Monday, January 9, 2006

Feast of sacrifice

Tomorrow is Eid Al Adha in Malaysia. More than 2 million Muslims will perform the Hajj in Mecca in recognition of this feast. The term Adha means sacrifice but the only thing that is sacrificed regularly is our humanity.

Normally I would not be classified as an animal rights advocate. After all, I eat flesh regularly and see nothing wrong with this act. Yet in eatting the flesh we do not dishonour it by torturing the animal which is to die for the manner by which the beast meets it's death is not a reflection on the nature of the beast but on the depth of our humanity. Generally the slaughter of meat should be as painless and as clean as possible for the animal as God has given us dominion over beasts but with any power must come responsibility to be caretakers and stewards.

However, during the feast of Adha I take greviance with the slaughter of animals. During the feast of Adha (at least in Malaysia) a cow is usually tethered in a position where it cannot move pending its terrible slaughter. Imagine being tied up in a position where you cannot move while those who would kill you dig a pit near your head (to capture blood) and then haggle over the price they are to pay. Each Muslim whoc an afford it can sacrifice one sheep or a minimum of a seventh of a cow.

The butcher then approaches the tethered cow and slits it's neck with one blow while invoking the name of god. Somehow this invocation of the name of god during such a gory slaughter echoes 'kali ma shacti dei' in my mind but it could just be my personal sensitivities. The cow then lies there draining of blood for anything from ten to twenty minutes, often times still alive and quite literally kicking.

Kosher killing at least demands that the animal die from the initial blow. Any doubt renders such killing as non kosher. The Malaysian Muslim standard for Halal (the Islamic form of kosher) acknowledges that the animal may be alive for anything up to two mintues after slaughter in a slaughterhouse.

'Jakim's MS1500 halal standard requires a slaughtered cow to be left for two minutes before the thoracic sticking takes place,' Mustafa told the daily.

Obviously alive for up to two minutes in a slaughterhouse could mean alive for up to a much longer time when performed in the middle of a field near a mosque when the butcher has to go through many animals on the same day.

No other faith in the world today butcher's animals any more. In the past the Jews did it but during those times their neighbours sacrificed their children to gods like Moloch and Baal. Tribal Incans also had a field day sacrificing humans. These days, it may be nice to think we are more englishtened and have moved beyond this type of thing.

Besides, the Quran (22:37) states that it is not the meat or blood of the sacrifice that reaches Allah, it is one's piety. In the same verse it goes on to state that god has given humans dominion over animals for his own glory.

So tomorrow millions of animals will die gratuitiously around the world, sacrificed in the name of a god who says that the slaughter isn't what counts. It's as if millions of voices moo'ed out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

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