Rethinking Superstition: Should Hajj celebration end up with 20million animals slaughtered?
Posted on October 6th, 2014

Shenali D Waduge

It is both unfortunate that 4th October was the Animal Rights Day and two days later 20million animals lost their rights and are subject to a violent and terrifying death while 1.3billion Muslims celebrate. Is a God so bloodthirsty and will our sins be forgiven by slaughtering an animal who had nothing to do with our sins? We are not living in prehistoric tribal times. Our minds are far developed, educated and we have a power to think logically and humanely. Should these ancient rituals now be looked at with greater compassion in view of the unthinkable ways these animals meet their death.

What is confusing to the debate is that there are scores of verses in Islam’s holy texts where Allah praises animals and this prompts us to ask exactly how far are today’s Muslims willing to follow rituals and superstitions if there is nowhere written that animals should be slaughtered?

Nonetheless, during this three day festival, millions of peaceful sheep, cattle, goats and camels will face death. In Saudi Arabia alone close to 700,000 animals are sacrificed annually. The streets run red with blood and become a sea of blood before which sheep and cattle are kicked, beaten, dragged by their ears and legs, tossed from trucks, cattle have their tendons slashed and eyes stabbed with knives while sheep are lined up in rows and have their throats slit waiting for their turn. These animals are carted from around the world and thousands of them die at sea as well.

The Australian Federal Government allows 3-4million sheep, 900,000 cattle and 97,000 goats annually to be sent to meet a cruel fate.

It is understood that the issue of animal sacrifice is a sensitive one. Sacrifice is not a pillar of Islam and it is not obligatory either in so saying, the next question is how can we rise above the feeling that in stopping animal sacrifice it would make them any less a Muslim. What needs to be also understood is that the Quran is a work of 22 years and changed with times. If changes were made with time, should the Muslim world also not think of changing habits that today does not meet any logical standards?

Is it also not true that the Quran never says God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, nor does the Quran say that Abrahams’ dream was from God. There is also a need to understand that the context of sharing with poorer members of Muslim society then and now differ and there are many alternatives that the poor can be helped. We can bring as an example Rizana who was beheaded and state that despite the poor condition of her family, it was the State that eventually built a house for the family!

Not eating a sacrificed animal does not make a Muslim any less a Muslim.

The context of the argument is approached in 2 dimensions. Firstly, it is the colossal death of around 20million animals in 3 days of festivity for Muslims. Such a bloodbath is totally unfair and immoral as many of these animals provide livelihood to a host of others. Secondly, the manner in which these animals are transported and killed is gruesome and totally inhuman. Animals are as emotional as humans and they only lack the ability to speak. We can imagine our own selves lined up to go through the abusive treatment that these animals go through to feel what these animals must be going through before their death.

We are living in the 21st century. What we do must be meaningful. Look around and see how man has degraded himself. The recent Islamic militant movements are showing off sacrificed men’s heads on poles and media are happy to relay this across its media channels. We have brought ourselves to look no different to an animal and it is time we stop, take stock of our values and adjust our ways.

20million animals should not have to meet their death.

Political leaders of ‘multicultural’ societies vying for votes should desist from making the mistake of praising animal sacrifice and their speech writers/press releases should refrain from making any reference to the abhorrent ways that animal sacrifice takes place.

The onus is on the Muslim religious leaders and the general Muslim public to look at the blood filled streets and ask themselves is this worth it and whether they should rethink ritual animal sacrifice and find alternate means to help the poor.

Shenali D Waduge

6 Responses to “Rethinking Superstition: Should Hajj celebration end up with 20million animals slaughtered?”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    We should not forget that over a hundred million TURKEYS are slaughtered all over the WORLD, during the Christmas month, also for CELEBRATIONS.
    BUDDHISTS DO NOT KILL FOR WESAK CELEBRATIONS.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Shenali makes a good point, but we have to recognize that the slaughter of animals is a very complex issue that goes to the very heart of human existence and human beliefs.

    It is very easy to condemn the wanton killing of animals for entertainment (aka sport hunting), or even in religious rituals, for I cannot believe that God relishes the killing of some of his creations for food anymore than he relishes the killing of any humans in his name, but can we condemn the killing of animals for food when many people’s lives depend upon eating food based upon animal protein?

    Many religions teach that animals are a gift given by God for people (aka God’s children) to eat, and that there is no sin associated with killing animals for food. But, in the future as we grow “smarter” and more “technologically capable” of devising means of growing vegetarian foods and even disguising them as familiar animal protein based foods for the addicted, do we need to continue the killing of animals for food?

    Buddhism and Jainism, are among the established religions that prohibit the killing of animals even for food. Many, but not all, Buddhists including myself, eat fish and meat, while avoiding killing animals directly … but that is clearly a craven cop out because we are encouraging others to kill and provide us that food. So, such people are clearly knowling serial sinners.

    Animal protein is NOT ESSENTIAL to sustaining life, because high quality protein with all the benefits of animal protein can be found in vegetarian foods. For example, chick peas (aka garbanzo beans) … a favorite food of mine … is a very good source of high quality protein.

    As I grow older, I find myself more and more becoming a vegetarian, driven by a non-religious desire to avoid taking the lives of animals. But, given my addiction to certain favorite foods, be it pepperoni pizza, deli meat and tuna sandwiches, juicy steaks, ambulthiyal fish, devilled prawns or even maldive fish in my pol and seeni sambols, it is hard to kick the ingrained cultural addiction to animal protein.

    However much I try to ignore it, I cannot escape the nagging knowledge of the underlying guilt that I an aiding and abetting the killing of animals for food … and my desire to remain a “good” Orthodox Theravada Buddhist in the middle of gnawing on an animal bone.

    Does future “progress” in “civilization” demand that we move completely away from eating animals for food? What will be our stand if some starving alien race descends upon earth from outer space and harvests humans for food? Will morality be able to distinguish their practice from our own, or will we resist them with all of our might for our own survival under the rubric that it is OUR OX that is being GORED NOW, and reverting to the “law of the jungle” that HUMAN and BEAST should fend for itself?

    As I said at the beginning, it is a very complex issue (!!). The two least hypocritical stands on the issue seems to be for a person either 1. to eat everything that moves and can be legally “harvested”, or 2. to become a “pure vegetarian” by grazing on plants in the company of our former food animals.

  3. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    For hundreds of thousand years we survived on fruits, nuts, seeds, tubers and vegetable until we discovered fire and start roasting animals and birds. True carnivores born with built in tools like speed, strength, claws, teeth and talons for capture, kill and devour but we do NOT have hands that are designed for tearing into bellies of animals, but our hands are perfectly designed for picking fruits from trees. The strongest tough powerful animals like elephants, horses, camels eat only plant foods. Gorillas are 3 times the size of a man but 30 times stronger and they eat only leaves and fruits to produce all the protein they need.

  4. Nanda Says:

    We can’t even catch a chicken using our physical strength alone, yet we slaughter billions of them daily, using our brains designed to find our own problems which other animal are incapable of.

  5. Christie Says:

    It is all in the natural food chain. In the deserts of Middle East harsh and inedible vegetation is devoured by animals and the humans follow. Leave meat eaters alone and look after your vegetation. Milk is part of animals.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    I agree with Nanda that physical strength alone does not a carnivore make.

    In fact, there is NO MORE TERRIFYING CARNIVORE on this planet than the HUMAN who has conquered and subjugated all animal life and harnessed it to his inexorable will through the use of his BRAIN, not his BRAWN.

    The hiding of animal slaughter from our sight in massive remote abbatoirs and meat packing plants that smell to high heaven from tens of miles away, and the presentation of those bloody products in neat little pretty packages in supermarkets for our consumption, cannot remove the ugliness of it all from our conscience, or absolve humanity of the guilt for the massive mechanized killing of living beings at our command.

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