Why sacrificing animals on Eidul Azha is a good ritual

Published: September 25, 2015

Man carrying sheep on a motorcycle. PHOTO: SHAHBAZ MALIK/EXPRESS

Is everyone noticing the drastic reduction in the number of houses from which the familiar bleating sounds of goats and the authoritarian moo of cows can be heard this year? If television reports are to be believed, there are more animals available in the market for sacrifice than there are buyers.

The reasons are many, and some of them are valid. Exorbitant asking prices of sellers are one. The portion you get in a cow is as expensive now as a goat used to be. Not every region of Pakistan is culturally attuned to beef, which remains the more economical choice. Our urban areas do not provide a good enough infrastructure to dispose off waste after slaughter, so there is a lot of blood and filth lying around post-sacrifice. There are not enough good affordable qasaais (butchers) going around. The qurbani ka gosht (sacrificial meat) smells. Why kill innocent animals? The list goes on.

Yet, there are reasons why this ritual is actually one of the best things one can do, not just as a practicing Muslim but also as a socially aware person and a responsible citizen.

The animals that we buy are actually livelihood of thousands of families across Pakistan. The people of Tharparkar, for example, may not eat meat due to their religious beliefs, yet their hopes are pinned on to Eidul Azha. For this day, they take care of baby goats and calves all year round and in this sweltering heat, they travel to markets to earn enough to sustain their families.

The whole “why don’t we give the same amount in charity” retort, then falls flat. The meat is charity, and buying the animals also, in turn, helps the underprivileged.

Secondly, if you are not big on meat any more, that too of qurbani ka gosht, chances are that you are one of those who get to eat to their hearts’ desire. You can afford meat when you like and afford to go vegetarian when you like. You can write off a meal costing Rs1,000 as not being up to the mark. But the fact remains that in a country where underprivileged and undernourished people are a plenty, this Eid’s meat promises them a time of celebration.

It is best, however, to be accommodating enough and keep the meat portions in your freezer till deserving people are ready to take it and enjoy it. Interestingly, a majority of those who are against this ritual on grounds of being animal rights’ activists have not yet turned vegetarians or vegans. Contradiction much?

As each family member in urban Pakistan gets more pre-occupied in pursuing their own goals, there are few activities remaining that make families bond. The sacrificial animals can provide an excellent opportunity to each family member to bond over a common interest, starting from the children who feed and walk the goats and sheep.

Flexibility in this religious ritual makes it more practical. It is not a must to do it at home, and money can be given to credible organisations. Nonetheless, the days leading up to the sacrifice, if spent looking for and looking after the animals, can give us the real feel of this Eid by sharing our blessings with the needy, with relatives and friends.

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

A writer and editor, who has worked as a Features Editor with The Express Tribune. Her focus is human-centric feature stories. She now writes as a freelancer, and works as a media trainer and communications practitioner. She tweets as @FarahnazZahidi (twitter.com/farahnazzahidi?lang=en).

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

  • Pokemon

    Why doesn’t the Muslims instead of killing innocent animals in name of sacrifice do the real thing and sacrifice their loved ones or sons and daughter as the prophet himself did anyway you look at it if you sacrifice animals signifying as a family member then you mean to say your loved ones are basically animals goats and camel in your opinion lol and billions are killed every year to quench the appetite of more than a billion Muslim and then more than a billion are killed in a single day most of the meat is wasted globally Recommend

  • Iqbal

    Wonderful argument. In poverty stricken Afghanistan and some other places even children, especially girls, are commodity. It will help the poor parents to tide over their economic crises if we buy the girl children.

    Interestingly, not one word of the religious importance. There I am one with Ms Zahidi. We should sacrifice our egos and worldly attachments — and that includes the goat with the best flesh for eating and the best hide for selling.Recommend

  • Alien

    Disgusting practice in the name of religion. These practices should be stopped in all religions.Recommend

  • Parvez

    What I liked was that you did not feel compelled to justify this from a religious point of view……….Eid Mubarak to all.Recommend

  • pk

    Killing innocent animals is bad. No justification required.Recommend

  • Indian

    God – following religious ritual is one thing, trying to make it sound like a humane thing and a family activity really speaks of a sick mind. The people who make a livlihood rear goats only because people like you kills them for rituals. If you start using mushrooms for rituals they will grow mushrooms instead!! Its fine to follow your religious belief but do not try to give absurd logic please. For someone who cares for life its not something that will fly. By the way, Eid MubarakRecommend

  • Waron Dafe

    muslims are yet to evolve…..!!!!! the entire world is discussing about the dangers of eating meat .Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    Your entire world must be India and all animal rights organisations.Recommend

  • Ashraf

    Killing of animals in every house prepares the mindset that shows little remorse over 717 humans being killed while performing Haj and the business goes as normal.Recommend

  • welll

    So let the poor eat meat once a year and clean your conscience in the process. What about the rest of the year? How much daal and flour could one portion of qurbani-ka-gosht be exchanged for? The author is desperately clutching at straws to rationalize something that has no rationale.Recommend

  • Rekha Mathew

    I still cannot comprehend how a compassionate and merciful creator wants blood of his/her creation as sacrifice? At least Christians put an end to it. When will muslims and jews do the same?Recommend

  • abhi

    oh no! what a weird logic.Recommend

  • vinsin

    If Pakistan want to continue with this festival then its liberal should stop taking about secularism. Buying something from poor is not called charity. Sacrificing animals bonds a family and sacrificing non-Muslims bonds Muslims Ummah.Recommend

  • Pin2

    BTW how does buying and killing a innocent animal quality as sacrifice as per Islam?

    1. You only spend your extra cash for buying that animal. Its not like you are sacrificed your petrol money a walked to work for year to save this money or you did not buy a new iphone this year so that you have enough money for Qurbaani

    2. You slaughter this animal and keep 1/3rd of the animal, which is the best meat by the way, for yourself and family. Do I see a sacrifice here?

    3. Then you give second 1/3rd part of the meat to your friends and family and for sure you get an equal amount back from them in return which you put in freezer to eat for many days to come. Again no sacrifice!!!!!

    4. The last 1/3rd is distributed among poor, your maids, cooks etc. In any way they deserve a yearly bonus for the services they give you and this is what they actually get, 1 KG of the unwanted portions of the animal you sacrificed. You wouldn’t have consumed those parts anyways, or would have only consumed if it was almost end of the month and you were waiting for next salary. Again, hardly any sacrifice at all

    5. Lastly, you do give away hides for free but usually it is given to an organization managed by local bully and you know giving it to someone else will have consequences. You know who I am talking about, a political party in Karachi and several tableegi jamats in punjab

    If you really want to sacrifice something, how about sacrificing you time to educate kids in nearest katchchii abaadi, paying tuition fee of a poor student, giving blood, kidney, bone marrow, liver etc to a needy one, forgiving & reconciling with an old enemy, giving your domestic and business worker an extra month’s salary on Eid etc.

    Eating meat to celebrate Eid is fine, but please dont call it a sacrifice because there no sacrifice in paying for an animal to be slaughtered and consumed.Recommend

  • Waseem Syed

    I am sorry Madam this is not a great way to bring the family together. I thing developing economy other than the meat should be more of a concern. These poor people should never have to rely on these animals for the source of income. Let us develop these poor areas so they can also be like you and me.Recommend

  • king0333

    if you love animals so much why would u eat all their food ? secondly vegetarian is the translation of hindi word ” incompetent hunters “Recommend

  • Waron Dafe

    eating meat is done by incompetent humans who cannot think or have an IQ of less than 20.Recommend

  • Waron Dafe

    really..check youtube for the number of vegetarians around the world,,,u will be shocked, besides most high IQ humans are vegetarians.Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    Sacrifice started with Judaism but even they stopped doing it centuries ago.

    God tested Abraham by asking for the life of his child Isaac and Abraham acquiesced and later on this was shown as a test and God instead asked Abraham to sacrifice an animal. How many of these so-called orthodox folk are willing to sacrifice what they hold dear in today’s world? Instead they kill an animal and feast on its remains.

    I have no problem with personal sacrifices of small animals like a goat or a sheep in private, but sacrificing a cow or a camel that too in a spectacle in front of small children out in the open is too much for me to digest. Abraham himself sacrificed a sheep.Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    Jews already stopped animal sacrifice around 2000 years ago after their Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Are you for real?? Sacrificing animal in full view, desensitizing the onlookers including children is a good practice?Sacrificing vices, bad habits, ego is a huge task, guess that’s why Muslims focus on the trivial…Recommend

  • Milind A

    And non-vegetarianism/slaughter is the translation of “barbaric nomads”Recommend

  • Milind A

    Not just Christians, we Hindus too put an end to it.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Lot of poor people in Afghanistan grow poppy too, time to get high for their sakeRecommend

  • animal and humanrights protect

    Killing/martyring/sacrificing animals or humans in the name of religion is animal rights abuse and human rights abuse, it amounts to terrorism in the name of god.Recommend

  • vegetarian eid

    Celebrate EID non-violently by respecting animal rights.Be vegetarian this EID.Recommend

  • Ajay

    Please for Gods sake stop killing poor animals in most inhuman way in your homes. Children and women watching animals being slaughtered, the poor animal pinned to the ground by men, throat being slit, whimpering in pain and blood flowing is most insensitive and inhuman sight. This might have been a religious practice in past but a caveman’s ritual cant be valid now. If at all you decide to eat meat, the animal must be transported, stored and slaughtered in a modern abattoir with scientific method to cause minimum pain to the animal and meat processed and packed to be sold in hygienic condition.Recommend

  • Mihir Shah

    somebody give this person a medal !!Recommend

  • makarisma

    Well said and that too a ritual that is based on hearsayRecommend

  • makarisma

    Totally agreeRecommend

  • makarisma

    Good oneRecommend

  • makarisma

    Agree. Ignorant custom.Recommend

  • Ansari-Abel

    I tried (very hard) to see your point. You sound like pseudomuslims who cause more harm than heping the religion. Unfortunately your arguments are as weak as your understanding of economic systems (and most likely religious rituals). Don’t try to defend a religious ritual if you really don’t know what you are talking about.Recommend

  • Right-wing Deist

    You Hyper-Leftists want to destroy every religious tradition in the world; in the west, Leftists are attempting to destroy Christmas and Easter with commercialism, broken families & low church attendance, in India they’re trying to take the fun out of Diwali by complaining how firecrackers are “environmentally” hazardous and now in the Muslim world the Leftoids are trying to shame Muslims from eating meat and butchering cattle by trying to push vegetarianism. It’s all part of the agenda of deconstructing traditions which is just another step in the end goal of disintegrating a sense of community.Recommend

  • Right-wing Deist

    What merciful and compassionate mean to you may mean something else to the creator and the creator knows more than the creation. God is not what you want Him to be, if He has ordained rituals and customs and rules for what He has determined to be the path to Him then that is what it is. All of our concepts of ‘humanity’ and ‘mercy’ are all social concepts formed in this world. God is above that and greater than that.Recommend

  • Attique Ur Rehman

    so your mean we should eat the food of animal and not animals :DRecommend

  • Attique Ur Rehman

    u better search what are the teaching of Islam then comment dearRecommend

  • Attique Ur Rehman

    All those who claim of not killing animals has started killing humans
    and it seems that world has more pain for animals then humansRecommend

  • Ranjan

    This. This man deserves a cookie!
    I hate illogical rationals to justify illogical rituals and ideologies of religions.Recommend

  • mohsinsidhu89

    nice replyRecommend

  • Pk

    It’s not sacrifice…its killing of animal…u buy other day and kill that animal next dayRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    I hope you will stop using disgusting act of using pesticides on your crops to kill insectRecommend

  • rationalist

    Just because a goat is a smaller animal, the cruelty and barbarism of killing a defenseless animal is the same; The animal feels the pain and agony just the same as a larger animal. Recommend

  • Kash Sultan

    You need to grow upRecommend

  • Tight Patloon

    People living in 21 century are not hunters or gatherers. Do you mean meat eaters have to hunt down animals for meat instead of buying it??Recommend

  • Gangadas

    As human beings we should be protecting the animals.Slaughtering them destroys our soul.I did not find a single word of compassion for the poor animals.’They provide livelihood for the poor therefore a responsible citizen should support animal slaughter’!! Is that your logic? The prostitutes too are poor and underpriviledged, does that mean that as ‘responsible citizens’ we destroy our souls!?Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    Ever heard of Gadhimai festival?? Just check it out, you will have to find another definition of sick after that.!!!! That is suppose to please some goddess of power! At that festival they leave all the animals starving without water and food for days and then mercilessly slaughter everything except cow.
    Sacrifice at Eid is suppose to feed the hungry not to please God, if it has become a business over time, than it isn’t religion’s fault, and it is suppose to be done at slaughter houses and absolutely not in front of children and preferably even not in front of other animals who are going to be slaughtered.

    And about your mushrooms. well its has to do with different consciousness levels. and without going into details. Eid Mubarak to you too.Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    When you do not know the background and the gist of why Prophet Abraham ended up sacrificing a sheep instead of his own son Ismael as promised, then please spare us your ignorance.Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    Same to youRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    none of your businessRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    Banning cow slaughter is your country with with absurd logic of motherhood and killing Muslims in reply are sick minded actions.Recommend

  • Sane

    And then you eat in burgers, make bar b q and have fun eating time. Why don’t you stop eating meaty stuff. Move to stop slaughtering all animals including birds, sea ones world wide.Recommend

  • Sane

    Right. Would you stop eating meat, fish and birds from now? Well how about killing innocent humans.Recommend

  • Sane

    Why? insects also have life.Recommend

  • Sane

    Muslims follow what ALLAH said. Who cares about your endorsements and likes/dislikes.Recommend

  • Iqbal

    What nonsense. Killing of an animal for sake of a ritual is immoral. Do not try to justify it as an act of charity.Recommend