Study the Teachings of Ifa

Muslims are only allowed to eat meat that has been killed according to Sharia law. This method of killing is often attacked by animal rights activists as barbaric blood-thirsty ritual slaughter. Muslims disagree. They say that Islamic law on killing animals is designed to reduce the pain and distress that the animal suffers.

Islamic slaughter rules

These are the rules for Islamic slaughter:

  • the slaughterer must be a sane adult Muslim
  • the slaughterer must say the name of God before making the cut
    • The name of God is said in order to emphasise the sanctity of life and that the animal is being killed for food with God's consent
  • the animal must be killed by cutting the throat with the single continuous back and forth motion of a sharp knife
    • the cut must sever at least three of the trachea, oesophagus, and the two blood vessels on either side of the throat
    • the spinal cord must not be cut
  • animals must be well treated before being killed
  • animals must not see other animals being killed
  • the knife must not be sharpened in the animal's presence
  • the knife blade must be free of blemishes that might tear the wound
  • the animal must not be in an uncomfortable position
  • the animal must be allowed to bleed out

Animal sacrifice in Santeria

Animal sacrifice is central to Santeria. The animal is sacrificed as food, rather than for any obscure mystical purpose.

Followers of an Orisha will offer them food and sacrifice animals to them in order to build and maintain a personal relationship with the spirit. The process not only brings the worshipper closer to their Orisha, but makes them more aware of the presence of the Orisha within them.

Black rooster A chicken: the most common sacrifice. © Sue McDonald ©

This is a mutual process; the food is essential for the Orishas, who will die without being fed, and in return the Orishas are able to help the worshippers. Orishas are also nourished by other forms of worship and praise.

Sacrifices are performed for life events such as birth, marriage, and death. They are also used for healing.

Without sacrifice the religion would die out, as sacrifice is essential for initiation into the faith community and the 'ordination' of priests.

The animals are killed by cutting the carotid arteries with a single knife stroke in a similar way to other religious methods of slaughter.

Animals are cooked and eaten following all Santeria rituals (except healing and death rites, where the sickness is believed to pass into the dead animal). Eating the sacrificed animal is considered a sharing with the Orisha, who only consumes the animal's blood, while the worshippers eat the meat.