Eid ul Adha, also known as Bakrid is celebrated on the tenth day of one of the most sacred months of Islamic calendar. On this day a male goat is usually sacrificed as per the popular legend that Prophet Ibrahim had gotten ready to sacrifice his only son for Allah after he had a dream about it. Moved by his devotion, Allah sent angels to place a goat in place of the Prophet’s son.
But like every year, this year as well, some elements have tried to dampen the spirit of this festival by trying to promote ill will against the Muslim community in India. A couple of days ago, Nand Kishore Gurjar, BJP MLA from Loni Assembly of Ghaziabad Uttar Pradesh, invited controversy by saying, “People who want to sacrifice (animals) on Eid should sacrifice their children.” He further resorted to misinformation as well by saying that meat spread coronavirus and hence “people should not be allowed to sacrifice animals”.
He further said, “I will not let people consume meat and alcohol in Loni,” while adding that even Sanatan Dharma used to sacrifice animals but now that has been replaced with coconuts.
Last year as well, around Eid Ul Adha, there was an attempt to discourage animal sacrifice and there was a growing sentiment of insecurity, which has expectedly augmented this year. Last year Karnataka legislators had asked to increase security around the time of Bakrid when animals would be transported, to avoid any violent incidents against the Muslim community as incidents of mob lynchings by cow vigilantes were on the rise.
This year, in the wake of Covid-19, social gatherings are prohibited and offering namaz by gathering in mosques is also not permitted. State governments have urged people to offer namaz at home and carry on celebrations at home. While similar protocols were in place during Ramzan Eid earlier this year and Muslim community had by and large, followed the same, some elements are now using divisive tactics by showing animal sacrifice in poor light and dampening the spirits of the festival.
Another instance is a video being circulated by the IT team of Saint Rampal who is himself currently serving a life sentence in Hisar prison since 2018 after being convicted of murder. In the video, the message that animal sacrifice is in fact against the principles of Qur’an is being propagated.
Further in the video, there is a footage of Rampal, who is a Hindu religious leader and self-proclaimed spiritual successor of Saint Kabir, preaching on Islam, its teachings and things that are “haram” especially animal sacrifice. Clearly, the intention is to turn people against the practice of animal sacrifice which is a religious tradition in Islam and to imbibe disdain against Muslims who despite this preaching perform animal sacrifice.
Further, earlier in July, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization had put up controversial hoardings promoting vegetarianism. These posters which were put up across Lucknow invited the ire of many Muslim religious and social activists who approached the City Police Commissioner to have them removed. The Poster had a picture of a goat which read, “Mai Jeev Hoon, Maans Nahi. Hamare prati Nazariya Badlein, Vegan Bane’(I am a living being, not just meat. Change your view towards us and become strict vegetarian)”. The Hoardings were eventually taken down by the police foreseeing a law and order situation. PETA India, about a week ago, also wrote to the police chiefs of all Indian states seeking a ban on animal slaughter stating that, “all religions call for compassion — none requires killing or eating animals, and hacking them to death with weapons is just plain cruel.”
The truth remains that a majority of Indians consume non-vegetarian food which includes a large number of Hindus. Naturally, animals are slaughtered throughout the year for human consumption in India but it is only during Eid ul Adha that “animal sacrifice” becomes controversial. The intolerance towards killing of goats only around the time of Eid ul Adha or Bakrid shows the contempt of certain right wing elements towards Islamic culture and tradition and lays out their hypocrisy and intolerance for all to see.