Feature Img
Photo: Rainer Ebert

Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, we are approaching a blessed and spiritual time of the year, Qurbani Eid, which comes after millions of devout Muslims complete their pilgrimage to the holy grounds of Mecca. Families and friends will come together for prayers, exchange gifts and enjoy special food. As we prepare to take part in this year’s holiday, we would like to invite you to reexamine some aspects of how it is celebrated with an open mind and an open heart.

The story of Abraham
As we are told by the Quran, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) had a recurring dream in which Allah commanded him to sacrifice his son Ishmael (pbuh). Abraham (pbuh) was just about to end the life of his son when Allah called on him to spare his son and instead sacrifice a ram He miraculously provided. During Qurbani Eid, we commemorate and remember Abraham’s (pbuh) willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah. Today, the slaughter of millions of animals during this holiday is merely symbolic of Abraham’s (pbuh) supreme sacrifice.

Sacrifice, then and now
The Quran makes clear that Allah does not take pleasure in flesh and blood. It says of the animals sacrificed that “[t]heir meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you.” (Qur’an 22:37) Animal sacrifice is not part of the core spiritual truth of Islam, and there are many other charitable ways to express our devotion to the will of Allah. In modern Bangladesh, meat is not as scarce or as valuable a resource as it was for the desert community in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived. Today we can do so much more to help the needy by simply redirecting the money that would have gone towards the purchase of an animal for slaughter and using it for other longer-lasting and more beneficial purposes. The money can be used to improve the situation of more than half a million children living on the streets of Dhaka and other major cities, or to build hospitals in places where access to medical care is still difficult. CARE, Save the Children, Oxfam, BRAC and countless other organizations are doing great work for the most disadvantaged groups in our society and are in dire need of our financial support in order to create a better Bangladesh for tomorrow. Many of these charities and NGOs also accept valuable and useful items which are close to your heart and you might consider donating instead of, or in addition to, money – in the spirit of sacrifice. Opting for charity in lieu of animal sacrifice is in harmony with the meaning of Islam and Qurbani Eid.

Animals and Islam
While Qurbani Eid will be a time of joy for Muslims, it is not a happy time for Allah’s creatures. The lives of many goats, cows and other domestic animals will end during the festivities. It can be hard to think about the plight of animals in a country in which many human beings have to live under heartbreaking conditions. But we ask you to consider for a moment what the camels, lambs, goats, and cows chosen to be sacrificed on Qurbani Eid will endure. After all, we know that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advocated compassion toward animals. He was sent as a “mercy to all creation” (Quran, 21:107). In fact, the Quran explicitly recognizes the fact that animals are sentient beings just like us, thereby anticipating a basic tenet of the modern animal rights movement – “[t]here is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you.” (Qur’an 6:38) Prior to slaughter, many animals sacrificed during Qurbani Eid in Bangladesh are walked long distances, often for days at a time from as far-away places as India, or they are packed into trucks without adequate space, food, water, and medical attention. This is neither humane nor halal, and it stands in stark contradiction to Islamic teachings on kindness and compassion. We should not ignore this reality. In Sahih al-Bukhari, it is told that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was once asked if kindness to animals was rewarded in the afterlife. He replied that “there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature.” Sacrificial animals typically have their legs tied so that they can hardly move. They are surrounded by a group of people that often includes children. The terrified animals are held down by several individuals while a sharp knife is drawn across their throats. As they struggle to break free, they slowly bleed to death – often in front of other animals.

A religion of compassion
Many of us are horrified when we see on TV how animals in Europe, Australia, the United States and other countries across the globe are raised, transported and killed. It is our hope that Islam, being a religion of peace and compassion, can do better.

We, the undersigned, respectfully submit these thoughts for your consideration and hope you find them helpful in drawing your very own conclusions about the practice of animal sacrifice, in the light of the universal standards of mercy and compassion that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has set for humanity.

Eid Mubarak!

Please go to http://tinyurl.com/sign-eid-letter to sign this letter.

Go to http://tinyurl.com/eid-signatures to view the list of signatories to this open letter.

Rainer Ebert is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at Rice University, and a founding member of the Bangladesh Liberal Forum.

57 Responses to “Compassionate Eid: An Open Letter”

  1. Md. Soadrul Amin

    The commands and procedures of formal worships in Islaam are based on incontrovertible proofs available in Qur’an and authentic narrations of Rasulallah (pbuh). There will never be any change in the way those formal worships are performed till the last day on earth. Changes in worships are strictly prohibited and condemned labeling such practices as innovations (Bid’aa).

    Sacrificing animal on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha for the sake of Allah is an act of worship. The wealth spent and effort put with sincere intention on such worship is a mark of piety for a muslim/muslimah.

    Rainer Ebert is suffering from religious intolerance. He needs reform.

    • Gemstone

      Why does this bother you so much, when animals are being slaughtered before every major festival (religious or otherwise) anyway?
      An honest attempt to decrease meat consumption should be directed against the meatification of diet in the world (a movement that doesn’t get nearly enough attention). Even an attempt to decrease meat consumption/improve treatment of animals in Bangladesh for their not filling the ‘good tratment’ condition of Halalification would be a more effective strategy.
      It’s the slaughter in the name of Allah that seems to bother people. And I guess Muslims are easier to single out and villify than the fast food industry.

  2. Gemstone

    Ebert’s language alternates between naivity and unbearably condescending attitude. That is why people are finding it so hard to stomach his arguments, even though all of these things we do discuss as a nation every year in newspapers as well as social media. It is not as if we needed this White Savior of animals to come teach us a lesson in compassion. Every year we see articles that say basically the same things. Indeed, in the Bangla version of this article, people are leaving intelligent comments, albeit peppered with the the familiar close-minded ‘we should never talk about religion’ comment. I hope Ebert is keeping track of those comments.

    I think it is useless to try and stop korbani unless we want to stop meat-eating altogether. If someday we do reach a situation where meat is overflowing and being wasted, we can discuss alternative ways of symbolizing sacrifice.

    Yes, animals should be treated humanely. That is a real concern. And the gross competetion over price needs to stop. We need to stop turning korbani into a festival of meat and blood. We need to observe korbani in a way that respects the Islamic principle.

    It is unfortunate that our actions made someone from outside to come and shame us.

    Maybe this time it will enourage some real introspection.

    • Rainer Ebert

      I honestly don’t know how the letter could have been written more respectfully. Also, are you suggesting I have no right to express my thoughts about anything that happens in Bangladesh because I am white, or because I wasn’t born there? Are you following that principle yourself? Do you ever publicly voice your opinion about anything that happens in the so-called ‘West’? We are all citizens of the same world. Race, nationality and religion should not not divide us. Part of my heart lies in Bangladesh, and comments like yours hence really sadden me. You may disagree with my argument, but I don’t think I deserve to be ostracized just because I see some things different than most people in Bangladesh.

      • Gemstone

        I’m not suggesting that you don’t love your version of Bangladesh or don’t have the right to express your opinion of a common practise here as an outsider. Personally, I contunue to be skeptical of foreigners and even a lot of people who grew up in particular niches of Dhaka, who think they know Bangaldesh. It is not possible to know a nation unless someone have read its literature (in at least one or more languages) and interacted with the people in various parts of the country. You may have done both, but it doesn’t really show. However:
        Do I need to fetch a dictionary and look up ‘condescending’? Your need to be respectful may have been counter-productive. I’m not sure why, but I could not stop picturing someone reading the letter while looking down at me and talking to me in a voice that someone would apply only to a child.
        Do you think it doesn’t come across that it is slaughtering that you object to, period, and that slaughtering to fulfil a religious dictum you find reprehensible? Do you think people don’t realize how you view them i.e. gullible + possibly violent absolute tools?

        FINALLY, Many many thanks (truly, not sarcastic) for providing the article of the Islamveg website. That was informative and helpful.

      • Gemstone

        Also, are you still awaiting a translation of Arif Jebtic’s response? If you are, I could help.

  3. Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

    The Islamic ruling on Qurbani (Udhiya in Arabic) is hereby produced for the information of all concerned. Readers may refer to the links below:

    1. ‘Qurbani (Sacrifice) for Non-Pilgrims’ at http://www.sunnahonline.com/library/hajj-umrah-and-the-islamic-calendar/326-qurbani-sacrifice-for-non-pilgrims;

    2. ‘Rules of Udhiya (Qurbani)’ at http://www.go-makkah.com/english/dossier/articles/408/Rules+of+Udhiya+(Qurbani).html; and

    3. ‘Udhiya (Qurbani) – Sacrifice’ at http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=985&category=112.

    • Taj Hashmi

      Nothing is obligatory, Haram or forbidden for a Muslim unless the Quran is unambiguous about it (period).

      By the way, Imam Abu Hanifa, Hanbal, Malik, Shafi and other medieval Muslim jurists and scholars were great people and scholars for their age. Imam Ghazzali, for example, was anti-science, hence can’t be considered a great scholar today. He thought mathematics was intoxicating and philosopht dangerous. And you can’t develop social science and natural science without mathematics and philosophy.Now even a smart college undergraduate knows much more than what medieval scholars collectively knew in the past (period).

      Nothing is eternal and authoritative besides the Holy Quran (period).

      Take care!

      • Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

        This is sheer jugglery of words, evading my points tactfully. You see, scientific knowledge evolves; what you know as scientific fact today, might be found as unscientific in the future. Imam Ghazzali was an imam of Tasawwuf, the branch of Islamic knowledge that deals with knowing Allah (spirituality). In other words, this is the knowledge of the Sufi Gnostic. I am sorry to say that you have mixed up the knowledge pertaining to the world with the said branch of Islamic knowledge.

        I have explained in detail that the Quranic statements are in a concise form. Hadiths elucidate those concise meanings. Henceforth, we need the Hadiths i.e. Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet) in order to practice Islam in our daily lives.

      • Gemstone

        It’s a good article with valid points.

        There is no doubt that Muslims don’t emphasise enough on the ‘sacrifice’ part of the Korbani, and remain pre-occupied with the technicalities of the procedure itself.

        We should spend time not only in reading the Quran but also on reflecting on it, as Allah has commanded repeatedly.

        This article argues that while slaughtering has been sanctioned in Quran, it was not made mandetory.
        We don’t have to choose either/or here. What we need to do is start thinking whether the slaughters every year deserve to be counted as ‘sacrifice’ on our part at all. And if not, what can we do about it. Otherwise, all we are doing is eating a lot of red meat for nothing.

      • Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

        I think the Muslim community has reflected on the matter and responded well to the arguments of this article. Kindly refer to its Bangla version posted on bdnews24.com. Thanks.

      • Gemstone

        Why don’t you summerize them for me here.

        Or, just tell me, do you think slaughtering an animal is a good way of symbolizing sacrifice?

        Did Allah command the slaughter or the sacrifice?

        I disagree with these articles because I suspect they have ulterior motives, or, faulty thinking-framework when it come to Islam or Muslims.

        But I can’t help asking the two questions above. So kindly provide me an answer.

  4. Risalat Khan

    It is sad to see that the most common response to this article is that, “You’re not a Muslim so stop talking to us about our religion!”

    What Mr. Ebert has raised attention to is a question that every Muslim should ask themselves when “sacrificing” a cow or a goat on Eid ul Adha. “What am I sacrificing, and do I feel sorry to make that sacrifice?” What is a sacrifice if all you do is go to the hut to buy a cow or a goat the day before Eid, and pay a Hujur to kill the animal and process the meat for you? As several people have pointed out before me, the core tenet of Eid-ul-Adha is sacrifice. No one needs to tell you how you should do your sacrifice. If you think that the most earnest sacrifice is to do what you are already doing, that’s fine. But please do honestly ask yourself that question first.

    Also, there are many Muslims that have supported this letter. If the letter were published by a Muslim (a strategic mistake from Mr. Ebert’s part, I would argue), would you engage more critically with the arguments articulated in it?

  5. MB

    First, ‘Sacrificing animal’ is not one of the ‘five pillars’ of Islam.
    In pre-Islamic days, winning the favor of or material gains from the Gods was the main motive behind animal sacrifice. It was probably true for the followers of almost all religions – pagan Arabs, Hindus, Jews, Christians.
    This longstanding tradition of pleasing “angry or hungry God/s” was rejected by Islam. Neither the idea of ‘absolving one’s sins through the blood of another’ nor the idea of ‘gaining favor by offering the life of another’ is found anywhere in the Qur’an. Instead Allah says ‘Their flesh and blood does not reach God. It is your piety that reaches Him’. (Al-Hajj (22:37).
    In Islam, Sacrifice has been defined as one’s personal willingness to submit one’s ego and individual will to Allah. Imam Masri pointed out that in every instance in the Qur’an in which Sacrifice is discussed, it is treated as a means to provide charity.
    In Arabian society the issue of animal sacrifice was directly related to the role animals played at that time. Their survival was based on their animals. Therefore, when people were asked to sacrifice something valuable to demonstrate their fear of and appreciation for God, the natural choice was the animal. Slaughtering an animal and donating its meat became the most useful and acceptable way to perform charity in a desert community where protein was scarce.
    In today’s world, when we talk about charity, isn’t it more logical and useful to do community service or donate money to the under-privileged to help them stand on their feet? If we ask a poor slum dweller in Dhaka about her/his needs, s/he would talk about the numerous challenges s/he faces on a daily basis, starting from accessing clean drinking water to electricity to violence to medical treatment. Getting few kilos of free meat once a year may not be on her/his list of priorities.
    Instead of spending 20,000 taka to buy a cow, can’t we, for example, help the 8 year old poor servant girl to enroll into a primary school and allow her to study instead of asking her to polish the shoes and carry the school bags of our teenager children? Or buy a rickshaw for the poor villager who moved to a slum in our neighborhood after losing everything in a flood? Or pay for the cataract surgery of the poor aunt who is unable to pay her hospital bills?
    In my understanding, these simple acts of empathy and compassion and charity will undoubtedly be of greater benefit to the people in need. If that’s the case, then what can be a better way to demonstrate our complete unselfish submission to the will of God?

  6. Rainer Ebert

    I appreciate the comments of all those who found kind words for this open letter. Thank you. I wish some of the comments were more respectful, and focused a bit more on the arguments presented in our letter and a bit less on personal attacks.

    Professor Taj Hashmi and other commentators already aptly responded to some theological challenges to the arguments presented, and I’d like to refer those who want to learn more about the religious aspects animal sacrifice in Islam to this brilliant essay by Islamic scholar Shahid ‘Ali Muttaqi: http://www.islamveg.de/sacri.html

    Many Muslims all over the world have stopped the practice of sacrificing an animal during Eid al-Adha, and they replaced it with a ritual of compassion and mercy. Some of them contributed their thoughts to this inspiring website: http://thecompassionatemuslim.com/

    • Golam Arshad

      Common Ebert, you have proven to be smart! It is understandable you are from the Jewish faith! If you believe in the story of Ibrahim and Ishmael, than you are on the right track, if not then you are gaping in the wilderness of Messianic confusion. How would you justify the killing of millions and millions of chicken, and other animals everyday. Do you want that to be forbidden, and force a tithe to pay for global charity! Wishful thinking? with a slanted political agenda. Right my friend. You cannot outfox a journalist served in th path of greed, fear and lies!

  7. Zahed

    Dear Mr Ebert,

    I went through your intriguing article with interest and, must congratulate you for making an effort to understand our faith. However, I have several observations, which I feel, should be communicated to you.

    1. Firstly, you have tried to justify the optional nature of animal sacrifice in Islam, using verses from hadith and the Quran. You must also note the Islamic faith is established on prophetic traditions. Prophet Muhammad clearly sacrificed animals in his life time during Eid Ul Adha and, encouraged Muslims to do the same. Hence, there is no doubt that sacrificing animals during Eid Ul Adha is integral part of the faith.

    2. Secondly, you mentioned relocation of funds from sacrificing animals to giving charity. You must be aware of the fact that most cattle sellers are poor/ destitute and raising animals for sacrifice provides means for sustenance to these people. Bangladesh has a burgeoning export based leather sector which collects roughly 70% of yearly hides supply during Eid (at a cheaper price).

    3. Bangladesh, being an LDC, has roughly 40% population living below the poverty line. Many people don’t usually have their fill of regular calorie intake. Eid provides these people with the rare opportunity of eating meat, at least once a year. In case you didn’t know, Muslims are instructed to set aside one third of meat from sacrificial animal for the poor and destitute.

    4. Islam actively encourages charity and donation to the poor. The Quran and the hadith repeatedly mention the exulted status of those who donate regularly. Muslims are ordained to set aside 2.5% of their wealth for poor on an annual basis, which is termed as Zakat, a pillar in Islam. I was surprised as to why you were suggesting stopping of animal sacrifice for the sake of ensuring charity.

    I have a feeling that you are against killing of animals in general. Can you please clarify whether you are suggesting us all to turn into vegetarians, since that is the only way of not hurting animals? I fully agree with the fact that sacrificial animals are not treated well. They are not properly fed and they have to endure a lot during Eid time, but can you explain how the cattle lives will dramatically improve, if we stop sacrificing animals during Eid (since most of us consume beef, mutton all year round). However, I support creation of separate facility for sacrificing animals which will keep the city clean.

    • Taj Hashmi

      Dear Zahed:

      I just take your Point # 3, which argues that the poor in Bangladesh get to eat some meat thanks to the ritual sacrifice of animals. I just can’t agree with you. Have you calculated the cost of Qurbani meat? While one KG of beef in the market costs you around 300 taka, equivalent quantity of meat from a sacrificed cow costs you 1000 taka or even more. Don’t you think it is better to distribute money (through income tax and customs duty, electricity and gas bills regularly as honest citizens) for the benefit of the poor indirecrtly than giving away (mostly the least desired portions of meat) to the poor?

      Take care!

  8. Hasnat

    I am very shocked by the responses from the readers, indeed. What difference does this make whether he is from another religion or not? It is evident that he has certainly read the Quran thoroughly before writing these proposition, and is certainly more well-read than most of the commentators. Please do not insult your own religion by arguing about mundane rituals ignoring the basic philosophy of religion. If you have read the Quran, re-read it and try to understand yourself, not through preaching of others. And I can see that most of the readers are actually misinterpreting what this author has said — he never asked for a ban or for people to go vegetarian. He has placed an idea for an alternate way of helping people in place of barbaric practices, that were adopted in the middle ages for a particular group of people at a specific socio-economic and geographical condition. And instead of discussion, we, the so-called ‘good Muslims’ are verbally attacking him on a personal scale. No wonder our children are growing up with violent disregard to other religions.

  9. Shabab

    It was narrated from al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

    “Whoever offers a sacrifice after the prayer has completed his rituals (of Eid) and has followed the way of the Muslims.”
    [Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5545]

    So, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) offered sacrifices, as did his companions (may Allaah be pleased with them). And he said that sacrifice is the way of the Muslims.

    It’s at least a confirmed Sunnah, if not obligatory.

    And a Muslim should keep this in mind while he is only searching for Islamic rulings in the Qur’an:

    “He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allaah . . .” [al-Nisaa’ 4:80]

    And there are many MANY other similar verses where Allah commands mankind to obey the last and final Prophet (pbuh). I hope that’s clear enough. May Allah guide us all.

    • Taj Hashmi

      The Hadis Literature is full of things that contradict the Quran. As for example, while the Quran prescribes 100 lashes for committing adultery, in Hadis we find stoning to death (a pre-Islamic custom) being prescribed as the mode of punishment for adultery for married people and 100 lashes for unmarried offenders. There are hundreds of such examples that highlight the differences between the teachings of the Quran and the so-called sayings of the Holy Prophet (SM).

      Then again, while it is mandatory for a Muslim to believe in the Quran (along with the existence of God, prophets, life after death, angels etc.) believing in Hadis is NOT mandatory to remain Muslim. The Hadis literature was composed more than 200 years after the demise of the Holy Prophet. Early compilers of Hadis, including Imam Bukhari discarded most Hadis as “unreliable”. There are hundreds more which contradict the Quran, science, common sense and decency. There are many hadises, which are so vulgar that one cannot narrate them in front of women and children.

      In sum, the Quran DOES NOT tell us to sacrifice animals on Eid ul- Adha. Only hajis do it (which is again a pre-Islamic custom). Take care!

      • Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

        Would like to differ with you as follows:

        1. I see no contradiction in the punishment for adultery in the Quran and the Hadis. All Muslims should know it well that our Prophet (peace be upon him) is the Shaariuun, that is, the giver of the Sharia. He has given a stricter law of the Sharia for adulterers/adulteresses who are married; otherwise, the 100 lashes for unmarried ones are in place as stated in the Quran. There is no contradiction whatsoever. Our Prophet has declared, “(O my people), my Sunnah (beliefs and rites) are ordained upon you” (Bukhari & Muslim). Rest assured this Hadith was not discarded by Imam Bukhari! There is no doubt HIS Sunnah is MANDATORY.

        2. It is indeed MANDATORY to believe in the Mutawatir Hadiths, that is, the sayings of the Prophet that are widely known in the Muslim community. Anyone who disbelieves Mutawatir Hadiths turns into an apostate, a renegade. Can you kindly specify which of the Hadiths were discarded by Imam Bukhari? Are you learned enough in the knowledge of the Hadiths, their Sanads (chains of narrations) and Rawis (narrators) so much so that you would be able to differentiate between the ‘reliable’ and unreliable Hadiths? Your sweeping remarks on Hadith literature are not backed up by Islamic evidences, I am afraid.

        3. You said one must only follow the Quran as it is mandatory. In the Quran we have been commanded to pray in namaaz (ritual prayers), but nothing else has been elaborated there. Hadiths explain the rites of prayers in detail. How would you have known those without the Hadiths? All issues related with our religion are stated in the Quran in a concise manner. Muslims cannot derive meanings from them without the help of the Hadiths and Ijma’ and Qiyas of the early Islamic savants.

        4. You have referred to stoning of the adulterers and adulteresses and also sacrificing of animals as pre-Islamic customs. But you should know well that both the traditions were from Islamic Prophets preceding our Prophet(the former being Musa’s i.e. Moses’ and other Prophets’ and the latter Hazrat Ibrahim’s i.e. Abraham’s). Even the Ka’ba mosque is Hazrat Ibrahim’s. Would you then discard it? Your ‘pre-Islamic’ terminology has no valid ground whatsoever. And finally,

        5. You have relied upon ‘science’ and technology, your view of ‘common sense and decency’ to judge the Hadith literature. My friend, had this been a debate in Bengali, our learned ones would have uprooted your ‘middle stump’! And Rainer’s too!

      • Taj Hashmi

        Dear Kazi Saifuddin Hossain:

        Your last paragraph (#5) tells athousand tells about your mindset. You would definitely enjoy “Murtads’ like me and “Kafirs” like Rainer be “uprooted”. May Allah never fulfill your hidden desire, Amin!

        I simply cannot argue with you and convince you what is right and what is wrong. Since you think believing in Hadis is mandatory, I cannot argue with you. You should know that Imam Bukhari (200 years after the demise of the Prohet) collected more than 600,000 hadises and discarded around 593,000. Thus according to Bukhari there are around 7,000 SAHIH or “authentic” Hadises. I don’t blame him. He lived in the 10th century. Now in the 21st century, we know much, much, much more than all the Hadis collectors, Muftis and Imams those who lived in the medieval period. So, as educated people, we have every right to select what is decent and what is indecent, what is justified and what is not, etc. The concept of Alim is one who is learned (one does not have to be well-versed in Arabic to become an Alim. AsArabic was the most advanced language in the 9th-12th centuries, English is the most advanced language since the 19th century. So, please apply common sense and then you will see the Quran is very enlightening (not simple_ and Islam is beautiful.

      • Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

        Your logic is simply ridiculous. When I said ‘your middle-stump would be uprooted’, I was only speaking in cricketing terms about the DEBATE, meaning to say that your arguments would be knocked over like the stumps in a cricket match. And did I call you a ‘Murtadd’ and Rainer a ‘Kafir’? Go through my response again, please.

        Your response says it all. Do you think that you have better religious knowledge than the early Islamic savants, just because of being in the 21st century? This is terribly flawed logic, I am afraid. Because, religious knowledge is about the soul, about developing oneself spiritually. Well, as I see it, the early Muslim savants from that perspective were far better human beings than the so-called civilized people of modern times! Modern day ‘civilization’ solely pursues worldly knowledge. It brings out the animal in humans. Hence, the world has become the most unlivable place now.

        You should know that Islamic knowledge has two parts: 1. Knowledge about the religion, and 2. Worldly knowledge. Mankind has progressed in worldly knowledge since its birth and will continue to do so in the future. But the knowledge regarding our religion is rich in its source – the times of our Prophet and the early Muslim savants. It is narrated by the same Imam Bukhari (may Allah be pleased with him) that our Prophet said, “The best of times is the one in which I and my Sahaba (blessed companions) live; the next best is the one after us; and then the one after that. Afterwards fitna will arise.” What will you say about this Hadith?

        Hadiths are the Sunnah of our Prophet. He said, “I am leaving behind two amrs i.e. commandments; the Koran and the Sunnah. If you adhere to these, you will not deviate or stray from the path.” If it were not for the Hadiths, how would you have known about the Sunnah, which is a pillar of our religion? This Hadith confirms that the Sunnah is a pillar of the Islamic faith. Narrated by the same Imam Bukhari, the Hadith tells us that anyone who discards, or disbelieves in, the Sunnah, will deviate from the right path. Tell me, did the Prophet of Islam mean the Koran when he referred to the Sunnah?

        Arabic is still the most advanced language when it comes to learning the spiritual knowledge in Islam. English has gained prominence with regards to worldly knowledge – the knowledge that makes progress in this world of matter. But look, what has that turned us into? The Western world, which boasts of tremendous scientific and technological progress, how are human beings living there? I would say, in spiritual misery! This modern time is indeed a time of scientific advancement, but not of civilization, of finding spiritual peace!

        Finally, I stand by what I have said in my earlier response and reiterate my faith in the Hadith. In your response you didn’t specifically point out which Hadiths were discarded by Imam Bukhari. The reason is obvious. You are probably not ‘well-versed’ in Arabic, as you have alluded to that fact in your saying ‘the concept of a’alim is one who is learned (one does not have to be well-versed in Arabic to become an a’alim)’. Sorry, my friend, one has to learn Arabic in order to acquire religious knowledge. The famous Sufi Imam Ghazzali said, “It will not be useful but harmful to the religion for the ignorant to attempt to help the religion.” How true when someone not learned in the Hadith literature makes comments on it! Kindly read the article of the American Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller entitled ‘Would you advise individuals to study hadith from al-Bukhari and Muslim on their own’? at http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/studyh.htm. Thank you, my friend, for giving me the opportunity to speak on this issue.

  10. Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

    Allah has said in the Koran, ‘Eat from the things that We have made halal (permissible/lawful) for you’. And eating the meat of sacrificial animals is halal. However, in an ever-changing world, sacrificial animals are not in abundance as they were during the times of early Muslim generations. Therefore, we need to find a solution, and fast!

    Although we cannot agree with Rainer Ebert’s views on our religious matters, but the situation demands that we improvise our efforts in boosting the production of livestock animals. There is no other way out. The state-party as well as the Muslim society in general should think in this line, if we are to meet the growing demand of sacrificial animal-meat. Furthermore, Muslims should keep their places clean and healthy after the slaughter.

  11. Nahiyan bin-Asadullah

    Dear Mr. Rainer Elbert,

    Considering the way you address the issue, I assume you are a Muslim. Nevertheless, a secular one, I should think.

    Now listen to me very carefully my dear man. If you could just take the trouble to, really, weed through the authentic sources of Islam pretty much all that you’ll find is the word submission. Islam, per se, does not mean ‘peace’ by the way, though it is, somewhat, a common understanding among the general populace. The Arabic word Islam means ‘submission’, if you say peace then you are talking about salaam not Islam!

    So I was saying Islam means the submission of one’s own will to God’s will. Hence, when you submit your will to God’s will you do not ask questions. For by definition spirituality in and of itself does not call for logic. Even though there is some portion of logic involved in it, but not the whole of it. There are things you have to affirm faith in without asking the ‘why’ of it, so to speak!

    If, you, believe that prophet Abraham(as) was a prophet and you believe that we observe Qurbani eid to commemorate the practice of this great prophet. On top of all that, you believe that it exists in our Islamic religion, then I do not see why you should justify our sacrificing animals for the sake of Allah. Yes, the blood and meat do not reach Allah but the piety that comes from this act does reach Him. Everything we are doing here is solely to gain His pleasure. We do not sacrifice animals for the sake of doing it and it does not mean we do it because we are merciless towards animals. No in fact according to your own admission you believe prophet Abraham was asked to sacrifice his most beloved possession, in that case it was his own son. Likewise, one important thing we often tend to forget is that we sacrifice our animal not because we hate it but rather because we love it.

    • Riaz Osmani

      “So I was saying Islam means the submission of one’s own will to God’s will. Hence, when you submit your will to God’s will you do not ask questions.”

      But is it not true that to understand God’s will, you indeed have to ask questions? How else will you get to know what God’s will is? Will he whisper it in your ears? Understanding the Quran and Hadith requires education and intellectual curiosity. Simply listening to biles coming out of some Mullahs mouth isn’t enough. Nor is it enough to simply memorise verses from the Quran/Hadith and recite them out without context.

      • Nahiyan bin-Asadullah

        Islam also doesn’t teach you to have assumptions about people or to jump into conclusions. How do you know if I am not educated in the religion? How can you be so certain if I meant what you thought I meant?

        let me now clarify my previous post in sha Allah.

        I did not mean you do not ask questions but there are things which we believe on the face value for there would be no point in spirituality then if everything is made obvious to you.

  12. Shaheena

    Very Good indeed, Mr. Rainer Ebert. A few days ago, you promoted homosexuality here in bdnews24. Now, you are out to rectify our religion. It is very clear that you are here for a mission and that is to create confusion among young generations about their religion and culture. Hence, taking them into the realm of disbelief, you have quoted from the holy Quran and Hadith about which I am quite sure that you don’t believe them in the first place. So, why do you twist them to confuse people? This ritual of sacrifice is an established one with texts from Quran and Hadith and nothing has abrogated them.

    So, being someone from another religion and a foreign country, why did you try to twist this and bring your desired conclusion that sacrifice is superficial and we should better resort to giving away those moneys in charity? By the way, are you a vegetarian yourself? So, what is wrong about slaughtering animals? Also, is it only about eating red meats? You know it very well that people here in Bangladesh (also in other Muslim societies) give a healthy portion of their animal to charity and relatives. But, you overlooked it. Didn’t you? And you did it willingly. Mr. Ebert, if you are out to preach disbelief, then do with coming out of your guise. Don’t use your hypocrisy.

    • Concerned

      Dear Shaheena

      I hope for the safety of the young generation that we are not as gullible as you have portrayed us to Ebert. If read correctly you will see as i have that Ebert has challenged our understanding of the very word “SACRIFICE”. I wonder how many of us would laugh and cheer and celebrate if God hadn’t stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son. I wonder if we would’ve have bought new clothes and dressed up and drown ourselves in festivities if it was our son being sacrificed instead of a poor speechless animal who can’t ever stand up for its rights.
      Is it really sacrifice if we don’t feel a pang of pain or piety from having slaughtered an animal even if it is in the name of God.
      I wonder if it really is sacrifice if not a single drop of tear is shed, if it really is sacrifice if not a single heart is broken or a single soul feels loss or remorse?
      This is from the “not gullible young generation” of Bangladesh to everyone…Please let’s revert back and really understand the meaning of the word sacrifice before we put a person like Ebert under the microscope. I am sure we can find better ways to show the light in the holy Eid of sacrifice to an animal activist.

    • Golam Arshad

      Great response! Thank you. You don’t have to hold a weapon, you outsmart your opponent, with power of knowledge and research. A Muslim should turn to education, research and then debate on queries of confusion from opposition, in a nice way.

  13. Mohammad A. Kalam

    I think some of the commentors have been rather harsh on the author. Nobody, however, said anything about the quotations you made from the Holly Quran in support of your proposition that stems from a cpmpassionate feeling for the poor animals who fell victim.

    It is, indeed, very unfortunate that most of us are not willing to go beyond the letters or legacy.

    • farhina

      sorry but he has misquoted the words of Quran…he cant just put things just like that and relate to this

      • Gemstone

        Can you please point out where he misquoted the Quran?

        If you think he is using the wrong approach, please present the right approach here, so everyone can see.

  14. Anonymous

    You may have just scratched the surface and looked at the apparent, not the inner ritual of the religious fact, hence the comment on the outer ‘acts’ we see.

    Please read as much as you can on the writings of Islam.

    Let us not comment on other religions without having read and understood the real meanings and history behind it.

    Thanks for your comment, but this has given food for thought for many, particularly you, Mr. Rainer Ebert, a student of theology/philosophy.

  15. Riaz Osmani

    Most of the comments here criticizing Mr. Rainer Ebert’s article is generic stuff without much substance. I think the author has done plenty of research before writing this article. The criticizers may not agree with his research, so I suggest they try to argue logically to all his points instead accusing him of simply not being a Muslim and not knowing enough about Islam. I think it is fair to say that Muslims don’t know much about Islam other than usual prayers and some regular practices.

  16. Taj Hashmi

    A very timely and thought provoking piece. Despite what the average Muslim in South Asia believes, there is absolutely NO Quranic instruction about slaughtering animals on Eid ul Adha. The Qurbani is a symbol, a ritual associated with Hajj. There is not a single verse in the Holy Quran which one may cite in support of slaughtering animals.

    In medieval period (and up to the discovery of oil in early 20th century), one would measure wealth in the Arab World through precious metals and animals – cattle, goats, sheep and camels. Thus sharing one’s wealth with the poor would mean sharing one’s animals or their meat. In countries like Bangladesh, which has no surplus of cattle, goats and sheep, killing (“sacrificing”) thousands of animals on Eid ul Adha makes no sense at all. Then again, there is NO such instruction in the Quran. It is time that Bangladeshi Muslims discard this extra-Islamic custom of sacrificing animals (especially smuggled cows — smuggling is Haram). They should all realise that Qurbani is a symbol, a ritual associated with Hajj. One has no reason to kill cows and goats (let alone smuggled camels) in rural and urban Bangladesh. Let good sense prevail. I congratulate the author for his insight and “courage” to speak up.

  17. Shahana

    I understand your ideas are coming from not understanding the true religion of Islam. Everything ordered by Allah has reasons and wisdom; most of the time beyond our comprehension. I agree we should show utmost care to the animals we sacrifice. But have you thought what would happen to the earth if we stopped sacrificing animals at least once a year.

    We couldn’t live on this earth as it would have been overpopulated with animals. Allah in His great wisdom balances our lives so that animal population do not surpass human population and at the same time poor people have some protein at least once a year. Think how Allah also creates animals every year for us to sacrifice and we never have any deficit of animals even after killing so many animals all around the world every year! Please gain wisdom by learning and contemplating your religion.

  18. Muslimah

    For all the logic that you placed above, are you trying to change the specific instruction of animal sacrifice decreed by religion (the practice specifically shown by the Prophet (SA)? Or are you trying to be more compassionate towards the creations, more than Prophet (SA) and Islamic scholars?

  19. AbdAllah

    Mr. Rainer Ebert: With due respect, I would like to mention very precisely that before commenting on Islamic principle, you have to learn and realize the Islam properly. Then I hope we will understand at least on what you are taking about. Otherwise, anyone like you will be termed as “ignorant”. And there are many examples in the history, people with even little knowledge turned into “ignorant” or “misguided”. Thanks for not spreading misunderstanding and not being termed as above.

    • Riaz Osmani

      Mr AbdAllah instead of making such general comments to Mr. Rainer Ebert, why don’t you try to argue logically to his specific points? I think he has researched this more than you have.

  20. Madeeha

    Please understand that not everyone is a vegetarian in this world, and certainly not in this country. You could be living on vegetables but that doesn’t mean everyone should. And if you do have meat and yet you are trying your laughable attempts on us to try to make us think the beautiful Islamic manner of slaughtering animals as something horrific — then please keep your stories to yourself. Everyone knows that the best manner of slaughtering is that of ours, where the animals experience the least amount of pain and even a child on the streets in this country knows how important it is to have some protein in their daily meal.

    Islam is a universal religion, and I would like to invite you to learn Islam properly before writing about it and against it, to understand the beauty of sacrifice that we make to our Lord, and do please think a million times before sitting down with your keyboard to cause confusion and call us towards your way of life, away from the way of life ordained by our Creator. Please refrain from polluting the minds of our people with your agenda to take people away from true Islam.

  21. Kalam Ahmed

    The slaughter should also not take place in the streets and alleys of Dhaka. It is unhygienic and unsanitary. Children are exposed to the groans of animals that are sacrificed. They see those animals’ throats being slit. It is a barbaric ritual that should be done away from congested urban areas. These Muslims who slaughter in such ways ought to educate themselves in modern public hygiene and child psychology. Even in Wahabi Saudi Arabia such animal cutting is done far away in the desert and away from public areas. Bangladeshi Muslims are 12th century in their religious practises.

  22. Mahmudul Hasan

    Dear Rainer Ebert,

    If I understand correctly, you want to say the money can be used to improve the situation of more than half a million children living on the streets of Dhaka and other major cities instead of sacrificing Animals.

    Please find my thoughts below:

    You should not comment on any ritual where there are other ways to achieve the goal. It is not compulsory for all Muslims but showing sympathy is compulsory for all human being.

    You are talking about giving the money to the NGO’s but if you closely look at the NGO people then you get a clear idea that they are riding luxurious jeeps, sitting inside air-conditioned rooms and eating expensive food. If helping people is their primary goal then they can cut down some of their expenses that can also be used to improve the situation of more than half a million children living on the streets of Dhaka and other major cities.

    I don’t want to write more but if you want to comment on something related to our religion please stop because you have to be a Muslim or you have to have proper knowledge on Islam to make a comment.

    You have a lot of other topics to comment on that can improve the current situation. Providing shelter, food, medicine is a responsibility of Bangladesh govt but they are failing in almost everything making our future dark.


  23. MBI Munshi

    I am quite startled by the article and its basic assumptions and premises. The West consumes more beef, pork, mutton and chicken than any other civilization in the world. In fact, the West over-consumes and also manages to waste hundreds of billions of dollars of food every year which could have been used to feed the world’s poor several times over.

    Eid-ul-Adha is celebrated once a year with every Muslim (who can afford the cost) having to share the meat obtained from the sacrifice of an animal with the poor who would in most cases have little means to eat beef or mutton other than during Eid. The number of animals sacrificed during Eid is dwarfed by the number of animals slaughtered in the West everyday just to meet consumption. Many Americans suffer from obesity and on average Westerners eat better than everyone else in the world but they are not prepared to make the sacrifice or change their mindset so that the world’s poor can be fed from the over abundance of food that would have been available had the West not been so wasteful.

    So much for Western compassion I guess!

  24. Muslims

    Try to remain within your arena. Don’t try to misinterpret the Holy Books.

  25. JS

    The cruelty in dealing with animals is not acceptable and certainly everybody got to do better in all steps on the way from raising those to transportation and slaughtering.

    However suggesting a wholesale ban on animal sacrifice is not a solution. It is an infringement to other people’s culture and belief. The practice of animal slaughtering is symbolic, so what? The meat is not wasted; it is consumed. Will the West ever stop slaughtering animals? Do you expect them to become vegetarians? The slaughtering in slaughter house does not take away the so-called cruelty associated with slaughtering.

  26. Niaz

    Do you know how many cows come to Bangladesh from India during this time? You won’t be able to imagine. Again, this Eid is not only a tradition of Muslims, but this tradition was followed by our prophet Muhammad (SM). So as true Muslims, we all have to follow this without asking any question.

  27. Tanveer

    As Abraham (Phub) sacrificed intended to sacrifice own son in the love for Allah, do we feel our sacrificing animals like our child, too while sacrifice in the name of Allah?
    If we do not feel that way, then it neither qurbani, nor it shall satisfies Allah (SWT).
    What is the prayer, if we don’t feel it!

  28. Golam Arshad

    I know where you are coming from! So you are suggesting that there should be a global ban on sacrifice of animals. Come on “Ban killing of animals in sacred Eid ul Azha or Bakri Eid.

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