February 01, 2004


Tomorrow is Eid-ul-Azha, one of the two biggest religious festivals of Muslims. For Muslims all over the world, the celebration is mainly slaughtering sacrificial animals on this day after the Eid Prayer.

Some 3800 years ago, on this day, Prophet Ibrahim (A) offered to sacrifice his beloved son Prophet Ismail for the satisfaction of Almighty Allah. But in spite of his willingness, Ismail was spared by Allah and a ram was sacrificed instead. That's how the ritual began.

The sacrifice of animals is symbolic. Hazrat Ibrahim's sacrifice conveys something noble and something ideal. That is the Muslims who sacrifice animals every year on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha in consonance with Lord Creator's commandment should sacrifice atleast a small portion of their wealth keeping in view the symbolism in order to bridge the wide gap between the haves and havenots. As it is stated in Quran:

"It is not your meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is piety that reaches Him:"

But it will be a sorry state of Dhaka city tomorrow as mostly the goats and cows would be sacrificed openly in the streets. For lack of sufficient slaughter houses in the city and ample space inside own house compounds most people have no option than to choose the streets. There are also competitions among the riches for purchasing the costliest and the largest animal. Many slaughters more than one animal in one family. They do not think that the cattle and goat population in our country cannot meet their demand. Every year during Eid-ul-Azha many cattles are brought from India through legal and illegal channels. For Hindus these cattles are a symbol of God. They do not eat beef. And we, the Muslims in Dhaka are not well mannered enough to keep the sacrifices away from a public place like the street. For children and weak hearted also cattles lying in a pool of blood is not a good sight. It is said that slaughtering your own animal is advisable. How savage! I would never endorse it. And what happens to all the flesh? One-third of it has to be given to the poors. One-third for the relatives and one-third for own consumption. I see everytime many families are really in dire straits not being able to manage storing all the meat given by the relatives. And you would not find real poor persons to give away. There are some professional meat collectors disguised as poors who will sell away the meat to some others (or even to some restaurants!). What an waste!

I thought we are living in the twenty first century not 1700 years BC. We always forget that the sacrifice is symbolic. There has to be some other way to sacrifice a portion of our wealth. Considering the growing population and increased purchasing power, there will be more demand for sacrifice animals. Will they face extinction or will the agriculture or dairy industry will have problems because of this; only time will tell.

I wish I could spend these holidays in some other place. I hate to see blood.


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