The Mass-Production Methods of Chicken Slaughter in America are not Halaal

By M. Jamaal A. Wahid Al-Azhari and Durdana A. Shakir Al-Azharia
Only lawful Zabihah performed according to the dictates of Holy Quran and Sunnah is lawful for Muslims to consume. Is your chicken Zabiha halaal?

Most American Muslims—especially the indigenous Muslims and converts, make an honest effort to practice Al-Islam in letter & spirit— and thus abide by the Islamic dietary laws. The laws have a foundation upon clear, Divine commands in the Holy Qur’an and unambiguous examples of their implementation via the Sunnah (traditions) of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him). Unfortunately, greedy business owners and corporations have waged a full-scale exploitation of the ignorance of the masses, combined with store-bought “scholars” brought in from overseas issuing purchased fatawa (rulings) to justify illegal means of slaughter to achieve higher profit margins. To facilitate the mass consumption of chicken, these scholars, along with companies posing as Halaal meat-producing entities, have fraudulently made “halaal” what is haraam - that is, the machine-slaughter of chicken.

 

Substantial research has been conducted on the wholesale poultry distributors and slaughterhouses that claim they are distributing halaal poultry. Most of the facilities are owned and operated by non-Muslims, polytheists and/or atheists who have contracts or deals with “halaal certification” companies to provide their seal of approval. The major distributors that are owned by Muslims supply smaller markets and restaurants with machine-slaughtered chicken, which is haraam. The methods they employ, in an attempt to quell the concerns of inquiring Muslims who adhere to Islamic dietary laws, range from “blessing” the machine that slaughters the animals, “blessing” the shackles that restrain the birds, playing a cassette recording of the Tasmiya (“Bismillah Allahu Akbar,” meaning “With Allah’s Name, Allah is Greatest”), or (literally) driving around the slaughter facility and “blessing” it in the process. This is not only a mockery and direct insult to common sense and reason, but a blatant disregard for the Qur’anic commands that Allah Ta’ala has given and the perfect practice of the Sunnah—all for the sake of profit margins built upon the intentional corruption of Islamic dietary standards.

 

Allah Ta’ala establishes the dietary standards for mankind, saying: “O mankind! Eat that which is halaal and good from the earth! And do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed he is an open enemy to you!” (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 168) From this Ayat, we know, without a doubt, that all foods consumed by a human being (regardless of religion) must be lawful and there is no ambiguity in this. Allah Ta’ala further clarifies the meaning of halaal food, when He says: “They ask you what is halaal (lawful) for them (as food). Say: Halaal to you are (all) things good and pure and what you have taught your trained hunting animals (to catch) in the manner directed to you by Allah. Eat what they catch for you and pronounce the Name of Allah over it.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, Ayah 4)

 

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Allah’s Name being mentioned is mandatory, to such an extent that the disregard for this is a transgression: “Do not eat of [meats] over which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced! For that would be a transgression.” (Surah Al-An’am, Ayah 121) and “And why should you not eat of that upon which the Name of Allah has been mentioned, while He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden you, excepting that to which you are compelled. Indeed do many mislead through their inclinations without knowledge. Indeed your Rabb knows best of the transgressors.” (Surah Al-An’am, Ayah 119)

 

From the Sunnah (traditions) of the Holy Last Messenger (blessings and peace upon him) and the Blessed Companions (May Allah be pleased with them), it is clear that pronunciation of Allah’s Name over the intended animal, in conjunction with the cutting of the jugular vein, establishes the halaal slaughter of an animal. Rafi ibn Khadij (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Sayyiduna Rasulullah (blessings and peace upon him) said: “If the killing tool causes the blood to gush out, and the Name of Allah is pronounced, then eat (of the slaughtered animal).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith 5498) This Hadith Sharif is a clear refutation to those who eat the meat of animals that have been slaughtered by the inhumane ways of mass-production, which include stunning, goring, electrocution, and the use of machines for mass slaughter.

 

Eating halaal is not to be taken lightly, for the prayers of a human, along with the establishment of salaat, depend on the belly being nourished with halaal provisions. Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Holy Last Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace upon him) said: “Surely, Allah Ta’ala is Pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah commanded the believers with what He commanded the Messengers. And the Almighty has said: ‘O Messengers! Eat from the pure things that which we have provided you and perform righteous deeds.’ And Allah Ta’ala has said: ‘O you who believe! Eat of the pure things We have provided you.’” Then he (blessings and peace upon him) mentioned the man who journeyed far, was disheveled and dusty and who stretches out his hands to the sky (saying): “Ya Rabb! Ya Rabb!!” while his food is haraam, his drink haraam, his clothing haraam, and he is nourished with haraam. So how can he be answered! (Sahih Muslim)

The Islamic standard of slaughter has been in existence for more than 1,400 years and has been thoroughly outlined by every school of Islamic jurisprudence for Muslims who have lived in Islamic and non-Islamic environments—such as North America. Thus, we refer to the righteous scholars of Al-Islam, not paid-off clerics, to validate the proper position.

From the school of Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah An-Nu’man (May Allah be pleased with him), Imam al-Haskafi (Allah’s Mercy upon him) has written: “An animal slaughtered by someone other than Ahl al-Kitab, such as a fire-worshipper, idol-worshipper, etc. will not be halaal. Likewise, the animal on which the Name of Allah was intentionally not pronounced (will be haram); however, if it was omitted due to forgetfulness, it would be halaal.”

 

From the school of Al-Imam Malik ibn Anas (May Allah be pleased with him), Shaykh-ul-Islam Al-Imam Ahmed Ad-Dardir Al-Azhari (May Allah bless him) has written in his Al-Sharh al-Kabir: “Tasmiya (the pronunciation of the Name of Allah Ta’ala) is necessary at the time of slaughtering the animal or sending for hunting if one remembers and is capable of doing so. Thus, it is not necessary for a person who forgets, neither on a person who is incapable and neither on the one who is forced not pronounce it.”

 

The statement of Shaykh-ul-Islam has been elaborated by Imam Muhammad ibn Yousuf Ad-Dassouqi Al-Maliki (Allah's Mercy upon him), with the assertion: “The meaning of the Ayah: ‘Do not eat of [meats] over which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced! For that would be a transgression,’ [Surah Al-An’am, 121] is that on which the Name of Allah was intentionally not pronounced with having capability of doing so. However, if the Name of Allah was not pronounced due to forgetfulness or incapability, then the animal would be halaal. An individual ignorant of the ruling will be treated in the same manner as the one who deliberately and intentionally omits the Tasmiya.” (Hashiyat ad-Dasuqi Alaa Ash-Sharh Al-Kabir, Volume 2, pages 167-168)

 

It is clear that the standard and accepted sources of Islamic jurisprudence substantiate that every single (non-fish) animal for consumption must absolutely be slaughtered individually with the pronunciation of Tasmiya and neglect of this process is unacceptable. What has been discovered, upon researching these so-called “halaal” distributors and slaughterhouses, is practices contrary to all of the above-mentioned prerequisites for Islamic slaughter. Depending on the size, these facilities reportedly slaughter as many as 100-140 birds a minute using machines. How can they guarantee that the recitation of the Tasmiya has been said for every bird that has been slaughtered?

In speed and precision experiments performed by simply holding a string of beads, the average number of times the Tasmiya was correctly recited was 63 recitations per minute. This was not done with a sharp knife in the hand in front of a moving, live bird about to be slaughtered. So, how can a company claim that the proper slaughter of a chicken—with the recitation of the Tasmiya done by the slaughterer every time a laceration is to be made—can be performed 100-140 times in a minute?! Or (hypothetically), if a machine is improperly used to perform the slaughter, how can a human tongue keep up with that many birds per minute? For the aforementioned number of birds per minute, the slaughterer would literally have to recite the Tasmiya approximately two times a second. Compound that with a standard 8-hour workday, and you see a literally impossible scenario, even if the company was playing a cassette. Nevertheless, a machine cannot replace the mandated hand-slaughter of chicken. This is haraam, according to Holy Qur’an, Sunnah of the Holy Last Messenger (Allah’s blessings and peace upon him and his family) and the Ijma’ of the Ulama of Haqq (May Allah bless them all). If one wishes to achieve the mass-slaughter of chickens, then he or she can simply employ the necessary staff to perform the job properly, thereby saving themselves in the Akhirah and guarding the rights of their fellow Muslims as well, by doing that which is halaal and shunning that which is clearly haraam and blameworthy.

 

The person slaughtering and the method of slaughter present two facets of halaal, but another is the condition of the animal being slaughtered.  Sayyiduna Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (ra) said: “If you were to pour alcohol down a well, and the fill the well up with dirt and grass grew from that well. If a sheep were to eat the grass from there, I wouldn't eat the meat of that sheep." Chickens raised for halaal slaughter have very few feed regulations, which means they are fed items containing haraam meat, blood and toxic chemicals. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) admitted last August that a feed product known as Roxarsone, manufactured by Pfizer, is routinely fed to chickens and contains arsenic, a known human carcinogen. It is obvious as shown in the lack of concern for any of the requirements of zabiha that these companies care nothing about providing halaal chicken. Rather, their prime concern is financial and  therefore they have compromised the Islamic ways of slaughter for the sake of better profit margins.

These facts lead to one conclusion - Muslims in North America be warned: companies who claim to sell halaal chicken, but in actuality sell haraam are exploiting you. It is insufficient to sit back and say “so-and-so said it is halaal, so the sin is on him, not on me.” Woe unto those who follow that thinking, because you have doomed your own selves with the statement alone. Shaitan (we seek refuge from him) is an open enemy and his attacks can come in many forms. The disestablishment of Salaat is one of the tools he uses, because Salaat cannot be established with a belly full of haraam provisions, therefore it is imperative to take a keen interest in the origin and slaughter methods of animals identified as halaal. Jabir al-Ansari (May Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Holy Last Messenger (blessings and peace upon him) said: “Every person nourished with haraam is deserving of the Nar (Hell-Fire).” (Related by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal)