Slaughtering animals without piety is not sacrifice
Published : Tuesday, 21 August, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 1199
For the past three years a fearsome rivalry has erupted between a handful of nouveau riche businessmen at my locality, and that stupid rivalry is about, who can afford the biggest and the most expensive sacrificial cattle during the Eid-ul-Azha. The vulgar competition is all about showing of wealth to garner cheap attention of the neighbourhood. This writer neither has the money, nor the desire to compete with them. But last evening, he somewhat failed to control his temper as he came across a beast-like cow barricading the entrance of his house. My rich and not-very-well-known neighbour, also the owner of four apartments within the vicinity, somehow miscalculated the weight of my local influence and professional identity.
His gigantic cow was removed in less than fifteen minutes, and that too by his personal cronies who had placed it. Baffled and angered at my action, he came down only to see me standing accompanied by no less than a gang of twenty, mostly youngsters. Sensing an impending brawl in the brewing, he faked a smile and offered his due apologies.
The surprising truth about many of our so-called devoted Muslims today -- they like to house their animals in whatever public or private space there is left around. Many don't even find it important to seek permission. The point, however, such inattentiveness for accommodating and blatant exhibitionism of newly acquired wealth has become the norm of one of the holiest Islamic occasions.
As luck would have it, the time has miserably once more returned to remind our rich people of the Quranic verse, revealed some 1500 years ago , saying - "Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good." (22: 37) When I had mentioned the Quranic verse to my rich neighbour, he couldn't make head or tail of it. He sported a puzzled look before he vanished. If you are wealthy enough to import the most expensive camel from the Arab deserts, please feel free to do so. And make sure to keep and slay the animal with due responsibility, without irritating others.
In the long run -- the God is not interested about the size or value of the animal you slaughter -- He values your inner and unseen piety. It cannot be seen or calculated in terms of your material wealth. It's purely divine and spiritual between the creator and the created. Whatever, this piece is not meant for delivering spiritual guidance, it is meant for two reasons. First, none has the right to cause uncalled-for irritations for others during the holy festival, and second, the unholy nexus competing for the better and the biggest animal is eating up the spirit of sacrifice.
Not only during the Eid-ul-Azha, the religious piety among us seems to be evaporating fast -- leaving us spiritually void only for executing prescribed rituals. There are still many I know who procure animals despite a spree of financial challenges. Rather fascinatingly, they never disclose their endured hardships. They entirely act out of religious piety. At times I wonder, had the god not intervened at the right time to stop Prophet Ibrahim from slaughtering his favourite son, what would have happened?
Whatever, divine interventions are divine, and beyond human comprehension. One of the main trials of Abraham's (Prophet Ibrahim) life was to face the command of God to sacrifice his dearest possession, his son, the son is not named in the Quran, but we Muslims believe it to be Ishmael (Prophet Ismail), whereas it is mentioned as Isaac in the Bible. Upon hearing this command, Abraham prepared to submit to the will of God. And today, we know the rest from different interpretations what followed next.
When the sacred command for replacing the young Prophet Ismail with an animal had arrived to Prophet Ibrahim -- the cost size, or meat of the sacrificial animal didn't matter then -- but it matters now. Thus was born an entire new methodology and operating procedure for butchering the cattle.
When confronted with the challenge of love and allegiance, Prophet Ibrahim chose to submit unconditionally to God while suppressing his unending love for his child. We have gone even further; we submit and also compete to slaughter the bigger and beautiful animals bought at a higher cost, but with the least knowledge about the significance of sacrifice. Last of all, this Eid is not all about slaughter and sacrifice but also an occasion of sumptuous meaty dishes. Cook, eat and share them as much possible. Sadly, none of our prophets are alive to celebrate the Eid gastronomy with us. Had they lived, the God almighty would have surely sent down a set of divine beef, mutton or chicken recipes.
Happy Eid to all.
The writer is Assistant Editor,
The Daily Observer