'turkey dhabiha' and your article come first.
asma on October 06, 2012:
Thank you for this excellent article. Since I discovered it this week I have used it in an email to 'The Wright Stuff' a weekday morning show covering british front page news. I notice that on a google search for your page today did not display details of your page! I hope it is only a glitch in the system! I had to retrace my steps to locate it. May Allah bless you and create more awareness for this excellent page, aameen
Vegas Elias from Mumbai on June 20, 2012:
A very informative hub. I was knowing about the blood letting in halal slaughter which is good for our health. The fact about halal is less painful was not know to me.
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on April 18, 2012:
Nikita-- Your comment was bothering me since you posted it and today as I was doing some research over food wastage, I found out that you were right. Eighty percent of corn produced in the USA is used to feed the cattle.
But don't forget that this may be the case in USA or some western European countries constituting to hardly 10% of the World population. American only comprises of 5% of the World population.America also throws 200,000 tons of food into garbage daily.
My point was that in almost 90% of the World, cattle feed on non human consumable plant produce. In a poor country of 180 million people (Pakistan), I cannot imagine anyone feeding his goat with 2 kilogram of corn which is equal to the value of daily wage of a rural Pakistani. The case of G8 countries may be different, I agree.
Nikita on April 01, 2012:
Hi Arshad its "food ink" a documentry film based on USA cattle farm... basically food industry. Thanks.
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on March 29, 2012:
Nikita; thank you very much for reading my article and sorry for a late reply, as I was very busy lately with my work.
Anyhow; regarding your view of using agricultural produce for human consumption instead of feeding the cattle, all I can say is that corn today is so expensive that I cannot imagine that corn that is fit for human consumption will be fed to cattle. Animal farms are commercial concerns and cost reduction is the key to profit.
I live in Pakistan where almost all the cattle come from greener areas where grass and other non human consumable plants and trees are the main source of food for the cattle.
I am not an economist but I am sure if you ask an economist, he can explain you better on this. But I appreciate your appetite for knowledge and an open mind to discuss and share views on diversified topics. I will try to watch that video called "food link".
nikita on March 16, 2012:
Hi, very intresting arcicle... I always assumed that halal meat would be more painfull i learn from a muslim friend that it has more health benefits than non halal meat. Thanks for sharing.
Yes what you said is right, I am hindu, I have never tasted meat in my life and would never like to until life and death situation.... not that i don't consume meat because of my religious belief many hindus do comsume meat.... in my case it is something i don't prefer as i have not seen it cooking in my home,infac in India on roads also you wont find non veg dishes sold except very few places like kashmir, hyderabad etc etc... most of the restaurants you do get meat except pure veg ones... vegetarian dishes are tasty no doubt.. what you said is right option is getting less n if either of veg or meat alone diet followed can be a problem to the growing world population... but i was just wondering that most of the meat is from the farms and animals are fed grains n grass or mostly corn.. if these lands are used in cultivation other grains and lentils n if that is consumed only for veg consumption thn possibly there will be excess veg food.. I am not sure just a doubt.... well if you would be interested check out the documentry film "food ink" very intersting. you wld be wondering if i dnt eat meat how am i reading these article just i can say i love studying, gaining kowledge so i can give right information if required. Thanks once again for sharing this article.
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on December 24, 2011:
d.william-- Thank you very much for reading and appreciating my article. I agree with you that man does not necessarily require meat to survive; or vegetarian food for that matter, as human body is quite adaptable and can survive on either type of food. The Eskimos only eat raw meat and yet stay healthy, same as some Hindus only eat vegetarian and live healthy lives. Meat although is a handy source of protein but no religion promotes meat consumption, but only mentions it as an option.
We must not forget that; to be a vegetarian or not, is not the real issue in our hands today, but it is how to find sustainable means to 'feed the growing world population'. This can only be possible by consuming both kinds of food; vegetarian and meat. Even, in my article, I did not promote meat eating at all but only tried to provide a comparison between meat that is religiously slaughtered and otherwise.
d.william from Somewhere in the south on December 23, 2011:
Interesting and informative article. I have not eaten beef for many years, and only a limited amount of pork and chicken. I am sort of a vegetarian, in that, i mostly eat vegetables, pasta, beans, etc... with only occasional eat fish and poultry, and rarely pork.
Man does not need to eat meat in order to remain healthy, as long as the diet is balance between vegetables, fruits, and those foods that give the protein that meat offers (beans, nuts, lentils, etc.)
After reading your article, i will certainly eat way less meat that before. I never did like the idea of killing defenseless animals for any reason.
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on December 13, 2011:
Diane-- Thanks for your interest in my article-- I am a Muslim by the way.
Diane Dillon from Quatsino BC on December 12, 2011:
What faith do you practice?
ARSHAD MAJID (author) on June 28, 2011:
Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate your comment. Regarding turning vegetarian; its a good idea as long as small fashionable class adopts it. If all the world population becomes vegetarian, we would have a famine in this World-- as the agricultural produce today is not enough, in spite of the genetically modified and pesticide assisted high yielding crops.
Furthermore; I hope that the Australian Govt. takes into consideration the research regarding religious slaughter. Allowing live animal export to Indonesia would benefit both the malnourished people of Indonesia as well as the cattle farmers in Australia.
Thanking you once again for your interest in my blog.
Kingsthorpedavid from Toowoomba Queensland Australia on June 27, 2011:
This Blog is particularly well timed for Australians.
Our Federal Government recently banned exports of live cattle to Indonesia due to shocking treatment of the animals at slaughter.
Unfortunately the Government did not consult the cattle producers first and a huge row has broken out.
I think I am turning vegetarion!
I will refrain from religious comment!
Thanks for this well written Blog.
David, Queensland Australia.