The following, slightly abridged, is a Fatwa – an interpretation of Islamic precepts – declared by the Grand Imam Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawy of Al Azhar in Cairo. The Imam is the foremost authority in Sunni Islam.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Thanks be to Allah and prayers and peace upon the noblest of all his messengers, Mohamed bin Abdullah, Allah’s Blessings and Peace Be Upon Him, upon his family, companions and whoever has followed them with piety till the Day of Judgment and upon all prophets and messengers.

Mr. Ahmed El Sherbeeny the Lawyer before the Court of Cassation and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends has submitted a letter including a request of a statement of the Islamic law opinion in two matters:

The first matter is about the opinion of the Islamic law with regards to those to (sic) torture the animal at the time of its slaughter by committing acts that contradict treating it with mercy.

The second matter is about the opinion of the Islamic law with regards to transporting the animals for long distances from one country to another by means that do not observe the safety of the animal or treating it with leniency in the manner mentioned in detail in his letter. To answer the foregoing, we say:

First: The Islamic law has made it a must that the animal would be treated at the time of its slaughter with leniency and the (sic) by the means that guarantee treating it with mercy. All this is included within the goodwill which was ordered by the prophet (Allah’s Peace & Blessings Be Upon Him) in his true saying (Hadith) in which he says “Allah Almighty has dictated goodwill in everything; if you kill you perfect the killing, if you slaughter you perfect the slaughter. In slaughtering one must sharpen the blade and comfort the animal before slaughtering it” narrated by Muslim. (sic) This Prophetic saying indicates that slaughtering an animal must be carried out with leniency and mercy…

It has been mentioned in the true Prophetic traditions what (sic) attests forbidding the sharpening of the slaughtering tool before the animal that will be slaughtered. The Prophet (Allah’s Peace & Blessings Be Upon Him) saw a man sharpening his knife before the animal that he was about to slaughter, so he forbid him from doing so and told him “Do you want to slaughter it twice, once with sharpening the blade before it and once more by cutting its throat?”

It has also been mentioned in the traditions narrated that Imam Aly (may Allah be pleased with him) prohibited the slaughter of sheep before each other or any other animals so that the feeling of the animal would not be hurt in its last moments…

Second: with regards to the second question, we hereby say that the call of Islam to be lenient with the animal and to treat it with mercy includes all cases that necessitate such mercy, among which is transporting the animal. Such transportation must be carried out by a comfortable mean that guarantees its safety, prohibits its torture, threatening its life or afflicting it with diseases that are contagious to the human being or third party. This is deduced for the Prophetic Saying of the Prophet (Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) “Any good deed rendered in a hardship is like an almsgiving and his saying, Peace Upon Him “A woman entered hell fire for detaining a cat which she had neither fed nor left to eat the leftovers of the land.”

These two sayings and others attest that treating the animal must be built on its mercy in all cases, among which is transporting it from one place to another. Torturing the animal at the time of its transport – pursuant to what is mentioned in the letter of the questioner – is considered prohibited and forbidden in the law of Islam if the case is as mentioned in the question.

Allah is Higher and Knows Best.

Azhar Sheikh Imam

Dr. Mohamed Sayed Tantawy (signed)

24 April 2008

Seal: Azhar Sheikhdom

Signed and attested as a true translation.

An Islamic Conference in October

The Egyptian Society of Animal Friends will be holding an Islamic Conference in October, to highlight the Fatwa, and, it is hoped, to jumpstart change in the Islamic world in relation to animals.

Ahmed Al Sherbiny says that plans for the Conference include hosting those directly in contact with the slaughterhouse industry, such as “slaughterhouse workers, managers, vets, officials, and police.”

Guests will include the Grand Sheikh (or his representative), the Ministry of Agriculture, and also, if the budget allows it, officials from Moslem countries who are involved in the long distance transport of live animals for slaughter.

A special guest will be Princess Alia Al Hussein of Jordan, a very active supporter and advocate for animals.

~ Many thanks to Best Friends for this information.