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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Make this Eid ul Adha different: Spare the Animals

Eid ul Adha is on or around the corner. I wish you all a safe, happy and fulfilling celebration with your family and friends.

All I ask is, please spare the poor goat or lamb or cow’s life. For those who want to sacrifice this writer instead, please scroll down and read Chapter 22, Verse 37 from the Holy Qur'an as translated by Marmaduke, Yusufali, Asad and Usmani: or pick your own copy and re-read it.

The Qur'an talks about your devotion, piety, God-consciousness and taqwa that reaches Him. The purpose of sacrifice is to understand the spirit of parting with what you hold dear (your wealth), it is not some muqabla against four-legged animals.

Please pause and think ... That, after all, is what religion should make us do rather than blindly following ritual.

According to the many organizations that will perform the sacrifice for you if you live abroad, the cost of one goat/sheep is US$ 160 in the US (that is more than one month's salary for a college educated Pakistani professional). The price in Pakistan is cheaper, but not by much. Only the well wheeled can afford it. The Poor cannot even budget for a kilo of meat a month.

Is there a better way to 'sacrifice' the 150-200 dollars or the Rs. 10,000 or more in the name of Allah that is useful to His bandas? A way that captures the spirit of sacrifice that qurbani entails and helps us meet our religious obligation as well as the social welfare and redistribution that is its deeper purpose?

The Qur'an reminds us that Allah looks at intent not the blood. Maybe we too should pay heed to the intent of qurbani?

The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 22, Verse 37.

Their flesh and their food reach not Allah, but the devotion from you reacheth Him. Thus have We made them subject unto you that ye may magnify Allah that He hath guided you. And give good tidings (O Muhammad) to the good.Marmaduke

It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches God: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify God for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right. Abdullah Yusufali

[But bear in mind:] never does their flesh reach God, and neither their blood: it is only your God-consciousness that reaches Him. It is to this end that We have made them subservient to your needs, so that you might glorify God for all the guidance with which He has graced you. And give thou this glad tiding unto the doers of good Muhammad Asad

It is neither their flesh nor their blood that reaches Allah, but what does reach Him is the taqwā (the sense of obedience) on your part. Thus He has made them (the animals) subjugated to you, so that you proclaim Allah’s glory for the guidance He gave you. And give good news to those who are good in their deeds. Mufti Muhammed Taqi Usmani

The meat from the sacrificial animal is intended to be divided into three parts: 1/3rd each for your self, family and friends, and for the needy and the poor. I would suggest we fore go our share, and give the whole amount to the poor including poor relations.

On my last visit I saw a lot of people drive up to a certain "hotel" (Pinglish for restaurant) and pay the owner X rupees to feed X number of hungry folks lined up outside. That is a noble idea. But would it not be better better to teach them to fish?

A manual sewing machine for a widow or unemployed poor woman? Tuition Fees or books for a poor student? Some money to ease the days for the unemployed people? A small monthly stipend to the poor that may bring a ray of hope in their lives and may perhaps deter them from abandoning their children to the fogs of terrorist factories?

We can think of many ways to make Him happy and spare the lamb. May Allah bless you and your family.