Back to office after a long break, finding myself pervious about the impact of recent long holidays due to Eid-ul-Azha. Holidays are meant to provide and relaxing time and energize people to work more efficiently but I felt much burdened and now relived that the holidays are over. There is strong feeling of resentment that the maltreatment of a great and noble Sunnah passed on to us by Prophet Abraham, is actually resulting in loathing and dread from the newer generation. The streets become bloody and a ghastly foul smell is almost everywhere in the air. Odorous skins and animal parts lying around almost every corner makes this holy and blessed occasion into to a somewhat repugnant occasion. People do not dare to admit it. Some might even say its sacrilege to say such things.
I have spent 11 of my early years in Saudi Arabia. Never had I seen such sights on the streets of KSA. Here in Pakistan, I am reluctant to take my kid out on that day. I am keen to teach my son the importance of Qurbani, which is like Zakat, the distribution of meat among the deserving and relatives, the tradition of sharing bestowed upon us by great religion of Islam just like my Father did when I was a kid. But what answer do I have for my son if he asks about the amount of muckiness on display. You cannot expect a young boy appreciating the importance of sacrifice when he has to cover his nose all the time with his hands while jumping over puddles of blood just to get 2 steps down the Mohalla Street. Someone I know told me that his daughter does not eat meat anymore since the day she saw a slaughter of a sacrificial animal. The filth that surrounds us on that day can also cause diseases, like diarrhea and dysentery etc. We are creating a wrong message to our youth. We are converting the message of sacrifice into a message of gross.
Not only is the sacrifice, the performing of Hajj nowadays also a commodity available to the upper class rich people and just a dream for the middle and lower class. Are we not alienating the under privileged people from Islam’s core beliefs and shunning them towards alternative methods/practices which mostly fall under biddat? Another core problem faced by us today is the biddat of naïve people thinking that some mantar, some numbers, graves or magic can provide them salvation. It was not as bad as it is today from when I was a small kid. I still remember the modesty of people in those times. Nowadays, every year there is a competition of who gets the bigger, more expensive animal. Where is the sense of sacrifice in that? According to a study in 2008, 97.2% of the total population lives below the poverty line. Ironically, today people buy sacrificial animals at a price as much as PKR 10, 00,000/- and even more. Some people probably think that the bigger the animal the bigger amount of meat which can be distributed to the poor, there is only that much meat one can extract from an animal. It is the height of injustice that most of the people do not have money to buy necessity items and in contrast, some people have the luxury to buy animals in millions of rupees which are otherwise not worth as much, all in the name of sacrifice and sharing with the poor. The money lavishly spent on the animal does not make more meat for the poor.
Apart from the administrative authorities and our own civic duties, I believe it is also the responsibility of our so-called ministers of religions to induce the importance of cleanliness and modesty among common people. They after all claim incumbent authority in all religious affairs. If people are complaining that the new generation is always criticizing the mullahs or the right-wing parties, well, I’m afraid that the mullahs and the right-wing are providing the youth a damn good excuse to be that way. Why is there no campaign from the religious parties to control the over pricing of sacrificial animals, the regulations and centralization of sacrifices? Is this not an attempt to save the core values of my religious beliefs? Maybe they do not see these problems as a misrepresentation of Islam’s core values, which also include Cleanliness, Equality and Modesty.
I think the prices of sacrificial animals should be controlled and do not reach exuberating rates. There should be designated areas across the country where animals should be sacrificed with proper sanitation facilities. Apart from these administrative fixtures, we need to establish the soul and concept of the Sunnah of Prophet Abraham (PBUH) and always remember the poor and under privileged among us.
How much of Imaan do we gain on this Blessed day and how much do we lose? On sanitation alone, we lose half of it straight away because “Safai Nisf Imaan Hay”. After the remaining half, how much do you think we lose on account of modesty? Only ALLAH knows and I pray that HE forgives us all and enlighten us as a responsible nation.