Books and Documents

Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam (29 Nov 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Hajj -- Some Afterthoughts


By Syed Rizvi, New Age Islam

29 Nov 2012

























   Imported sheep gasp for breath in Kuwait heat (Lyn White/ Animal Australia)


You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.

The above lines were written by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).


And today, this is what we say:

You have just performed your Hajj and not far from your place, and hidden from your views, lies a killing field where millions of sheep have been slaughtered -- one of them bore your name, although you two never met.  The last word the sheep heard as he saw the butcher’s knife was the name of the lord, and that should come as some consolation to you.

When Abraham pulled his knife on his son Ismail, to whom Abraham was deeply attached, Abraham bore the pain and anguish of the oncoming demise of his son.

You did not feel that pain when your sheep was slaughtered -- why should you?  It was a sheep you never met, slaughtered by a butcher you never knew, at a killing field you never visited and most importantly the critical moment when your sheep took his last breath remained out of your consciousness. Your sheep had no name other than an ID tag stapled on his ear.

And now weigh on the Abraham-event, in relation to your own scenario.  In one case, it was a pronouncement of Abraham’s love for his God that took precedence over Abraham’s love for his son.

 In your case, the sheep did not mean anything to you. Your sheep raised by some voodoo practicing aborigine in some remote corner of a distant island makes treacherous thousands of mile's journey to an Islamic peninsula. The sheep comes with no name until the last moment of his life, when he became your sheep in God’s log-book.

Although this whole drama is played as a re-enactment of Abraham sacrificing his son Ismail, but any   association of the name Ismail with a sheep raised by some savage heathens would unquestionably be seen as blasphemy.  However, in unspoken words, it is precisely this ritual that is played out in remembrance of Abraham’s story, and it does not take a special pair of eyes to note that which actor is forced to play Ismail’s role.   

Hence this act of ours, whether we admit it or not, does translate into a cheap skit of the Abraham event that we so piously carry out, although with an undercurrent of public display of  our self-importance depending upon the beauty, physique, and most importantly the purchase price of the sheep.  Thus we slay to be seen of men. 

But the story of your sheep is not unique

This time of the year also, like any other year, Muslims from all over the world converge to Mecca to perform the Hajj, which involves, among many other rituals, a mass scale slaughter of several millions of  gentle animals, supposedly to please their God. For this, the pilgrim and then expects to be rewarded in the next world.

 The slaughter of this enormity is unparalleled to any mass scale killing of animals, be it the harpooning of Japan whales in Japan, or the seal hunting of seals in Canada.  It is unparalleled not only because a large number of animals are killed in a very short time, but because this whole feat is carried out in an area not more than a few tens of square miles, where the terrified animals can hear the cries, and smell the blood of their fellow creatures amidst the hustle and bustle of the activities and strange noises in an area unfamiliar to them.  It is hard to imagine what goes through their minds when they find themselves in this concentration camp from which they cannot escape.

When looking at the lives of these animals, one could hardly make a comparison with the case of mass- killing of whales and seals mentioned earlier where they live out their entire lives in their natural environment, -- free from human intervention and harassment. 

These sheep often come from Australia, and it is by far the longest distance these have to travel. Every month, tens of thousands of sheep are crammed onto huge shipping vessels and suffer for days on end as they make their way across the ocean. Unable to move in often sweltering conditions, many die of disease or starvation. Sick and injured animals typically don't receive veterinary care. Even those who manage to survive the gruelling trip don't often make it off the ship alive since ventilation systems shut down when the ship reaches the unloading dock. 

Recently, because of an outbreak, 70,000 sheep destined for the Middle-East had to be unloaded at the port-city of Karachi, Pakistan, where a large number of them had to be killed and buried hastily even though some were still conscious and not properly killed, -- as understandably high-speed throat-slitting of tens of thousands of animals --- one at a time is not conducive to care for either religious or humane rules.

Islamic law is clear: for meat to be Halal (Kosher), animals must not be under stress or experience any discomfort prior to their slaughter. They cannot be mutilated, deformed, or diseased when killed. Any meat that is obtained as a result of any deviation from these edicts cannot be qualified as Halal.

Sheep who are shipped thousands of miles in excruciating conditions, who suffer from starvation and thirst and who routinely die of disease can never be considered Halal.  The tenets of Islam require animals to be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter. Sheep used in the live-export trade, who endure long transport in immeasurably cruel conditions, are far from healthy.

Studies have found that about half of all sheep deaths during sea transport to the Middle East are caused by starvation. These animals are accustomed to eating grass and do not recognize the pulverised pellets that they are provided with on the ship. Even though they are famished, they simply stop eating. The extremely crammed conditions means that even those whose desperation prompts them to try the pellets may not be able to get to the feeding troughs or eat enough to keep them alive.

After the dazed and starving survivors are unloaded, their ordeal is not over. They are transferred to feedlots, where investigations have documented that sick and weak sheep are not provided with care. Finally, they are moved to market, where they are pushed, pulled and roughly yanked around by workers.

As if the transport of these animals isn't egregious enough, there's more. Many of the sheep who are shipped are cast-offs from Australia's wool industry. These sheep have already been subjected to painful castration and have had their tails cut off without pain relief. Sheep used to produce wool also endure a cruel mutilation known as "mulesing". They are pinned on their backs while large chunks of skin are cut from their hindquarters – often without pain relief. This practice is used as a way to prevent what's called "fly strike", where flies lay their eggs in the wrinkly folds of their skin and maggots develop. But many other humane options for fly strike prevention are readily available.

And this is the saga of the animals who will be carrying on their back their Hajee executioner across,   the Rainbow Bridge leading to Heaven, where they all will live happily ever after.

 This article is third in the series of articles on Animal Sacrifice that the author has written exclusively for the Website NewAgeIslam.com

The previous two articles can be accessed through the following links:

Animal Sacrifice vs. Compassionate Eid: An Open Letter To Our Muslim Brothers and Sisters (11/07/11)


Animal Sacrifice or Blood Orgy? (11/20/10)


Syed Rizvi is a physicist by profession and is the Founder and President of Engineers and Scientists for Animal Rights. Syed lives in Silicon Valley, California.


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/ijtihad,-rethinking-islam/syed-rizvi,-new-age-islam/hajj----some-afterthoughts/d/9483



  • It's almost four years since you wrote this aticle, I am speechless at the magnanimity of the mass murder. One question to you, how can someone please his or her God by causing a painful death to a totally innocent, helpless and voiceless animal? I am mean HOW? I do not believe in any such faith or religion which tells me to commit this most immoral and unethical act. I absolutely do not believe in any such religion and I consider myself a million times better than those so called religious jokers who murder innocent animals in the name of God.
    By R.Raman - 12/6/2016 3:12:35 PM

  • Now this analogy must be applied to all human settings. People must not take life of any life on the earth…People must not spray for insects in their home. After all cockroaches, houseflies and mosquitoes have life too.
    Here in Pakistan, the Punjab Government has started a bloody Campaign of killing mosquitoes, of their alleged links to the Dengue virus.
    It has also come to our knowledge that, Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) is also not far behind in killing rodents and insects to save the storage of foodstuff at their disposal. PASSCO must know about the right of animals and insect, after all they have life too. On the other hand, all the provincial governments in Pakistan are supplying insecticide, rodenticide and other cides for their pre and post-harvest crops.
    It seems that there is rampant killing of animals/ life in Pakistan. Every citizen in Pakistan seems to a killer. Yeah! I forgot to mention the bloody killing of fishes in Karachi Sea and Sind and Baluchistan, Gawadar. Hundreds of thousands of marine life is being caught per day for local and international consumption. Razvi Shab would agree with me. And I agree with him that we all must join hand together to form an animal right commission. Better a chartered must be draft by the civilize people in the west. We can also add in to list, like hunting, eating meat, killing microbes, antibiotics. Many many more examples, Yeah killing of animals by animals (Animals world channel and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC) a prosecution system for animal can also be constituted but I am afraid carnivores like lion will always remain in jail.
    By Ali Qanbar - 9/23/2015 5:32:38 AM

  • Dear Mohammed yunus Saheb (1) You could be a good man without this book as there are many good men in this world.
    There are many with and without it. Abu Talib was a generous man and died without accepting the Quran.
    By rational - 12/6/2012 1:02:45 AM

  • The article of Syed Rizvi is a representative of such Muslims  who do not live simply to go to the heaven on the back of a goat or a sheep. when I realised the futility of this futile custom I stopped  doing it.I, instead of buying an animal to kill in the nameofAllah the most kind and merciful. I calculate the cost of such an animal and distribute the money among the needy and the  silent sufferers.
    I think this unislamic information will serve as booster to those  who feel like Mr Rizvi.
    By Afaq Siddiqi - 12/6/2012 12:32:07 AM

  • Mr Pola I think all intelligent people construct their own God and all fools get ready-made ones.but none finds himself without one.
    By afaqsiddiqi - 12/5/2012 8:57:54 PM

  • Dear Rational

    We are all free to say what comes to our mind. As to your point about Bethoven, the truth is to me every single creation - even the translation of my thought into fingers, its appearance on this website and instantaneous transmission globally are among the innumerable miracles of God. It is up to anyone to agree or disagree. 

    As far as the Qur'an is concerned, My objective study tells me that this book was never edited and simply cannot be edited without self falsification (Art. 1 below). It has also enabled me to compile a coherent book which has received unqualified recommendation from one of the leading jurists of the era. More importantly, out of blue, I have been able to frame some 50 articles on the back of the Qur'an, which is as relevant today as they were 1400 years ago. Just look at the Arabic Section. From my picture attached to the articles (I never liked this idea but do not regret now) you will know that a vast number of these articles (32 so far) have also appeared in the Arabic ver though  You can Eventhe principles which hs    

    By muhammad yunus (1) - 12/3/2012 8:46:55 AM

  • @Syed Rizvi saheb, Thanks for correction.
    By rational - 12/3/2012 1:50:27 AM

  • Mr. Rational is in error by saying      :Beethoven who was a blind produced unparalleled music".   Beethoven was not blind but he became deaf toward the  later part  of his life  when he wrote his Mastrterpiec the 9th Symphony.  But it was Mozart, who wrote some of the finest syphhonies at the age of four.  I do agree with Rational's second comment.  Yes, there are plenty of examples of prodigy around the globe in different time periods.  The Indian mathematician  Ramanjam is on such recent example. Regarding Quran,  what we say about the book is not necessarily accepted by  scholars including some ex-Muslims like Ibn Warraq for example
    By Syed Rizvi - 12/3/2012 1:24:41 AM

  • I don't know how anyone can kill in the name of God. My God is the representation and the source of love and compassion. My God won't ask anyone to kill a life for any excuse.
    Cruelty to animals should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Compassion is the only way out.
    By PoLa - 12/2/2012 10:32:29 PM

  • Dear Muhammad Yunus (1), The Qur'an is the central to the Islam as Mohammed Saheb is.
    Beethoven who was a blind produced unparalleled music. There are many examples where handicapped people outsmarted able people.
    The prophet was illiterate as Muslims claim; it doesn't mean he could not produce a book.
    I think the Qur'an is not the speech of God but a product of mind of the prophet. Then we can explain many contradictions, errors and disjointed themes etc in the Quran.
    Here is a link. It may be interesting to you.

    By rational - 12/2/2012 10:06:41 PM

  • An enlightening and thought provoking article. This cruelty should not be undertaken in the name of any God. Instead we should show the mercy that we are lucky enough to be enabled with and spare other creatures from suffering.
    By stanley - 12/2/2012 7:46:03 PM

  • Dear Ritonal! You also seem to be under the spell of the Qur'an for 90% of your comments are centered around it. One lost in love is obsessed with the thoughts of the beloved.

    By muhammad yunus (1) - 12/2/2012 12:00:04 PM

  • @hats off! I think god has better things to do as this earth is a speck of dust in the universe.
    He has given the freedom to his creation for self destruction.
    By satwa gunam - 12/2/2012 10:59:05 AM

  • And God is merciful to his creatures!!!!
    In some Ahadith God is said to be having 99 parts love for his creature compared to a mother who has one part. Do you Need evidence? Observe the mass slaughter on Haj and in every house of Muslim on Id-ul-dhuha.
    Sometime Allah speaks in first person then immediately in second person and then in third person. Sometime as singular and sometime in plural. It is the beauty of the word of God!
    After all He is God. He can't be asked questions.
    Sometime my eyes shed tears when this word is recited so what! My eyes shed tears when hear the song " Ai mere watan ke logon....." in melodious voice of Lata. But Allah doesn't like poetry. Mr Md Yunus(1) wonders why I don't see miracle in the Qur'an.
    By rational - 12/2/2012 10:07:56 AM

  • "But all said, there is a subtlety in His speech that cast a spell on its immediate listeners who turned away from it like frightened donkeys fleeing a lion (74:50-51)"
    So it was for Arabic speaking people. We are not even able to run away like those immediate listeners because simply we don't understand.
    If Mr Md Yunus(1) and similar few people find sublimity in it, it is just fine.
    Allah has failed to impress uncountable people leaving them in confusion scholars and non-scholars alike.

    By rational - 12/2/2012 12:55:50 AM

Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Fill the text
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.