Although one of the most joyful amusements that we usually choose, is to grab some chicken and meat from a supermarket or a Halal butcher and go out to the parks for a barbeque day, many of us have never thought about killing an animal and then barbecuing it.
Has it ever happened to you to be stuck in a village and have no access to butchers? Those of us who are more adventurous may have experienced camping in nature or visiting outlying villages. In such situations usually making a fire and roasting chicken or beef gives us the exciting sense of early humans. But who would be the one to kill that chicken, sheep, or cow and make it Islamically lawful (Halal)?
In this short text, I am going to provide you with a guideline of how to slaughter an animal according to Islamic law. But before starting on the Islamic slaughtering guideline, I know that you may have a bad feeling about killing animals, (as if other meats that we buy from butchers or supermarkets have been flourished in jungles beside mushrooms!!).
Or that many animal rights activists may condemn us for the Islamic slaughtering of animals. Therefore I would shortly argue if the Islamic way of slaughtering animals is a humane act or not?
Eating meat has been naturally and instinctively downloaded in human beings! Our body has been created in a way to digest both meat and vegetables. That is why PKU is known as an inborn error of metabolism that causes an amino acid known as phenylalanine to build up in the blood because the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) enzyme is either missing or not working properly . People who suffer from PKU must live vegan as they lack this metabolism system.
God has created us meat-eaters and has permitted us to eat meat (but those that he has named forbidden (Haram)). Therefore having created human beings, the environment, and the animals, God knows best how nature's life-cycle must run.
Animals obey the rules of this cycle instinctively. However, having a quick search in the Quran and study the verses about food and drink, one can realize that opposing to slaughter or avoiding to eat animals is not something new that belongs to this century. “Why should you not eat that over which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, while He has already elaborated for you whatever He has forbidden you, excepting what you may be compelled to [eat in an emergency]? Indeed many mislead [others] by their fancies, without any knowledge. Indeed your Lord knows best the transgressors.” (6:119)
Now imagine we are in a far-away village, gathering with a group of friends. Of course, there are no butchers, nor a supermarket from which we can buy food. But there is a beautiful white lamb grazing in the field. How does it become lawful (Halal) to roast?
First of all, we have to buy it from the owner.
Don’t forget that the animal must be Halal-meated .
It is recommended to water the animal before the slaughter and do the slaughter job in a way that the animal feels the minimum pain and distress. And it is detestable (Makruh) to slaughter the animal in a place where other animals can see. It is also detestable (Makruh) to slaughter that animal that one has brought up and has an emotional connection to it .
Then we have to make sure that we follow the rules as below:
It must be facing the holy Kaaba (Qibla) when slaughtered.
The person performing the slaughter must mention the name of Allah as he slaughters the animal.
The slaughtering must be done with sharp metal so that the animal does not suffer much, and it happens as quickly as possible.
It must be slaughtered with a specific method in which the four main veins (the throat, windpipe, and blood vessels) are cut, without cutting the spinal cord.
The animal must show some sign of movement after being slaughtered, especially if there was some doubt whether the animal was alive before being slaughtered.
There must be a natural emission of blood from the animal after the act of slaughtering[i] .
As Islamic slaughtering is taken from the Quran and Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) conduct, it is known to be the best way of killing an animal in which it feels the least pain. Also, there are many scientific reasons behind this method of slaughter.
For example, the blood being drained entirely before the head is removed causes the emission of most of the blood which would serve as a suitable culture medium for microorganisms. Or for example, it is said in Islamic law that the spinal cord must not be cut, and the scientific reason found for this rule is that the nerve fibers to the heart could be damaged during the process causing cardiac arrest, stagnating the blood in the blood vessels .
There are some scientific explanations found to justify the fact that Islamic slaughtering is the best way of slaughtering. However, there are still many scientific and spiritual reasons that we are yet aware of. It is NOT impossible to find scientific reasons for God’s orders and prohibitions, but it is always easier to trust Him and obey His rulings for a more profitable life.
[i] It is permitted to stun the animal before slaughtering as it causes less pain and distress for it. However, the animal must be alive after stunning .
Undoubtedly, all of us have heard more or less about the word ‘ intention ’. There is a famous English expression which says: “When there is a will, there is a way.” It has a miraculous power hidden beneath, but not if you just look at it and do nothing!
What does it mean, by the way?! Very briefly, it is as stretching or bending the mind towards a goal that makes you go ahead. Intentions occupy a vast and different portion of our everyday life. A very simple example: when a person greets you, tells you a few loving words, his intention will determine the effect of his words. If he loves you, then those words will have a good impact on you, and if not, the more he repeats these phrases, the more you get disgusted!
Now let’s start with what God says. According to the Quran: “All His command, when He wills something, is to say to it" Be," and it is” (36:82). In other words, He [God] stands upon the summit of the mountain of intention, and again, the Quran says: “Indeed we belong to Allah” (2:156). So, we can conclude that we have immense power, something similar to God. But the point is that every person can use this magic tool based on his inner self.
Imam Ali (AS) says: “having good intention arises from the pure inner self,” so when you could capture a pure soul, it brings about a healthy body for you.
When we have a great God, why don’t we set our aspirations to him? The Holy Quran says: “O Prophet! Urge on the faithful to fight: If there be twenty patient men among you, they shall overcome two hundred; and if there be a hundred of you, they shall overcome a thousand of the faithless, for they are a lot who do not understand” (8:65).
Another example: “As Saul set out with the troops, he said: ‘We have no strength today against Goliath and his troops.’ Those who were certain they would encounter Allah said, ‘How many a small party has overcome a larger party by Allah's will’ (2:249). Yes, as you noticed they believed in Allah, and they won.
So, whatever your goals are, try to adapt them to God's will; this way you will make them come true. Abraham (AS) is one of the prophets who is also called the friend of God. But why?! It is a long story, in Quran Allah himself says: “Indeed I have turned my face toward Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, as a hanif, and I am not one of the polytheists” (6:79). He believed that everything in his life belonged to God, that’s why God chose him as a real friend.
Do not forget this golden rule which says: Do everything for God; then, he opens the way for you.
The mere good intention of a person even without acting upon it is praiseworthy since it will lead to getting close to God.
Imagine one of your ordinary days in which you go out in the morning to go to work or the university or anywhere else. You attend some gatherings. You see men and women around you interacting and greeting on different occasions and in various manners, more frequently shaking hands.
You are a member of this community too, and you also used to greet different people with whom you had interactions every day and perhaps it was not important for you if the person you shake hands with is a man or a woman. But now, as a Muslim, you must know that shaking hands in Islam with the opposite gender is forbidden. If this has raised a question in your mind, we will be discussing the issue here.
As a scientific fact, everything we do, or we say, or any other kind of action we perform via every part of our body from legs up to the eyes, or even any thought passing into our minds has energy in itself. Once we bring something into existence, such as an utterance or an action, hence its specific kind of energy, it will never go to an end; but it is transformed and transferred to different targets, leaving its influence on them and first on ourselves.
Thus in our interactions, we are producing some kind of energy. So when people from the opposite genders confront each other and shake hands or kiss or hug each other, as a kind of greeting, what kind of energy is being interchanged between them?
God has put some kind of desire in human’s nature by which the opposite sexes are attracted to each other. When women and men who are non-Mahrams, greet each other in any way involving touching their bodies or looking at one another in such a way that arises this desire, they will be leaving a negative effect on each other; although it may feel pleasant.
Once this instinct is provoked, to satisfy their sensual needs, people may go further in their relationships and may be driven into immoral and sinful acts. The final result would be regret, distrust among people and broken families and other mental and physical consequences. Because in Islam’s viewpoint, sensual desires must only be satisfied among spouses. Due to this and some other reasons we might not know, God has set some rules regarding the quality of relationships between women and men. Following these rules will make concepts like marriage and family meaningful.
One might say that we do not have any bad intentions in our relationships with those who are considered non-Mahram for us. We can control our desires when confronting them and nothing sinful happens. But the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his family who were the purest ones of all time obeyed these rules too.
They avoided any kind of interaction with non-Mahrams that are considered to be Haram.
When people came to the prophet for Bay’ah (to swear allegiance), he shook hands with men, and for women, a container of water was brought in which the prophet put his hand and took his hand out and then women put their hands in the water to make their pledge .
A Muslim is only allowed to touch the body of those of the same gender and those of the opposite gender who are Mahram for him/her.
A man can only look at the face and hands of a non-mahram woman if they do not have decorations and on the condition that it is not for pleasure [i].
In the Quran, we read: “Say to the believers, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts… And say to the believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment, save such as is outward…” (24:30-31). Non-Mahrams must be careful with their speaking, too. In another part of Quran, we read: “…be not abject in your speech, so that he in whose heart is sickness may be lustful, but speak honorable words.” (33:32). In these verses of the Holy Quran, the danger of arousing sexual desires through speaking and looking has been warned. However, there are no limits to touching, looking, and talking between spouses.
And some exceptions may occur. For example, if a doctor of the same gender is not available, one can go to a doctor from the opposite gender and touching and looking is permitted in this case. But only in case of necessity and as much as needed.
Most probably it will be hard for you to find an excuse to refuse to shake hands with non-mahrams especially those with whom you had usual interactions before. Because in your society this may result in a misunderstanding about your attitude toward people.
When a non-mahram wants to shake a hand with you, if you politely say that due to religious matters you can't shake hands but you are pleased to meet them, in most cases, they will accept it from you without being offended. This would be better rather than falsely mentioning illness and other things. But if you explained your reason honestly and someone reacted badly, you do not need to bother yourself convincing that person.
To conclude, shaking hands, kissing, hugging, and every other kind of greeting and interaction between non-Mahrams which involves touching and also looking at each other on purpose, and talking with each other in a tempting manner are Haram in Islam.
[i] Refer to the article “The Islamic etiquette of looking” for more information.
- shakin hands in islam
- Mohammad ibn Jarir Tabari, “Tarikh-e Tabari,” vol.3, p.61-62.