Bakra Eid, changing from sacrifice to fad

Published: November 12, 2010
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The spirit of sacrifice is lost in the race to get the biggest and most expensive sacrificial animal on display.

Muslims from all around the globe are gathering in the city of Mecca to offer Hajj. Those who stay at home pray to Allah to make ways for them to perform Hajj like their Muslim brothers and sisters.

Hajj is a time that reminds us of the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) who was accompanied by his son, Prophet Ismail (PBUH) in an ultimate show of obedience to Allah. In remembrance of this great sacrifice, Muslims follow sunnat-e-Ibrahimi or the example of the prophet by offering a sacrifice in the month of ZilHajj.

However, with the passing of time, the essence of this sacrifice seems to have gotten lost. It has become more of a fashion than a sacrifice. The intention doesn’t seem to be to please Allah but something else.

Today, Eidul-Azha has become an occasion where a difference can be established between the rich and poor. The race to buy the most expensive animal for sacrifice is on. People proudly show off their animals in the neighbourhood becoming a price tag themselves, attached to the creature.

‘Yeh janwar kitnay ka liya?’ (How much did this animal cost you?)

‘1 lakh ka!!’ (For  Rs100,000)

You can feel that the chest of the owner will explode any minute with the overwhelming pride that he takes in mentioning the price of his animal.

I was amazed to see so many people stuffed inside a van that was headed towards the bakra mandi to buy an animal. I put myself in the animal’s shoes (not that the animal actually wears any!) to imagine what it would be feeling after the deal is made for it and it heads towards the van.

It must think:

‘OMG! I hope they’re not expecting me to pull this van back to their place, because there seems to be no place for me to fit in to this van. It’s so crowded already!’

But somehow they do manage to stuff the poor thing in the van and start their journey back home.

Meanwhile, back at home, the stage is set to welcome what seems to be a newly-wed bride coming home for the first time. All the uncles, aunts and their children gather and wait anxiously for the guest of honour. These are the people who in spite of all their valiant efforts could not manage to fit into the van and go to the bakra mandi themselves.

Then, the moment arrives. No! The chief guest hasn’t actually reached home. The van only enters the neighbourhood and ‘the crowd’ goes berserk to be the first to catch a single glance of the animal (as if it’s going to go back after giving an acceptance speech for a Miss Universe title to never be seen live again.)

Comments start flowing in from all directions regarding the health, price and size of the animal immediately after its arrival.

‘Bara mehenga jaanwar le aey Zakir bhai!’ (Zakir bhai has overpaid for this animal!)

‘Meray khayal mein ziada gosht nahi niklayga iss mein se.’ (This animal won’t yield too much meatl.)

The owner and his accomplices then roam around the whole neighbourhood holding the rope attached to the animal like they have conquered the world. This, of course continues until a bigger and more expensive animal arrives in the neighbourhood.

We’ve totally forgotten what the true purpose and meaning of sacrifice is. It’s seems to be more about bargaining and showing off. How many of us actually intend to please Allah with our sacrifice? This is a question worth asking ourselves and we should listen closely to what our heart says.

Allah doesn’t want the meat of an animal or its skin from us. The philosophy of sacrifice is to have pure intentions and if done with the correct and purest of intents will bring us closer to Allah. It is not a chance to be wasted by showing off how much you have spent but to show how keen you are to gain Divine pleasure.

hammad.mateen

Hammad Mateen

The author is a mechanical engineer, education management professional and freelance writer working in the social sector, he tweets as @hammadmateen (twitter.com/hammadmateen)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.