Muslims and animal sacrifice during Eid

Every year, with the onset of haj and its accompanying Eid celebration, the issue of animal sacrifice becomes the focus of Muslim groups. For many in the Islamic world, this issue is a sensitive one. Sacrifice, however, is not a pillar of Islam. Nor is it obligatory during haj.

Muslims should not be made to think that the call by some concerned groups that “it is not wise that animals be slaughtered in public places, especially in school compounds”, is against the religious rite of the Muslims. Are we Malaysians left behind in our religious practice when it comes to the ritual slaughtering of animals?

Some Muslim countries, such as the UAE, do not to allow animals to be slaughtered in public or at any undesignated place, including outside mosques and schools, other than the authorised abattoirs they have built.

In many countries, Muslims would not slaughter sacrificial animals in places where there are children, women or people of other faiths. Some can be terrified by the scene. For this reason, in developed countries and Eastern Europe, the ritual slaughter of animals has to be done in government-approved abattoirs, and Muslims, in general, do not object to this.

Perhaps, Malaysia can take a cue from these countries and from other Muslims living in developed countries who perform the ritual. When is the government going to decide that the slaughtering of animals is best done “behind closed doors” or in some other restricted places?

Muslims should be open to the call by concerned Muslim groups who feel that it is not appropriate or hygienic for such rituals to be carried out in the open. These groups are not against any religious rites of the Muslims but they only mean to say that it would be more appropriate if the ritual is not done where it is exposed to public view, especially children.

It is thus unjustified to point fingers at those concerned citizens and call them “anti-Islam” or “liberal groups”. Most Malaysian Muslims are more mature than those who cannot
accept criticism on this issue.

There are many moderate Muslims in this country and elsewhere who share the views of those who reproach the gory manner in which the ritual is carried out in the open, what more when it is done just to “glorify” their positions in the name of religion.

The true meaning of sacrifice is not for a Muslim to be delighted in flesh and blood.

The Quran says: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches the Lord; it is your piety that reaches Him. He has thus made them subject to you that ye may glorify the Lord for His guidance to you. And proclaim the Good News to all who do right.” (Al-Haj 22: 37).

Moaz Nair is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.