In the largest independent survey of Muslim Scholars conducted in the UK concerning Halal and Halal standards, there was a unanimous rejection of mechanical slaughter in the UK from all scholars.
In June 2012, an independent online survey was commissioned through Ajax
Consultants to understand the scholarly opinions on Halal in the UK.
Responses were received from 282 imams and muftis from over 25 towns and cities covering, London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Leicester, Manchester, Blackburn, Reading, Preston, Dewsbury and many more cities across the UK.
The survey asked several questions covering issues on the acceptance of mechanical slaughtering, stunning of animal prior to slaughter, recitation of tasmiyah, and views on the current exemptions in UK and European law.
The Summary of the findings are outlined below:
95% of the Ulama do not accept "mechanical slaughter" as an accepted method of Halal
slaughter in Islam (2.1% want to understand the issue further)
99.7% stated that Bismillah (Tasmiah) should be prayed individually by person slaughtering (not taped or person standing on the side)
99% expressed preference for non-stunned
100% saw the need for the continuation of religious exemption in the UK which allows Muslims and Jews to practice their religious beliefs (prophetic method of slaughte/Zabiha) and without the use of any type of stunning.
The survey included responses from 32 Muftis, 201 Ulama and 49 Imams though out UK
HMC Chairman: Shaykh Yunus Dudhwala commented, “This survey is the largest of its kind
conducted in the UK and sets clear guidelines of acceptability and standards for Halal in this
country. It further endorses the standard of Halal that HMC has followed since its inception in 2003”.
Nadeem Adam, Operations Manager at HMC said, “People will be surprised to learn of the widespread use of mechanical slaughter in the provision of "Halal" poultry(chickens) in the UK.
There are many UK superstores that need to take heed of the message from the UK scholars and carefully address and provide meat to acceptable standards for all”. Further he commented that, “HMC’s universal standard is the only way to ensure acceptance by all”.
The Halal Food Authority (HFA) accepts mechanical slaughter and stunning and has
Continually been probed and asked to provide views from Muslim scholars for their accepted Practices and whether they would listen to the views of the Muslim community who they claim to serve. No response and views from scholars have been received to date.
Earlier this year, Malaysia, a country at the forefront of Halal, known as the Halal Hub of the World, listened to the scholars of the world and have removed mechanical slaughter from its Halal standards. Now we wait and see if a Halal certifier in the UK (HFA) can heed to the views of Muslim scholars and public and remove mechanical slaughter from its standards.
After scholars unanimously rejected machine slaughtered meat as being halal, calls have been made for a top fast food outlet to stop mislabelling its chicken ‘halal.’
Around 40 of the country’s leading Islamic Scholars have called on fast food giant KFC to stop selling their meat as halal which they say is slaughtered using machines.
At a conference at the Hijaz Centre, Nuneaton some of the countries most respected Imams passed a vote saying machine slaughtered chickens were not halal because the prescribed holy words needed to be said on each individual bird.
July last year, KFC had 92 ‘halal’ outlets in the UK and many Muslims now feel their food is not killed in accordance with the proper Islamic method. The issue is whether meat can be halal if it has been slaughtered using mechanical methods which scholars said was not allowed.
Traditionally, halal meat is killed by hand and must be blessed by the person doing the job. But some Muslims say a mechanised form is also now acceptable.
Speaking at the conference one of the scholars said: “Machine slaughter of animals is totally not allowed in Islam. The prescribed holy words should be said on every animal and not just one.
“Here we have a scenario when one person just flicks a switch and hundreds of chickens die, that’s not Islamic.”
Halal is the description of food and drink Muslims are allowed to consume under Islamic dietary laws defined in the Quran and in the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Classifying of halal food can only be carried out by a Muslim expert in the laws.
The meat is traditionally prepared by slaughtering the animal with a quick cut to the throat with a sharp knife to allow all blood to drain out, the idea being that the meat is cleaner. The slaughter man is required to say the traditional proclamation of faith in one god as the animal is killed.
At present two separate organisations regulate the halal food industry in the UK. The Halal Food Authority (HFA) says using machines is OK, as long as the meat is still blessed. It argues that advances in technology mean methods have to change and though a machine does the killing, the meat is still blessed by a Muslim slaughter man.
But the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) says animals should be slaughtered by hand and using a machine is not halal and not permissible. It argues mechanisation contradicts a fundamental principle of halal - that the person who slaughters the animal is the same person who recites the words over it.
KFC says it is following the guidance offered by what it considers a reputable adviser.
At a meeting with the fast food outlet’s representatives two years ago it was confirmed to the Lancashire Council for Mosques that KFC’s chickens were stunned and mechanically slaughtered
The sub group expressed concerns about the mechanical slaughtering of animals and told KFC that the Muslim Council of Britain supported their position.
The meeting concluded that KFC’s Halal Supply Chain did not fulfil the LCM Halal criteria and therefore cannot be termed as halal.
Naved Syed, Member of Eblex Halal Steering Group and responsible for organising the conference in Nuneaton said: “We need to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.
“The problem with machine slaughter is you cannot perform Tasmiah (Holy prayer) on each animal when you machine killing 20,000 chickens an hour.
“All of these issues need to be addressed especially on the subject of machine slaughter by the religious authorities.
“With over 40 Muftis and Imams having made the decision it will enable us to lay the foundation for halal here in the UK.
“With Ramadan just around the corner this problem needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.”
Speaking in a recent interview Yunus Dudhwala, chairman of HMC, said: “Halal is a very sacred part of a Muslim's diet and many Muslims do not even know what they are eating when it's certified as halal in this way."
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