Business tycoons have ventured into this trade earning billions; terrorist organizations collect meat and hides, while at the bottom of the ladder, the Mullah and madrassa students get sufficient meat to eat
The concept of sacrifice is an ancient one in human history. Man used to offer his precious commodities to the gods to win favours. Or maybe there was some guilt feeling behind the practice which would mitigate by performing the act. Regardless of the motivation behind the ritual, sacrifice, whether bloodless or performed with offering blood, involved the sacrifice of both men and animals.
Children, considered to be pure and uncontaminated were also brought to the altar to pacify the wrath of gods. Consequently what we find in the story of Prophet Abraham was in accordance with the practice of the times. However, with the evolution of rationality, some religious scholars declared the act of prayers superior to sacrifices. Hence, human sacrifice became obsolete and later on, wascompletely replaced by offering of material objects and animals.
The story of Prophet Abraham has different versions as narrated in the Torah and the Quran. In the Jewish book, Prophet Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac, and that Isaac rather than Ishmael was the true heir of Abraham.
On the other hand, in the Quran it was Ishmael who was to be offered. The aim was to divert the Abrahamic tradition away from Judaism and towards the Arabian Peninsula.
It is also worthwhile to note that the Abrahamic God was named Jehovah who spoke Hebrew but when he was Arabized he was called Allah and he would speak Arabic. Similarly the direction to offer prayers was diverted from Al-Aqsa Mosque towards the Kaaba. All these were important developments; negation of Judaism and Christianity to strengthen and promote a divine religion serving as camouflage against Arab imperialism.
Although we do find a debate in Judaism over the compulsion of going in for a sacrifice of blood, we do not find such discourse in Islam. In today’s world, the concept of blood sacrifice even performed on animals appears brutal, notwithstanding its execution by a father of his son on God’s directive.
However, the fact remains that the concept of sacrifice remained subject to evolution; from the offering of a human being to that of an animal the shift was monumental. And even if we go by the Quran it is clearly written that “Allah does not need your sacrifices and meat”
However, this injunction has largely been ignored by the Muslims following a dogmatic religion which is based on rituals and has greater suitability for the mullah and the ruling classes. Rituals are thus promoted as they suit the ones who avoid critical reasoning, the common man and those who do not want others to think critically, as this leads to challenging the status quo.
Prior to the advent of Islam, Kaaba was the Pagans’ sacred place of worship and all the rituals performed today during Hajj were a part of Pagans’ religion and culture, which were Islamized and retained. The tawaf around the kaaba, kissing the black stone and even stoning the Satan were a part of Pagan culture. The presence of a spring in the middle of a desert is regarded a miracle. Hence, the zamzam had its own sanctity. Although Islam rejected Paganism, however, it retained the pagan rites, as blind adherence to rituals serves the interests of the establishment and facilitates loyalty on part of the subjects.
The ritual of sacrifice was retained for two reasons. One, as a custom it would complement the power structure of the ruling elite. Secondly, people who came to perform Hajj required food and would bring their domesticated animals along. The purpose again was twofold; they would offer their animals to God and would also get food for themselves.
Although the ritual of sacrificing animals was meant for only those performing Hajj, it has spread to the entire Muslim world. Presently an entire mafia is behind the whole system. Business tycoons have ventured into this trade earning billions; terrorist organizations collect meat and hides, while at the bottom of the ladder, the Mullah and madrassa students get sufficient meat to eat. The Eid clearly divides the Muslims into haves and have nots. While the rich and wealthy get an opportunity to show off their wealth, the poor wait like beggars for a small quantity of meat.
As the entire cycle of demand and supply got disturbed due to massive sacrifice of animals, the State had to declare two meatless days in a week. This also affects the leather industry. However, nobody is allowed to even question this practice where billions are wasted on producing raw meat.
Historically and traditionally, Haj has been a great source of income for Saudi Arabia. Saudis today are not only earning massive foreign exchange through Haj they are also spreading their Wahabi ideology to the whole Muslim world and beyond. Hajis (Pilgrims) from other countries are excessively exploited during their stay in the holy land. Pakistanis whose country faces a severe economic crunch waste billions of rupees worth foreign exchange. The rich perform Hajj not once but several times just to impress others with their piety and resourcefulness. The same amount can also be spent on the welfare of the poor and needy.
Under the influence of ignorance, backwardness and Mullahism, we the Muslims have yet to tread on the path to progress and glory.
In today’s world, only those nations prosper which abandon that part of religion which hampers their stride towards science and development, humanity and peaceful coexistence. Throughout history we find religions being born grow and then disappear in the annals, to be replaced by new ones.
However, today, the developed world bears witness to the fact that there is no scope for the birth of a new religion; human intellect and scientific knowledge are more than enough to satisfy man’s material and spiritual needs.
(Translation from Urdu by Waseem Altaf)
Arshad Mahmood is a columnist,freelance writer and a social activist.