Sometimes, Muslims living in non-Muslim majority countries are ambivalent about consistently choosing Dhabiha when they buy meat. These mixed feelings may come from the cost of the meat, the cleanliness of the store selling the meat ,or even a lack of knowledge of the Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) regarding meat.
In Islamic law, the word “Dhabiha” (ذبيحة), literally means ‘slaughter’. Dhabiha meat is therefore meat that has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic rules. These rules regulate the requirements and behavior to ensure that animals are slaughtered in a humane manner that places animal welfare and purification in high regard.
Some opponents to the practice of Dhabiha in parts of Europe and North America claim that the method is cruel. However, there is nothing further from the truth. In fact, there are many reasons why making a conscious choice to buy and consume Dhabiha is the preferred route.
1. Obedience: Scholars in Islam universally agree that Dhabiha is preferred. The believers look to the Holy Quran as a Guide. In the Holy Quran, Allah, The Most High, instructs the believers to eat meat that has the name of Allah pronounced over it.
“So eat of (meats) on which Allah’s name hath been pronounced, if ye have faith in His signs.”
Surah Al An'am, The Cattle (6:118)
There is absolutely no way to ensure that meat purchased from a regular grocery store has met this requirement. Therefore, the believer wants to please Allah and obey what He orders us to do.
2. Cleanliness: Cleanliness is important in Islam. This goes beyond just the spiritual cleansing of our mind and making sure we are in a state of ritual cleanliness for prayer. The foods that we eat are to be clean as well. Halal farmers who raise animals place great emphasis on safety and hygiene, reducing the incidence of food contamination. In Halal food, great emphasis is placed on food safety and hygiene. These farmers will adhere to Islamic rules and regulations on the proper care of the animals. The animals will be well treated, fed with healthy grains, and the farmers will typically avoid using antibiotics and chemicals that can be transferred to the consumer of the meat.
3. Mercy and animal welfare: The concern that Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, had for the ethical and merciful treatment of animals is found throughout the Hadiths and his Sunnah.
A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.”
(Mishkat al-Masabih; Book 6; Chapter 7, 8:178.)
In many commercial and industrial slaughter houses around the world that do not adhere to Dhabiha procedures, the method of death for the animals can be quite cruel. There have been reports in the news that expose conditions of overcrowding, lack of sleep, exhaustion, cries of pain, and the like.
The method adhered to by butchers who will make the meat Dhabiha is much different. Islam dictates that all the animals are to be respected and treated well before being consumed. Even while they are being reared, animals raised for this type of slaughter will live a healthy life. As they approach slaughter, no animal is killed in the sight of other live animals, so as to not cause stress. The slaughtering process itself is humane. The butcher will not sharpen the blade within sight of the animals. Then the butcher will slash the throat (wind, food, and water pipes) in one fast back and forth motion applying pressure to instantly kill the animal and pronounce “Bismillah” as he does so.
4. Ethical: The guidance to adhere to strict Dhabiha measures requires that any animal that is slaughtered is not sick. The animals are kept in natural and clean conditions to support disease-free growth. These types of safeguards reduce the transfer of disease-carrying meat to the consuming public.
5. Healthy: The humane manner in which animals are slaughtered in Islam reduces the release of fear toxins into the blood stream of the animals and thus to the consumer. Islamic slaughter demands that the blood is fully drained from the corpse. Blood retention in animals increases the risk of bacterial contamination that produces an unpleasant taste and texture in the meat. For example, when the blood is drained, uric acid, which can impact the kidneys, skin, and blood in humans, is completely drained away, reducing its transference to humans. The reduction of blood in the meat allows it to stay fresh longer with less bacterial accumulation.
6. Pork-Free: In the last few years, revelations of pork being mixed with meat have surfaced. According to the late Dr. Ahmad Sakr, Professor Emeritus of Food Science and author of “A Muslim Guide to Food Ingredients”, a group of prisoners in San Francisco sued the food industry after discovering this happened to the meat they were being served.
This type of incident ensures that NO Muslim can consume such beef or chicken, for example, which has been mixed with pork, as the consumption of pork is Haram (forbidden).
Although in the United States it is illegal to sell “mixed meats” as pure ground beef, the report found it still takes place. This mixing is called adulteration and it is considered a health hazard. Adulteration happens when lamb, poultry, and, of special attention to Muslims, pork, are added to and sold as pure ground beef.
7. Support Muslim Business: Buying Dhabiha meat is an almost sure way to support a Muslim business. This way, you're not only getting your next meal (or meals) by buying straight from a Halal grocery store, but you're also helping another Muslim gain a livelihood. You're giving back to the community more than you could if you bought your meat at the nearest supermarket. Today, there are Halal grocery stores in virtually every major city in North America. Even if the Halal grocery store is not near your home, we should still support them, even if it means driving a little farther out of town, or paying an extra dollar or two for items.
8. Is the meat from the people of the book? In today's farms and slaughterhouses, what guarantee does anyone have that the meat they are eating has been slaughtered by a Jew or a Christian? There is not, to my knowledge, anything in any existing labor code in Canada or the U.S. which allows only Jews and Christians to slaughter meat in “regular” farms and slaughterhouses. That means it could be anyone and not just those of the Abrahamic traditions who have slaughtered the meat. Think about it.