By Irfan Mahar*
“A person is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour goes hungry” (Hadith, Bukhari)
Qurbani, udhiyah in Arabic, means sacrifice, the act of sacrificing animals honours the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail in obedience to God. In this regard, every Eid-ul-Adha Muslims demonstrate their obedience to Allah through sacrificing animals or paying to have one slaughtered on their behalf. However, unfortunately, most of the Muslims perform the religious rituals to show off instead of keeping in mind the real essence of performing their religious duties. It is unfortunate to say that in several Muslims countries, most of the people observe Eid-ul-Adha as a ritual. In this regard, the sacrifice of the animals has become a symbol of showing off instead of religious duty to please God. There are very few Muslims who still sacrifice animals as a religious duty to please God. Moreover, people have also made this month as the source of earning money, for example, whenever Eid-ul-Adha comes closer, the prices of animals go high. Besides, people buy expensive animals because buying an expensive animal has become a fashion to show that they are wealthier than their neighbours or other people of society.
Looking over the prevailing situation amid Covid-19 pandemic, where the cases of Coronavirus have been increasing. Governments in most of the Muslims nations have prohibited the setting of cattle markets even though there are many chances of spread of Covid-19. Because the previous record of people about following the SOPs and instructions provided by the government did not seem reasonable where most of the people ignored SOPS, particularly in countries such as Pakistan. In this regard, gatherings of people over animal markets could cause a massive increase in coronavirus cases as well. It is not about 1, 2 or 3 days instead it is about an extended period because Coronavirus has been continuing for previous six months and no one has reached a conclusion that how much it will still last. Therefore, governments of all the Muslim nations have to think it over because this is not a normal time, where the whole world is suffering from the fatal disease in the form of Covid-19. Governments, along with the coordination and collaboration of religious scholars should form such policies from which most of the people affected by Coronavirus could take benefits for a long time.
Moreover, there is a dire need in societies like Pakistan to work over the minds of people to make them feel and act like sensible and responsible citizens. What lacks in young or even most of the generation is understanding and thinking about anything they have been doing since long as well as they are going to do. They do not even bother to think rationally over acts they are going to do; instead, they prefer stereotypes and traditional concepts which have been practiced in society since long. People consider the old concepts and practices as final and correct for all times, circumstances and situations instead of taking decisions and actions according to the prevailing situation based on rationality. This is a high time for these people to think rationally and make decisions after thinking over the prevailing situation because each action and decision taken by them could affect the whole society. As far as all religions are concerned, they also emphasize humanity and give lessons about doing things which are beneficial for human beings. The act of helping needy people is also much liked by God, and those people who think right and do better for the people are very near to God.
There are almost 50 Muslims-majority countries all over the world. All Muslims throughout the world spend a considerable amount of money on sacrificing animals on Eid-ul-Azha as a religious duty. In this regard, all scholars of Islamic law and jurisprudence should gather to discuss the current situation where the world has been going through the fatal disease in the form of Covid-19. Most of the poor and middle-class people have been suffering from challenging circumstances because of lockdown amid Coronavirus. Additionally, there is also a need to look over the scientific point of view if this time the sacrifice of animals is made in a limited way or most of the amount spent on animal sacrifice should be spent on poor people then could this pose any harms to humans or society or not? If there is any space within religion as well as science to spend this massive amount of money on low-income families who are suffering from severe financial crisis amid the current situation instead of spending it over animals sacrifice. Then the scholars of Islam should take the collective decision that is most beneficial mainly for the poor people and generally for the whole society.
The writer is PhD scholar in the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan.