No-animal sacrifice campaign picks up pace
The no-animal-sacrifice campaign on Bakrid that started in 2017 soon after the BJP government took office in Uttar Pradesh (UP) has now started getting wings.
Leaders of two Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backed outfits comprising Muslims who have decided to cut ‘goat-shaped cake’ (instead of a goat) in 32 districts of the state say that animal sacrifice was never a part of Islam. This claim has irked clerics.
Bakrid is among the most important festivals celebrated by Muslims to commemorate the ancient event when Prophet Ibrahim, reacting to God’s wish to sacrifice a thing he held dear, offered his 13-year old son Ismail for sacrifice. However, miraculously his son got replaced with an animal, giving birth to the festival also known as Eid-Al-Azha where male goats are sacrificed.
Till last year, the no-animal sacrifice campaign was limited mostly to Lucknow unlike this year when the RSS backed outfits plan to take it across the state, including some key and sensitive cities like Ayodhya and Faizabad and Rampur among various other districts.
The move coincides with reports coming in from various parts of the state of the prices of sacrificial goats skyrocketing in the market.
In Sultanpur, a goat is put to sale with a price tag of Rs 70 lakh. The UP government has issued strict guidelines, about dos and don’ts for animal sacrifice. Veteran RSS pracharak Indresh Kumar is the patron of Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) that was initially floated to connect with the minorities on contentious issues like ‘Ram temple at Ayodhya, as well as Sunni Rashtriya Forum, which is loosely described as “a confederation of nearly 100 small or big Muslim outfits from across the country.”
With a key RSS pracharak as patron backing the ‘no-animal-sacrifice’ initiative on Bakrid, other key Hindutva leaders have started joining it.
Former union minister of state for home Swami Chinmayanand, who is also a key member of the RSS affiliate Vishva Hindu Parishad, along with Lucknow mayor Sanyukta Bhatia, was also there to showcase support. Both participated in a meeting of MRM and SRF, to decide ways to ramp up the campaign which has got the clerics frowning.
“There are many who are out to question Islamic beliefs these days. Don’t our Hindu brothers, especially in the South, offer animal sacrifices during various festivals of theirs? Don’t our Christian brothers offer such sacrifices?” asked Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahal, the imam of the Lucknow Eidgah where top leaders are present during the Eid namaaz (prayers).
“Even if you forget religion for a while, those who have studied the food chain system know that if not sacrificed, animals would outnumber humans,” he added.
Despite the clerics describing the build-up as “un-Islamic”, the RSS-backed Muslim outfits have decided to scale up their efforts to mobilise community support on the issue.
“Our culture is to ensure that all have equal rights on earth, whether it’s man, animal or other living beings. I am all for the move to do away with animal sacrifice, celebrating the day instead by distributing sweets,” says Thakur Raees, the national convenor of SRF.
“Without getting into the animal-sacrifice controversy, all I would like to say is that each Muslim, or for that matter each human being, must sacrifice their things like fears, their weaknesses, their bad habits - on the day. There is no harm in following the holy books, in fact it’s welcome. But everything needs to evolve with time too,” says Irshad Ilmi, a veteran journalist.