Skip to main content

Should Muslims sacrifice cattle on Eid-al-Adha? God 'doesn't want' animals slaughtered

By Dr Mike Ghouse*
On Friday, July 31, 2020, over a billion and a half Muslims around the world will be slaughtering millions of goats, camels, and cattle to carry out Abraham's tradition of sacrificing the symbolic lamb. Is there an alternative to the ritual of slaying animals on Eid Al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice? The answer is yes!
Rituals are the pathways to accomplish milestones of peace for oneself and with what surrounds one; life and environment. None of us can escape from the ceremonies. Each of us instinctively follows certain routines, from waking up to the time we go to sleep. Whether we shower, eat breakfast, go to the office, or gym, we follow the rituals.
The essence of Islam is to create cohesive societies where every human feels secure about his/her faith, race, religion, region, or ethnicity. It is time for Muslims to consider the essence of sacrifice rather than the ritual itself.
Real sacrifice requires us to give up some of what is dear to us. It is about parents going to sleep without food but feeding their kids; it is clothing their kids while waiting to get their own. In the case of extremities, we would instead get the bullet and save our loved ones, we are willing to rescue an individual from a freezing lake risking our own lives, and even strangers do that.
A thousand years ago, a man's assets were made up of his goats, camels, and cattle. The ultimate sacrifice one would make was to give away his precious assets in gifts. Today, the most cherished possession is money, and people must be willing to part some of it to give the ability to the receiver to spend on his/her critical needs.
One of the examples set up for guidance was the test of Abraham's faith, love, and devotion to God, which humans do routinely, "If you love me, you would do this for me." A simple assurance would suffice, be it your fiancé, spouse, kids, siblings, or parents.
Essence of Islam is to create cohesive societies where every human feels secure about his/her faith, race, religion, region, or ethnicity
It was Abraham's turn to face the command of God to sacrifice his son. Upon hearing this, he prepared to submit to God's will and places his son on the block. Right at that moment, a lamb appears as an alternative. Then God revealed to Abraham that his "sacrifice" has already been fulfilled.
Does God want animals to be sacrificed? Not at all. Qur'an, Al-Hajj 22:37 (The Pilgrimage), is clear:
"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."
The act symbolizes our willingness to give up a part of our bounties to strengthen and preserve the web of the universe and help those in need. We recognize that all blessings come from God, and we should open our hearts and share with others.

What would you sacrifice instead?

It is customary for Muslims to sacrifice an animal on the day of the Hajj, a symbolic representation of Prophet Abraham's act. What are our alternatives?
We can put that money to a different use that will do greater good like lending to a street hawker who can sell things from a cart and take care of his family or a single mom who can weave baskets or make sweaters to take care of her family. The beauty of this practice is you can make the same money repeatedly work for the common good. Muslims call it Sadaq-e-Jariah, which is continual giving.
Dr. Nauman Anwar said:
"Sacrificing animals without making a public spectacle is still a good idea, as long as no wastage of the meat and hides occur. Many Muslim countries have a lot of poverty, and if the meat reaches the deserving population, it will help improve the nutritional status of the poor.
"Let your single sacrifice multiply rather than the one-time sacrifice of animals. Prophet Muhammad had emphasized service to fellow humans as the highest service to God. Quran (4:152) says, if you are kind to your fellow humans, which is my creation, you will earn my grace regardless of your faith.”

Every day our police officers and firemen risk their own lives to protect ours, our freedom is protected by our men and women in the uniforms. I urge fellow Muslims to stop and salute every one of these men and women, honoring them for their love for humanity. Better yet, call the firemen, policemen, and let them know that as a Muslim you appreciate their sacrifice, and this festival is about appreciation for such sacrifice.
I did that in Louisville; within minutes, the officer had emailed the article to his fellow officers, appreciating the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said the least you can do as a charity is to smile and appreciate the otherness of the others. One can wish your Muslim friends by saying, Eid Mubarak, Eid Saeed, Happy Eid, Happy Festivities, etc.
---
*Founder and president of the Center for Pluralism, Washington DC

Comments

Anonymous said…
Absolutely right. Sacrifice in any religion must not be limited to spill blood of helpless animal. Instead it's symbolic to leave one's attachment to worldly things. Hope this message will go across people irrespective of religion.
LAHORE said…
NICE SHARING AMAZING ONE KEEP POSTING
Esha Princess said…
Every day our police officers and firemen risk their own lives to protect ours, our freedom is protected by our men and women in the uniforms. I urge fellow Muslims to stop and salute every one of these men and women, honoring them for their love for humanity. Better yet, call the firemen, policemen, and let them know that as a Muslim you appreciate their sacrifice, and this festival is about appreciation for such sacrifice.
yamaha

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there.