Dhabīḥah (ذَبِيْحَة) is the prescribed method of ritual slaughter of all animals excluding locusts, fish and most sea-life per Islamic law. This method of slaughtering animals consists of a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular viens and carotid artieris of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact. The objective of this technique is to more effectively drain the body of the animal's blood, resulting in more hygienic meat and to minimize the pain and agony for the animal. The precise details of the slaughtering method arise largely from Islamic traditions, rather than direct Quranic mandate. It is used to comply with the conditions stated in the Qur'an:
"Forbidden to you are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it; that which is sacrificed on stone [Altar?]; [forbidden] also is the division by raffling with arrows: that is impiety..." – Al-Maidah 5:3
The term Dhabīḥah is often inaccurately used as a synonym for the word halal. But used in conjunction, "Dhabīḥah Halal" is the term used to describe any meat or food that is permissible as per Islamic law.
The slaughtering process referred to as Ḏabīḥah, is regulated by a set rules that assure health of the animal to be slaughtered and conformance to Islamic religious law, which is derived from the Qur'an and Hadith.
According to the laws of Ḏabīḥah halal, certain prerequisites must be met before an animal is slaughtered:
- The animal must not be a forbidden substance as per the Quran.
- The slaughter itself must be done by a sane (mentally competent) adult Muslim. Some Muslims also consider it acceptable to eat the meat slaughtered by "People of the Book" (Arabic: Ahl al-kitaab, i.e, Christians and Jews).Though there is debate on the issue, currently both methods are acceptable under Islamic Law.
Several other conditions are also stated: the knife's blade should be extremely sharp yet not be sharpened in front of the animal, the animal must not be slaughtered in front of other animals, and the animal's eyes and ears must be checked to ensure its health and suitability for slaughter. If it is deemed to be healthy, it is given water to drink (to quench its thirst). The animal should then be stood to face the Qibla, and the actual slaughter can begin.
The act of slaughtering itself is preceded by mentioning the name of God. Invoking the name of God at the moment of slaughtering is sometimes interpreted as acknowledgment of God's right over all things. Furthermore, it is an asking of permission to take the life of the animal to be slaughtered, and endows the slaughterer with a sense of gratitude for God's creation, even prior to partaking in the meat of the animal.
Thus, the slaughter itself is preceded by the words "In the name of God, God is the Greatest (Bismillah, Allahu Akbar). It is not regarded appropriate to use the phrase "Bismillah al Raĥman Al Raĥim" (In the name of God the Beneficent the Merciful) in this situation, because slaughtering is an act of subduement rather than mercy.
According to Islamic tradition, the conventional method used to slaughter the animal involves cutting the large arteries in the neck along with the esophagus and trachea with one swipe of an unserrated blade. Muslims argue it provides a relatively painless death, but some veterinary and animal rights groups dispute this claim . It also helps to effectively drain blood from the animal. This is important because the consumption of blood itself is forbidden in Islam. Muslims consider this method of killing the animal to be cleaner and more merciful to the animal.
While the blood is draining, the animal is not handled until it has died.