It is becoming increasingly clear that there are questions related to religious slaughter that need to be addressed. The way we approach the religious slaughter should be exemplified by the following saying of the Prophet Muhammad* (hadith): 

According to Abu Ya’laa Shaddaad bin Aws, the Prophet Muhammad*said: “Verily Allah has prescribed Ihsaan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill, then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.”

As Muslims we should not only be concerned about what was said over our meat at the time of slaughter but also how that slaughter was done. One of the primary things  to examine is what size of knives we use and how sharp they are. The best current recommendations are that a razor-sharp knife without nicks that is twice the length of the animal’s neck be used for the neck cut. Using an appropriately sized knife is important because too small of a knife requires that multiple cuts be made to the animals neck which increases animal suffering and time to unconsciousness. Too long of a knife can cause fatigue for the slaughter person leading to a less skillful cut. Knives should be kept free of nicks and should be razor sharp to allow for the best possible cut. For this standard to be met throughout the day, knives must be checked repeatedly. If the halal meat industry as a whole can show that we are trying to maintain the highest possible level of animal welfare within our power, we can simply and truthfully undercut any allegations of animal cruelty.

Kristin Pufpaff is a class of 2013 candidate at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a Cornell University Alum.