Celebrating Eid-ul Azha in Bangladesh–another name for aristocracy
Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed, Executive Editor, Bangladesh National Section, The New York Times:
Recently a piece of news grabbed my attention regarding the sacrificial animal for the upcoming religious festival, Eid ul-Adha, which is the second of two Islamic festivals celebrated worldwide each year and considered the holier of the two. It was reported in Dhaka Tribune on 19 August 2018 that one of the importers of cattle in Bangladesh, Sadik Agro Farm, has been importing cattle from Texas of USA for the past two years. The owner of the farm, which is located in the Mohammadpur Beribadh area of Dhaka, Haji Imran Hossain, has imported seven cattle from Texas to meet the demand for sacrificial animals for this year’s upcoming Eid. Mr. Hossain has reportedly said that the cattle were flown-in directly from USA in a cargo plane. The import cost, including the airfare is about Tk1.3 crore. He also told that all seven cattle have already been sold, and the biggest cow, named “Bahadur”, was sold for Tk 2,800,000. Bahadur weighs 1500kg and is 10 feet tall. One of the employees of the firm said that another cow, weighing 1100kg, was sold at Tk 2,500,000. Most shockingly, the owner of the firm said that in Bangladesh, demand for these expensive sacrificial cattle is increasing each year, and they import them to meet local demand.
I came to know from a facebook status of a person living in Ottowa, Canada that in Bangladesh the price of another cow, named “Rajababu” has been fixed at Tk 2,200,000 which is equivalent to CAD 35,000. He also said that in Canada on average cows’ price for Eid –ul – Azha ranges between CAD 2000-3000 (Source: A Lebanese meat company, Mr. Beef). Therefore, in Ottawa, Canada, the maximum price of a cow for Eid-ul-Azha is no more than Tk. 2, 00, 000 as per his calculation.
A Daily Star report of this month says that Bangladesh is unlikely to face a shortage of cattle during the Eid-ul-Azha of 2018 as the supply of locally-reared cattle is quite enough to meet the demand for sacrificial animals. According to the fisheries and livestock ministry, 1.16 crore sacrificial animals are available this time compared to 1.04 crore last year. It also said there are 44.57 lakh sacrificial cattle and 71 lakh goats and sheep in the country. The Ministry’s statistics show that Muslims across the country sacrificed some 1.15 crore cattle during last year’s Eid-ul-Azha. A number of cattle traders have said the supply of locally-reared cattle has been increasing for the last several years, which has helped reduce dependence on cattle from neighbouring countries. The traders also claimed that even if cattle are not imported from India, there will be no impact on the market this time. Bangladesh Meat Merchants’ Association (BMMA) has taken up different programmes to help restrict the entry of Indian cows into the local market. The association leaders claimed that their campaign has helped boost the local production (Daily Star, “No shortage of cattle this Eid”, dated 13 August 2018).
Generally every year, importers bring in cattle to meet the high demand of Eid celebrations in Bangladesh. Sacrificial cattle are brought from neighbouring countries – Myanmar, India, and Pakistan – by trawler or truck. But recently we are seeing a new trend of importing cattle from developed country like USA and selling them at a very high price upon demand from the elite class of our society, which questions if we truly understand the meaning and importance of Qurbani as prescribed in Islam.
Qurbani means sacrifice. Every year during the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, Muslims around the world slaughter an animal – a goat, sheep, cow or camel – to reflect the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail, for the sake of God. At least one third of the meat from the animal must go to poor or vulnerable people. Traditionally, a Muslim would keep one third of the meat for their family and give the final third to their neighbours.
Qurbani – dates back to the sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) and his beloved son Ismail (A.S). The act of Qurbani symbolises unconditional love and faith towards Allah SWT. As it is narrated in the Holy Qur’an, Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) had a dream, not once, but repeatedly where he was being asked by Allah (SWT) to sacrifice his son Ismail (A.S). This was a test of love and submission towards Allah. He surrendered to Allah SWT’s command without hesitating and prepared himself and his son for sacrifice. When Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) offered his beloved son as a sacrifice, he showed his total submission to the will of Allah (swt) and his faith in the Creator’s guidance. Because of this, not only was his son saved, but Ibrahim (as) was rewarded with the favour of Allah (swt).
This story is a remarkable illustration of unconditional love and commitment. It speaks volumes of faith and devotion towards the Almighty, in every sense. It represents their unmatched loyalty and fervor towards their religion and their Creator.
The current context of our society reminds us that we have become so materialistic that we have started forgetting the very essence of sacrificing an animal in the name of creator while celebrating Eid-ul-Azha. It has become very important to remind ourselves of the story of Ibrahim (A.S) and Ismail (A.S.).
Being Muslim means forsaking your own pride and ego to devote yourself completely to Allah (swt). By sacrificing something of our own for the sake of Allah (swt) we are nurturing our Iman, strengthening our capacity for sabr and reminding ourselves of the fleeting nature of the dunya. The sacrifice is an unmissable opportunity to distance ourselves from the desires of this world and to draw closer to Allah (swt). Made with pure intention, the act of Qurban can strengthen the bond between Creator and creation in a way that impacts us for the rest of this life and the next.
Hence, I think we should teach our family members first and also the people around us that the price of cow is not important for performing the rituals of Eid-ul-Azha in Islam. If we carry on this trend in Eid-ul-Azha celebration, we are offering our next generation a wrong lesson which is far away from Islam.