Contemporary Animal Farming in Light of Islamic Principles

Regular and frequent consumption of meat has become a staple of food culture. In Western and also in Arab countries traditional dishes mostly contain meat or dairy products. Its consumption is a regular feature of food culture and it would be almost impossible for many to imagine a life without it. Especially in developed countries the use of meat, eggs and dairy products are contained in all three dishes of the day. In the western world many consumers choose to restrict their diet to vegetarianism. However, vegetarians experience difficulties eating outdoor in restaurant and cafes as most of the food choices are made for meat-eaters. It is thanks to new development in agriculture and animal farming that these products are available in this dimension and low-priced. These new forms of farming make it possible to rear animals and produce meat in mass quantities while being cost and time efficient. In GCC countries, meat consumption demand is being met through import of livestock and meat.

Thousands of animals are transported each year to the Middle East from Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the USA. The establishment of national farms, which implemented advanced technologies into their production process further contribute to a balance of the market. The Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha (QCPD) is producing 7.2 million broiler and 60 million table eggs a year to fulfil the demands of society1. Islam provides guidelines on the procedure and methods of using meat for human consumption. Thereby it not only focuses on slaughtering but also on the rights and fair treatment of animals. However, the contemporary ʻhalalʼ meat industry adapted to new forms of animal farming such as mass production and factory farming that make the correct implementation of Islamic principles difficult.

The aim in this paper is to examine the implementation of Islamic principles in the animal farming of three meat companies, al-Watania Poultry, the Midfield Group and Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha/Acolid, which sell their ʻhalalʼ products in Qatar. Firstly, this article explains the necessary conditions that make meat and animal farming permissible according to Islamic principles. Secondly, new developed forms of agriculture are examined. Thirdly, the meat production system and the implementation of Islamic criteria are examined. Fourthly, alternative forms of animal agriculture are suggested. At this point it is important to mention that this article will not try to produce a legal statement on the issue of permissibility of current manufacturing systems in majority Muslim countries. It only aims to portray the contemporary methods of producing meat and the emerging issues and consequences. This article only uses Internet sources for the examination of the animal farming companies.

 

I. Islamic Principles in regards to animal welfare and slaughtering conditions

Islamic sources (Quran and hadith) guide Muslims on how to adopt a healthy way of eating. Islamic food ethics emphasise food that is good, wholesome, and pure among that which is permissible (halal).2 

These values are called ʻtayyibʼ in Arabic and refer to purity both in the physical and moral sense. The Quran advises: ʻOh you apostles! Partake of the good things and do righteous deedsʼ.3 Unhealthy food and wrong ways of producing it are also clearly mentioned in the Quran and prophetic reports.

The Quran says: ʻWhy do not their learned men and doctors of law prohibit them from saying sinful things and from eating food gained by dishonest means? Certainly it is evil what they do.ʼ4

Islamic jurisprudence distinguishes between lawful (halal) and unlawful (haram) food. The Quran and Sunna teach that meat from cows, goat/lamb/sheep, poultry and fish is regarded as halal; while pork, reptiles, carrion, carnivorous animals, birds with talons amphibians and animals slaughtered in the name of any other but God are forbidden for any Muslim to eat.5 

Generally all fish and seafood are considered to be permissible, except species that are poisonous. Meat only becomes halal for consumption if it is slaughtered according to Islamic procedures and rituals (these values are referred in Arabic as ʻzabihaʼ). The animal has to be slaughtered by a sane Muslim; recitingʻTasmiyyah – Bismillahʼ (in the name of God), and ʻTakbeer – Allahu Akbarʼ (God is great). The animal must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and hence under no circumstances should the animal be dead beforehand.

The Quran says: ʻProhibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows'.6 The slaughtering instruments have to be sharp and the knife should cut through the big blood vessels in the throat. After the cut the animal is rendered unconscious and through the high heartbeat the animal loses blood heavily and finally dies.

The saying and actions of the Prophet Mohammad (hadith, pl. ahadith) also contribute to an understanding of how to treat animals and how to carry out the slaughtering processes. During the pre-Islamic period, certain pagan superstitions and polytheistic practices involved acts of torture and cruelties to animals. Some of the cruelties were: causing pain to the animal on sensitive parts like the branding on the face or the disfigurement of its appearances as the pagans used to cut off camels humps that they ate while the camel remained alive.7 

The Prophet Mohammad strictly forbade these acts of cruelty. He said: Whatever is cut off an animal, while it is still alive, is carrion and is unlawful to eat.ʼ8 Islam overall teaches Muslims to avoid unnecessary pain and causing suffering to the innocent creatures of God. The Prophet stated: ʻIf you must kill, kill without torture.ʼ9 There are many more reports of the Prophet Mohammad regarding the treatment of animals. Regarding the slaughtering process, the Prophet Mohammad strictly forbade the killing of animals in sight of each other.

Also, the knife should not be sharpened in front of the animal. It should not be tied up and bound while slaughtering and it is strongly preferred to give the animal some water to drink.10 On the one side Islamic rules on slaughtering offer guidelines for a healthy procedure of meat consumption, as for instance the exsanguination provides health benefits as blood contains toxic substances. But on the other side, Islamic ritual slaughtering places great emphasis on animal welfare. The fact that one animal is not allowed to be slaughtered in sight of another, prevents panic and anxiety.

The aspect that water should be given before slaughtering is intended to calm the animal. The farm ʻMercy Custom Slaughterʼ, in Texas, USA, illustrates the perfect example of slaughtering according to Islamic principles. In a Youtube video11 the farmer pulls the leg of the sheep, gets the animal to lie on the ground, recites ʻBismillahʼ and ʻAllahu Akbarʼ and covers the eyes of the sheep with its ears. The struggling animal becomes calm, motionless, fearless and completely obedient.

 

II. Contemporary forms of agriculture

Contemporary animal agriculture has particularly been shaped by new developments in technology and farming systems. The use of these new methods was implemented around 1950. The pre-1950 production was characterised by traditional methods that focused on labour work that included tasks like feeding and removal of manure.12 In addition, traditional methods usually kept animals outdoors.13 

After the Second World War most of the laboursʼ work was replaced by machinery. Instead of keeping the animal outside, they were reared indoors. Factory farming began which focused on the production of meat, milk and eggs for human consumption14 with the highest output at the lowest cost. Modern machinery, biotechnology, global trade, usage of antibiotics and pesticides are the characteristics that make industrial farming possible. Factory farming and new developments in agriculture supply the market with sufficient and cheap meat.

The demand for meat, eggs, and dairy products has increased at a staggering rate in recent decades, particularly in developing countries.15 According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture and Organization (FAO), milk consumption in developing countries almost doubled, meat consumption more than tripled, and egg consumption increased fivefold from 1980 to 2010.16 ʻThe Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research estimates that by 2050 the global poultry population will grow to nearly 35 billion, the goat and sheep population to 2.7 billion, and the cattle population to 2.6 billion animals.ʼ17

 

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The repercussions of these new forms of agriculture will be felt for a long time to come and the consequences may be irreversible.18 Intensive farming raises ethical issues in regards to human health, animal welfare, environment and labour. In the following section, this paper briefly explains the above-mentioned issues which emerge in regards to factory farming. Transformations of our food system in the twentieth-century are contributing heavily to the pollution of the environment. In this regard, factory farming plays a crucial role.

The production of animal waste releases greenhouse gasses into the air and farm waste burns fossil fuels to power the trucks that distribute products.19 The waste produced is held in pools and spread on farm fields where it often runs off into nearby water systems.20 Hence, both water and soil are exposed to the outputs of factory farming. Ethical issues also arise with regards to working condition on industrial farms. Workers are frequently underpaid and mistreated. Often migratory workers employed who usually do not possess animal knowledge or adequate training.21 According to research by ʻSustainable Tableʼ, workers are exposed to hazardous conditions as for instance ʻthe animals are often housed directly above the giant pits that store their manure, harmful gases such as hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and methane that are produced by the decomposing manure can contaminate the air that the animals and farm labourers breatheʼ.22 Examples of resulting health problems are chronic exposure and respiratory ailments.

Health issues, resulting from the production process and the consumption of meat, are in huge discussion as well. There are many consequences for human health and this article will mention a few of them. Workers and farmers in contact with animals and the production process are likely to develop diseases. Consumer health is affected by ʻdark, firm, and dry meatʼ (DFD).23 DFD meat has an abnormally high pH-value, shorter shelf life and dark coloration.24 The high pH-value is the result of the animal experiencing extreme stress before slaughtering. Also, stress facilitates the production of E. coli. Both E. coli and DFD meat is more likely to cause food poisoning as it contains more bacteria. Another issue is the use of antibiotics in livestock animals. Intensive animal farming uses large quantities of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent infection. According to the ʻUS Food and Drug Administrationʼ (FDA) ʻ80 percent of antibacterial drugs disseminated in the United States in 2009 were sold for the use on food animals, rather than being used for human healthʼ.25 

The application of these is promoting antibiotics resistance in bacterial populations.26 These resistent bacteria are then transmitted from agricultural environments27 and as well through meat.28 Diseases that cannot be treated by conventional antibiotics pose a serious threat to public health. In order to produce meat ethically, emphasis has to be on the welfare of farmed animals. Animal welfare has become the subject of public policies and scientific research. There are many different opinions on what the criteria for a good life are and how animals should be treated.29 One aspect of welfare includes bodily health. According to a FAO report30 good animal welfare practices include: ʻprevention and treatment of disease and injury; prevention and mitigation of pain, distress and other negative states; and providing diets and living conditions that are suited to the needs and nature of animalsʼ.31 

Another important aspect is that animals should live according to their natural foraging and normal behaviour. David Fraser defines one aspect of welfare as following: ʻanimals should feel well by being free from prolonged and intense fear, pain, and other negative states, and by experiencing normal pleasuresʼ.32 In addition, animals are not just objects; there are sentient beings with the capacity for suffering and/or enjoyment or happiness. Hence, if humans take animals for their use (i.e meat production etc.), it should be done with the minimum of suffering and in the most respectful way.

However, the production of meat on the cheapest price possible is not allowing much room for animal welfare. Animals are viewed as units of production rather than living creatures. As mentioned earlier, with factory farming animals are reared indoors throughout their life span and as closely together as possible rather than letting them grow outside in their natural territories. Hens are held in close confinement systems (cages, crates).33 

Most of the animals have never seen any daylight and suffer from lack of fresh air. The limitation to indoor facilities encourages the fast spread of infections. Another important issue concerning animal welfare is the partial removal of the beak from birds. It is mostly practiced in egg-laying strains of chicken. Beak trimming is being conducted to prevent injuries such as those caused by cannibalism. However, it causes neuromas and chronic pain. One reason for cannibalism is that hens are not adapted to living in large groups.

Therefore many factory farms see hens reared in cages.34 Welfare issues also appear with regards to dairy cattle. One of the most common issues are food disorders that are the result of specific methods of housing and management in dairy farming.35 One of these forms is the use of cubicle housing systems. According to Brujinis approximately 80 % of cows in the Netherlands kept in these housing systems have one or more food disorders, and about one-third of these cows become lame in a year.36 Food disorders cause long-lasting and intense pain and affect the ability to perform natural behaviour.37 Pain is however not the only problems that emerges, food disorders lead to premature culling (i.e. killing the cow before the end of a normally intended productive life).

 

III. Meat production system in the Gulf States:

In the following this article examines the meat production system in the Gulf States. As mentioned already, GCC countries adopted western forms of agricultural farming. Companies increasingly move to the use of new technologies to produce at low costs and time efficient.

This paper chose three meat companies, with a geographical focus on Qatar, to gain insight into the forms of production.38 Meat sections in Qatari supermarkets offer products from ʻAl-Watania Poultryʼ, ʻThe Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Dohaʼ and ʻal-Qusaimiʼ. The first two are limited to poultry products. Al-Watania Poultry is based in Qassim in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It states to be the largest poultry farm in the Middle East39 and has a share of forty percent in the Gulf region markets.40 

The Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha is based in Qatar and it is part of the Pan-Arab joint stock company ʻAcolidʼ41. Al-Qusaimi is a subsidiary company in Doha which imports frozen meat from Australia to Doha. Al Wataniaʼs main goal is ʻto produce and provide healthy chicken, chicken products and table eggs following the high standards of world class practices using latest techniques and technologiesʼ.42 Al-Wataniaʼs complex contains breeder farms in which 1.6 million parent chicken provide 243 million pathogen free hatching eggs in isolated locations.43 In addition, it includes hatchery facilities that provide 181 million day old baby broiler chicks to broiler farms per year.44 Also Broiler Farms are a part of the complex, which produces 171 million broilers per year.45 The Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha was formed in 1985 and aims to produce 7.2 million broiler and 60 million table eggs per year.46 It is part of the Pan-Arab joint stock company ʻAcolidʼ, established in 1974.

The main objectives of Acolid are to perform ʻall technical, agricultural, industrial and commercial activities concerned with the production, processing and transport of animal products and feed materials, equipment, machinery and appliances essential for its objectives [...]ʼ47 The company holds five fully owned projects in Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Syria. Thereby these projects are concerned with ʻbreeding, fattening of lamb and calves, broiler parents and grandparents, animal & poultry concentrated fled, hatching eggs, broiler chicks, table eggs, green fodder and vegetablesʼ.48 The overall production of Acolid are as following:49:

  • Broiler Chicken: 560 Millions
  • Processed Chicken: 475 Thousands Tons
  • Table Eggs: 3.2 Billions Eggs
  • Dairy Products: 140 Tons
  • Fattened Lambs & Calves: 400 Thousands Heads
  • Processed Read Meat: 7.5 Thousands Tons
  • Wheat & Barely etc.: 195 Thousands Tons

Al-Qusaimiʼs (formed in 1989) mission is to import chilled and frozen lamb and beef products from Australia to Qatar. Al-Qusaimiʼs meat provider is the Australian animal farm ʻThe Midfield Groupʼ. It was launched in 1975 and is located in Warrnambool.50 One of Midfieldʼs projects is the export of halal products to the Gulf region.51 Midfieldʼs major focus is the production of beef, lamb, veal and mutton meat. It states to have ʼone of the largest capacity meat processing plants in Australia on a single shift basis, with a throughput in excess of 1.6 million beef and small stock annuallyʼ.52 The founder Colin McKenna states in a video to slaughter 600 and more cattleʼs a day and 6000-6500 small livestock per day.53

How do they produce?

The production cycle of commercial layers is explained by al-Watania as following:55 One-day-old “Female Chicks” are received and then brooded and reared in cages. The rearing period is 16 weeks and subsequently all birds are being transferred to laying farms. In the laying farms the birds are distributed in cages (5/6 bird/Cage) and by the 18-week the egg production starts. The total lying period is 60 weeks (13.5 months).

The eggs are being collected daily from the houses by automated egg belts, egg elevators, cross conveyor to the egg grading and packing machines in the packing station. It is not stated in what week the laying chicken are being slaughtered. In intensive farming systems, chicken are being slaughtered after approximately 12 months, although naturally chicken live around 6 years.56 All husbandry facilities are indoors in isolated locations.

As described above, laying hens are being kept in cages and broilers are raised in large, open structures known as growout houses.57 These houses are equipped with mechanical systems to deliver feed and water and ventilation systems and heaters.58 Indoor facilities are an advantage and to some extent it is a necessity for agriculture farming in the Gulf region because of the extreme weather conditions.

In summer the temperature can reach up to 50oC which makes the raising of livestock quite difficult. However, the weather conditions are only too extreme for animal agriculture during the summer and for rest of the year there are no problems preventing the raising of livestock outdoors. Rearing chicken indoors without allowing them to experience fresh air and natural daylight, increases the spread of infections, hence the use for antibiotics is raised as well. Through the usage of cages and growout houses, chickens are prevented to live according to their natural foraging – and behaviour. Al-Watania Poultry does not provide any information on peak trimming.

They also did not publish any information on whether their chickens are supplied with natural food and nor on their use of antibiotics to treat infections. Food safety, environmental protection and employability are important goals of al-Watania. On the website it states: ʻAWP mission is to support nutritional reserve and national economy by providing the local, regional, and international markets with the highest quality poultry products prepared according to Islamic legislation, through utilizing the latest technology and systems that protect the environment and achieve maximum safety, productivity and sustained development levels, and by employing and developing competent and committed human resources with the initiative to participate effectively in continuous improvement.

The Midfield Group rears their livestock in indoor and outdoor facilities. The company states in a video that they are different from others as it allows their animals to graze on large pasturelands.59 The video that is posted on their website, shows clearly that the animals are reared in natural environments and also the indoor facilities give the livestock enough space to move. Midfield also stresses the importance to rear and treat animals according to their natural needs and behaviours.

They state ʻAnimal health and wellbeing is at the forefront of our day-to-day work ethic, while working for the long-term future of our community is at the core of our business. In addition, they claim only to use natural and free from chemical pastures (grass and pellets) to feed the livestock. Midfield emphasises on local and fair employability. They write, ʻOur Group is 100 per cent Australian owned and operated. We are a staunch supporter of the area where we are based, employing more than 600 people from the surrounding district and creating a variety of breeding programs designed to cement supply and support local industryʼ.60

They focus on minimising effects on the environment, which are caused by animal agriculture. ʻWe are committed to reducing our environmental footprint, through the development of new technologies and the use of sustainable farming initiativesʼ.61 The mentioned aims and production process of Midfield, shows clear indication of the promotion of food sustainability, as they do not make use of high-intensity farming and try to minimize negative effects on the environment. Furthermore, they place emphasis on food safety as the production methods try to aim at the highest and healthiest production standards. Midfield also implements ethical principles into their animal farming, as they stress on animal welfare and health.

 

III. Halal Food Production

In this section, this paper assesses the conformity to the Islamic conditions on slaughtering and animal welfare mentioned at the beginning of this article based on the listed requirements of the animal farming companies under examination. All three companies label their products on the market with the certificate ʻHalalʼ. ʻHalalʼ, as discussed earlier, refers to what is permissible according to the sources of Islam. Al-Wataniaʼs and al-Qusaimiʼs websites provide information of why it is important to implement Islamic principles to the meat production and also discuss what makes their products ʻhalalʼ(62).

Both stress the importance to recite ʻTasmiyyah – Bismillahʼ (in the name of God), and ʻTakbeer – Allahu Akbarʼ(God is great) before slaughtering the animal. According to al-Wataniaʼs website the following conditions are required to make the slaughtering permissible. ‘Halal Slaughtering Conditions: The following steps and conditions are forming the Islamic technique of slaughtering of an animal, as so specified by the majority of Islamic prominent scholars:

1.    The individual forming the act of slaughtering of an animal shall be required to meet certain religious prerequisites.

2.   Prior to cutting off the animal throat, the name of God shall be pronounced.

3.   Throat cutting off shall be made by a very sharp knife.

4.   The act of cutting shall include the throat, esophagus, and both neck vessels.

5.    A slaughtering officer; overseeing the application of the religious controls in the slaughtering process, shall be present at the slaughtering place.’63

Al Qusaimiʼs website states the same conditions for halal slaughter. They refer to a halal food certifying authority in Australia called the ʻIslamic Co-Ordinating Council of Victoria PTY. LTDʼ. Al Qusaimiʼs website also posted a video called ʻIslamic Slaughteringʼ that shows the process of cutting the blood vessels in the throat a cattle. The process of slaughtering the animal is in conformity with the Quranic principles that have been mentioned at the beginning of the article.

However, there are some contradictions and disagreements with regards to some of the principles that the Prophet Mohammad has stated. With regards to the slaughtering process the Prophet Mohammad has recommended not to slaughter one animal in sight of another. Al-Qusaimiʼs video called ʻIslamic slaughtering 1 64, clearly shows that one cow is being slaughtered while another cow is still alive.

This way of slaughtering is in clear contradiction to the sayings of the Prophet. There are no videos or information to show if al-Watania is slaughtering the chickens in sight of each other. Interestingly however, al-Watania claimed not to slaughter the chickens with the help of mechanical slaughtering. In mechanical slaughtering the broiler is being hanged with the head down and a machine is automatically slaughtering the bird. 65 The problem that emerges with regards to mechanical slaughtering is that the machine is not able to cut every bird on the throat as for instance the birds are still moving.

Hence other parts of the birds are being cut and the animal has to feel unnecessary pain. Also, the question arises to what extent it is Islamic that a cassette or CD performs the role of reciting ʻBismillahʼ and ʻAllahu akbarʼ over the animals. But mechanical slaughtering is being practised for halal meat products. For instance the Halal authority ʻIslamic Co-Ordinating Council of Victoria PTY. LTDʼ, published halal guidelines on mechanical slaughtering.66 The stunning of animals is considered controversial, although it is a general practice in the Halal meat industry.

Muslim scholars disagree whether pre-slaughter stunning is allowed or not. The process of stunning may cause animal death before slaughter. According to the ʻHalal Monitoring Committee UKʼ 1/3 of the chicken die after being stunned.67 As mentioned, the Quran strictly forbids the usage of an animal for meat that has been dead prior to slaughtering. In addition, stunned meat has negative effects on the meat quality. For instance there is clear colour variation of the meat from a stunned and a non-stunned animal.68 Also broken bones, bone splinters and haemorrhages are reducing the meat quality.69 On the other hand, especially in mass animal farming not to use stunning before slaughtering would cause suffering and extreme fear to the animal as well.

It would be difficult to handle and calm lambs, cattle and sheep during the slaughtering process. Islamic principles are not only limited to the ritual slaughtering process; there is much emphasis on the treatment of the animal. It has been mentioned earlier that certain kinds of cruelties were inflicted on animals during the pre-Islamic period and strictly forbidden by the Prophet Mohammad. It is torture to forbid animals to follow their natural behaviour, to confine birds in cages (which is not even allowing the bird to open its wings) or to keep animals in indoor facilities (mostly cattle are being tied up and other animals cannot stir up from the spot) which are not allowing animals to breath fresh air a single time in their life.

It is a necessity to respect and appreciate all creatures from God and to treat them fairly.

The Prophet Mohammad was once asked: “O Prophet, are we rewarded for treating animals well?” And the Prophet answered: “Any good towards a living creature gets its reward”.70

Al-Watania does not mention any pre-slaughter conditions that must be applied to fulfil the criteria of making their products halal. It only focuses on the ritual slaughtering. As mentioned, al-Watania rears its birds in cages or in growout houses. The company does not include any statement on their website with regards to the protection and the support of animal welfare.

There is also no information about the importance of animal welfare on the website of the Arab Qatari Company for Poultry ProductionDohaʼs/Acolid. Both concentrate more on mentioning the implementation and development of new technologies. Both al-Watania and Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha/Acolid focus only on the ritual slaughtering, yet unfortunately less on the treatment of the birds and the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad on this subject. In contrast, Midfield stresses the importance of animal welfare and health. Its livestock is able to stay outdoors, to eat fresh grass and even the indoor facilities provide enough space for the animals to move.

Al-Qusaimi and the Midfield Group are not implementing all of the Islamic principles as it has been seen that the cattle are being slaughtered in sight of each other, but overall they practise the Islamic conditions correctly with regards to pre - and ritual slaughtering. As indicated in the introduction, the aim of this paper is not to give a legal statement on the permissibility of the operation methods of the companies analysed and also not whether it is permissible to label the meat products with the halal certificate. However, this paper recommends that Islamic scholars consider the matter of halal meat production and clarify the necessary conditions that need to be implemented into animal farming, even in the contemporary age.

 

IV. Alternative Farming:

In general it can be said that the global halal market concentrates more on ritual slaughter rather than on animal welfare. This is of course not only valid for the halal meat market; it is generally the case in the meat industry. However, there are alternative forms of agriculture farming like organic farming. Organic agriculture operates according to strict limits on chemical synthetic pesticide and synthetic fertiliser use and livestock antibiotics.71 It also condemns the usage of genetically modified organisms. It emphasises to raise livestock in free-range and open-air systems.

According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements Organic agriculture can be defined as following: ʻOrganic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involvedʼ.72

In developed countries, this form of agriculture production is rising in popularity among consumers and more and more organic products are available in supermarkets, as well as, dedicated organic supermarket being established. A range of organic restaurants and cafes are opened and existing ones have begun to introduce organic products into the range for drinks and food. This organic movement is not available to the same extent in the Middle East or in generally in the Halal food market globally. There are, however, a few companies that already adopted organic considerations. One of these companies is called ʻSaffron Road Foodʼ. It is a halal meat production company in the United States.

It produces meat in combination of Islamic and organic principles and implements only fair trade. It states its philosophy as following: ʻSaffron Roadʼs Management and Directors are pioneers in the natural and organic food movement and have exercised great care to ensure that our products are deliciously natural. All of our meat is sourced from small farm operations that treat the animal humanely and never use antibiotics and growth hormones. Even our Basmati rice is selectively hand-picked from farmers who share our sustainable “tayeeb” values.ʼ73

To conclude, Islam provides Muslims with general guidelines on what is good and pure food and contrary defines what constitutes harmful food. There are certain and strict rulings on the slaughtering process and also for the treatment of animals. This article highlighted that Islamic principles regarding animal farming and slaughtering are very animal friendly and ethical. However, contemporary production methods make it quite difficult to implement all the rules that Islam provides. Al-Watania and Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha/Acolid do not place adequate emphasis on animal welfare. The Midfield Group is indeed in higher conformity with the Islamic principles and its operation is more ethical, though even they slaughter the cattle in sight of each other. New forms of animal farming have negative impacts on the environment, as well as, on human and animal health.

Also, it is quite common to find ethical issues regarding the exploitation of labour. These identified issues are not sustainable and ethical production methods. Problems also emerge with regards to the conformity to Islamic principles as the respect for the environment and human and animal health are very important rules in Islam. With regards to new developments in animal agriculture and advanced technology, many questions remain, such as: Is it possible to produce animals for mass consumption while being able to show adequate care for the welfare of animals? Do meat companies consider the implementation of animal welfare policies as part of their business aim? Does the overconsumption of meat affect the health system of human beings? Is the overconsumption of meat part of the cause of the rise in obesity levels? This article suggests that there is indeed a significant need to introduce and support the combination of organic and halal food and to minimize the use of factory farming in relation to halal food. Further work is required, particularly from Islamic scholars with adequate knowledge of production methods and systems, as well as of the contemporary meat industry standards.

While this article has not attempted to provide a legal ruling on the permissibility of existing standards and methods, it points to significant shortcomings in current practice with regards to Islamic ethical principles, which can and should be considered. Some of these questions are: Are new forms of animal farming like factory farming in coherence with Islamic principles? Is it permissible to slaughter the animal with machines? Is it permissible to use a tape reciting the tasmiyya? Is it Halal to ship living livestock for weeks before the slaughter? Are forms of stunning Islamic? Is it true that the only criteria of making meat halal to eat would be simply to slaughter the animal according to the Islamic rules? Or is it also important to consider the pre-slaughter life of the live stock, for instance the way the live stock lived, was fed, was treated etc?


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  • Nierenberg D. (2005) Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry. Worldwatch Paper 121: 5
  • Report of the FAO Expert Capacity building to implement good animal welfare practices;
  • Meeting (2008) Rome; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Websites:

 

  1. Acolid – The Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha http://www.acolid.com/sub3.html
  2. Moosa (2009), p.136
  3. Quran: 23:51
  4. Quran - Pickthall (1983), 5:63
  5. Eris (2006), p. 83
  6. Quran: 5:3
  7. Masri (2007), p. 34
  8. Masri (2007), p.35
  9. p. 34
  10. p. 50
  11. Mercy Custom Slaughter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc5BWafzEu4&feature=share
  12. Fraser (2005), p.1
  13. Nierenberg (2005), p.5
  14. Nierenberg, Reynolds (2012)
  15. FAO (2001), Forward
  16. Sustainabletable – introduction issues
  17. Grandin (2010), chapter 2
  18. Sustainabletable – workers http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/workers/
  19. Sustainabletable – health
  20. Govtrack (2011) http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr965/text
  21. Khachatourians (1998), p.1
  22. It is important to bear in mind that bacteriaʼs are not only being transmitted through the consumption the infected meat, but also during contact with the animals. These infections can occur aerogen by the means of air circulation or as a smear infection. Smear infections take place while handling the animal. Smear infection are an ingestion of bacteria through spreading them with the person hands.
  23. Khachatourians (1998), p.1
  24. This article argues that animal welfare has to be seen in interrelation of physical, mental, and natural living aspects and all are of ethical concern.
  25. Report of the FAO Expert meeting (2008),p.xvii.
  26. raser (1997), p.1
  27. Egg production normally occurs in warmer months. With the advantage of indoor facilities, the temperature and light can be controlled and hence hens continue laying all year.
  28. To reduce suffering for hens the EU banned battery cages for egg-laying hens.
  29. Bruijnis (2012), p.2
  30. It is not possible within the scope of this paper to cover the entire region in detail therefore only three were
  31. chosen
  32. Al-Watania Poultry – Project http://www.al-watania.com/English/Company-In/index.asp
  33. Al-Watania – About us http://www.al-watania.com/English/About-Us/index.asp
  34. Acolid is one of the biggest provider of meat for the Middle East and produced in the Middle East
  35. Al-Watania Poultry – Project http://www.al-watania.com/English/Company-In/Productions/index.asp
  36. Acolid – The Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Doha http://www.acolid.com/sub3.html
  37. Acolid - Corporate Profile http://www.acolid.com/main.html
  38. Acolid – Branches
  39. Acolid – Investment Field http://www.acolid.com/invest_m.html
  40. The Midfield Group – About us
  41. The Midfield Group – Quality http://www.midfield.com.au/quality/http://www.midfield.com.au/midfield-divisions/midfield-meat-international/
  42. Al Qusaimi Farms and factories Medfield Australia 1 http://www.alqusaimi.com/vedio8.html
  43. For instance both posted similar pictures of housing facilities on their websites
  44. Al – Watania Poultry – Broiler-layer-cycle
  45. Compassion in World Farming http://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm_animals/poultry/egg_ laying_hens/default.aspx
  46. National Chicken Council - Animal Welfare for Broiler http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/industryissues/animal-welfare-for-broiler-chickens/
  47. l Qusaimi Farms and factories Medfield Australia 1
  48. The Midfield Group – About us http://www.midfield.com.au/about-us/
  49. The Midfield Group – Mission http://www.midfield.com.au/about-us/mission-statement/
  50. There are no information on the halal pre - and slaughtering conditions published on Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Dohaʼs/Acolidʼs website and neither on the Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production Dohaʼs website. Though this article assumes that the halal conditions are in uniformity with al-Wataniaʼs and al-Qusaimiʼs requirements.
  51. Al-Watania Poultry – Islamic Slaughtering http://www.al-watania.com/English/Company-In/Islamic-Sl/index.asp#
  52. Al-Qusaimi – Islamic Slaughtering
  53. Al-Watania Poultry – Islamic Slaughtering http://www.al-watania.com/English/Company-In/Islamic-Sl/index.asp
  54. Islamic Co-Ordination Council – Mechanical Slaughtering http://www.iccv.com.au/mecslaugchicken.htm
  55. Katme
  56. Warriss (2000), p. 111
  57. Göksoy (1999), p. 1798
  58. Ramadan (2009), p. 235
  59. Agriculture and Rural Development – Organic farming http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/organicfarming/what-organic_en
  60. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements – Organic Agriculutre
  61. Saffron Road

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Submitted by Amir on Sun, 02/12/2017 - 16:04

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Alhamdulillah, what a good article. Nowadays, even muslims do not really care for animal welfare because of the greed they have in all kinds of business involving animals. We have the best religion in the world which is Islam that teaches us to respect and care of all living things because human beings as a caliphate have responsibility to take good care of all living things on Earth. I hope and wish that all muslims have the awareness about animal welfare because this issue has been taken very lightly for long time and we should follow our Prophet Muhammad as he is Rahmatallil Alamin to this world. We muslims should follow and make our prophet as an example.

Submitted by riyaz on Sat, 08/05/2017 - 21:09

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Really thanks for the article. I would advise everyone to watch this documentary(cowspiracy) on how dangerous is animal agriculture in the global crisis which we don't even think about it. I feel like I want to be a VEGAN!!

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