Is the Animal Lawful to Eat If a Slaughtering Knife Wasn’t Sharp Enough?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


My father is new to slaughtering animals. He’s tried only chickens so far. He sharpened the knife, said he didn’t know how to get it sharper, and slaughtered a chicken, but he had to slice at the throat multiple times, and it wasn’t one clear cut. Is the chicken still halal?

He has slaughtered subsequent chickens, and the same problem has occurred. He is unsure what he is doing incorrectly because he assumes that doing it correctly would not require multiple swiping of the throat.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

As long as the required pipes (windpipe and gullet) were severed before the animal died, consuming is permissible, and Allah knows best.

Cutting-Utensil Requirements for Animal Sacrifice and Slaughter

It is permissible to slaughter a suitable animal with any utensil with a cutting edge, but not a tooth, bone, or claw, whether human or otherwise, and whether or not it is attached to the body. [Nawawi, al-Majmu‘]

Mercy towards the Creation of Allah

The Sunna teaches us to be merciful to animals and to sharpen the blade. Shaddad Ibn ‘Aws (Allah be pleased with him) said:

Two are the things which I remember Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) having said: Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way, and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So you should sharpen his knife and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably. [Muslim]

Conditions for a Valid Slaughtering Procedure

The necessary condition for slaughtering any animal within one’s capacity to slaughter (domesticated or wild) is to cut both the windpipe and the gullet (windpipe meaning the channel of breath, and gullet meaning the channel of food and drink which lies beneath the windpipe… [Nawawi, al-Majmu‘]

It is not necessary for the validity of slaughtering to cut the carotid arteries, which are two blood vessels on the sides of the neck encompassing the windpipe. [Ibid.]

Suppose the slaughterer neglects to cut any part of the windpipe or gullet, and the animal dies. In that case, it is considered an unslaughtered dead animal and, therefore, unlawful to consume. In other words, if it is an animal with nothing but purely reflexive movement left when one finishes cutting a part of the windpipe or gullet previously missed. [Ibid.]

If the slaughterer cuts from the back of the neck until he severs the windpipe and gullet, it is a sin because of the excess pain caused  (though it is valid as slaughtering. Chopping off heads of chickens with a hatchet is offensive, though the meat is lawful). [Ibid.]

The slaughterer should cut swiftly and not take his time such that he must cut twice or more times. If he does, and there is no life remaining in the animal on the second swipe, then the animal (has died unslaughtered and) is impermissible to eat. The determining factor is whether life remains in the animal when the knife is applied at the beginning of the last stroke (the one which successfully severs both the windpipe and gullet), no matter whether this is the second or third). And Allah knows best. [Ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.