Bakra Eid, changing from sacrifice to fad

Published: November 12, 2010

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

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

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

  • parvez

    Like the write up especially the last paragraph.Recommend

  • Humanity

    It is not the meat, or the skin that reached Allah. It is the piety and the will to sacrifice what is dear to us that matters.

    So the animals for this Eid and several Eids to come should perhaps be given alive to the flood victims and other poor people, who can perhaps make a living out of it. Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Excellent observation man. I cannot agree more with you. Another lucid and thought-provoking write-up.
    And yes, I have observed another thing. As soon as the newly-wed bride enters the Mohallah we get to hear kids and teenagers shouting at the peak of their lungs, oye hoye, oye hoye , which works as an announcement that a new janwar has just entered the neighborhood. Recommend

  • Haris Masood Zuberi

    Good read.
    I wish the abundant religious scholars and aalims in our country could pay attn to this sick trend and display of hypocrisy;
    The competition, the race, the sacrificing way more than is affordable or reasonable.
    What matters is what we learn from it, yet the spirit of sacrifice remains absent. Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    Whatelse do you expect from the people of entertainment starved country ? What if such things bring smiles on the faces of this nation ?

    It would be hypocritical of you to complaint about those happy faces as long as they are not harming anyone, you raised an eye brow on the mode of traveling of cow but due to involvement of religion you conveniently forgot the pain that poor animal would be bearing when slaughter.

    Yes the cow arrival has become a kind of entertainment here but this is what Pakistan’s culture is all about .

    Instead of making a mountain out of molehill I would want to criticize religious extremism and growing tableeghi trend in the country that annoys common Pakistani. Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    I would want you to criticize*Recommend

  • Mustafa Hanif

    I strongly disagree with the person above. Islam has only 2 festivals, bakra eid being one of them. Its a culture of our people, cows goats interest us, you may be a burger or the modern class. But the common class loves bakra eid, they love animals, they love to feed them take care of them, look at them come out of a truck. They love going to the mandi which is million times better than going to dance clubs. They love to select find and buy animals. ITS FUN !!!

    You mention there is no sacrifice, zakir bhai aur whatever spent 1 lakh ruppees in such inflation, if this is not sacrifice, I don’t know what it is. Kids sacrifice their sleeps, their comfort for the animal, people spend the entire night with their animals, socializing with other animals owners and feeding and taking care of them, if this is not sacrifice I don’t what is.

    Yes, people ask the price, and zakir bhai may tell them, how does this affect the sacrifice. And for the person above me, the animals DOES NOT go through pain during slaughter, its the most painless way to kill the animal.

    Express Tribune is full negativity spit out by the elite class, you people don’t belong in the mainstream Pakistan, and you never will. So Live and Let Live.Recommend

  • Fazeel

    Umm well you did an excellent write up but you forgot to mention it happens only in lower middle class and middle class not elite class., yes in middle class Bakaraeid is more of a festival same as Eid ul Fitar in the elite class. In Eid ul Fitar elites are always rave about the big aftaar parties in 5 star hotels and the eid shopping in the Zamzama. In middle class and lower middle class the Bakareid is the festival for rave. We don’t know about the intentions of the people but I still think if somebody spending 6000RS for the one share of cow then it is a big sacrifice in this inflation ridden country. I would be happy if you write this blog in Urdu newspaper than the Tribune which is purely a elite’s newspaper. Don’t you think you are writing for the gallery.
    My two cents:-)Recommend

  • Noor-ul-ain Hanif

    like the last paragraph very good message everyone should focus on it!Recommend

  • Hammad A. Mateen

    @Mustafa Hanif:
    I respect your opinion but at the same time I would like to request you and all other readers not to judgemental about someone or something at once.
    Zakat is also a farz all muslims have to fulfil (if it implies to them.)
    How many times have we heard this phrase:
    ‘maine is dafa 1 lac rupay zakat nikali?’
    seems odd doesn’t it?
    The point I tried to highlight was the showing off of how much you’ve spent. It definitely is a sacrifice if you take out 1 lac or whatever amount of money to buy a sacrificial animal (in these bad times) but the essence of all this effort gets wasted when you start bragging about it.
    It is absolutely fine and necessary to take good care of your animal and feed it well and look after it and become fond of it, because that is when the true meaning of sacrifice also comes into play. You become fond of the animal and your heart doesn’t want it to die but for ALLAH’s will you go ahead and sacrifice it.
    PS: It was’t ‘FUN’ for Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH.) It was ALLAH’s order and he took it seriously.

    I would’ve agreed to you if you’d provided one authentic Ayat or Hadith in which it was mentioned that you should give the live animals (bought for the intention of sacrifice) to the needy instead of sacrificing them. I’m sure there must be needy people in the times of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions. We should avoid interpreting Islam the way we want. Helping the needy flood victims with the meat of those animals is fine but Sacrificing the animal is completely one’s own compulsion set by ALLAH.Recommend

  • Maleeha Shah

    You do have a point, though not everyone has ulterior motives in buying a hefty priced qurbaani janwar!

    The last para conveys a lot, but the rest of this post is exaggeration, no?! Recommend

  • mawali

    Here is a sincere question. The fable of sacrifice associated wiht Abraham is recited by all three Abrahamic faiths. Then why is it then only Muslims commit this monstrocity? If the Idea is to sacrifice something special to you as some poster seem to think. Is a cow or a goat bought the night before that special? Or is it the investment or the effort that is being sacrificed? If so donate money, effort and time in the name of God you will feel good about it and someone may actually benefit from your gesture.

    Another outdated Islamic practice!Recommend

  • Jose Thomas

    @mawali: What is so monstrous about sacrificing an animal? They are using it for meat just like in a hamburger. It doesn’t seem like a sincere question. Don’t try to enforce your silly beliefs on others!Recommend

  • Ahsan

    So…[email protected] Mateen: Apka janvar kitnay ka tha?? :P:PRecommend