Why killing the animals by stunning is inhuman and not Halal?

Yetim H., Ahhmed A.

the 5th World Halal Summit 2019, İstanbul, Turkey, 28 November - 01 December 2019, vol.5, no.5, pp.1-3

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 5
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-3
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The question of killing meat animals for food has been unresolved matter of discussion for more than a century in some societies. In Islamic belief, to make Dhabiḥa permissible (ritual slaughter of animals) the animal is required to humane handling and blessed with the name of Allah (Tasmiya) during the slaughtering for food. Most countries have legislation requiring that animals are rendered unconscious (stunned) by a humane method prior to bleeding. Exceptions are made for religions that require that ritual slaughter without prior stunning is practiced provided that the slaughter method is humane. Many Islamic councils and boards have issued fatwas (legal/religious opinion or decree) regarding the matter of stunning just before to slaughter animals any means leading to death is not Islamic. Almost all fatwas indicate that the meat sourced from stunned animals is doubtful or forbidden to eat. Frequently approved that stunning an animal before slaughtering may lead to direct death of the animal if the stun is quite high or hard, but largely cause loss of consciousness without killing if it is mildly or moderately applied.

It has been speculated that stunning causes injury to medulla oblongata in the brain and controls blood circulation and respiration, which results in less bleeding in normal conditions. Constriction of the vascular system in muscles and clots of blood is one of the major disadvantages of the stunning. In some cases, severity of brain damage leads to cut off the communication between heart and brain and as a matter, the bleeding process will terminate. Stunning is also painful to animals which much more stressful than ritual slaughter because the animals get harm twice; stunning and exsanguination. Some scientists claim that captive bolt, axe, hummer and high current methods are cruel methods and have no place in animal welfare. Also, sometimes mis-stun and/or ineffective stun requires having done it again so the repeated stun may cause additional suffering to pain, according to the statistics of some surveys (1990s) as much as 0.2% animals even require third stun. Approximately, 36% of the animals stunned in the wrong position and 26% of them exhibit rhythmic breathing, which mainly leads to a delay in bleeding and risk of animal regaining consciousness and becomes very aggressive. Almost always about 5 % of electrically stunned animals have heart failure, in which technically animal is dead just before the incision was made. It should be noted that the unconsciousness that animal experiences and seen in abattoirs shortly after the stunning is not a real insensibility of the animal, presumably, it refers to brain disability caused by brain death, damaged cerebellum, closed head injury, coma, concussion and locked-in syndrome as a result of stunning.

So, is that not enough proof to make an argument and object the inhuman or non-halal way of killing the animals for foods? Certainly, the cruelty of stunning is indisputably inhuman and has to be re-evaluated by the responsible authorities, even by the animal welfare advocates. Animal welfare or less cruel methods regarding to the conversion of animals into food could be adapted by the Sharia law of Islam and Judaism, and we have to confess that stunning is crueller, more stressful, painful and inhume for the animals, for that reason the stunning method has to be re-evaluated in favour of pain reduction on animals during the slaughter process. This article does not offend those societies who are still implementing stunning methods but it is rather arguing about the methods impact that cause emotional, physical and quality damages on animals and the converted meat products. Therefore, stunning must not be considered as humane and/or Halal method of slaughtering, and as a matter of fact that, its validation should be justified. So, the aim of this study is to clarify the subject in terms of the cruelty of stunning techniques and the debate on ritual slaughter methods in scientific and religious perspectives.