A method for slaughtering poultry that protects from Avian flu
I work at the National Laboratory for Quality Control of Poultry Products at the Ministry of Agriculture, the body responsible for diagnosing and conducting researches on avian flu, a serious disease that causes huge economic losses and human deaths. We ask Allah Almighty that it will not become a global pandemic.
Scientific researches proved that humans can become infected with the disease when exposed to large doses of the virus, especially when slaughtering infected birds; this being the reason behind the death of the cases that have been registered in Egypt. With the participation of foreign researchers, we made several attempts to arrive at an easy method of slaughter, sparing rural women expensive or complicated procedures and simultaneously, decreasing the amount of virus shed by an infected bird during slaughtering.
Our experiments led us to a method of slaughter that involves putting the bird in a regular plastic bag, the kind which is found in every home, and let its neck and head hang out without suffocating it or restricting its movement and then slaughtering it with a knife. Through observation, it became obvious that this method significantly reduces the amount of dust carrying the bird's blood and excrement. The results encouraged the research team to contact an international laboratory located in the United States, considered a reference on avian flu, to perform further experiments to accurately measure the concentration of the virus in the air and study the efficiency of implementing methods for decreasing exposure to the virus during slaughtering. The foreign researchers asked for a fatwa concerning the lawful method of slaughter according to Islamic law which they can implement during their tests in the United States. If the results are positive, we will publish them in scientific references, specialized international conferences and instructional periodicals on rural education.
It is known in Islamic law that the meat of animals that are permissible for consumption such as camels, cows, sheep, rabbits and poultry such as hens, ducks, geese and so forth, is not lawful unless they are slaughtered according to the principles laid down by Islamic law. These prescribed methods are the basis for the permissibility of consuming the meat of land animals which can be controlled during slaughter. Uncontrolled animals are to be slaughtered by felling them by injuring, hunting or spurring trained hunting animals to catch them. The meat of animals slaughtered by these methods is only lawful when undertaken by a Muslim, Christian or Jew.
Islamic manner of slaughtering animals
Slaughtering is performed by severing the animal's throat, i.e. the upper neck, which involves severing the windpipe [channel of breath], the gullet [channel of food] and the two blood vessels at either side of the neck. Slaughtering is lawful if these four vessels are severed, but if the slaughterer severs only the gullet and the windpipe, slaughtering is valid according to the preponderant opinion, since life usually does not continue afterwards.
Nahr is performed by thrusting a knife in the animal's libba [the hollow between the two collarbones at the base of the neck] by which the four aforementioned vessels or the windpipe and the gullet are severed. In the well known opinion of the Maliki school, scholars maintained that nahr is achieved by fatally stabbing an animal in its libba with a knife without stipulating severing any of the four channels. This method is best reserved for slaughtering camels and other long necked animals that are lawful for consumption while cutting across the throat should be reserved for short necked animals such as cows, sheep and so forth. However, since both of these methods are sanctioned by Islamic law, they are substitutable. The evidence for this is the hadith that states: "Slaughtering is by cutting across the throat or thrusting an animal in its libba" [Reported by al-Darqatni in his Sunan (vol. 4, p.283) from the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah. This hadith was also mentioned by al-Bukhari in his Sahih (the Book of sacrifices and Hunting, the section on Slaughtering) from a raised chain report narrated by Ibn 'Abbas [may Allah be pleased with them both].
'Aqr, or what is known as necessity slaughtering, is performed by fatally wounding the animal on any part of its body. According to the unanimous opinion of scholars, this is the manner of slaughter that becomes necessary if the animal tries to escape and its owner is unable to control it. There is a scholarly agreement that this is likewise the manner used for game animals but not for those that can be controlled.
Who is to perform slaughtering?
It is unlawful to eat from the meat of an animal slaughtered by other than a Muslim, Christian or Jew because it is considered the meat of an unslaughtered dead animal.
Based on the above, there is no objection to slaughtering chickens in the manner described in the question while following the above mentioned conditions. Rather, this method must be implemented if it protects against this deadly disease and due to the prohibition of killing and harming an individual.