Slaughtering in the Hamam
Tonight I witnessed the slaughtering of a chicken. It was a surprise. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that there was a chicken in the house until I asked if I could use the extension cord to plug my computer in when Habib took me onto the enclosed balcony to look for the cord and said in AZ, “Oh look, there’s a chicken!” Sure enough there was a chicken. Habib gestured that they were going to slaughter the chicken. The gesture was the universal sign of sliding his forefinger across his jugular vein. Apparently they bought the chicken to slaughter for baby Fidan to eat. A live chicken costs around 7-8 manat, and an already slaughtered and prepared chicken costs about 3 manat, but everyone knows that a freshly slaughtered chicken is much better than one that’s been sitting on ice for days. I asked Ilkane who would slaughter the chicken and she explained that one of the men would do it because women don’t slaughter animals. Also, a man cannot slaughter the animal if he drinks. These are the laws of Halal.
Not more than 20 minutes after we discovered the chicken, Habib came knocking at my bedroom door to let me know that Hasan would be doing the deed. I immediately went to get my camera so that I could document the entire thing. Hasan put on his papaq (the Muslim yarmulkah), grabbed a knife, quickly sharpened the edge, grabbed the squawking chicken by its feet, had an argument with Minaya about where he would slaughter the animal (she wanted him to do it on the floor of the kitchen, but they just remodeled and that seemed unacceptable to him), and went to the hamam (washroom, where we all bathe), said a quick prayer to Allah, and removed the head of the chicken. He then sat there for a few minutes while the blood drained unto to floor. I watched the entire thing. I’ve never seen an animal being slaughtered before. I have to admit that I was slightly underwhelmed. I know that must sound terribly insensitive, but really the animal at the time of slaughter was so completely still and calm that its death was fairly uneventful. It wasn’t until the chicken was brought into the kitchen and Minaya starting pulling it apart from the inside out, feather by feather that I was glad that I was not the chicken.