;The Islamic method of slaughtering animals, known as Zabiha has been the object of much criticism from a large number of people.
Before I reply to the question, let me relate an incidence about a discussion between a Sikh and a Muslim regarding animal slaughter.
Once a Sikh asked a Muslim, "Why do you slaughter the animal painfully by cutting the throat instead of the way we do with one stroke i.e. jhatka?" The Muslim replied "We are brave and courageous and attack from the front. We are marad ka baccha (macho men), you are cowards and attack from behind".
Jokes apart, one may consider the following points, which prove that the Zabiha method is not only humane but also scientifically the best:
1. Islamic method of slaughtering animal
Zakkaytum is a verb derived from the root word Zakah (to purify). Its infinitive is Tazkiyah which means purification. The Islamic mode of slaughtering an animal requires the following conditions to be met:
a. Animal should be slaughtered with sharp object (knife)
The animal has to be slaughtered with a sharp object (knife) and in a fast way so that the pain of slaughter is minimised.
b. Cut wind pipe, throat and vessels of neck
Zabiha is an Arabic word which means 'slaughtered'. The 'slaughtering' is to be done by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck causing the animal's death without cutting the spinal cord.
c. Blood should be drained
The blood has to be drained completely before the head is removed. The purpose is to drain out most of the blood which would serve as a good culture medium for micro organisms. The spinal cord must not be cut because the nerve fibres to the heart could be damaged during the process causing cardiac arrest, stagnating the blood in the blood vessels.
2. Blood is a good medium for germs and bacteria
Blood is a good media of germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. Therefore the Muslim way of slaughtering is more hygienic as most of the blood containing germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. that are the cause of several diseases are eliminated.
3. Meat remains fresh for a longer time
Meat slaughtered by Islamic way remains fresh for a longer time due to deficiency of blood in the meat as compared to other methods of slaughtering.
4. Animal does not feel pain
The swift cutting of vessels of the neck disconnects the flow of blood to the nerve of the brain responsible for pain. Thus the animal does not feel pain. While dying, the animal struggles, writhers, shakes and kicks, not due to pain, but due to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles defecient in blood and due to the flow of blood out of the body.
Science tell us that whatever one eats, it has an effect on one's behaviour. Why then, does Islam allow Muslims to eat non-vegetarian food, since eating of animals could make a person violent and ferocious?
1. Only eating of herbivorous animals allowed
I agree that, what a person eats has an effect on his behaviour. This is one of the reasons why Islam prohibits the eating of carnivorous animals like lion, tiger, leopard, etc. who are violent and ferocious. The consumption of the meat of such animals would probably make a person violent and ferocious. Islam only allows the eating of herbivorous animals like cow, goat, sheep, etc. that are peaceful and docile. We Muslims eat peaceful and docile animals because we are peace loving and non-violent people.
2. The Qur'an says Prophet prohibits what is bad
The Qur'an says:
"The Prophet commands them what is just and prohibits what is evil". "He allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them what is bad (and impure)," [Al-Qur'an 7: 157]
"So take what the Messenger assigns to you and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you." [Al-Qur'an 59: 7]
For a Muslim, the Prophet's statement is sufficient to convince him that Allah does not wish humans to eat some kinds of meat while allowing some other kinds.
3. Hadith of Mohammad (pbuh) prohibiting eating of carnivorous animals
According to various authentic Ahadith narrated in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim including hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas in Sahih Muslim, Book of hunting and slaughter, Hadith No. 4752 and Sunan Ibn-I-Majah chapter 13 Hadith no. 3232 to 3234, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) prohibited the eating of:
(i) Wild animals with canine teeth, i.e. meat eating carnivorous animals. These are animals belonging to the cat families such as lion, tiger, cats, dogs, wolfs, hyenas, etc.
(ii) Certain rodents like mice, rats, rabbits with claws, etc.
(iii) Certain reptiles like snakes, alligators, etc.
(iv) Birds of prey with talons or claws, like vultures, eagle, crows, owl, etc.
Kaaba is the Qibla i.e. the direction Muslims face during their prayers. It is important to note that though Muslims face the Kaaba during prayers, they do not worship the Kaaba. Muslims worship and bow to none but Allah.
It is mentioned in Surah Baqarah:
"We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens: now shall We turn thee to a Qiblah that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction." [Al-Qur'an 2:144]
1. Islam believes in fostering unity
For instance, if Muslims want to offer Salaah (Prayer), it is possible that some may wish to face north, while some may wish to face south. In order to unite Muslims in their worship of the One True God, Muslims, wherever they may be, are asked to face in only one direction i.e. towards the Kaaba. If some Muslims live towards the west of the Kaaba they face the east. Similarly if they live towards the east of the Kaaba they face the west.
2. Kaaba is at the Centre of the World Map
The Muslims were the first people to draw the map of the world. They drew the map with the south facing upwards and north downwards. The Kaaba was at the centre. Later, western cartographers drew the map upside down with the north facing upwards and south downwards. Yet, Alhamdullilah the Kaaba is at the centre of the world map.
3. Tawaf around Kaaba for indicating one God
When the Muslims go to Masjid-e-Haram in Makkah, they perform tawaf or circumambulation round the Kaaba. This act symbolizes the belief and worship of One God, since, just as every circle has one centre, so also there is only one Allah (swt) worthy of worship.
4. Hadith of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)
Regarding the black stone, hajr-e-aswad, there is a hadith (tradition), attributed to the illustrious companion of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), Umar (may Allah be pleased with him).
According to Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, book of Hajj, chapter 56, H.No. 675. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet (pbuh) touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you".
5. People stood on Kaaba and gave the adhaan
At the time of the Prophet, people even stood on the Kaaba and gave the 'adhaan' or the call to prayer. One may ask those who allege that Muslims worship the Kaaba; which idol worshipper stands on the idol he worships?
It is true that non-Muslims are not allowed in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, by law. The following points will serve to elucidate the possible reasoning behind such a restriction.
1. All citizens are not permitted in the cantonment area
I am a citizen of India. Yet, I am not permitted to enter certain restricted areas like the cantonment. In every country there are certain areas where a common citizen of that country cannot enter. Only a citizen who is enrolled in the military or those who are connected with the defence of the country are allowed in the cantonment area. Similarly Islam is a Universal Religion for the entire world and for all human beings. The cantonment areas of Islam are the two holy cites of Makkah and Madinah. Here only those who believe in Islam and are involved in the defence of Islam i.e. the Muslims are allowed.
It would be illogical for a common citizen to object against the restriction on entering a cantonment area. Similarly it is not appropriate for non-Muslims to object against the restriction on non-Muslims against entering Makkah and Madinah.
2. Visa to enter Makkah and Madinah
a. Whenever a person travels to a foreign country he has to first apply for a visa i.e. the permission to enter that country. Every country has its own rules, regulations and requirements for issuing a visa. Unless their critera are satisfied they will not issue a visa.
b. One of the countries which is very strict in issuing a visa is the United States of America, especially when issuing visas to citizens of the third world. They have several conditions and requirements to be fulfilled before they issue a visa.
c. When I visited Singapore, it was mentioned on their immigration form - death to drug traffickers. If I want to visit Singapore I have to abide by the rules. I cannot say that death penalty is a barbaric punishment. Only if I agree with their requirements and conditions will I be permitted to enter the country.
d. The Visa – The primary condition required for any human being to enter Makkah or Madina is to say with his lips, La ila ha illallah Muhammed ur Rasulullah meaning that 'there is no God but Allah and Muhammed (pbuh) is His Messenger.'
The fact that consumption of pork is prohibited in Islam is well known. The following points explain various aspects of this prohibition:
1. Pork prohibited in Qur'an
The Qur'an prohibits the consumption of pork in no less than 4 different places. It is prohibited in 2:173, 5:3, 6:145 and 16:115.
"Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah." [Al-Qur'an 5:3]
The above verses of the Holy Qur'an are sufficient to satisfy a Muslim as to why pork is forbidden.
2. Pork prohibited in the Bible
The Christian is likely to be convinced by his religious scriptures. The Bible prohibits the consumption of pork, in the book of Leviticus
"And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you".
"Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you." [Leviticus 11:7-8]
Pork is also prohibited in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy
"And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass." [Deuteronomy 14:8]
A similar prohibition is repeated in the Bible in the book of Isaiah chapter 65 verse 2-5.
3. Consumption of pork causes several diseases
The other non-Muslims and atheists will agree only if convinced through reason, logic and science. Eating of pork can cause no less than seventy different types of diseases. A person can have various helminthes like roundworm, pinworm, hookworm, etc. One of the most dangerous is Taenia Solium, which is in lay man's terminology called tapeworm. It harbours in the intestine and is very long. Its ova i.e. eggs, enter the blood stream and can reach almost all the organs of the body. If it enters the brain it can cause memory loss. If it enters the heart it can cause heart attack, if it enters the eye it can cause blindness, if it enters the liver it can cause liver damage. It can damage almost all the organs of the body.
Another dangerous helminthes is Trichura Tichurasis. A common misconception about pork is that if it is cooked well, these ova die. In a research project undertaken in America, it was found that out of twenty-four people suffering from Trichura Tichurasis, twenty two had cooked the pork very well. This indicates that the ova present in the pork do not die under normal cooking temperature.
4. Pork has fat building material
Pork has very little muscle building material and contains excess of fat. This fat gets deposited in the vessels and can cause hypertension and heart attack. It is not surprising that over 50% of Americans suffer from hypertension.
5. Pig is one of the filthiest animals on earth
The pig is one of the filthiest animals on earth. It lives and thrives on muck, faeces and dirt. It is the best scavenger that I know that God has produced. In the villages they don't have modern toilets and the villagers excrete in the open air. Very often excreta is cleared by pigs.
Some may argue that in advanced countries like Australia, pigs are bred in very clean and hygienic conditions. Even in these hygienic conditions the pigs are kept together in sties. No matter how hard you try to keep them clean they are filthy by nature. They eat and enjoy their own as well as their neighbour's excreta.
6. Pig is the most shameless animal
The pig is the most shameless animal on the face of the earth. It is the only animal that invites its friends to have sex with its mate. In America, most people consume pork. Many times after dance parties, they have swapping of wives; i.e. many say "you sleep with my wife and I will sleep with your wife." If you eat pigs then you behave like pigs. We Indians look upon America to be very advanced and sophisticated. Whatever they do, we follow after a few years. According to an article in Island magazine, this practice of swapping wives has become common in the affluent circles of Bombay.