Slaughter Mercifully

Qurbaani or the Sacrifice of animals on the 10th, 11th and 12th Zil-Hajj, is a very lofty Ibadat decreed by Allah Ta’ala in commemoration of Nabi Ibraahim Alaihis Salaam’s supreme sacrifice of his son Ismaail (Alaihis Salaam) at the altar of Allah’s command. The father offering the sacrifice of his little boy, the Love of Allah Ta’ala was not a jocular affair nor an occasion of play or amusement. The noble father and khaleel (friend) of Allah Ta’ala was ordered to slit the throat of his beloved son with his own hands. He passed his trial with the highest degree of success and Allah Ta’ala substituted a ram for Ismaail (alayhis salam).

It is to commemorate this wonderful and supreme sacrifice of Nabi Ibraahim (alayhis salaam) that we have to sacrifice animals each year on the occasion of Eidul Adha. Keeping in mind what this ibadat is all about, when the Muslim is about to slaughter or have his animal) slaughtered, he should bring to his mind Hadhrat Ibraahim (alayhis salaam) slaughtering his son Hadhrat Ismaail (alayhis salaam). But this thought is furthest from the minds of most people who make the Qurbaani.

One of the gravest acts of transgression committed in negation of the spirit underlying Qurbaani is the gross maltreatment met out to the sacrificial animals. Animals are dragged, kept hungry and thirsty in fear. They are slaughtered at times with blunt knives and by incompetent persons who instead of effecting the Thabah with a clean cut, saw at the neck of the animal. This cruel act – Zulm – is a major sin which destroys much of the thawaab of the Qurbaani.

Animals are slaughtered and skinned in the presence of other live animals. The skinning process begins even before the slaughtered animal has become motionless. While some signs of life remain, workers commence skinning the animals. All these act are reprehensible, cruel, un-Islamic and haram.

Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Verily Allah Ta’ala has decreed kindness for everything. Therefore, when you kill then effect the killing, when you slaughter, then slaughter kindly. Sharpen your knife and be merciful to the animal.” (Muslim, ibn Majah, Nisai)

Hadhrat Ibn Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) said: Nabi وسلم علیھ الله صلى commanded that the knife be sharpened and that it (the knife) be concealed from the animal, and he said: “When anyone of you slaughters he should make haste.” (Ibn Majah)

This hadith in fact informs us of the understanding which the animal posses. The sight of the knife can produce fear in the animal. It should, therefore, not be displayed in its presence. The animal should not be kept down unnecessarily. It should be put on the ground only at the precise moment of slaughter. After laying it down facing the Qublah, there should be no unnecessary delay in slaughtering it.

In one Hadith Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam prohibitied dragging of the animal. He ordered that the animal be held by the neck. Nabi-e-kareem Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam also forbade that the animal be kept hungry and thirsty while it awaits to be slaughtered.

Once Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) saw a man sharpening his knife after he had laid down the animal. Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) struck the man with his whip and exclaimed: “Do you want to cause many deaths to the animal?”

In other words, creating fear in the animal was like multiplying death for it. Those who maltreat animals and perform cruelly when sacrificing them should remember that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Beware of the Dua (curse) of the mazloom, for there is no barrier between if (the curse or call of the mazloom) and Allah.”

Any person or animal who is oppressed or wronged or brutalized is a mazloom, so beware of the curse which emanates from the hearts of even these dumb animals. They are Allah’s makhluq (creation). No one is entitled to perpetrate zulm on them. Those making Qurbaani should take note of the under mentioned essential requirements:

  1. The knife must be very sharp.
  2. The animals should be properly fed if they have been acquired some time before slaughter
  3. An animal must not be slaughtered in front of another animal.
  4. The animal brought for slaughtering should not see the blood of the other animals.
  5. Animals should not be skinned while there is any sign of life visible in them.
  6. An animal taken for slaughtering should not be led passed animals which are being skinned.
  7. The animal should be caught and brought only when the slaughterer is ready for slaughtering. Usually workers grab hold of the animal well in advance. They hold the animal captive while the slaughterer is still engaged in slaughtering another animal.
  8. The animal should be laid down facing the Qiblah.
  9. The neck of the animal should not be sawed. Clean cuts should be effected.

Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said; “He who shows no mercy, mercy will not be shown to him”