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Interfaith Dialogue ( 15 Dec 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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An Ordinance for Sustainability: Essential Issues Kept Off The Religious Radar!




By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam

Dec 15, 2012

In almost all religions animal conservation, in one form or another is mandated. In Hinduism and Buddhism it is understood to be scripturally ordained, but in Judaism and Christianity it is advisable only; for example Bible forbids taking cow and calf at the same time and Catholics are advised to conserve cattle and eat Fish on Fridays.

Today many governments impose restrictions on hunting and fishing during breeding seasons to sustainably manage animal resources.

In this age all forms of conservation are said to be the most pressing requirement of the planet Earth. It is not known generally that in many cities recycled and filtered sewage water even for domestic consumption runs off the taps. Namibia for years and Singapore are two prominent examples of recycled water.

In the third world countries (term not politically correct today), ‘waste’, ‘pollution’, ‘Conservation’, are non-existent concepts. Although it is an ‘inconvenient truth’ but conserving the depleting resources of the world, minimising waste and cleaning the environment has been an essential requirement for mankind.

Ignorance, arrogance, extravagance and prodigality are considered a measure of success in many societies. Ostentatious display of wealth in all aspects of life is considered a right and even a form of expressing thanks to All-Mighty.

On a recent visit to a developing country it was observed at a public watering tap, when the water supply resumed after a four-hour daily turn-off, the ladies (mostly ladies!) from less well-off families who came to fill their water containers, would chat away while the containers were overflowing and the tap running full bore! A common habit observed domestically even among the educated.

The conscious need to save a resource does not feature in traditions! Understanding of the reason for this turnoff of water, despite substantial seasonal rain-fall is lacking, because the “knowledge” of the global implications of depletion of resources such as fuel to generate electricity to operate the water pumps to deliver the water, is often beyond the comprehension even in the enlightened societies.

The so called advance Western countries are not immune from this evil. Wastage of food during many festivals is an example. (“Waste not Australians are tipped to spend $10 billion on food over Christmas, but a third will end up as landfill”, says a research article.)

Truckloads of ripe tomatoes splattered in bunfights, smashing maximum number of water melons with one’s head, gorging on meat pies and obscenely spewing thereafter, and other such so called merry-making competitions involving food waste is ad-nauseam.

Although awareness of how the other half of the world starves is also very common here. It is said that uneaten food thrown away by the one third of the world could feed the rest of the starving world. According to a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, “wasteful consumer behaviour is seen as the biggest barrier ahead”

 The awareness that depletion of natural resources is intricately woven with human habit of waste is quite common too. Conservation as a concept is never taught in schools and is far beyond the grasp across all strata of people, whether in advance or less developed countries.

How to fix it is a dilemma similar to poor Henry of nursery rhyme asking- ‘with what shall I fix it dear Lisa’! And ‘Waste not want not’ is just a pontificating phrase.

In Quran, however, “ not waste--God does not love the extravagant 6-141, 7-31” is a broad based edict. A simple command loaded with consequences for mankind, yet is never emphasised by Muslims scholars and teachers as a Quranic ordinance that must be applied in practice. The priests avoid it like a plague. As Akbar the poet has said, “well, maulvi yeh baat nahin gunah kaa”- well priest, there is no sin in discussing this matter”!

With this age old wisdom Muslims should have been the leaders in promoting “Conservation”.

As pointed above, for Muslims, the followers of Quran particularly; this ignorance is astounding. It is so because the Book in no uncertain terms warns mankind in various verses, of God’s hate of wastefulness. It refers to ‘extravagant’ people as -musrifeen: “26-151 and follow not the actions of the extravagant”, hence it must be avoided. It says, use nature’s gifts with thanks within the set parameters and do not exceed the limits. The underlying requirement therefore, being the ‘knowledge’ of the large scale negative consequences, according to natures laws, if the limits are transgressed.

This leads to the consequences, pertaining to some religious rituals and particularly of slaughtering millions of animals in the season of Hajj, discussed often on this forum. The ritual now increasingly practiced in the Muslim world as affluence (and effluence too!) increases and also an exhibition of piety (107-6)! So it is raised as a critical issue; now that the stench of “sacrificial pollution” has cleared the air since the last season.

During this season, the pollution, the stench of congealed blood and rotting offal in the streets of Muslim majority areas must be considered as a serious hazard in relation to health and hygiene of the nation and reviewed critically by authorities.

The mind-set of Muslim people for the Holy ritual of animal ‘sacrifice’ round the globe; away from the precincts of pilgrimage is a contradiction; specifically so as the Book explains variously to the followers the purpose of animal-killing. It instructs them to provide out of their means- sacrifice-, sustenance for the pilgrims at Hajj: “22-33, .. in the end their place of slaughter is near the sacred precincts”.

It further emphasises that: “22-37, it is not their meat, nor their blood that reaches God; it is your sincere obedience (of Him) that reaches Him”. That is, it is only the outcome-based beneficial endeavours are meritorious in nature’s scheme of life.

The slaughter termed ‘sacrifice’ of animal in God’s name contradicts 6-135. The Universal Provider’s command of conserving sustainably of animal life, for example as given in Chapter 5, aptly named ‘the table spread’. 5-2: “…but the animals of chase are forbidden to you while you are in the sacred precincts …” makes sustainable management of animal resource a commandment to be implemented systematically by Humans. In fact this whole chapter 5-Maida- The table spread is on the important issue of ‘Conservation’ as stressed in 5-95.

Hence this wonton religious slaughter is a blatant disregard of God’s ordinance to preserve all animal life 6-38. It is so, both in terms of falsehood of the ritual and waste of animal resource. The ritual is therefore a permanent remnant of pagan sacrifice, to appease the gods of ancient temples. “43-23: …we found our forefathers following a certain religion, and we will certainly follow in their footsteps”, they insist!

What is astonishing is that even in the enlightened Muslim societies the instructions are ignored! Why so? Because:-

The business minded false-prophets of organised-church and its institutions mislead the nation. By keeping this important issue off the radar they have entrapped the blind faithful in the pagan rituals for centuries; all for filling their coffers with the benefits of the huge livestock and skins trade: “liyashtaroo bihi thamanan qaleela 2-79—to traffic with it for miserable gains”. Yet the material gains of this world they preach to their followers must be shunned to gain merits in hereafter. Offering animal sacrifice serves that purpose and serves their worldly purpose too:-

خون بہے بکرے کا اور ثواب ملے مسلمان کو—Goat’s blood gets spilt and Muslims reap the holy Merit,

پيٹ بھرے ’ملا کا جب کھاليں بکيں باٹا کو —Priest’s earn heaps, when hides are sold to BATA.

 Further most important issues in this connection; though distantly related to conservation, must be addressed here.

·       The utter disregard for the welfare, and cruelty, dealt to animals during the killing process, euphemistically called making ‘Halal’- man playing God- for something that God has already made Halal 5-6 to eat. Another example of business mind-set. The cruelty in the name of religion and to the shame of this nation.

This is an unfathomable paradox. This cruelty is evident even in Western culture. The stories given out by Animal Rights movements of cruelty practices of their abettors; and for example of Bull-fight and lassoing young calves at full speed strangling them for sport! Yet many consider these animals as their wealth and pride-possession.

Animals are mentioned in the Book variously as God’s gift for mankind giving numerous benefits, particularly chapter sixteen. Yet when it comes to slaughtering them, the treatment is generally appalling, and carried out in most unhygienic conditions in the Muslim world. This is strange, for the community that carries out the slaughter does so in the name of God - الرحمان الرحِيم“the most gracious most merciful”!

Although, scavenging and recycling of waste material in all poor countries is a norm today, it is not practiced as a virtuous act by the public nor it is even a credit to governments, let alone the religions. It is in fact imposed by abject poverty and economic mismanagement and therefore it is practiced as a necessity by the destitute for survival! To the shame of most of the world, this is shown by BBC as docos in series of ‘The most difficult Place to be a…’ in different countries, -'Stand your ground': Life as ferryman in Bangladesh. It should bring tears in the eyes of compassionate souls, as it did of the documentary maker.

·       This reinforces the negativity of, not only the throw-away and wasteful society but also its habits of polluting the environment, land, rivers and atmosphere, to which the States have turned a blind eye. Yet, one more important factor that must be considered.

Hence in saying, ‘God does not love the extravagant,’ is HE being ‘politically correct’? If God does not love them HE logically hates them? And that must be one of the consequences why the appalling state where half the world today starves! In the context of the Muslim nations’ practices, Iqbal’s statement applies here:-

Haqiqat kharaafaat main’ khogayee—Reality vanished in the (religious) obscenities!

Yeh ummat riwaayaat main’ khogayee---This Nation is lost in traditional profanities!

The upshot of all this is not the restriction of consumption of meat for sustenance but to maintain sustained use of God’s gifts!

Although the animal trade and its material gains answer just one aspect, however the serious question remains unanswered. Why are the followers of Quran not following its instructions? Many with their hand on heart would say - “but we do, we do. We follow what we are told by our spiritual guides”! But who will bell-the-cat to explain the followers of these guides: “17-15—No bearer of burden can bear the burden of others”. They cannot hand ball their responsibility on to others!

In one’s grown-up and mature state of intellect; they must act on the Book’s instructions to save the planet. Blame no one else and follow one’s own God given reasoning 25-73; for the religious world is full of charlatans, shaman and false-prophets!

A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is an Indian-origin Engineer (Retd.) based in Australia for over forty years.