Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Eid al Adha with Good Hygiene and Humane Treatment of Animals

Nearly two million Muslims from all over the world gathered in the plains of Arafat in Saudi Arabia today as part of the annual ritual of Hajj this year. Tomorrow, they will celebrate Eid al Azha, a commemoration of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his beloved son Ismael to please Allah. The Hajj pilgrims will sacrifice animals in Mecca, as will hundreds of millions of their fellow Muslims across the world.

Eid al Adha is arguably the most important Islamic festival. Clearly, the followers of Prophet Muhammad  (SAW) are motivated by their desire to  carry out the commandments of Allah. However, it seems that there  are at least two important Islamic injunctions that are often ignored by the faithful as discussed below:

1. Humane Treatment of Animals:

The way the sacrificial animals are transported and slaughtered during Eid al Azha violates the basic Islamic requirement of humane treatment. They are crammed into small spaces and subjected to overcrowded conditions aboard ships, trucks and other vehicles for transportation. Butchers are often unqualified. The knives used are not sharp enough to reduce pain and suffering. Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University, has written a scholarly opinion on this issue. Here's an excerpt from it:

"..the Prophet (PBUH) did not simply command us to respect the ritual and recite “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar!” ([I begin with] In the name of God, God is the greatest!) with which animals could be killed for food. He required animals to be treated in the best possible way and spared needless suffering. As a man had immobilised his beast and was sharpening his knife in front of it, the Prophet [PBUH] intervened to say: “Do you want to make it die twice? Why didn’t you sharpen your knife [away from the animal’s view] before immobilising it?”. Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] had asked everyone to do their best to master their range of skills: For a man whose task was to slaughter animals, this clearly consisted of respecting the lives of the animals, their food, their dignity as living beings and sacrificing them only for his needs, while sparing them unnecessary suffering. The recitation accompanying the sacrifice was only to be understood as the ultimate one that, in effect, attested that the animal had been treated in the light of Islamic teachings during its lifetime. This recitation was certainly not sufficient to prove that those teachings were respected: An animal slaughtered correctly according to Islamic ritual, but ill-treated during its lifetime, therefore remained, in the light of the Islamic principles transmitted by the Messenger, an anomaly and a betrayal of the message. The Prophet [PBUH] had warned: “He who kills a sparrow or any bigger animal without right will have to account for it to God on Judgement Day.” The Prophet [PBUH] thus taught that the animal’s right to be respected, to be spared suffering and given the food it needed, to be well treated was not negotiable. It was part of human beings’ duties and was to be understood as one of the conditions of spiritual elevation."

2. Health and Hygiene:

Sahih Muslim quotes Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as saying: “Cleanliness is half the faith (Emaan).”

The implications of this Hadith are often forgotten during the festival of Eid al Azha when blood and guts of the sacrificed animals are scattered everywhere and sometimes rot for days before being collected by sanitation workers. Such neglect exposes the public to significant risks of the spread various diseases.

To address this public health and safety issue, governments in Muslim nations should  consider regulating  animal sacrifice and restricting slaughter to designated areas during Eid al Azha.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a good model  for at least for the major cities in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world.


Muslims, including Islamic scholars, often focus on the technical minutiae while ignoring the larger message of Islam. Professor Ramadan summarizes this problem well in his article for Gulf News as follows: "Ritual slaughter is a simple, day-to-day example, which perfectly reveals the contradictions within contemporary spiritual teachings. It emblematises the whole problem: Obsession with form regardless of substance, confusing means and ends, adoption of reform that is not suitable for transformation and over determining norms while neglecting meaning: It is at the heart of all contradictions."  It's time for the Islamic world to recognize such contradictions and correct them.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Among Top Meat Consuming Nations 

Eid Mubarak: Pleas Don't Forget Terror Victims

Huqooq-ul-Allah and Huqooq-ul-Ibad

Electricity Theft in Ramadan 

Muslim Santa Claus in Pakistan

Taliban Are Enemies of Islam and Pakistan


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gulf News report on Eid al Azha economy in Pakistan:

Karachi: Pakistan is likely to sacrifice millions of cattle on Eid Al Adha, to be observed on Wednesday generating significant economic activity worth $3-4 billion (Dh11-15 billion) besides performing their religious duty, analysts Tuesday said.
Pakistanis expected to slaughter around six million goats, sheep, cows and camels worth an estimated price of roughly Rs200 billion (Dh7 billion). The animals’ hides and skins, besides offal, horns and hooves also stir tens of billions of rupees into business.
“It is a good opportunity for the rural farmers and breeders who bring their animal to the cities where the people slaughter them in large number on Eid,” Mohammad Sohail, chief executive of Topline Securities said.

“To a rough estimate, Eid adds value into the economy to the tune of up to $4 billion,” he said.

In Karachi, one of the largest cattle markets is set up in the northern outskirts of the city where people started visiting. The slaughtering also poses a challenge to the civic agencies in the city as collection of offal has been a big task.
Emergency control rooms have been set up in 18 zones of the city which with the central complaint cell at the Civic Centre, in the central city. The control rooms remain functioning round the clock for the three days of Eid.
The municipal offices estimated that over one million animals would be slaughtered in this mega city.
The metropolitan chief also called upon the people to dump the offal at their nearest garbage collection point so that the sanitary staff could lift it timely and properly. The people were also called upon to not throw offal and casings onto roads, streets, public parks, empty plots of land or into sewage lines.

Faraz said...

Bakra EID (sorry i'm from PK, i can't pronounce EID ul ADHA from back of my throat) was never a happy day for me back in PK. As kids, we would spend 2-3 days playing with cute innocent animals, but on the day of Bakra Eid, i'd see those animals being slaughtered and we'd watch that barbaric act where Bakras would resist but get defeated by butchers and get beheaded. After cutting the throat of our buddy bakras, butchers would leave for hours, leaving our buddy bakras dead with throat half cut, head & body soaked in blood, and us kids made to watch our buddy bakras in such condition. We were suppose to celebrate with "Mubarak Ho" while our buddy is laying dead. This is a repeat every year but no one really takes any action to stop this slaughter in front of young kids and plus, what message are we giving away to kids ?

Anonymous said...

Try vegetarianism!

So much more humane!

Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: ""

Is India largest democracy or biggest slavery?

India (14 million), #China (2.9m), #Pakistan (2.1m) on slavery's list of shame.

India's campaigners welcome #EU resolution to end caste-based #apartheid in #India #Dalit

Hopewins said...

India's campaigners welcome EU resolution to end caste-based apartheid....

"The European Parliament (EP) has recognised caste-based discrimination as a human rights violation and adopted a resolution condemning it and urging European Union institutions to address it. The EP consists of 28 member-countries of the EU.

Acknowledging that caste-affected communities are still subjected to ‘untouchability practices’ in India, Nepal, PAKISTAN, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the October 10 resolution stressed the need to combat discrimination based on work and descent, which occurs also in Yemen, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal and Somalia..."

Anonymous said...

Human capital ranking


Your comments?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Human capital ranking India:78 Bangladesh:110 Pakistan:112
Your comments?"

To see my assessment, please read my post "Human Capital Growth in Pakistan"

Here are a few excerpts:

With nearly 16% of its population in 25-34 years age group having college degrees, Pakistan is well ahead of India and Indonesia, according to Global Education Digest 2009 published by UNESCO Institute of Statistics. UNESCO data also shows that Pakistan's lead is growing with younger age groups.

By comparison, a little over 12% of Indians and 9% of Indonesians in 25-34 years age group have completed tertiary education. In 35-44 years age group, 11% of Pakistanis, 9% of Indians and 8% of Indonesians have completed college education. The report shows that 3% of Pakistanis and 1% of Indians have completed tertiary education abroad.

Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jhong-wa Lee offer similar insights into educational attainment in Asia and the rest of the world. As of 2010, there are 380 (vs 327 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis age 15 and above who have never had any formal schooling. Of the remaining 620 (vs 673 Indians) who enrolled in school, 22 (vs 20 Indians) dropped out before finishing primary school, and the remaining 598 (vs 653 Indians) completed it. There are 401 (vs 465 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis who made it to secondary school. 290 (vs 69 Indians) completed secondary school while 111 (vs. 394 Indians) dropped out. Only 55 (vs 58 Indians) made it to college out of which 39 (vs 31 Indians) graduated with a degree.

Pakistan's human capital development has been driven over the years starting with the Green Revolution technologies in 1960s to nuclear development program in 1980s and information and telecom revolution in 2000s. More recently, there has been growing interest in biotechnology and robotics. Completion of the first human genome project has spawned more than 200 life sciences departments at Pakistani universities. US drones have angered and fascinated many in Pakistan to go into robotics at 60 engineering colleges and universities in Pakistan. These revolutions have inspired large numbesr of young Pakistanis to study courses in business and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields and swell the ranks of scientists and professionals.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistanis to sacrifice over 10 million animals this Eid

Muslims in Pakistan celebrating Eid-ul-Azha will sacrifice over 10 million animals this year, officials at the Tanners' Association said on Monday.

According to Gulzar Feroz, the central chairman at the Tanners' Association, more than 2.7 million cows/bulls, four million goats, 800,000 lambs, and up to 30,000 camels will be sacrificed this year.

He said that the hides of cows/bulls were expected to fetch a price of Rs1,600 in the market, while goat hides would fetch a market price of Rs250 each.

He said that hides of sacrificial animals fetched a total of Rs8 billion last Eid, but due to fall in prices this year, hides of sacrificial animals are expected to fetch around Rs7 billion this year.

Riaz Haq said...

Online sales of sacrificial animals

A trader at a leading online portal hopes to sell 100,000 sacrificial animals this year, up from 75,000 last year and 67,000 a year before that
Traders are frequenting between Karachi and the rural areas of Sindh or Punjab with greater ease and are bringing in truckloads of sacrificial animals to the city’s main market on Super Highway.
The cut in petroleum prices effective from September 1 has also come as a blessing for them, as they believe that it will help them contain the cost of transporting animals from rural areas to city and town markets.
Meanwhile, the online sale of animals is also expected to rise. People at say they hope to sell 100,000 animals this year, up from 75,000 last year and 67,000 a year before that. People can buy a goat via this online facility for $225 or about Rs23,000 and a cow for $710 (a little over Rs72,000).
The Al-Shaheer Corporation, which owns the Meat One brand, has also offered the facility of qurbani to its customers for Rs22,000 per goat and Rs99,000 per cow. The deal includes the delivery of meat.
Online services for buying sacrificial animals and for participating in collective sacrifices are offered by several other web portals as well. And young investors are also using and similar websites to sell animals on a limited scale.
At Karachi’s main market on Super Highway and in some other markets across the city, the prices of goats and sheep of average height and weight ranged between Rs20,000-30,000 and between Rs15,000-Rs25,000 respectively (till last Tuesday). Meanwhile, cows and calves of average height and weight were priced at Rs60,000-Rs100,000.
The welfare arms of political parties and charities have set their rates for goats at Rs15,000-Rs20,000 and for cows and calves at Rs49,000-Rs72,000 depending upon the size and weight of the animals and the places where the collective sacrifice would take place.
“Animal prices for end-buyers may rise further as Eid-ul-Azha gets closer. But investors would earn no big profits this year,” says a Karachi-based livestock broker who booked 300 cows and bulls in Bahawalpur and 300 goats in Tando Adam in the last week of June.
“I made bookings at an average rate of 60,000 per cow or calf and Rs12,000 per goat and the prices also covered the upkeep and grazing charges for three months,” he told this writer. He said half of the total price of all animals was paid at the time of booking and the remaining 50pc is being paid per truckload of animals on their arrival in Karachi.
This investor is expecting a maximum 30pc return on his investment (Rs22.5m paid as 50pc of the total price of animals in June), which works out at 10pc per month. Since the remaining 50pc price would be paid out of the money he is receiving from local traders, the 10pc net monthly return would not be diluted. “But then it’s not too big, as I have earned higher returns in previous years.”
He represents a class of investment-hoppers, charities, once-a-year-formed groups of crowd financers, NGOs, online traders, and the welfare arms of political parties and religious seminaries. They book sacrificial animals several months before Eid-ul-Azha and earn better returns on their investment owing to lower animal prices due to their bulk forward buying.
No credible estimate is available about such investment, but it certainly runs into tens of billions of rupees.
People had spent Rs350-400bn on purchasing sacrificial animals last year, according to a conservative estimate based on the post-Eid collection of hides and skins (7.4m reported by tanneries but close to 10m by other guesstimates). This year, such spending is expected to remain either unchanged or rise modestly, say sources associated with the cattle trade.
Meanwhile, individual animal-selling arguably fetches higher returns because it is at this stage that the animals are categorised not only by their weight and size but also by their breed or looks, with their prices set accordingly.

Riaz Haq said...

How about virtual #Hajj2020 amid #COVID19 ? Even without the #pandemic, a vast number of #Muslims can’t journey to #Mecca for financial or medical reasons. Virtual hajj technology would let them see inside the city. #VR #technology #Hajj #Pakistan via @WSJ

The annual hajj that brings more than 2 million pilgrims to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca has been drastically scaled back this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but virtual software developers are hoping to let Muslims experience what it’s like to worship at the city’s holy sites from far away.

Social-distancing measures by the Saudi government to fight the new coronavirus mean only a limited number of pilgrims already in the country can participate when this year’s hajj begins July 28. The decision is a blow for those hoping to fulfill their once-in-a-lifetime obligation to perform hajj in 2020.

Some see the news as a boon for virtual hajj software, but some Muslims question whether holy pilgrimages can be replicated virtually.

“Unfortunately, tech acceptance in the Islamic world has been a bit slower than our ambitions, with the result that specific segments of the population are unable to see the future benefit that virtual hajj can provide,” said Mohammed Alsherebi, founder of Centillion Inc., a company that advises companies expanding in the Middle East. “By focusing only on the inconvenience of the present moment, many of us are unable to see the incredible opportunity that lies ahead of us.”


“We don’t believe there can be a substitute to an in-person hajj experience,” said Mr. Maqbool. “However, if we can bring some measure of spiritual and emotional peace to Muslims world-wide during these tough times, then we will have met our goals.”

Mr. Alhaddad, the iUmrah.World chief executive, said he is confident that a virtual hajj or umrah will one day be considered as legitimate as the real thing. The company, which Mr. Alhaddad hopes to take public in 2022, is also developing an iVatican product.

“Yes, it’s better to go yourself,” said Mr. Alhaddad. “But can you get the same experience or fulfillment by watching a pilgrimage being performed? Yes, I believe you can.”