Praise be to Allaah.
Giving the animal an electric shock before slaughtering it
may kill the animal if the voltage is high, or it may cause it to lose
consciousness without killing it, if the voltage is low or moderate.
If it kills it, it is not permissible to eat it because it is
“dead meat” (an animal that was not slaughtered in the proper manner)
according to the consensus of the fuqaha’. If it does not kill it, and it is
slaughtered in the proper shar‘i manner immediately afterwards, then it is
halaal and it is permissible to eat it.
Dr. Muhammad al-Ashqar (may Allah preserve him) said:
If the electric shock was fatal, then the animal is like one
that has been “beaten to death” (and therefore haraam, as mentioned in
al-Maa’idah 5:3). If it caused it to lose consciousness without killing it,
and the animal was slaughtered in the proper shar‘i manner after that, then
it is halaal. If it was not slaughtered properly but it was skinned and cut
up without being slaughtered, then it is not halaal.
End quote from Majallat Majma‘ al-Fiqh al-Islami.
Issue no. 10, vol. 1, p. 339
The Islamic Fiqh Council (Majma‘ al-Fiqh al-Islami) is of the
view that it is not permissible to give chickens electric shocks before
slaughtering them, because experience has proven that this leads to the
death of a considerable number of them.
In a statement of the Islamic Fiqh Council, issued during its
tenth conference in Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the period
23-28 Safar 1418 AH/28 June-3 July 1997 CE, it says the following:
Animals that are slaughtered in the proper shar‘i manner
after stunning are halaal and may be eaten if technical conditions are met
that ascertain that the animal was not dead before it was slaughtered. These
have been defined by experts at the present time as follows:
The electrodes should be placed
on the temples or on the forehead and back of the head
The voltage should be between
100 and 400 volts
The current should be between
.75 and 1 amp for sheep, between 2 and 2.5 amps for cattle.
The electrical current should
be applied for between 3 and 6 seconds.
(c) it is not permissible to stun an animal that is intended
for slaughter by using a captive bolt pistol or bolt gun, or by gassing.
(d) It is not permissible to stun chickens by means of
electric shock, because experience has proven that this leads to the death
of a considerable number of them before slaughter.
(e) It is not haraam to eat animals that were slaughtered
properly after being stunned by using a mixture of carbon dioxide and air or
oxygen, or by using a non-penetrating bolt gun that does not lead to the
death of the animal before it is properly slaughtered. End quote.
Dr. Muhammad al-Hawaari stated that stunning of chickens by
means of electrocution leads to cardiac arrest in 90% of cases and to death
See Majallat Majma‘ al-Fiqh al-Islami, issue no. 10,
vol. 1, p. 411, 583
Based on that, you need to look at the electrocution asked
about. If it will lead, as the Council said, to the death of a considerable
number of the chickens that are not separated from the live chickens, then
it is not permissible to electrocute them. But if the electrocution uses a
low voltage that does not lead to that, then the slaughter is halaal.
Saying “Bismillah” is a condition of slaughter being halaal,
and is not waived in the case of forgetting or ignorance, according to the
more correct scholarly view. See the answer to question no.
The basic principle with regard to saying “Bismillah” is that
it must be done for each individual animal with the intention of
slaughtering it in the proper manner.
But in the case of mechanical devices that slaughter a large
number of chickens within a short time period, the scholars have differed
with regard to the way of saying “Bismillah” that is essential for the
slaughter to be halaal. There are several opinions:
That it is sufficient for
“Bismillah” to be said once by the person operating the machine, if it
slaughters a number of chickens in one continuous time period. This is what
has been stated in fatwas issued by the Standing Committee and in a
statement issued by the Islamic Fiqh Council.
That it is sufficient for
“Bismillah” to be said once by the person operating the machine, on
condition that the specific chickens that he is going to slaughter are in
front of him, such as if they are lined up on the conveyor belt and the
like. This has been stated in fatwas issued by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may
Allah have mercy on him).
That saying “Bismillah” when
using these machines is not possible, therefore it is not permissible to use
these machine for halaal slaughter.
The more correct view is the first one, for the following
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah:
What is the ruling on mechanical slaughter, in which dozens
of chickens are slaughtered by machines at the same time, saying “Bismillah”
only once? If a person is slaughtering a large number of chickens by hand,
is it acceptable for him to say “Bismillah” just once, or does he have to
say it for each one individually?
Firstly: it is permissible to slaughter using modern machines
on condition that (the blades) are sharp and that the oesophagus and
windpipe are cut.
Secondly: if the machine slaughters a number of chickens in
the same continuous length of time, it is acceptable for the person
operating the machine to say “Bismillah” once when he begins to operate it
with the intention of slaughtering, so long as the person operating the
machine is a Muslim or kitaabi (Jewish or Christian).
Thirdly: if the person is slaughtering by hand, he must say
“Bismillah” separately for each chicken he slaughters, because each chicken
is a separate entity.
Fourthly: The slaughter must be done in the slaughterhouse
and the windpipe and two veins, or one of them, must be cut.
Bakr Abu Zayd, Saalih al-Fawzaan, ‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan,
‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdullah Aal ash-Shaykh
End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah, 22/463
It also says (22/462): is it permissible to say “Bismillah”
when operating the machine which does one repeated movement. Please note
that what is meant is saying “Bismillah” only once, when starting the
machine for slaughter.
Answer: it is acceptable for the person who is operating the
machine to say “Bismillah” once when starting it for a number of (chickens)
with the intention of slaughtering them, so long as the one who is operating
it is a Muslim or a Jew or a Christian.
‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan, ‘Abd ar-Razaaq ‘Afeefi, ‘Abd
al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Baaz. End quote.
It says in the statement of the Islamic Fiqh Council quoted
8. The basic principle is that slaughter of poultry and other
animals is to be done by hand, but there is nothing wrong with using
mechanical devices to slaughter poultry so long as the conditions of shar‘i
slaughter mentioned above in paragraph 2 are met. And it is acceptable to
say “Bismillah” once for each batch that is to be slaughtered in a
continuous session, but if there was an interruption then saying “Bismillah”
must be repeated. End quote.
But the statement of the Council did not specify that saying
“Bismillah” must come from the one who is operating the machine.
Dr. Muhammad Sulaymaan al-Ashqar said: Saying “Bismillah” in
the case of a large number, if they are to be slaughtered by hand in the
Islamic manner, may be exhausting for the slaughterman. For example, if a
person has the task of slaughtering 1200 chickens per hour at a rate of one
chicken every three seconds, then he would have to say “Bismillah wa Allahu
akbar” 1200 times in an hour which would be exhausting and very difficult,
and such burdensome difficulty is to be avoided in Islam because Allah, may
He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “and has not laid
upon you in religion any hardship” [al-Hajj 22:78].
Hence the Fatwa Council in Kuwait, of which I was a member at
the time this fatwa was issued, stated that when slaughtering a large number
of poultry it is sufficient to say “Bismillah” over them once, at the
beginning, if the task is to proceed continuously without stopping. If there
is a pause for some reason, then the slaughterman has to say “Bismillah”
again for the remainder.
End quote from Majallat Majma‘ al-Fiqh al-Islami,
issue no. 10, vol. 1, p. 346.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked
the following question:
I went to visit the National Poultry Farms and I saw how they
slaughter the chickens; in the beginning they suspend the chickens so that
they cannot move, then they pass over the slaughterman who slaughters them
without saying “Bismillah”. I asked: Why do you not say “Bismillah”? He
said: Because I say “Bismillah” when I enter and I cannot say it for five
hundred thousand chickens. So when I start I say, “Bismillah, Allahu akbar”,
and that is sufficient. I said, Who did you ask? He said: The scholars gave
me a fatwa to that effect and permitted it.
I do not know, O Shaykh, whether this action is permissible?
He replied: It is essential to say “Bismillah” over something
specific, whether it is one or more. For example, if he lines up a thousand
chickens then when starting the machine he says, “Bismillah”, that is
sufficient. Then if he lines up another thousand chickens, for example, and
starts the machine and the knives start moving, it is sufficient for him to
say, “Bismillah” for this batch. And if another batch is lined up for him,
he should say “Bismillah” for it.
Questioner: He says, “I say ‘Bismillah’ once and that is
Shaykh: Do you mean until the machine stops? No, that is not
permissible, because “Bismillah” must be said over something specific.
Questioner: Another question, O Shaykh. We also went to visit
Astra Farms in Tabook, where they were slaughtering quail. What do they do?
They hang up these birds, then after hanging them up they pass over a
machine that sprays water on the birds and stuns them somewhat, then they
pass over something like a wall on which is written, “Bismillah wa Allahu
akbar”, then they go to a machine that cuts off their heads. The person in
charge said that this is acceptable. Is it acceptable to have the words
“Bismillah wa Allah akbar” written down?
Shaykh: All of that is ignorance and now you, may Allah bless
you, have to report what you and your brothers have seen in a signed
statement and send it to Dar al-Ifta’, and tell them when you saw that,
whether it was this year or a few years ago, so that you may discharge your
duty with regard to this matter.
Questioner: O Shaykh, they say that a group of shaykhs gave
them a fatwa allowing that.
Shaykh: No, some shaykhs issued a fatwa saying something
other than this. Maybe he issued a fatwa saying what I have said, which is
that he may collect a batch and then turn on the machine for this batch,
even if he does not say “Bismillah” for each individual bird. It is similar
to the case where he sees a flock of birds and shoots them and says
“Bismillah”, and twenty birds fall – in that case they are halaal.
Al-Liqa’ al-Maftooh, 35/27
What seems most likely to be the case, and Allah knows best,
is that what the shaykh (may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned about saying
“Bismillah” for each specific batch of birds being slaughtered, is not
essential, because saying “Bismillah” once in this case is analogous to what
is done when hunting. When hunting it is not essential to say “Bismillah”
for each specific target; rather saying “Bismillah” is connected to the
weapon. So if a person said “Bismillah” over his weapon with the intention
of hunting, and he catches something other than what he aimed at, it is
Here we will quote some useful words from Shaykh Muhammad
Taqi al-‘Uthmaani (may Allah preserve him) which confirms what we have said
above about the principle that “Bismillah” should be said over a specific
animal (or batch) and that saying “Bismillah” just once on the part of the
person operating the machine is a kind of concession that differs from the
basic principle, by analogy with what is done when hunting. And he explains
that there is no point in somebody standing next to the machine saying
“Bismillah” when he is not actually operating it.
He said (may Allah have mercy on him):
With regard to the issue of saying “Bismillah”, it is very
difficult when using this method. The first problem is identifying who is
doing the slaughtering, because saying “Bismillah” is obligatory on the
slaughterman to such an extent that if a man says “Bismillah” then another
man does the slaughtering, that is not permissible. So the question is: Who
is the slaughterer in the case of this machine? We could say that the one
who starts the machine the first time is regarded as the slaughterer,
because the function of the machine can only be attributed to the one who
operates it, because machines are not sentient beings to which actions may
be attributed. So the action is to be attributed to the one who uses them,
and he becomes the doer by means of the machine. But the problem here is
that the person who uses the machine at the beginning of the day, for
example, only starts it once, then the machine continues running during work
hours, and sometimes runs for twenty-four hours, cutting the necks of
thousands of chickens. So if the person who turned it on at the beginning of
the day said “Bismillah” only once, is that single utterance of “Bismillah”
sufficient for thousands of chickens that are slaughtered throughout the day
after turning on the machine? The apparent meaning of the Qur’aanic text
(interpretation of the meaning) “Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on
which Allahs Name has not been pronounced” [al-An‘aam 6:121] indicates
that each animal should have the name of Allah pronounced over it separately
and be slaughtered immediately afterwards. From this the fuqaha’ derived
rulings which indicate that the name of Allah should be mentioned over each
animal or for each action.
I mentioned these phrases in my research and I concluded from
them that the majority of imams who stipulate that the name of Allah should
be pronounced at the time of slaughter stipulate that it should be said over
a specific animal, and that it should be at the time of slaughter, and there
should be no significant interval between saying the name of Allah and the
act of slaughter. These conditions are not met in the method described in
the case of machines. If the one who switches it on the first time says
“Bismillah” once, that means that he did not say “Bismillah” over a
particular animal, and between his saying “Bismillah” and his slaughtering
of thousands of chickens there may be a lengthy interval that may last for a
whole day or two days. So it appears to be the case that this single
utterance of “Bismillah” is not sufficient for the slaughter of all these
Then I saw some slaughterhouses in Canada, where they have a
man standing beside the rotating knives, continually saying, “Bismillah
Allahu akbar”. And I thought: with regard to his saying “Bismillah” carrying
any weight in shar‘i terms there are the following problems:
The words “Bismillah” should be
uttered by the slaughterer; this man who is standing beside the rotating
knife has nothing to do with the slaughter process; he is not operating the
machine or turning the knife, and the chickens come nowhere near him. Rather
he is a man who is completely separated from the process of slaughter and
his pronouncement of the name of Allah does not come from the slaughterer.
A number of chickens come to
the rotating knife in a matter of seconds; this man who is standing there
cannot say the name of Allah over each one of these chickens without
This man who is standing is a
human; he is not an automatic machine. So he cannot do any action apart from
saying “Bismillah”. He may need to do things that will distract him from
saying “Bismillah”, and during that dozens of chickens may pass through the
There is another concern to be noted regarding the topic of
saying “Bismillah” over machines, which is drawing an analogy between
turning on the machine and releasing a hunting dog. It is not obligatory to
say “Bismillah” when the prey animal dies; rather it must be said when
releasing the dog, and there may be a lengthy interval between the release
of the dog and the death of the prey, and the hunting dog may kill a number
of animals after being released once. So it seems that saying “Bismillah”
once is sufficient for all of them to be regarded as halaal. Ibn Qudaamah
(may Allah have mercy on him) said: If the hunter says “Bismillah” over one
prey (when releasing his dog) but then he catches another, it is halaal, and
if he says “Bismillah” over one arrow and shoots it, then he takes another
and shoots it (without saying “Bismillah”), what he catches with it (the
second arrow) is not halaal.
What we mentioned above has to do with necessity, and in the
issue under discussion, there is no necessity. However, if we think of the
need to produce a large amount within a short time, which is because of
increased population and the rise in the number of consumers, and the small
number of slaughtermen, and the fact that sharee‘ah waived the condition of
specifying the prey in the case of hunting because it is too difficult, as
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said, and in such cases sharee‘ah
allows concessions to ward off hardship, in that case we may compare the
issue under discussion to the issue of necessity (as in the case of hunting)
with regard to mentioning the name of Allah, so as to ward off hardship and
make things easier for people. However, I am not quite certain of this
conclusion, but I wanted to put it forward for discussion by the scholars to
decide about it, and I have not issued any fatwa on that basis until now,
especially when we have a suitable alternative to the revolving knife which
will meet all of the production needs at the same time. That alternative is
to remove the revolving knife from the machine and replace it with four
Muslim men who could take turns in cutting the chickens’ throats whilst
mentioning the name of Allah, every time the suspended chickens pass by
This is something that I have suggested to a large
slaughterhouse on the island of Reunion, and they did that. Experience
indicates that this did not reduce the rate of production at all, because
these people cut the throats of the chickens within the same timeframe as
the revolving knife.
End quote from Shaykh Muhammad Taqi al-‘Uthmaani, Majallat
Majma‘ al-Fiqh al-Islami, issue no. 10, vol. 1, p. 541-544
To sum up:
Stunning the chickens by means
of electrocution must be avoided, and it is not permissible for the
organisation that is supervising slaughter to allow it unless they can be
certain that it does not lead to killing any of the chickens.
It is sufficient for the
machine operator to say “Bismillah” when switching it on, and that must be
repeated after any pause.
There is no point in the five
men beside the machine saying “Bismillah”; rather this is a waste of time
that should be put a stop to.
The organisations that
supervise Islamic slaughter must pay attention to the conditions and
essential guidelines on the matter, and not be careless in applying them.
And they should try to arrange for the slaughter to be done by hand instead
of by machines, in accordance with the suggestion made by Shaykh Muhammad
Taqi al-‘Uthmaani. That is so as to do away with problems having to do with
electrocution and saying “Bismillah”, and so as to avoid the possibility of
the slaughter of some of the chickens being done inappropriately when
passing over the rotating knife, because of differences in size among the
chickens. This is a problem that some researchers have pointed out.
And Allah knows best.