Allah (SWT) had sent Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as a Rahmatul lil 'Aalameen, translated as a Mercy to the universes. In this verse of the Qur'an, there is a clear implication that no creature of Allah was deprived of the general mercy of Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. In fact, it would not be incorrect to say that his entire life was a lesson of mercy for this ummah till the day of Qiyaamah. Animals to be slaughtered are no exception.
I don't believe I can do justice to the extreme emphasis laid upon showing mercy to the animals to be slaughtered, and animals in general, that is found in the ahadith, if I tried to express it. To such an extent that kindness to animals has been portayed in the ahadith as a very possible deciding factor between Jannah and Jahannam. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam narrated to the sahaba that a prostitute attained Jannah just because of giving water to a thirsty dog, whereas a woman who used to involve herself in a lot of ibaadah relegated herself to the pits of Jahannam for being cruel to a cat.
Once Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam entered a garden and on seeing a camel tied there, went up to it. The camel started to cry and complain to him about his master. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam immediately called and reprimanded the owner of the camel, telling him that the camel had complained of being overworked and underfed.
It is a pity that the Ummah has either forgotten or chosen to ignore this very important lesson of mercy, especially when it comes to the days of Qurbani and slaughtering. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam has said in one hadith, "When you slaughter, then do it in a beautiful manner." A beautiful manner refers to the one in which there is least suffering for the animal. Unfortunately, in the method that is employed by the majority, the animal has to unnecessarily suffer in a myriad of ways, a very serious mistake that could lead to dire consequences - :
1) Even long before slaughtering, the animals are treated very cruelly, large numbers crammed together in very small places, with insufficient grass and water. They are also whipped and mishandled more than is necessary.
2) One goat is slaughtered right infront of the other. This is a very serious mistake and has been specifically and emphatically forbidden in the hadith. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam has said, "Don't give the animal two deaths." Can you imagine the fear that overpowers the goat looking at his/her companion being slaughtered? That's death before death. Also, even if the goat can't see the other one being slaughtered, it's slaughtered right over the pool of blood created by the previous one. Do we imagine that the goat doesn't know what it is?
3) The knife is shown, and many times even sharpened, right infront of the goat. This paralyses the poor innocent animal with fear. Also, the animal is laid down, and with the knife, his hand poised ready to cut, the slaughterer recites long duas very slowly and calmly, oblivious of the poor animal's plight and agony as it sees the knife hovering above. Again, are we in the misconception that the goat doesn't know what it is?
4) The animal is skinned before it is completely dead, so in its last moments it has to suffer anew.
My dear brothers and sisters, all this is nothing but oppression, serious enough to land us in quite a bit of trouble in the court of Allah. DO WE BELIEVE THAT JUST BECAUSE IT CAN'T SPEAK, THE ANIMAL HAS NO FEELINGS?? Sadly, we have even ceased to think of it as wrong, or that this is also a big part of our beautiful Deen.
My humble plea to all - let us take important note of this in this Eid, and let us let as many people know as possible so that they can be saved from this henious sin. May Allah give us tawfeeq.