Halaal is an Islamic term used to indicate things that are lawful, permitted, allowed and are legal. In the general sense it means anything that is permissible according to Islamic law. This includes human behaviour, speech, clothing, conduct, manners and dietary laws. When the term is used to categorise lawful food, it specifically refers to what food and drink is lawful as against what is prohibited (Haraam).
When the term Halaal is used to specify the types of meat permissible for Muslims to eat, it implies what is in accordance with the Qur'anic injunction. Allah says:
(O you who believe)! Eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good. (5:88)
For a food (meat) to be considered lawful and good it must be:
Not from the categories of those prohibited in the Qur'an
The animal must be slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law, i.e. a person has to slaughter it. In this connection Allah says: Do not eat of (meats) on which Allah's name was not mentioned; that would be impiety. (6:121)
The name of Allah must be mentioned at the time of slaughtering.
The instrument (knife) used for slaughtering must be sharp.
The blood must flow out; the best way to do so is to cut the jugular veins, the food tract and windpipe.
The alimentary cord must not be damaged and the neck must not be severed.
About proper slaughtering of animals, Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:
Verily, Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you slaughter, slaughter well and if you kill, kill well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade, and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters. (Muslim).
Use whatever causes blood to flow, and eat the animal if the name of Allah has been mentioned on slaughtering them. (Bukhari)
Slaughtering of animals for commercial purposes is now engaging the attention of researchers as well as theologians. This is due to the fact that many animals are slaughtered at a time; some may be dangerous, powerful or may cause loss to the producer due to damage caused at the time of slaughtering. In order to minimise loss or to be able to control the animal a process called stunning has been developed. The scholars are concerned as to whether the process conforms to Islamic requirements or not.
Stunning is the process of rendering the animal immobile or unconscious prior to it being slaughtered for food. It should not be killed before it is slaughtered as Islam prohibits eating the flesh of animals that were not slaughtered in accordance with Shariah (Islamic law). Stunning ensures a humane end with no pain. It also results in decreased stress of the animal and superior meat quality. In poultry the birds are calmed and do not flap their wings, as these can get broken at the time of slaughtering if the bird is not quiet.
Before modern methods of calming the animal were introduced pigs, sheep, cattle and other animals were simply struck while fully conscious; some with knives or pistols at the back of the head and others on their heads. This process was painful and was considered to be a cruel way of handling the animal. In order to avoid causing pain and to satisfy some governmental requirements modern methods of stunning was developed. These include:
In the case of electrical stunning the power supply must remain constant, the current must not fluctuate but should increase or decrease, depending on the size of the animal (in poultry, on the size of the bird) and it must be able to stun the animal (bird) without causing pain.
Stunning is a controversial issue due to the fact that some of the animals can die from the shock they may get from the stunner. However, in the case of poultry, if the chicken should die before being slaughtered, the blood will not flow out and the bird will retain a red colour in the meat. Such a bird cannot be sold as it will not be wholesome.
In the past a lot of chicken used to die from stunning, due to the fact that the equipment used was not properly developed. According to the HMA (Halaal Monitoring Authority) of CCMT (Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians), "a research done by FWAC in Britain showed that more than 33% of chickens die prior to slaughter due to stunning". (jucanada.org/hma/Industury/Issue_of_stunning.htm)
This problem has been greatly reduced, by modern stunners adjusting the current automatically to suit the size of the bird. This has reduced the considerable loss experienced by producers of poultry for food. This is one reason why some Muslim Organisations approved the use of some types of stunners in the process of slaughtering chickens for food.
The joint Muslim World League/World Health Organisation in a meeting held in Jeddah during Rabia al Awwal 1406 A.H. (December 1985) agreed that "if it could be shown that stunning with electric shock enabled the animal to die peacefully, then it would be Islamically lawful.
In a document prepared by the Department of Standards Malaysia, entitled "Malaysian Standard" the following requirements were allowed for stunning of chickens.
A1.2. The animal shall be alive or deemed to be alive at the time of slaughter.
A1.4. The stunning shall not kill or cause permanent physical injury to the
A2.3. Electrical stunning of poultry is allowed using water-bath stunners only.
Those scholars who are against stunning uphold that:
Stunning causes pain to the animal that is to be slaughtered.
The instrument may cause paralysis to the animal, and this is not proper.
Stunning may affect the flow of blood from the body; in that case it is not permitted.
Those that adopt the method of stunning might consider it to be more preferred than what is prescribed by Shariah (i.e. the animal is not made unconscious)
(Fatwa regarding stunning by Mufti Shabir Ahmad, Darul Uloom Bury. Fatwa Number 145, dated 6-2-84)
Are the chickens processed by Nutrina Farms Halaal?
In February 2007, a delegation from ASJA, including Maulana Zaid Allaham and Imam Rasheed Karim visited the Nutrimix Processing Plant at Harmony Hall, and made the following observations:
Birds are placed in "holding" bay before they are placed on the conveyor line.
Cold water is sprayed on the birds to reduce stress level. When placed on the conveyor, they are washed clean with cold water.
The stunning trough is kept at a constant temperature and current. The systems monitoring these are fully automated.
The reason for stunning is that research done by his (Chairman) company has proven that stunning helps to get most of the blood out.
If a bird "dies" during the stunning process and is slaughtered, this bird will not bleed and so those personnel working on the processing line, and who are hired for inspection of the birds just as they leave the scalding and "plucking" areas will identify such birds since they will have a reddish colour.
Birds that have not bled enough are immediately removed from the conveyor and placed in the discarded bin to be "rendered". This is to ensure that they do not contaminate healthy birds.
The Findings of the ASJA delegation were as follows:
The slaughterers, who were on the slaughtering line, were Muslims.
The birds were alive before "dipping" in the stunning bath.
All the birds showed signs of struggle after being stunned.
Sanitation at the plant was higher than some of our expectations.
At the Nutrina processing plant the current remains constant, as the machine used for stunning uses "a high frequency current to render the chicken unconscious without damaging effects or severe muscular contraction and low frequency current to give an irreversible stun. " (Simmons SF-7001, Step-up Stunner for Chickens).
With this stunner "a saline solution is used to wet feathers and skin and thereby aid in conductivity"
Birds electrocuted by stunning and those that are not properly slaughtered are not processed for marketing. In March 2008, a total of 245 birds i.e. .04% of those processed were removed from the processing line and were sent to the rendering plant.
I visit the Processing Plant to ensure that the Islamic requirements are maintained at all times by the Company in order that the chickens processed are certified Halaal.
After reviewing all the facts required for determining whether a chicken is Halaal or not, one can safely conclude that the chickens processed at the Nutrimix Processing Plant are Halaal.
Allah knows best.