In recent years there has been a surge in resentment towards Udhiyyah or ritual Qurbani carried out between the 10-12 of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah. Proponents of a ban cite environmental concerns and animal cruelty issues. They believe that since the dream of Ebrahim (alayhis salaatu was salaam) to sacrifice his son was a test of his submission – any other ‘sacrifice’ representing submission aside from bloodletting will do. They also believe that exposing young children to animal slaughter is child-abuse.
It is important that we debunk these theories by understanding the core philosophy of ritual animal slaughter, lest contradictory ‘reason’ prevails.
Islam means submission
Qurbani offered by a Muslim signifies that he/she is slave of Allah and will not hesitate once they receive a Divine command to surrender before it, even it be at the price of their life and possessions. When a true Muslim receives such a command from Allah, flaming instincts are tamed, preventing them from indulging in the futile search for the reasoning behind the command. Likewise he/she doesn’t make obedience dependent upon the command’s ‘reasonableness’ as perceived through his/her limited understanding. Knowing that Allah is All-Wise and that his/her own ability to reason cannot encompass the knowledge and wisdom underlying the Divine command, even if he/she cannot find any reason or wisdom behind it.
This is what the Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis salaatu was salaam) taught us. There was no apparent reason why a father would slaughter his innocent son. Yet, when the command of Allah came, he didn’t ask the reason for that command, nor did he hesitate to obey it. Even his minor son, when asked by his father about the dream he had seen, didn’t question the legitimacy of the command, he didn’t whine about it, nor did he ask for a single good reason why he was being offered for slaughter. His only response:
“Father, do what you have been ordered to do. You shall find me, God willing, among the patient”.
The present-day Qurbani is offered in memory of this great model of submission set before us by a great father and his great son. Qurbani (with its terms and conditions) must therefore be offered emulating the same ideal and attitude of submission.
This is the true philosophy of Qurbani. With this in mind, one can easily put an end to objections against Qurbani on the basis of economic calculations and statistics that make it out to be a waste of money, resources and livestock. Understand that Islam implants and nourishes among its followers, the spirit of total submission to Allah’s Will.
This is exactly the meaning of ayah 37 of Surah Hajj:
“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good.” (S22: vs 37)
No doubt, there are in the forms of worship ordained by Allah, certain worldly benefits too, but these are not the main purpose of these prescribed duties, nor should they be treated as preconditions to submission and obedience. Adapted from: [Mufti Taqi Usmani]
No Alternative for Udhiyyah
There are different forms of worship obligatory on Muslims. Each one of them has its own importance and none of them can stand for the other. It is not permissible for a Muslim to perform salaah instead of fasting in Ramadan, nor is it permissible to give some charity instead of observing the obligatory salaah. Similarly, Udhiyyah is an independent form of worship and cannot be discharged by spending money in charity. [Mufti Muhammad bin Adam]
Inverting the harm – Factory-Farming or the actual Slaughter?
“Factory farming is the practice of maximizing profit for agribusiness’ by minimising costs spent on space and the general quality of life for the animals, resulting in confining animals into incredibly crowded and cramped cages in filthy conditions. Cows are often burned with hot irons and have their horns cut off, without anesthesia. Veal calves, a natural by-product of the dairy industry whose mother’s milk is consumed by humans, are deliberately kept anaemic to keep their flesh pale as this is considered a delicacy, and are confined to wooden boxes their entire lives without room to lay down or fully stretch their legs.”
Is Islamic slaughter cruel?
It is true that when the blood flows from the throat of an animal it looks violent, but just because meat is now bought neatly and hygienically packaged on supermarket shelves does not mean the animal didn’t have to die. Is it less painful to shoot a bolt into a sheep’s brain or to ring a chicken’s neck than to slit its throat?
The Islamic slaughter requires that the throat, the external jugular veins and the wind-pipe of the animal be swiftly and clearly severed with a sharp tool, together with invoking the name of Allah, Most High. If only two of the passages and veins are cut, the slaughter will be deemed incorrect. If any three of the four are severed, the slaughter will be valid.
. It is preferable to sharpen the knife before slaughter to ease the suffering of the animal.
. After slaughter, the animal should not be skinned or cut up into pieces before it turns completely cold.
. It is disliked to slaughter an animal in the presence of another animal.
In June of this year The Dutch Senate formally scrapped legislation to ban ritual slaughter in the Netherlands. The vote is the final word in a protracted public debate about animal welfare, religious freedom and integration that began in September 2008, when tiny Holland’s Party for Animals submitted a bill to ban the slaughter of conscious animals.
There are differences in the way animals are slaughtered by the Shechita (Jewish) and Halal/Zabiha (Muslim) methods, but both involve cutting the animal’s throat with a very sharp knife, in many cases without pre-stunning. The question of stunning animals used for halal meat has become somewhat of buzzword amongst Muslims. This is mainly due to ignorance and sometimes poor communication from the relevant bodies on the differences in stunning techniques and what the shariah (and scholars of fiqh) actually say about the matter of stunning. However, the act of (reversible) stunning according to the principles of fiqh (jurisprudence) are not seen as rendering any meat haram as long as the animal is treated well, alive at the time of slaughter and all other necessary actions and conditions are carried out properly. 100% halal is indisputable if we know that every animal slaughtered is alive at the time of slaughter.
In addition to being halal, our meat should have the extra benefits of being tayyib – ethically treated, free of injected hormones and alien bodies, grazed on organic grass and slaughtered by someone who takes the act seriously and conducts it according to the shariah.
Should we be eating less meat?
Good health is based a comprehensive diet and lifestyle program, including diet, stress management, moderate exercise, and social support, including friendship and intimacy.
One of the most important nutrients found in abundance in meat is iron – a mineral that boosts the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. Without enough iron, our red blood cells get smaller and we start feeling worn out.
Vitamin B-12 is perhaps the most difficult to obtain nutrient that meat provides, as it is virtually unavailable in the plant kingdom at all. Zinc, responsible for supporting the immune system, is another mineral found abundantly in meat and unlike iron, it is not readily available within the plant kingdom.
The general consensus, amongst the Prophet (saw) and modern health experts, is that we should eat meat – at least in moderation. “Eat of the good things We have provided for your sustenance, but commit no excess therein” (Qur’an, 20:81). [Karima Burns – The Existence of the “Vegetarian Muslim”]
Warning against ignoring Qurbani
“The son of Adam does not perform any actions on the day of sacrifice which is more pleasing to Allah than the shedding of blood. He will come on the day of resurrection with its hair, horns and hooves, and the blood certainly will fall in a place near Allah before it falls on the ground. So, make yourselves pure therewith.” (Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah)
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (ra) reports that the Apostle of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever has the (economic) capacity to sacrifice and does not do so, should not come to the place where the Eid prayer is offered.” (Ibn Majah).
Wa billah at’ taufeeq
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