– A day of gathering and charity –
spirituality and togetherness
Part 3: A day of gathering and charity
By 8:00 in the morning of Eid ul-Adha (or Hari Raya Haji in Malay), all mosques in Singapore were full to capacity with congrants (with many late-comers sitting outside the mosques on mats). They recited the takbir in chorus until the start of the prayers.
After the prayers, the imam (prayer leader) read out the Hari Raya Haji sermon that focussed on the importance of having a good character, enhancing interaction with all Singaporeans of various faiths and ethnicity and living together in peace and harmony as one united people.
It is good to show to the world that Singapore Muslims are people who practise Islam as it should be practised for spiritual enhancement, educational development and harmonious living. Islam is not a religion meant only for worshipping God and asking favours from Him, but one that encompasses everything one does for righteous living.
After the Hari Raya prayers, a number of mosques with space and expertise for slaughtering sheep conducted the qur’ban (spelt korban in Malay), sheep and goats being the smallest of the three animals meant for the qur’ban; the other two being cattle and camel.
As Islam is a religion of Mercy and Compassion, it teaches Muslims to be kind to all creatures – human beings and animals.
On Hari Raya Haji and during the subsequent three days, livestock (like sheep and cattle) are slaughtered. The slaughtering of these animals ought to be conducted with strict guidance as given in the Qur’an and the Hadith which advises how to prepare the animals for slaughter and how to slaughter them based on mercy and compassion to the animal.
The most important Islamic rules (basic fundamentals of slaughtering animals) to be observed when slaughtering an animal for consumption are:
- the animal must be fit and not handicapped,
- the animal must not be pregnant, and
- the animal must be properly fed and maintained before the slaughter.
Other rules include:
- the slaughter can only be performed by a sane person, an adult Muslim man who is strong and fit,
- the knife used for the slaughtering must be very clean and sharp and resharpened after each slaughtering,
- the slaughter must on the point of pressure and reach the jugular veins to ensure a quick death to the animal,
- the head must not be separated from the body and, at no time, should the knife reach the back bone or spine,
- the animal must be comforted and given water before slaughtering,
- the animals are separated from each other out of respect for they too are conscious of the surrounding and have feelings of fear.
The invocation of Allah’s name is a must and the intention for the slaughter must be consciously realised with the basmallah (with the words uttered in a low voice or in the heart, such as: “I slaughter this animal for consumption in the name of Allah”), an instruction given in the Qur’an (at 22:36) when slaughtering qur’ban animals (and indeed any halal animal like chicken).
The educational point of the qur’ban is given in the Qur’an, thus: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches God. It is your piety that reaches Him.” (Qur’an, 22:37)
“Piety” in Islam, as indicated in the above verse, includes compassion to the poor through sadaqa (voluntary charity) and zakat (compulsory charity), both most often in monetary form, as well as, in this case, distribution of the qur’ban meat to the poor and needy.
In Islam, no animal should be even tortured or killed for game, sport or gambling. Cock-fighting, bull-fighting and game-hunting are all haram (prohibited).
In my book, “The Haj – the annual pilgrimage of Islam”, (above), a narration of my experiences of my Haj in 1992, I mentioned in “Chapter 11: Rites and rules of the Haj” that: “(Qur’ban) is a praiseworthy act to do, if one has the money….qur’ban is a symbolic act. Spiritually, the act of animal sacrifice signifies sacrificing one’s life for God in all areas of living and human development. In offering an animal for sacrifice, a Muslim is aware that it is not the meat or blood of the animal that reaches God but his piety (good deeds).”
In another book of mine, “Splendours of Islam: Answers to more than 100 common questions about Islam”, under a question on Eid ul-Adha, I mentioned: “Those (pilgrims) who have the means also sacrifice animals like sheep, cattle or camel. The meat is deep-frozen (by the Saudi government) and donated to the poor in other countries. In other parts of the world, Muslims also slaughter sheep and cattle (on Hari Raya Haji) and the meat is distributed to the poor and charitable homes.”
In the past 10 years or so, Singaporean Muslims have been increasingly conducting their qur’ban outside Singapore for they feel the Singapore poor are not that poor as to be eager to collect the qur’ban meat for consumption while communities in many Asian and African countries are very poor and delighted to eat meat.
23 Sep 2016