Showing posts with label Hajj. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hajj. Show all posts

Sunday 10 February 2019

Why do Muslims Sacrifice Animals on Eid al Adha

Eid al Adha is one of two annual festivals of Muslims that are celebrated with religious zeal and fervour throughout the world. Eid al Adha falls after the culmination of yet another revered pillar of Islam: The Hajj. “Adha” means “sacrifice” in Arabic, thus on this day, the Muslims sacrifice animals like goat, sheep, ram, cow or camels to commemorate the sacrifice attributed to Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham, may peace be upon him). In fact, the Muslims celebrate Prophet Abraham’s piety, and his willingness to obey Allah’s commandment, even if it meant sacrificing his son.

However, for most non-Muslims, it is something strange to slaughter an animal openly and in rather a barbaric way. Although, the meat market around the world kills animals in machines "alive", yet slaughtering of animals as a ritual by Muslims seems to them rather harsh. They even question why the animals should be sacrificed in the first place.  Emmanuel Kant, the 18th-century German philosopher, criticized Abraham’s blind submission not as an example to emulate but as a failure to avoid. Abraham should have been certain about his own moral sense, Kant argued, and suspicious about an ostensibly divine voice commanding him to do something as cruel as sacrificing his son. Kant wasn’t advocating defying God, necessarily, but he was empowering human reason.

While many non-Muslims support Emmanuel's viewpoint, some stereotyped Muslims living in non-Muslim countries too often their reservation to the very concept and manner of the slaughter and sacrifice of the animals. Why such queries are raised because we are drifting from teachings of our faith and concentrating more on reasoning in view of modern thinking that is devoid of submission to the Divine commandments. To understand the why of animal sacrifice, we must understand the philosophy and wisdom behind it. 

The philosophy of sacrifice displays total submission to Allah's commandment vis-a-vis any human considerations. When it came to accepting Divine will, Prophet Ibraheem demonstrated this spirit of submission and sacrifice to the best of his understanding. He chose to submit unconditionally to Allah and did not let human emotions come his way to deter him from carrying out the will of Allah.

Although, the act of Prophet Abraham took place much earlier than all divine faiths, that is Jewish and Christianity, its continuation as a ritual in Islam attaches immense importance as a display of total submission to the will of Allah. While querying religious rituals, one must keep the context in mind. Not only did the pagan Arabs sacrifice to a variety of gods in hopes of attaining protection or some favor or material gain, but so, too, did the Jews of that day seek to appease the One True God by blood sacrifice and burnt offerings. Even the Christian community felt Jesus to be the last sacrifice, the final lamb, so to speak, in an otherwise valid tradition of animal sacrifice (where one’s sins are absolved by the blood of another).

It may be added that Islam in fact breaks away from this longstanding tradition of appeasing an “angry God” and instead demands personal sacrifice and submission as the only way to die before death and reach “Fana” or “extinction in Allah.” The notion of “vicarious atonement of sin” (absolving one’s sins through the blood of another) is nowhere to be found in the Qur’an. Neither is the idea of gaining favor by offering the life of another to God. In Islam, all that is demanded as a sacrifice is one’s personal willingness to submit one’s ego and individual will to Allah.

In fact, Allah never "asked" Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son. Rather, the Prophet saw a dream as has been narrated in the Holy Qur'an [Surah As Saffat 37:102-107]:
102) Then when (the son) Reached (the age of) (Serious) work with him He said: “Oh my son! I see in vision That I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is Thy view!” (The son) said: “Oh my father! Do As thou art commanded: Thou wilt find me, If Allah so wills one Practicing patience and constancy!” 103) So when they had both Submitted their wills (to Allah), And he had laid him Prostrate on his forehead (For sacrifice), 104) We called out to him, “Oh Abraham!” 1054) “Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” thus indeed Do We reward Those who do right. 106) For this was obviously A trial, 107) And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice.
Based on the dream, the Prophet understood that he had been demanded to make a supreme sacrifice, which for him seemed to be something that should be dearest to him of all. So, he asked his son to be that sacrifice, which his son obediently acknowledged without any hesitation. This is the total essence: Total Submission and Obedience. And it must be remembered that Allah does not need meat or blood of animals as has been mentioned in Surah Hajj [22:37]:
It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety That reaches Him: He Has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify Allah for His guidance to you: * And proclaim the Good News To all who do right
No one should suppose that meat or blood is acceptable to the One True God. It was a pagan fancy that Allah could be appeased by blood sacrifice. But Allah does accept the offering of our hearts, and as a symbol of such offer.

Replying the to this oft asked query by non-Muslims, please listen to the answer by Professor Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a Pakistani Muslim theologian, Quran scholar, Islamic modernist, exegete and educationist, on the subject. The video is in Urdu, but has English subtitles for those who cannot understand Urdu: 
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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Friday 30 November 2018

Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Cuba

It has been awhile that I have been sharing the presence of Islam and Muslims in Non Muslims countries and to share their experiences as minority and their emergence with main stream dominating population. Recently a friend reading my series on the subject, shared a documentary by BBC about life and living of Muslims in Cuba, which gave me a cue to write about Muslims in Cuba. The very opening scene of the documentary shows a man, clad in shalwar and qameez - the traditional dress of Pakistan, leading the prayer of a very small group of Muslims further intensified my interest in Cuba and I was amazed to find that it were the students from Pakistan which first became a sizable Muslim community in Cuba.

The Muslims first stepped on the Cuban soil in the 16th century, generally Moors from Muslim Spain. The Muslims, mostly traders from the Middle East started doing business of sugar for many generating. Many stayed, mostly in Havana or around Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city at the far east of the island. 

While Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959 and instituted a communist government, all other religions and their religious places were were shuttered and religious schools of all kinds were forced to pack up and leave the island and everyday Cubans took to praying to God in private. In recent years, there has been some relaxations and religious freedom is creeping in at a slow pace.

The presence of Muslims today in Cuba is mostly attributed to students that came to Cuba for higher studies. A large group of students from Pakistan, besides Rwanda and Nigeria, served as the vanguard for other students to follow the suit in the 1970s. It is said that the dominant population that went to study at Cuba was the Pakistani students who were about 936 in strength. 

During the 2005 massive earthquake in Pakistan, in which over a hundred thousand perished, Cuba sent more than 2,000 doctors and other medical specialists to help the earthquake affected areas. The following year, it offered 1,000 scholarships for young people from across Pakistan and were given scholarships by the government.

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center report, out of  a total population of 11 million, there were then 10,000 Muslims in Cuba who constitute 0.1% of the population. By 2012, most of the 10,000 Cuban Muslims were converts to the religion. Ninety-nine percent of Cuban Muslims are converted to Islam and not descendants of Arabs.

This journey of Islam in Cuba has not been easy. Hajji Isa, formerly Jorge Elias Gil Viant, a Cuban convert and artist, a Cuban revert says very proudly: 
"Many brothers from other countries have said to me that we Cuban Muslims are the real Muslims, because it is so much harder to observe here than in a country where many people share the same beliefs and practices." 
Embracing Islam by former Froilan Reyes, now Hassan Jan, 43, is interesting. For a fun loving audio technician at the University of Medical Sciences in Santa Clara, his life changed in 2010 when during month of Ramadan, he was required to work with a group of Pakistani medical students studying at the university. "At first I was very uncomfortable working with them," he admits. But his interaction with the Pakistani students induced in him a quest to embrace Islam.Seven months later, he converted and changed his name. "Allah showed me through the way they behaved that Islam was something else: Islam is peace, it's the will of God. Allah gave me the opportunity to understand that. It was a gift for me," says Hassan. The first reaction came from his wife who was first hesitant. "I didn't want to convert because of the things people said - that they abused the women. But I read, I read a lot, I looked for books so that I could understand better," she says. She converted five months after her husband and changed her name to Shabana.

For one Ahmed Abuero, 48,  the transition was a difficult one who converted after reading Malcolm X's biography 17 years ago. "It was difficult at the beginning because I had to stop drinking alcohol, seeing women, playing, eating pork and drinking rum, things every Cuban does," he said. "The night I converted to Islam, I could not sleep. I knew the following day my life would change forever." 

Hajji Jamal who reverted to Islam in 2009 shares his experience of embracing Islam after living a life of a Christian all along: "I was a member of the Baptist church. I knew a lot about Christianity, but I could never really understand the Holy Trinity. Then I met a Cuban Muslim who'd been Muslim for many years, and started to talk with him about Islam. He gave me a Quran to read: 
"It took me a while, but then eventually I did read it and I could see a logic there, it seemed very sincere, very real and it was this which attracted me to Islam." 
Jamal is now an informal representative of Santiago's Muslim community. "We're trying to give the best possible example of Islam, for at the moment there's a lot of negative messages in the media. People generalize, thinking, 'If you're Muslim, you must be a terrorist'," says Jamil

Due to scanty information about Islam, it is difficult for the Cuban reverts to face numerous face challenges, specially the non availability of the halal meat. Thus a Muslim confess: "Food is difficult because everything's forbidden. The meat we eat most is pork, though forbidden in Islam but we do no have any choice. To be honest, it is a bit difficult, but Allah gives you the strength to go on."

Hijab has always been a challenge to Muslim women anywhere in the world and so in Cuba. Some of the Cuban Muslim women who wear a headscarf have faced objections and discrimination from the authorities in their workplace or universities. According to  Shabana, mentioned above, "such situations are usually resolved through discussion and explanations of what Islam is about." Shabana, however, says that for her "it got complicated" and she left her job. She now provides childcare at home for the son of a Muslim student.
Masjid Abdalla, Cuba

Jorge Miguel Garcia, whose Muslim name is Khaled, is a part owner of a café in Santiago which serves as an informal meeting place for the Muslim community besides also being popular with the non-Muslim Cubans. "Unlike other cafés, we don't serve alcohol and that's never been a problem," says Khaled.  
"People who come for the first time always ask me about Islam and I like that, that they are interested. Many come back specifically because they see it as a healthy place where everyone is treated with respect. Those are the principles of Islam: peace, love and submission to Allah."
However, Khaled sells dishes which include pork, but believes that one day to run the café completely in accordance with Islamic precepts.

In 2015, a museum in Calle Oficios in Old Havana was turned into a prayer house with the support of the Office of the Historian, the body responsible for the restoration of central Havana. The makeshift mosque allows Muslims in Havana Friday prayers. Elsewhere, Muslims have shared small places in their homes where Muslims can come and offer prayers. 

Pedro Lazo Torres, known as the Imam Yahya, said there used to be so few Muslims in Cuba that they could hold their prayers inside someone's home. As they grew, their prayers spilled out into the street. Torres is now president of Cuba's Islamic League and says the number of Cubans asking to convert continues to increase. Yahya is presently Imam of a mosque that was inaugurated in June of 2015 thanks to funding from Turkey's president, Erdoğan. Located in Old Havana, the mosque sits next to an Islamic museum, known as The Arab House, and has brand new Spanish-Arabic copies of the Koran.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are in forefronts to help the Cuban Muslims. a Saudi funded language lab operates in both Havana and Santiago and in 2014 had a stand at the Havana Book Fair where literature about Islam and copies of the Quran in Spanish were distributed. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who died in January last year, sponsored five Cubans to make the Hajj pilgrimage in 2014 - something a near-impossible dream for most Cuban Muslims. Jamal and Isa (mentioned above) were fortunate to be among the five. "When I arrived at Jeddah, at the airport, the first thing I heard was the sound of prayer, I began to cry, "Jamal recalls.

Despite indifferences and lack of information about Islam and media blasting of "radical Islam", Muslims are continuing their efforts of blending Islamic values and Latin American customs in Cuba by regularly celebrating Islamic festivals of Eid which follows after a month long fasting in Islamic month of Ramadan.

You may like to watch the documentary by BBC on What is it like to be a Muslim in Cuba, which inspired me to write this post:

Photo: Mosque Abdallah | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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Saturday 14 April 2018

Hajj - Pilgrimage to Makkah

The last pillar of Islam is Hajj, the pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah. Hajj is obligatory once in lifetime for all able bodied men and women who can financially afford to undertake the journey to Makkah and bear expenses for their stay during the Hajj rituals.

Hajj is performed between 8th to 13th of Zil Hajj, the last month of Islamic calendar. Hajj is performed by men by just wearing two plain sheets of white clothes - hence it removes away any barriers between a billionaire and an ordinary many. Thus this removes away any distinction of class, superiority of clan and culture as everyone stand equal in the house of Allah.

Every year around two million Muslims perform the Hajj ritual in Makkah. The rituals of Hajj, as shown by the prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him), in his only performed Hajj after capture of the city of Makkah, include taking seven rounds around the House of Allah or the Khane-e-Ka'aba, seven rounds between the two hillocks of Safa and Marwa, as did Hajra (Hager, wife of Abraham) in search of water for his young son Ismail. Thereafter the pilgrims gather at the place called Arafat and seek forgiveness of Allah. Arafat is thought to be the plaice when all mankind will be assembled on the Day of Judgment. Arafat rituals end at sunset and pilgrims then move to a place called Muzdalifah for combined prayers of Maghrib (evening prayer) and Isha (late night prayer).

The last ritual of the Hajj is the sacrifice of a goat, a tradition followed since the prophet Ibraheem (Abraham, may peace be upon him). I will dwell on the details of this ritual separately. The end of Hajj is marked by the celebration of Eid Al Azha, just like Eid Al Fitr is celebrated after the month of Ramadan.

Please refer to our page: Dhu al-Hijja (ذُو ٱلْحِجَّة): The month of Pilgrimage - The Hajj to know more about Dhu al-Hijja and Hajj.

Photo: Pixabay
If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.

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