Photo by Patrick Fore, Unsplash.
“Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praises are celebrated by all beings in the heavens and on earth, and by the birds with extended wings? Each one knows its prayer and psalm, and Allah is aware of what they do.” ~Qur’an 24:41
When I first saw this video, I was amazed, and of course, wanted to share it with others. What I soon discovered is that every Muslim I know had already seen it!
If you’re a Muslim and you’re not living in the remotest caves of Tora Bora, you’ve probably seen it too.
The reason it’s so popular is that it’s so amazing.
The subject of the video is goats responding to the invocation of Allah’s name, and submitting to ritual slaughter. Don’t worry.
No goats are actually slaughtered in the video.
Now, of course, the idea of slaughtering animals, even for food, doesn’t sit well with a lot of us. My mother used to tell me stories of how when she was still a child, she was expected to fetch a chicken off their farm and lop it’s head off with a hatchet. I can’t imagine doing something like that.
To me, the chicken we eat comes in tidy packages I buy from a store. But the reality is that factory farming has come under fire for questionable practices that lead to unnecessary cruelty to animals. Those who purchase food produced in this system, and then criticize Islamic ritual slaughter as inhumane are calling into question the true motive behind their ‘concerns’ due to their obvious lack of consistency.
If you’re a vegan, then you’re justified in criticizing all forms of slaughter. Perhaps also if you’re vegetarian, though you might think twice about buying milk and eggs produced on factory farms as those animals are not necessarily treated well either.
The Golden Rule
Does the Golden Rule apply to animals? I would say that it most certainly does and that this is the position made clear in Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is well-known telling the Muslims to treat animals with kindness, and the Qur’an tells us that animals are also Allah’s creatures, like ourselves.
“…there is no beast that walks on earth and no bird that flies on its two wings which is not [God’s] creature like yourselves: no single thing have We neglected in Our decree. And once again: Unto their Sustainer shall they [all] be gathered.” ~Qur’an 6:38
But the matter of humane slaughter reveals a bit of a sticky wicket with regard to the Golden Rule. We should treat animals kindly because that’s the way we would want to be treated. But who among us wants to be slaughtered and eaten!?
I hear the echoes of Immanuel Kant and his criticism of the Golden Rule.
It is the nature of creation to have a food chain. Animals participate without question, but humans face ethical questions. We don’t all agree on the answers. From an Islamic perspective, our answers to every question must be in accordance with the nature of Allah’s creation.
If He created animals to be slaughtered for our food, then He created them in accordance, meaning they will submit willingly to this process.
Does that sound impossible?
Video: Goats Are Good Muslims
See for yourself what happens when Allah’s name is invoked…