Rafed English

Shiah; Slaughering and Hunting

The basic principle in Shi'ah jurisprudence concerning animals whose blood spurts is that they become "najis" (impure) when they die, and that it is unlawful (haram) to eat their flesh.

There is also a division of animals into two categories: those which are impure (najis) in essence and cannot become pure, such as the dog and the pig, and can therefore on no account be eaten; and those which become essentially impure if they die in any way other than as a result of hunting or slaughtering in accordance with the shari'ah, but which become pure if they are correctly hunted or slaughtered in accordance with the rules laid out below. However, the mean of correctly killed animals of the second category can only be eaten provided they are not carnivorous.

There are two ways of killing animals in accordance with the shari'ah. The first is hunting.Hunting may be in two ways. Firstly bya trained hound who obeys the orders given it and does not normally eat the animal it has killed. For his prey to be lawful, the person who released and sends the hound must be a Muslim and must pronounce "bismillah" when releasing it, and the hound should at no time leave his sight.

Secondly, hunting may be by means of a weapon, i.e. a sharp sword, spear or arrow, or the bullet or a gun. In all cases, the death must be directly due to the penetration of the weapon into the animal, and not to some side effect such as fright. The person who uses the weapon must be a Muslim and must pronounce "bismillah" at the time of taking aim.

If the animal is killed by either of the above methods, its flesh is lawful. But if the hunter gets his animal when it is still alive, he must slaughter it (see below). All other means of hunting (i.e. trap, net, etc.) are forbidden, unless, of course, the animal is taken alive and correctly slaughtered.

The second way to lawfully kill an animal is by slaughtering it (dhabih). The slaughterer must be a Muslim or someone under the rules of Islam such as the minor son of a Muslim. The second condition is that the instrument of slaughtering should be made of sharp metal. However, in case of necessity, any sharp implement (glass, sharp stone, etc.) which cuts the arteries clearly may be used. In the Name of God (bismillah) must be pronounced when the intention to slaughter is made, and the animal must be laying with its face towards the "qiblah". All four main blood vessels of the neck must be completely severed above the vocal chords. (There is a special method of killing a camel called "nahr", which may also be used for other animals when "dhabih" is not possible.

It should be noted finally that all animals whose blood does not spurt are unlawful (haram) except fish which have scales. A hadith of Muhammad ibn Nu'man Ahwal, Mu'min at-Taq, says, "One day I went in to see Abu Hanifah. I saw there was a pile of books in front of him. Abu Hanifah said, "Do you see all these books?" I said, 'Yes'. He said, 'They are all to do with divorce.' I said, 'God has made us free from all your books by one single verse of the Qur'an, "Oh Prophet, (say to the believers), 'When you divorce (your) woman, divorce all their prescribed period, and reckon the 'iddah (exactly).' " He said, 'Well then, have you ever asked your friend Ja'far ibn Muhammad (al-Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.)) about the seacow?' I said, 'Yes, he said that every sea-animal with scales, even if it be a (sea-) camel or a (sea-) cow, and be eaten, and that if it has no scales it is unlawful to eat.' "5

Adopted from the book: "The Origin of the Shi'ite Islam and its Principles (Asl ash-Shi'ah wa Usuluh" by: "Allamah Kashiful Ghita"

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