Is it Cruel and barbaric to Slaughter a Sacrificial Animal? The Reason For Observance of Sacrifice, By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi

Compiled By: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani

The word “Qurbani” is derived from “Qurban” (sacrifice). It is said:

قربان بالضم وهو يتقرب الي الله تعالي يقال قربت الله

“Qurban is used to express that whereby man seeks nearness to Allah, the Exalted, and it is said: nearness to Allah”

قربت الله قربانا

“It is through Qurbani (sacrifice) that man seeks nearness to Allah and that deed is called qurbani.”

What is Sacrifice truly?

  1. It is a teaching through illustrative deed. The ignorant and the educated both read it and decipher it. It tells us that Allah does not need anyone’s blood or flesh. He is the One of whom it said:

وهو يطعم ولا يطعم

He who feeds and is not fed. (al-An’am, 6: 14). He is Pure and Great. He is the independent and does not need the skin or flesh. Rather, he teaches you that you should seek nearness to Him. You should sacrifice a dear animal symbolic of the sacrifice of your own self.

Is Sacrifice an Animal against reason and wisdom?

2. Those people who say that to sacrifice something Is an unintelligent act should realize that this is done worldwide. If the history of different people is studied it will reveal that an insignificant thing is sacrificed for something that is significant. This is seen in very small things and very large too. We used to hear that when a poisonous snake bites it, the finger must be cut off so that the poison does not spread to the entire body. It is like the sacrificing the finger for the rest of the body.

3. In the same way, if anyone visits us than we have to offer him whatever we have to please him. Everything that we have is nothing compare to our guest.

4. More than that the people sacrifice chicken and sheep. Rather, they do not think twice in offering a cow or a camel to their dear guests.

5. It is observed about those people who does not agree that animals must be slaughtered, they do kill hundred of germs on their wounds to save their lives. We can see beyond that -the downtrodden people are sacrificed for the upper strata. Take for example the sweepers. Though it is a day of ‘Eid’ yet they have to do their work as usual -nay, they have to put an extra work to clean every passage lest people suffer! So, the happiness of the poor is overlooked that the well to-do may be happy.

6. Some Hindus who live in villages have extremist ideas in eating habits. In Ladakh, they do not even drink milk because that is the right of the young animals. But these Hindus milk the animal pretending some other purpose and cheat thereby. They also show cruelty to the animal and its young by getting them to work excessively, not stopping themselves from beating the animals. This also a sacrifice on the part of the animals of some kind.

7. The ordinary constable sacrifices his wishes for his officer and that man for a higher officer for the king. Allah has retained this natural tendency and taught us through the sacrifice that the one at a lower level gives up for one at a higher status.

Why is it not Cruel to Sacrifice an Animal ?

Those who believe in Allah, no matter who they are, never say that Allah is cruel but they all agree that He is Rahman and Rahim-the Most Merciful and compassionate.

In the light of this truth look at the works or Allah. The flying birds including the hunting birds hawk, falcon, vulture etc. they eat the flesh of the smaller or weaker birds and do not prefer grass, vegetables or fruits. Observe also the moth. How it fares the fire! Turn then to water. There are blood sucking animals in it, large fish, crocodiles and alligators; they gobble the smaller fish and other aquatic animals. Some of them swim across from the North Pole to the South Pole hunting all the way. Even on the surface of the earth the pangolin an ant-eating animal lies in wait sticking its tongue out. The ants are lured to its tongue because of its sweetness and when a sufficient numbers are gathered on it, it quickly pulls the tongue in its mouth gulping down all the ants in one morsel. The spider hunts the flies. Fly-eaters and be eaters kill flies and bees for their food. The cheetah, leopard and panther kill the monkey. The lion, tiger, and other ferocious animals also hunts different animals. The cat also kills the mouse.

Now can anyone who observes the working of the nature in this manner say that the command to sacrifice is cruel? It is not cruel in any way. Man cannot be accused of slaughtering an animal. Lice infest his hair. Worms gets over him. They are killed. And, it cannot be called cruelty. When that is not cruelty and the superior is allowed to kill the inferior then the objection on slaughter is meaningless .

Let us go further. Ponder over it. The angel of death, the Malak al-Mawt, does not spare great prophets, Messengers, kings, young children, poor, rich or great traders! He kills them and exiles them from this world!

Returning to the sacrifice of animals on ‘Eid ul Adha, if it was stopped because it is a breach of mercy, will Allah let them live forever? Will it amount to showing mercy to animals if they do not die ever?

After this preliminary discourse, we assert that if to slaughter an animal was a violation of merciful behavior then Allah would never have created the hunting animals, the predators and carnivores. If they are not slaughtered, they will die through illness anyway. That will be very painful to them.

It is the law of the nature that everything tends to grow and multiply. If the seed of the bunyan tree is carefully preserved, we would find bunyan everywhere. No other thing would grow. But, there is a check to its growth. Thousands of animals devour its fruit. It is the will of Allah that its growth and increase is checked. In the same way, if all the cows are preserved and look after a time will come when there will be worldwide shortage of its folder. They will die of hunger and thirst. In the face of these facts, how can we say that slaughtering animals is against the will of Allah?

The Reason it is unlawful to slaughter a Human Being

These arguments might prompt someone to deduce that it is proper to slaughter human beings too. There is no doubt, as it is, good for man too that he is slaughtered. That is why it is considered an excellent form of death to be martyred. However, there are many potent and cogent reasons why man must not be slaughtered.

The gist of this is that there are rights of others too on man. He has to rear someone, to look after others and so on. If it is allowed to slaughter him then there would be a chain of difficulties and problems. That is why it is a grave sin to kill man and it invites punishment in common law and Sahri’ah.

In short, it is not proper to kill man because there are many rights on him. If those rights are violated then that will give rise to much suffering.

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