Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
A halal certifying authority say they stun their chicken using Water-bath Stun – for Poultry and Electric-Tong Stun – for Ovine meat before slaughtering.
They say that the animal is alive at the time of slaughtering, and slaughtering is carried out by a Muslim whilst reciting Bismillahi-Allahu Akbar.
Would this chicken be permissible to consume?
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam,
This is an important issue which has been much discussed due to the widespread use and in many cases, legal enforcement, of stunning animals before slaughter. Stunning itself takes on various forms.
The summary of the rulings pertaining to stunning is as follows:
1. The act of stunning itself is impermissible as it causes pain and suffering to the animal, which is unlawful without need.
2. If the animal dies from the stunning, it is impermissible to eat it, even if the ritual acts of slaughtering are performed afterwards.
3. Although the stunning is impermissible, if it is established that the animal is still alive after stunning, even if not fully conscious, then if it is in this state, it would be legally lawful to consume.
4. If one is unsure whether the animal is alive or not at the time of slaughter, the meat is unlawful.
If there are other options available, I would suggest avoiding eating animals which have been stunned, especially smaller animals such as chickens. However, if it is stated that each animal is checked and confirmed to be alive at the moment of slaughter by a reliable and upright Muslim or a shariah compliant halal governing body approved by qualified God-fearing scholars, then the meat from the stunned animal will be permissible to buy and consume. And Allah knows best.
This is an area in which Muslim businesses, scholars, and communities need to be creative and have initiative, working together to come up with solutions with God-fearingness and the intention of fulfilling a communal need. We also need to reassess, as individuals and communities, our level of demand for meat and whether this exasperates the issue or not. If stunning is a legal requirement in the countries we live in, we need to ensure that it is vigorously monitored and delivered according to the quality and purity our religion demands. Lawfulness and acceptance from God should always come before profits and satiety.
Zaid bin ‘Amr bin Nufail, a pre-Islamic Monothiest (hanif), refused to eat meat slaughtered in the name of the pagan idols, and would say to the Qur’aysh, ‘Allah created the sheep, and He sent down the rain from the heavens for her, and He caused the pastures to grow for her, then you slaughter her in the name of other than Allah?!’ [Al Sirah al Nabawiyyah]. Whether we slaughter in the name of other than Allah, or by no one, or if we are remiss in our observing the proper legal methods proscribed by Allah in our slaughter of animals, ultimately it is all ingratitude towards God for the bounty we have been given, and disrespect for the sanctity of a living soul.
For further information, including details on the specific forms of stunning, such as the waterbath method, please refer to the following:
Fatwa from Dar al Mustafa, Yemen
All praise is due to Allah
The answer is, and Allah knows best what is correct:
Exposing the animal to an electric shock is unlawful in itself. As for the legality of the meat if the situation is as the questioner described – that the animal recovers and returns to its natural state twenty seconds after having been stunned – then it is lawful (halal) even the animal is in a lifeless state at the time of slaughter (such that it cannot see or hear and is unable to move). This is because the shock in itself is not a cause of the animal’s death.
However, if the animal does not usually return to its natural state after being stunned then the meat is unlawful unless one is reasonably certain that the animal is alive at the time of slaughter, evidence of which would be things such as violent movement, the gushing or spurting of blood or a sound coming from the throat or any other signs. It is not necessary to be absolutely certain that the animal is still alive because what is required by the Sacred Law in this instance is that there be some signs of life in the animal at the time of slaughter. However if one is unsure whether the animal is alive or not at the time of slaughter the meat would then be unlawful.
This is a summary of what the people of knowledge have said on this issue, may Allah have mercy on them, and Allah knows best what is correct.
Issued by the Council for Legal Verdicts at Dar al-Mustafa for Islamic Studies.
11th Dhu’l-Qaida 1427
7th December 2006
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.