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.