BOOKS: The Fatwa of Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi on Slaughter & Transport of Animals
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2008:
The Fatwa of Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi on Slaughter & Transport of Animals
Egyptian Society of Animal Friends (30 Korshed St. /Rd. 293, New
Maadi, Egypt; <email@example.com>;
ANIMAL PEOPLE noted in a June 2008 cover article on the
resumption of live animal exports from Australia to Egypt that even
if Egypt fails to enforce secular law governing animal transport and
slaughter, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the Chief Imam and Shaikh of
al-Azhar, Egypt, had issued a fatwa, or religious opinion, meant
to reinforce the observance of the intent of the hallal slaughter
laws, meant to minimize animal suffering, that are central to
The Egyptian Society of Animal Friends has now published the
fatwa as a handbook, also including the “Five Freedoms” and
Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.
The “Five Freedoms,” first enumerated in 1967 by a British
government-appointed panel, require that all captive animals be
guaranteed freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; freedom
from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to
express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress. The
Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, evolving as a proposed item
of international legislation for more than 80 years, in present form
surrounds the “Five Freedoms” with points of cultural context.
The Tantawi fatwa points out that the tenets embodied in the
“Five Freedoms” and Universal Declaration are already requirements of
Islam, articulated by Mohammed.
ESAF published the handbook on the eve of a two-day
conference in Cairo on ‘The Islamic Principles on Animal Transport
and Slaughter,” held just ahead of the annual conference of the
World Organization for Animal Health. The latter organization,
created by the United Nations, is better known by the French
The ESAF conference and publication ceremonies included
participation by three senior Islamic scholars from Al-Ahzar
University, widely seen as the world’s leading institution of
Islamic learning; Nasser Farid Wasef, former mufti (chief scholar)
for Egypt; the Jordanian minister of religious affairs, and
Princess Alia Al Hussein of Jordan.
The OIE conference also emphasized the need to improve animal
welfare in animal husbandry, transport, and slaughter, and asked
the international donor community to help developing nations
worldwide to achieve high animal welfare standards.
As the delegates to the ESAF and OIE conferences crossed
paths in Cairo, the Reuters news syndicate on October 21, 2008
distributed “Under-ground cattle trade thrives in Gaza tunnels,” by
Palestinian correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi.
“When the calves were hauled out of the tunnel from
Egypt,” the article from Rafah, Gaza began, “they could hardly
stand. After a terrifying 1,000-metre underground trip into the
Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, what the young cattle wanted most was
a long drink of cool water. Underground livestock smuggling has
increased dramatically ahead of Eid Al-Adha, the day of sacrifice
[December 10, 2008] when Muslims slaughter animals and feed the
poor to seek God’s forgiveness.”
Nidal al-Mughrabi interviewed tunnel operator Abu Luqaib,
23, “as his crew pulled a bawling calf up the deep shaft by a simple
rope around its middle. The calves cost $350 each plus $250 for the
transport, a total of $600 per head,” Nidal al-Mughrabi learned.
The traffic is dangerous for humans as well as animals.
Just in 2008, more than 45 people have reportedly been killed in
cave-ins during smuggling operations.
But stressful as the tunnel journey is for calves headed
toward sacrifice, it is short, and the calves are watered at the
end of it. They may be among the best treated of all the animals
who are transported each year for Eid Al-Adha sacrifice: about
700,000 killed at the conclusion of the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca,
plus two to three million who will be killed either by or on behalf
of the 1.3 billion Muslims who remain at home.
The ESAF handbook may help those animals, and many
more–especially if Muslim consumers join animal advocates in
pressuring everyone involved in livestock transport and slaughter to
observe the hallal principles, if animals are to be transported and
slaughtered at all.