The articles on this website may be reproduced freely as long as the following source reference is provided: Joseph A Islam


Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)




joseph islam.jpg

Printer Friendly Version

Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 29th January 2012


There are some Muslims that advocate that the Quran does not mention 'slaughter' as the prescribed method to kill an animal for food. Furthermore, it is asserted by some that Muslims are free to eat an animal by killing it in any way it is deemed appropriate, the only precursor being the pronouncement of ‘Bismillah’ (In the name of God) during eating.

The intention of this article is not to argue a specific method of how an animal is to be captured or immobilised before it is sacrificed (on the understanding that whatever method is used is as humane as possible with minimum injury to the animal). However, the article does intend to show clearly from scripture that the 'death stroke' should occur by a process of slaughter.


Four areas will be discussed:


                    (1) Slaughtering of animals

                    (2) Is 'Thakaytum' synonymous with 'Thubiha' (aka. ziba/dhiba)?

                    (3) Has the term 'Thubiha' or its root word been used elsewhere in the Quran?

                    (4) Pronounce the name of God before you kill the animal






"Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat (Arabic: maytatu), blood (Arabic: damu), the flesh of swine (Arabic: walahmu-lkhanziri) and that on which has been invoked the name of other than God that which has been killed by strangling or by a violent blow (Arabic: mawqudhatu) or by a headlong fall or by being gored to death; that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless you are able to slaughter it (Arabic: Thakaytum) (in due form); that which is sacrificed (Arabic: Thubiha) on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any forced by hunger with no inclination to transgression God is indeed Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful""



Illustrations - Joseph Islam


Please note that the Arabic word 'Thakaytum' has been used for 'slaughter' as a lawful manner of ending the life of an animal for consumption. This term appears in the same verse and is contrasted with the rejection of meat sacrificed on stone altars. Here the term 'Thubiha' is actually used, clearly indicating a familiarity of this process of sacrifice.


So what is the significance of using the word 'Thakaytum' instead of a derivative of 'Thiba/Ziba'?






Please take particular note of the meaning of the word ‘Thakaytum’ as understood by classical Arabs which has been used to signify the ending of life in a particular manner, exclusive of any other manner. This has been well attested, by strong classical lexicon authority to signify slaughter. Furthermore, it is the details of 'slaughter' which are debated (and left to the development of Shariah / law) and not the word's significance as to mean 'slaughter'.




Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [1]




Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [2]



Once again it is noted that the synonymous nature of the term 'Thakaytum' with 'Thiba / Ziba' is not disputed. However classical legal jurists have indeed discussed the 'extent' and finer details of the slaughtering process. This is a rather different matter.


Please see related article [1] below.





Root: DHAL/THAL-BA-HA (Thiba / Ziba)


Means to split / rip, cut the throat, sacrifice, trench, to slaughter / massacre, slay in large number, that which is sacrificed, victim, slaughtered one.



Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [3]




Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [4]



The most powerful authority of sacrificing the animal via the process of 'Thiba / Ziba' can be attested from the Quran itself. In Surah Baqarah (Chapter 2) named after the incident in question, a narrative is captured in which God asks the people of Moses to slaughter a Heifer. However, through their continual questioning making use of Moses as a conduit they created the difficulty for the task. Here the word 'Thiba / Ziba' is utilised making it clear that the correct scriptural prescription has always been to sacrifice the animal by the action of 'Thiba / Ziba'



"(Moses) answered: Indeed! He says: Verily she is a cow unyoked; she ploughs not the soil nor waters the tilth; whole and without mark. They said: Now you bring the truth. So they sacrificed her (Arabic: Thabahu - Root: TH-BA-HA), though almost they did not"





Illustration - Joseph Islam



God's request to sacrifice by Thiba/Ziba can clearly be read only a few verses earlier in 2:67



"And remember Moses said to his people: "God commands that you sacrifice (Arabic: Tadhbahu - Root: TH-BA-HA) a heifer." They said: "Do you make a laughing-stock of us?" He said: "God save me from being an ignorant (fool)!"




Illustration - Joseph Islam



Other uses of 'Thiba' in the Quran:


·                     Solomon threatens to slaughter the Hoopoe Bird due to the possibility of it being AWOL (27:21)

·                     Abraham's dream and the sacrifice of his son (37.102)

·                     Abraham's son ransomed by a tremendous sacrifice (37.102)

·                     Pharaoh's dreadful torment in slaughtering sons (2:49, repeated 14:6 and 28:4)






"The sacrificial animals (Arabic: Bud'na) we have made for you as among the symbols from God: in them is (much) good for you: then mention the name of God over them as they line up: when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), then eat from them and feed the needy that do not ask and the needy that ask. Thus We have subjected them to you so that you may be grateful.


Please note that the Arabic word 'Budna' (from the root Ba-Dal-Nun) is not restricted to 'camels' as is often translated, but the term covers any animal of sacrifice such as a cow, bull, goat or camel.


As it can be argued that the above is a requirement specific to sacrificial rites, the following verse imparts an example which is not regarding sacrificial animals.


They ask you what is lawful to them Say: lawful to you are (all) things good and pure: and what you have taught your trained hunting dogs in the manner directed to you by God: eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of God over it: and fear God; for God is swift in taking account” 

Hunting animals (such as dogs) normally catch prey and this verse is not necessarily dealing with sacrificial animals. This verse also follows the verse which details food restrictions.

The verse is clear that one is to pronounce the name of God over the food that is caught. It can be argued that this verse simply requires one to pronounce the name of God before eating the animal and not during slaughter. However, as carrion (dead meat) is forbidden, the hunting animal will be trained to bring the prey alive or in a state where it can be made lawful to eat (by slaughtering it in a lawful manner). It is in this context that the pronouncement of God’s name is being mentioned which is being posited as a requirement for slaughter.





It should be noted that some stunning processes render an animal temporary immobile. This is not the contention here. The contention is purely that death that results as a direct cause of the blow to an animal renders it unlawful for consumption.





Illustration - Joseph Islam


The Arabic word used is 'mawqudhatu' in its verb form 'Waqadha'. The root of this word is:  Waw-Qaf-Dhal/Thal which means to beat till death, to strike violently or to be killed by a blow.



Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [5] 





There are undoubtedly heinous practices carried out in the industry where animals are tortured, kept confined, maltreated and slaughtered indiscriminately by methods which defy belief. All efforts must be undertaken to expose such practices to the relevant authorities and the public so that they can be curtailed.


However, please see a video below which provides one example of the kind of Islamic approach to be taken when preparing an animal for slaughter. Note the way animals should be treated which results in the relative composure of the animals.


There is no actual slaughter shown in the video.





(Please note that I am not in any way affiliated with or known to the individuals / company shown in the video)







The process of Z-B-H (sacrifice) has always been the prescribed way to kill an animal, attested by the Quran itself as shown by the example in Surah Baqarah. This can also be attested from the previous scriptures.

The term 'Thakaytum' has a specific rendering and means to 'kill in the manner of the law'. Indeed this may have given rise to discussions which deal with the 'extent' of the law and slaughtering specifics but in no way does the term indicate (certainly from evidence and linguistic scrutiny) anything other than to 'Thiba / Ziba' (slaughter).

If we take a cue from the story of the Heifer itself, maybe the details are not so important as is the general act. But this too is another topic.



Related Article:

(1)    Thakaytum





[1] LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 3, Page 971

Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., Page 953

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., Volume 8, 2959




Joseph Islam

© 2010   All Rights Reserved