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Tradition and brutality
By:Muhammad Rafi. UK
Date: Tuesday, 5 September 2017, 4:18 pm

Upright Opinion

September 4, 2017
Islamic Tradition of Sacrifice and Brutality to the Animals
By Saeed Qureshi
I have been immensely appalled every year by the gleeful cruelty and sadism exhibited by the Muslims faithful in slaughtering the animals in order to fulfill one of the cardinal religious obligations. With bloodshot eyes and with the definitive resolve to kill the enemy by inflicting on it the maximum possible torture. The poor, helpless, dumb animal is surrounded by a few sturdy strong muscled individuals. According to a press report this year 8.1 million animal have been sacrificed alone in Pakistan
They knock the animal down by twisting and pulling his tail, while the others tie up his legs. Yet the others hold him fast by horns and the rest give the animal a push to fall down on the ground. The animal is tied down to the earth by several people while one of them slits its throat and jugular vein with a saber like knife. No one has the faintest idea how much pain the animals must be undergoing.
The gory scene gives an impression as if they are dealing with a bloodthirsty enemy and to avenge on him for the heinous crime that he had committed or else for defiling the females of the avenging persons. Watching the blood flowing out of the body of the animal is also considered as part of the ritual and this it gives a kind of satisfaction to the person offering sacrifice in the name of God. The animals can neither speak nor have a lawyer to protest or plead against this cruelty.
In the modern societies where animal flesh is voraciously consumed and is an integral part of the food, the animals are not subjected to the agony and callousness that is shown in the Muslim societies.
In Europe and elsewhere the companies dealing with the bulk supply of meat stun the animal with a gun or some instrument and then the body is dissected which is not at all painful to the animals for being unconscious.
This system or procedure can be practiced in Islamic countries also that otherwise make a mess of this very fundamental religious obligation. In every lane and street, park, public place and road the sacrificial animals are tethered for days on end. There is massive disruption of traffic and horrendous pollution of air with all kind of fodder, animal droppings, refuse, and smell. This unhygienic environment phenomenally aggravates and rather assumes unbearable fifthly proportions when after the slaughtering the heaps of offal, intestines, dried blood pools, entrails and other wasted portions of the slaughtered animals are seen scattered everywhere for days together.
The nauseating stench fills the air that does not go soon. These repugnant spectacles present a sheer contrast with unislamic societies where the pristine Islamic ritual is carried out scientifically, so hygienically and in such an organized manner.
In every lane and street, park, public place and road the sacrificial animals are tethered for days on end. There is massive disruption of traffic and horrendous pollution of air with all kind of fodder, animal droppings, refuse, and smell. This unhygienic environment phenomenally aggravates and rather assumes unbearable fifthly proportions when after the slaughtering the heaps of offal, intestines, dried blood pools, entrails and other wasted portions of the slaughtered animals are seen scattered everywhere for days together.
The nauseating stench fills the air that does not go soon. These repugnant spectacles present a sheer contrast with unislamic societies where the pristine Islamic ritual is carried out scientifically, so hygienically and in such an organized manner.
If we refuse to learn salutary and positive lessons and useful models from the advanced and civically vigilant societies in other spheres such as good governance, then we should at least follow the systems by which they manage their municipal affairs and keep the environment clean and pollution-free.
In America, the people are so much conscious of clean environment that they do not smoke within their houses even at midnight. I am a witness and a part of this commendable behavior as I live here. They go out of the house and offices for smoking. This also shows the citizens’ respect for the law, which ordains to smoke outside in the open.
If we refuse to learn salutary and positive lessons and useful models from the advanced and civically vigilant societies in other spheres such as good governance, then we should at least follow the systems by which they manage their municipal affairs and keep the environment clean and pollution-free.
In America, the people are so much conscious of clean environment that they do not smoke within their houses even at midnight. I am a witness and a part of this commendable behavior as I live here. They go out of the house and offices for smoking. This also shows the citizens’ respect for the law, which ordains to smoke outside in the open.
Here in America the Muslims do offer sacrifice of the animals mostly cows, goats and lambs. But the slaughtering is assigned to the professional meat sellers or certified butchers who buy the animals themselves against the uniformly fixed prices. These professionals slaughter the animals far away from the city in closely watched slaughterhouses or abattoirs. The meat in properly cut into pieces, put in the polythene bags and given to the faithful. All this process is done in a very neat, clean, and organized manner.
When we dig out the history of sacrifice, we know that invariably, the humans have been offering sacrifice of either animals or the humans. In Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Hindu civilizations, the human sacrifice to the deities and their idols has been in vogue from time immemorial. The Aztecs used to pluck the throbbing heart of their victims and hold it up to the Sun God.
However, the ritual or the religious obligation of sacrifice was first started by Hazrat Ibrahim(PBUH), (in English it is Abraham) the father of the so known Semitic or Ibrahimic religions. Prophet Ibrahim made a covenant with God that he would slay his son after he received the divine commandment to do so.
Ibrahim had two wives. The first wife’s name was Sara and the second’s name was Hajira (called bondwoman in (Bible).
It is amazing that when Sara doesn’t conceive, she allows Ibrahim to go into Hajira (in English it is Hagar) their Egyptian maid servant. From Hajira the son Ismael was born. But after a few years in her old age, Sara by a miracle, also gives birth to a male child who was named Ishaq. Ismael and Ishaq are both treated as Prophets in Islam. At that time, the age of Ismael was 14 years.
It is also stated in Bible that Sara became envious and asked Ibrahim to send the slave woman Hajira and his son Ismael away because Ismael scoffed on her and her son Ishaq. In compliance with the command of Sara, Prophet Ibrahim gives them some food and a skin of water and sends them away. It means that it was not command of God but the desire of Sara for their expulsion from house.
In contrast, the prevailing belief in Islam is that he went with them all the way to a place in desert and left them there. Hajira wandered in the desert of Beersheba (presumably Mecca). When water finished Hajira in sheer desperation and anguish closed her eyes not to see the child dying because of thirst. But at that moment the angel or God called her and asked her to open her eyes.
When she opened her eyes, she saw a water well. Ismael lived in there and grew up. However historically it surmises that the Zam Zam well in Mecca had been there even in earlier times i.e. (before 1900 BC). The caravans used to pass by and stay there on their journey to rest and proceed after refreshing themselves.
As far emergence of water in desert is concerned both Biblical and Islamic versions are the same. But in matter of sacrifice the Biblical version is different with that of the prevalent Islamic faith. In Islam, it was Ismael, the elder son chosen for sacrifice. In Bible, it was Ishaq the son of Sara taken away for the sacrifice in compliance with the command of God.
Bible vividly describes as to how Ibrahim took his son Ishaq to a far-off place called “Land of Moria” for the sacrifice (in Bible it has been termed as burnt offer). He also took two servants and a donkey with him. After reaching the land of Moria, Ibrahim left behind his servants and asks them to wait for his return Then he moves ahead with Ishaq. He also carried in his hands a load of wood, a knife and burning fire. When they were walking towards the alter (place of sacrifice) on the way Ishaq asks his father that he can see the fire and the pile of wood but where was the ram. Ibrahim replied that God would provide that. This question is also asked by Ismael in the Islamic version. At the appointed place Ibrahim made an altar, put the wood on that and tied Ishaq. He took out the knife to slay Ishaq when the angel called him and forbade him not to proceed with his act of slaying.
Ibrahim raised his eyes and saw a ram caught up in thicket. He caught the ram and sacrificed it. The angel or God conversed with Ibrahim for the second time and told him that his sacrifice was accepted and his progeny would spread and prosper. The islamic version exactly corresponds with that of the Bible but replacing the name of Ishaq with Ismael.
One can wonder that How Prophet Muhammad could have decided that the story of sacrifice relating to Ishaq was not true and that the one concerning Ismael was true. Till the time of Prophet Muhammad and his proclamation of Ismael as the one who was chosen for the sacrifice, it was Ishaq who was believed through the Bible or socially to be the one chosen for sacrifice as a fulfillment of divine commandment to Prophet Ibrahim. And that variance in version leads to the division of faith on this count between Islam on one side and the Judaism and Christianity on the other.
The Islamic version doesn’t speak about Ishaq being sacrificed but only of Ismael. In Islamic version, the boy rubs his ankles on the ground and his mother runs 7 times between two hillocks (Safa and Marwa) to find water. However, besides this episode it is also narrated in Quran that just close to where the water or the well appeared, Ismael was taken for sacrifice. That is why Muslim pilgrims also go and stone the Satan who dissociated Ibrahim not to obey the command of God.
It means that the appearance of Zamzam (the water well or fountain) and sacrifice event happened at the same place. As per Islamic version if Ismael was rubbing his feet on the ground because of thirst then he could be an infant. Or else he was an adult and still rubbing his feet as a grown-up boy because of thirst.
Since this legend is narrated to have happened in the vicinity of Mecca, the Arabs even before the advent of Islam might have been observing the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim by sacrificing the animals.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), proclaimed the sacrifice of animals as one of the five pillars of the edifice of Islam. These five pillars are: one Shahada (proclamation of Ismael) second prayer, third fasting, fourth Zakat (giving charity) and fifth Pilgrimage to Mecca. Saying prayers five times a day and fasting for full lunar month (Ramadan) are mandatory.
I am curious to know if God’s covenant or condition conveyed to Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice the animals as a tradition or Sunnat, was exclusive to him only or was later ordained and decreed for everyone. Did the successive generations perform this ritual of Ibrahimic legacy one of which is to sacrifice animals to please God? As far, we know that the vivid tradition of sacrifice had not been clearly laid out until the proclamation of Islam as the religion by Prophet Muhammad.
Historically, during these millenniums (1900 BC to 650 CE), only Jewish and Christian faiths were practiced. While the land of Moria where Ishaq was taken for sacrificing has been forgotten. In contrast Mecca had become the center of religious, economic and traveling activities. It could have been due to Black Stone fixed in Khana Kaaba since the time of prophet Adam who traditionally brought it to the earth from the Heaven.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com

Messages In This Thread

Tradition and brutality
Muhammad Rafi. UK -- Tuesday, 5 September 2017, 4:18 pm
Re: Tradition and brutality
Javed Chaudry, Michigan -- Tuesday, 5 September 2017, 4:48 pm
Tradition and Brutality
Dr Shabbir, Florida -- Tuesday, 5 September 2017, 4:50 pm