Qurbani Recommendations: Humane Treatment of Animals
– Based on the the article published by Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, Council of Muslim Theologians, (http://www.jmtsa.co.za/online-newsletter-vol-09-no-38/)
“There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its two wings but forms parts of communities like yourselves.” (Quraan, 6:38)
The animal world constitutes ‘a distinct community’ created for the benefit of man. Animals, like humans are one of the creations of Allah. Man as the viceregent of Allah on earth is obliged to discharge the rights of the diverse ‘communities’ placed under his care. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)
has said: “Fear Allah with regards to animals that cannot speak. If you ride them, treat them appropriately and if you [plan to] eat them, treat them fittingly.” (Abu Dawood). The inhumane treatment of animals is tantamount to flouting rights accorded to them by Allah. We should be particularly conscious of how we treat animals meant for the sacred act of Qurbani.
1) Confinement and transportation
- Species are often mixed during transportation and in holding areas. Irritable animals must be separated from the rest. Animals must be kept in suitable pens that are well maintained and free of debris and potentially harmful objects. The confinement space must big enough to allow for adequate movement, shelter and ventilation.
- Water must be provided at all times and animals kept longer than 24 hours must be fed timeously.
- Larger pens must have multiple watering and feeding points to allow for ease of access.
- Several smaller pens are preferable to one large pen as this minimizes stress associated with chasing animals.
- Poking, prodding, chasing animals, dragging them by the legs, horns or by a rope is totally unacceptable. Neither should the animal be picked up by the fleece/wool.
- Proper restraint facilities should be provided so that the animals can be roped in the pre-stun box, restrained, cast and cut – without any chasing or dragging.
- Restraining an animal properly allows for the swift slaughter and reduces suffering.
- Animals should be laid on their sides and not on their backs to avoid discomfort and distress.
- The animal should not be made to kneel or stand during slaughter. It is improper to twist the tail or drag an animal.
- Animals should only be restrained prior to slaughter and should not be kept in that position for longer than necessary.
- Over-crowding the slaughter areas (with people and other animals) increases the stress levels of livestock. A stressed animal can become dangerous to handle!
- The knife used to slaughter must be extremely sharp to make the slaughtering as humane as possible.
- Slaughterers must at all times ensure that the knife is sharpened after every slaughter.
- Knives must also be of adequate length i.e.: for cattle it must be a minimum 250mm long and for a goat or sheep it must be 180mm long. (Slaughtering a camel is very different to slaughtering cattle, goats and sheep. It requires expertise. Please do not attempt slaughtering a camel without having someone who is experienced in slaughtering a camel).
- The knife used for slaughtering should not be the same knife used for dressing the animal.
- Animals should not be made to see the knife.
- Slaughter should be done out of the view of other animals.
- Slaughter should be done by a maximum of three swift cuts of the major blood vessels of the neck.
- All blood must be washed away and carcasses must be removed before the next animal is brought to be slaughtered.
- Blood must be washed away or covered with soil after each animal is slaughtered.
- People slaughtering must be competent and confident enough to slaughter. A scared or uncertain slaughterer may increase the pain of the animal or may even leave the animal half slaughtered which can be extremely dangerous.
4) Bleed-out Times
- The animal should be allowed to bleed out allowing the legs and body to kick and move so as to allow the blood to drain.
- The animal should only be removed for dressing (skinning and cleaning) once it is completely dead. The meat Safety Animals Act stipulates 8 minutes for cattle and 6 minutes for smaller livestock.
5) Meat Hygiene
- The process of slaughtering and dressing should be as clean as possible.
Knives should be washed with hot water.
- Animals should be completely dead before skinning commences.
- Areas for slaughtering and dressing should be washed throughout the process.
- Carcasses must be washed with a high-pressure hose or hose pipes to remove contamination and then should be chilled as soon as possible.
- If no chilling facility is available, arrange to take the meat to a butcher or cold storage facility.
- Failure to adhere to these basic hygiene guidelines can result in meat spoilage and can cause food poisoning.
- Offal and hides can be donated to the poor and needy and should not be buried.
We trust you will endeavour to treat animals meant for Qurbani as humanely as possible. Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘alayi wasallam was not only sent as a mercy to Mankind but as a blessing to all creatures. His advice regarding the treatment of animals must serve as our guidance. He said: “Allah has ordained kindness (and excellence) in everything. If the killing (of animals) is to be done, do it in the best manner, and when you slaughter, do it in the best manner by first sharpening the knife, and putting the animal at ease.” (Muslim)
- The Qurbani Connection (main article)
- Qurbani Recommendations: Humane Treatment of Animals (this article)
- The Terminology and History of the Sacrifice
- The Qurbani Connection toolbox for teachers, parents, students and dynamic individuals
- The Qurbani Connection Anecdotes
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