Animal rights and Eid ul Adha

By: Iftikhar Islam

The moment people come to know about Eid-ul-Azha (popularly known as Bakra’id in Indian sub-continent) the main thing that erupts in their mind is “Sacrificing of Animals”. Usually sacrificing of animals is considered a rude act towards animals; an act of cruelty. It appears as if the rights of animals are snatched away because people see slaughtering in a ruthless manner. We see in various temples the slaughtering is done and people relate the same concept with Islam.The slaughtering done according to Islam is very different than other methods used in other places.

Islam is a more practical way of Life in which it has taught the utmost rights of the Animals which other faiths have really missed. It has neither unnecessary uplifted nor degraded but protected the status of Animals. In this matter Islam has taken various precautions before slaughtering of Animals. 

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was very particular about Animals and said: “Verily, Almighty Allah has prescribed excellence in all things … if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him comfort the animal he slaughters.”

Islamic Reasoning | Animal rights and Eid ul Adha | Iftikhar Islam

But why do we, Muslims sacrifice the animals? We do because it is the commandment of Allah (swt). It was the way of Abraham [Arabic: Ibrahim] (peace be upon him). God Almighty tested him and it was conveyed to him to sacrifice his son which was born to him very late and was very beloved to him. He – without a second thought – agreed and conveyed the same to his beloved son. Both of them agreed to what Allah conveyed. And Abraham (peace be upon him) was about to sacrifice his beloved son, Allah the Almighty replaced the sacrifice. Instead of his son it was a sheep which was sacrificed.

Abraham (peace be upon him) had gone through the test – passed successfully. Now it’s our turn to sacrifice and we don’t have that test which Abraham (peace be upon him) had. So Allah, the Almighty commanded to sacrifice animals to regenerate the spirit of Abraham (peace be upon him); to obey Allah, the Almighty, as we ought to obey.

People may ask should we kill animals to remember the way of Abraham (peace be upon him)… “How rude?”… Is it the right way to sacrifice Animals for ourselves?? Who is to decide? Is it we with our limited knowledge or Allah, the Creator of Humans as well as Animals? It is God Almighty to decide what is good and what is bad for his creations. He has given us the guidelines who can we eat and whom we can’t. Man with his limited understanding cannot create boundaries because of his ignorance. If deer in the forest makes an association and fights against killings then what will the Lion eat? And what about Hyena which depends upon Lion’s hunt? And most importantly what will be the solution to the increasing population of deer in the forest?

Similarly what is the solution for the increasing cattle which often obstruct the roads, markets and various other places? The God Almighty has created some animals to eat and some to be eaten. So it is logical to sacrifice the animals. But we cannot torture them. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned against misbehaving with animals, overloading them or using excessively without giving any rest. 

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also commanded that everyone will be answerable to the deed which they have done. Every shepherd will be asked about his cattle, whether he has given them good food, environment, behavior, etc.

Some of the activist of Animal rights protests and urge not to sacrifice cow – failing to realize the life of Goat, Sheep, bull, buffalo, etc. is equally sacred as the life of a cow. These men become active at the time of EidulAdha as if it is the only time when the animals get slaughter. Why don’t they shut all the slaughter houses and close down all the shops which sells Chicken, Mutton, Beef, etc. Where do the animals’ rights go then? When it comes to sacrifice for their purpose then it is absolutely fine and when it comes to other faiths it violates animal rights.

Islam teaches the methods of slaughtering in which it recommends to sharp the knife before. Islamic way of slaughtering is the most perfect and scientific in which the animal dies a painless death.

Even Hinduism does not prohibit slaughtering of animals- A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says in interpretation of verse 31 of Chapter 2 in Bhagwad Geeta “… killing animals in the sacrificial fire are not at all considered to be acts of violence…” [Bhagwad Geeta – As it is (pg:105)].

Allah says: "It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him." (Qur'an 22:37). Muslims offer sacrifice because it is the commandment of Allah. And by obeying the commandment of Allah we can attain piety.

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