Friday, October 17, 2014

The beauty of sacrificing animals in Islam

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

"Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80)

TIME flies very fast; Ramadan and Syawal had gone, and now it is Dhul-hijjah, the  last month of the year of the Muslim calendar. The year 1435 Hijra would end in two weeks time and Malaysian Muslims would celebrate 'Maal Hijrah' or 'Awal Muharam' (the first day of the new year) most likely on Saturday, October 25th.

This hajj month of Dhul-hijjah commemorating the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim a.s. (peace be upon him) to sacrifice his beloved son, Prophet Ismail a.s. as an act of obedience to Allah SWT.

Muslims who can afford are encouraged to sacrifice their best domesticated animals such as cow, sheep and goat as symbol of Prophet Ibrahim’s a.s willingness to sacrifice his only son to his second wife, Hajar (Hagar).

In Malaysia, during the festive of  'Eid Adha' (10, 11,12,13th Dhul-hijjah), thousands of animals were slaughtered by individuals and various groups which organized the events such as masjids' committee members.

The meat of the sacrificed animals were then distributed to the poor and needy nevertheless the rich too were given the meat as presents. 

Regarding this aspect in a 'tazkirah' (Islamic lesson), I heard an 'ustaz' (religious teacher) saying sacrificing animals to God (Allah SWT) but distributing the meat to the needy display and prove the beauty of Islam.

"We sacrifice the animals just to please Allah SWT, but Allah does not need the meat. We give away the meat for the benefit of fellow human beings. It is such a  beauty; compare it with some 'praying rituals' carry out by men of other beliefs where the items 'sacrificed' such as food and fruits such as oranges and apples are left to rot under trees or are being washed away in waters of rivers and seas," said the ustaz.

Regarding the act of sacrificing animals, Allah SWT says: "Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good." (Surah Al-Hajj 22: 37)

'Subhanallah' (Glory be to God), Allah SWT The Mighty Rich does not need the meat; is is meant to feed the poor. 'Alhamdulillah' (All praise is due to Allah) nowadays Muslims of Malaysia have made themselves available almost everywhere at poor countries of the world to sacrifice animals there. 

Troops of Malaysian Malaysian volunteers and workers are having their arms busy in countries such as Cambodia, Philippines (southern part of the country), Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand (southern part of it) and far away lands such as Sudan during the days of sacrificing the animals that is on the day of Eid Adha (10th Dhul-hijjah) and the days of Tashreek - 11, 12 and 13th of Dhul-hijjah.

Of course regarding the sacrificing of animals during Eid, the Holy Land is a place where hundred thousands of cows, camels and sheep are slaughtered; and during a hajj season a few years back, Saudi Arabia’s prestigious sacrificial meat utilization program sent the meat of one million heads of sheep and 10,000 cows and camels to the poor and needy in many poor countries, as well as Syrian refugees.

It was reported that its inception in 1983, the project has utilized and distributed meat of more than 16 million livestock, amongst the poor in Saudi Arabia and 27 other countries. Subhanallah, the sacrificing of animals by Muslims during Eid Adha truly benefited people through out the globe; it clearly points up to the 'beauty of Islam'.

While Muslims worldwide are celebrating Eid Adha, some three million very, very lucky men and women have been chosen by Allah SWT to be His guests performing hajj in the Holy Land. 

For this year, Dhul-hijjah, began on Friday, September 26, 2014 (this date was declared by the Malaysian authority but in Saudi Arabia it began a day earlier). This is the month Muslim perform hajj, with its peak when they do ‘wukuf’ (to stop or gather) in Arafah (or Arafat) on the 9th Dhul-hijjah (declared by the Saudi authority on Friday, October 3rd).

Before leaving their hotel rooms for 'wukuf' beginning on the 7-8th Dhul-hijjah, pilgrims wear their 'hajj attires' and they are in the state of 'ihram'. They are recommended to recite this verse: "Labbayk, Allahumma, Labbayk, Labbayk, La Shareeka laka, Labbayk Innal-hamda wan n’mata laka wal-mulk, La shareekala" – (Here I am at Your service, O Lord here I am, No partner do You have, Here I am, Truly the praise and the favour is Yours and the dominion. No partner do You have).

'Wukuf', being the highest 'rukun' (component) of hajj must be rendered; without which hajj does not take place. The requirement is the presence in Arafat, regardless of whether the pilgrim is riding, walking, sitting or moving. In Arafat one is to spend the afternoon from dhuhr (midday)to maghrib (sunset) prayer times making du’aa (supplications) and repenting to leave Arafat with all of one's sins forgiven.

For Muslims who are not performing hajj in their homelands, they are encouraged to perform recommended deeds during the first nine days of Dhul-hijjah such as fasting especially on ‘Wukuf’ day and giving charity. Then during Eid Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah) when Muslims perform ‘solat’ (Eid prayers) and the days of Tashreek (11, 12, and 13th Dhul-Hijjah) they are recommended to do the slaughter or ‘korban’ (sacrifice) animals (such as sheep and cow).

After Arafah, the pilgrims would then proceed towards Muzdalifah and pick up pebbles there to be used when stoning the Pillar of Aqabah or Qubra on Eid Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah).

In Mina, they are required to stay for three nights where they will stone the three ‘jamrahs’ beginning with the first Pillar (i.e. the one which is furthest from Makkah), followed by the middle Pillar and lastly the Pillar of Aqabah. The pilgrims will also shave their heads or cut their hair and then proceed to Makkah to perform the Tawaf Al-Ifadah (circling the Kaabah seven times which is an essential part of Hajj) and then perform Sa’y (walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa).

While performing their hajj rituals many Malaysian pilgrims prefer to bring along their du'aa (supplication) books. A few years back while performing hajj, I too prefer to read from the books; if you had full concentration especially when 'you were alone' even though in actual fact there were thousands of people around you, it would not be surprised if you were in tears, sobbing admitting your past sins and beg forgiveness from the Almighty. 

Among the supplications, I read: "O Allah! I ask of Your integrity and soundness in my religion, my life, my family, and my possessions.

O Allah! Cover my shame, pacify my fears, guard me from what is in front of me and behind me, from what is on my right and on my left, over my head and under my feet.

O Allah! Grant health to my body. O Allah grants health to my hearing. O Allah! Grant heath to my sight. There is no deity except You.

O Allah! You are my Lord. There is no deity except You. You are my Creator and I am Your creature. I try to keep my covenant with You and to live in the hope of Your promise as well as I can. I seek refuge in You from my own evil deeds. I acknowledge Your favours to me, and I acknowledge my sins. Forgive me my sins, for there is no one who can forgive sins except You.

O Allah! I seek refuge in You from worry and sorrow. I seek refuge in You from impotence and sloth, from stinginess and cowardice, and I seek refuge in You from the burden of debt and from being humbled by men.

O Allah! Make the beginning of this day good, the middle prosperous, and the end successful. I ask You to grant me the good of this world and of the Hereafter. O Most Merciful of all Who show us mercy!

O Allah! You hear my words, You behold my situation, You know what is open and what is hidden within me; nothing is hidden from You. It is me alone who is in need, a humble seeker of Your forgiveness. I beseech You with humility in my heart, with trembling and fear, in prostration and utter helplessness.

O Allah! Grant me soundness of belief, goodness of character, forgiveness of my sins, and Your eternal pleasure in the Hereafter. Ameen

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