Zabihah (Ritual Slaughter)
Zabihah is the method of ritual slaughter of all animals excluding fish and most sea-life per Islamic law. This method of slaughtering animals consists of a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact. The objective of this technique is to minimize the pain and agony for
the animal, more effectively drain the animal's blood, resulting in a more hygienic meat.
The precise details of the slaughtering method arise largely from Islamic tradition, rather than direct Quranic mandate. It is used to comply with the conditions stated in the Qur'an:
"Forbidden to you are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it; that which is sacrificed on stone; [forbidden] also is the division by raffling with arrows: that is impiety..." – Al-Maidah 5:3
Prerequisites to Slaughter
The slaughtering process referred to as Zabihah, is regulated by a set rules that assure health of the animal to be slaughtered and conformance to Islamic religious law, which is derived from the Qur'an and Hadith.
According to the laws of Zabihah halal, certain prerequisites must be met before an animal is slaughtered:
The act of slaughtering itself is preceded by mentioning the name of God. Invoking the name of God at the moment of slaughtering is sometimes interpreted as acknowledgment of God's right over all things. Furthermore, it is an asking of permission to take the life of the animal to be slaughtered, and endows the slaughterer with a sense of gratitude for God's creation, even prior to partaking in the meat of the animal.
Thus, the slaughter itself is preceded by the words "In the name of God, God is the Greatest (Bismillah, Allahu Akbar). It is not regarded appropriate to use the phrase "Bismillah al Rahman Al Rahim" (In the name of God the Beneficent the Merciful) in this situation, because slaughtering is an act of subduement rather than mercy.
According to Islamic tradition, the conventional method used to slaughter the animal involves cutting the large arteries in the neck along with the esophagus and trachea with one swipe of an unserrated blade. Muslims argue it provides a relatively painless death, but some veterinary and animal rights groups dispute this claim. It also helps to effectively drain blood from the animal. This is important because the consumption of blood itself is forbidden in Islam. Muslims consider this method of killing the animal to be cleaner and more merciful to the animal.
While the blood is draining, the animal is not handled until it has died.