What the piety is there in killing an animal?
There are contradictory views on killing animals in different religions. According to some it is a great sin to kill an animal. According to some others it is an act of piety to kill an animal. Now whether it is sinful or virtuous, the fact remains that we have been killing animals all the time. The simple reason is that we have to use them as food. We live on them.
There are some peculiar notions about killing animals. For instance, it is believed there is virtue in slaughtering an animal in the name of God but it is sinful to kill inedible animal. Another view is that it is no sin to kill inimical animals and there is neither virtue nor vice in killing animals whose flesh is good to eat.
Be that as it may, why should it be an act of piety to kill an animal in the name of God? The he-goat sacrificed in the name of goddess Kali is eaten by the priest and the person who pay the cost of sacrifice, not by the goddess. She feel pity for the goat slaughtered at her feet but the goat cannot but curse her. Whatever the devotees of the goddess Kali may think, the goat wishes the goddess dead and gone because if she (Kali) had not been there he would have been alive.
Not all Animals are fit for sacrifice. There is a lot of difference regarding sacrificial animals in different religions. The Muslims sacrifice animals like the cow and the camel which the Hindus donít and the Hindus sacrifice the unsaturated he-goat, the buffalo and the pig which the Muslims donít.
In Islam the slaughtering of animals in the way of Allah is an annual festival. It is said that Hazrat Ibrahim, the phrophet became favorite of Allah by attempting to sacrifice his loving son Ismail at the divine command received in a dream. For this reason Muslims want to be Allahís favorites by making a ceremony of slaughtering sacrificial animals as a religious duty.
An enquiry into the origin of the religious custom of sacrificing animals in the way of Allah gives rise to several questions. They are:
a) Canít the divine command received by Hazrat Ibrahim in a dream be the psychological product of his excessive devotion of Allah?
b) We are told that Allah said to Hazrat Ibrahim in a dream- "You Ibrahim ! Sacrifice the thing you love." Hazrat Ibrahim interpreted the phrase 'the thing you love' to mean his son Ismail and therefore he prepared to sacrifice him. But the phrase could have meant not his son Ismail but his own 'life', couldnít it? After all, what can be dearer to person than his own life?
It is said that Allah once wanted Hazrat Musa (Moses) to get him pair of eyes. Hazrat Musa, not being able to procure the eyes from anybody, went to meet Allah the next day at Mt. Tur and said, 'Oh! Allah ! I have scoured the whole country, but nobody agreed to give me his eyes.' Hearing this, Allah is reported to have said, 'Look here, my dear Musa ! Surely you have searched the whole country, but have you searched in your own body? Donít you have a pair of eyes of your own? Why then did you approach others to begging them to give your own eyes?' This made Hazrat Musa quite speechless. He has nothing to say in reply. It shows that even the prophets failed at times to grasp purpose of messages of Allah properly and thereby deviated into error. True, Hazrat Ibrahim, looking for the thing he was fond of in the world without found his son, but had he looked into the world within what would he have found?
c) Can the world 'Kurbani' connected with the celebration of Eid-ul-Azha according to the Islamic Shariah mean not the sacrifice of animals but offering of something, i.e., dedication? The practice of dedicating children to the Devine lord is found to the Isai community. The duty of the dedicated child is to give up all his belongings and engage himself to a life-long service of religious practices in temples and mosques. The custom is also prevalent among the Jews. Mariam (Mary), mother of Hazrat Isa (Jesus Christ) was a maiden dedicated to the service of the Temple to Jerusalem.
Most of the phrophets were Hazrat Ibrahimís descendents Ė Hazrat Ismail and Hazrat Ishak were his sons, Hazrat Yakub was his grandson and Hazrat Yusuf was his great grandson. In this line of descent/succession all other prophets were Hazrat Muhammadís predecessors and followers of Hazrat Ibrahim. The practice of circumcision of boys was introduced by Hazrat Ibrahim and it was upheld by the succeeding prophets. Especially, the Jews and Christians still follow this practice, but they did not follow the custom of sacrificing animals. It was revived two thousand and five hundred years after the advent of Hazrat Ibrahim. Why was this custom revived as an act of piety?
d) Those who are conversant with oneirology or interpretation of dreams know that these are for the most part symbolic rather factual. Can the dream Hazrat Ibrahim had about the divine command of sacrificing the thing was fond of be symbolic?
It appears from the above discussion that the foundation of custom of sacrificing animals in the way of Allah is rather weak. Millions of animals are being sacrificed as a pious act based on just a dream. If it is wrong to accept fiction as history, can it be right to accept a symbolic dream as a fact or reality?
But let that go. there is no doubt that Hazrat Ibrahim was sincerely and passionately devoted to Allah. Even if he had understood that his own life was meant by the divine command in the dream he would not perhaps hesitated to sacrifice it. He was so self-obliviously immersed in the love of Allah that his wife, children and riches signified nothing to him. That is why he prepared to cut his son's throat without any hesitation. Besides, however deep or otherwise, the love for his son might have been, there was certainly the relationship of father and son between them. What is the relationship between animals sacrificed and the persons who sacrifice them these days?
A man has to buy the sacrificial animals. In many cases, the money needed for this purpose is earned by dishonest means like usury, bribery, black-marketing and swindling. To such a man it is a matter of spending as much as he earns, without some credit and renown into the bargain.
It is often found that some people invite their relatives and friends two or three days before Eid-ul-Azha and on the day of the sacrifice, the whole household gets busy making flour and ground rice from sunrise in order to have a grand feast of meat and breads. Did Hazrat Ibrahim ask his wife Hazera to make bread along with grand feast when he went out with his son Ismail to sacrifice him?
The ceremony of sacrificing animals in celebration of Eid-ul-Azha involves cutting up the meat and its division into several portions and the general atmosphere is one of feasting and merry-making, gossiping, chewing betel leaf with betel-nut etc. and smoking. Has it any congruity with the sacrifice conducted by Hazrat Ibrahim? Hazrat Ibrahim had really sacrificed something he loved most. Is an animal priced at a few hundred taka the best-loved thing of the people today who sacrifice it for Allah?
Ismail had inherited his father's devotion to Allah as an in-born hereditary quality. Hence he consented with great delight to be sacrificed by his father in compliance with the divine dream-command and voluntarily lay down with his throat under his father's knife. But in present day, religious custom of sacrifice of the sacrificial animals give their consent to it? Is it not horrible and loathsome sight for the children when several men hold the animal tight and pin it down and another cuts its throat?
Hazrat Ibrahim had unhesitatingly applied the knife to his son's throat but at the end of the operation saw that a sheep had been sacrificed and that Ismail was standing by his side. Had Ismail himself been sacrificed at that time how many scarifies in its imitation would have taken place in the Muslim world today?
Hazrat Ibrahim performed his sacrifice all right but Ismail was not sacrificed and the sheep which was not bought by Ibrahim nor did it belong to his flock. Moreover, he had no idea where it came from or how it came there. It simply appeared there apparently from nowhere as a substitute for Ismail to have its throat cut by Hazrat Ibrahim. Is it not a irrational fancy story?
Accounts of slaughtering of cows as an act of piety are found in the Old Testament of Bible. Hazrat Ibrahim had introduced this practice and Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) supported it. People have been tending cows since ancient times for milk and agricultural work. But there is little agricultural work in desert countries. Therefore, although the milch cows are of use in those countries, the bull and the ox are of no use. So the Arabs used to slaughter cows and bulls as an act of supererogation both piety and feasting. Hence ox/bull/cow slaughter is recommended in scriptures of those Arab countries.
On the other hand, India the cow is considered a very useful animal. The Aryans thought it unfair to slaughter an animal of the ox family because it was used in cultivation of land for growing crops. For this reason it is stated in their scriptures that killing a cow/bull is a deadly sin. To the Aryans the cow was comparable to the mother because it gives milk and the bull is comparable to the father because it contributes to the agricultural product which we need for our nourishment. they are therefore looked upon as sacred. Besides the Hindus eat the flesh of he-goats but not of the milk-giving she goats. But the Muslims who inherited their religion from Arab culture, have no sense of gratitude to any milk-giving animal.
In agricultural countries in our part of the world cows and bulls are still widely used for cultivating and farming and there is no knowing when mechanized agriculture will replace them. As poor farmers are entirely dependent on cows for agriculture, isn't it therefore harmful to allow cow-slaughter in these countries?
Why kiss a black stone during Hajj?
The pious Muslims who go to holy city of Mecca to perform hajj have to observe and undergo certain rituals like walking round the House of Kaba, running to and fro between the hills of safa and Marwa, throwing pebbles and kissing a stone called 'Hezral aswad'.
This 'Hezral aswad' is a piece of black stone. It is (so we are told) quite unlike any other of its kind. It is said that at some time or other this stone had fallen there from heaven (sky?). Hence the people of Mecca treated it with great respect. It lay in an open place for a long time. Afterwards, during the renovation of the House of Kaba, this black stone was cemented to a wall of the kaba and has since been preserved carefully. The pilgrims have to kiss this stone with veneration during the performance of Hajj.
Parents kiss their children out of affection and a husband kisses his wife out of love. kissing some insensate is useless and of no value. 'Hazral Aswad' is apiece of solid black stone devoid of consciousness. It has no fueling when someone kisses it. why does Allah become happy when it is kissed by Hajjis? Perhaps the reason for showing so much veneration for a lifeless inanimate black stone is that it is heavenly stone, isn't it?
Once Hazrat Omar, one of the companions of Hazrat Muhammad, had said addressing 'Hezral Aswad--"O you black stone! Far from kissing you, I would have thrown you out of this holy place had not the prophet of Allah (Peace be on him) kissed you.
We learn about the birth of the earth and the origin of the solar system from the astronomers. The earth and the other planets circle around the sun in orbits. Most people are also aware of meteors which are solid bodies coming from planetary space glowing with the heat generated by friction as they enter the earth's atmosphere. They are popularly called shooting stars. some of the meteors may be no larger than the pea. Such meteors are burned and consumed in the atmosphere before reaching the earth. Some meteors, having a mass of few hundreds to many tons, survive their rush through the atmosphere and reach the earth in a half burned condition, they fall on the ground with a bang, either in one piece or fragments. The object which has been a meteor in flight then becomes a meteorite. As a result of burning harmoniously on entering the earths atmosphere the color of a meteorite is generally black.
Many such half-burnt meteorites have been preserved in the big museums of the world. There are some even in Calcutta Museum. It has been also found on examination that in some meteorites iron is the predominating element, others are like rock.
Is it not black stone called 'Hezral Aswad' just a form of meteorite?
Some secular articles for the readers:
Iím just like you! : An Apostateís testimony
: Satya Sondhani
Chatting with God (~believers): Avijit Roy
Letter of Debate! Religion vs. Modern science: Avijit Roy
A Response to the Article "Letter of Debate: Religion vs. Modern Science." Ahmad Ullah
"Letter of debate: Religion vs. Modern Science"-My comments. Syed Kamran Mirza
CREATION OR RANDOM EVOLUTION: Nurul I. Mukul
A Response to the Article "CREATION OR RANDOM EVOLUTION." Avijit Roy
A critique of Mr. Mukul's essay. Aparthib Zaman
Mr. Hila Mia: Fatemolla
I wanna asking them "WHY" ? Nadia Islam
I Apologize: Fatemolla
Allah Amader Kandtey Dao Jahanara Begum
Back to Square One: Fatemolla
Samples of Quranic contradictions: Syed Kamran Mirza
Cocooned in lies: Dr Ali Sina
Oh You Hindu Awake ! Dr. Chatterjee
Islamic Jehad Anwar Shaikh
Why I left Islam: Dr Ali Sina
Why I am not a Hindu: Ramendra Nath
An Open Letter to George Bush Edward Tabash
The sites that inspired me most :
Positive Atheism of Gora (Q & A)
Council for Secular Humanism
Institute for Secularization of Islamic society (ISIS)
The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)
James Randi Education Foundation
Dr. Ali Sina's Rational Thinking
The Secular (Infidels.org) web
The Humanists Net
The Talk Origins Archive
The News from Bangladesh (NFB)
Credits and References:
1. Aroj Ali Sharok Grontho.
2. Aro Ali Shomogro (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).
3. Sotter Shondhaney: Aroj Ali Matubbor
4. The Iconoclast, New York, September 1982.
5. Odharmiker Dhormokotha : Bhabani Prasad Shahu.
6. Parthib Shamaj: Shafiqur Rahman
7. FateMolla bhai (Hasan Mahmood), Aparthib Zaman (Masud Bhai), Jahed Bhai, Shatta Shandhani, Dr. Ali Sina, Kashem Bhai, K. Chowdhury, Nadia, Eshon and all other secular, freethinking and curious readers.
M.Shamsuddoha & A.T Mojumdar
Zillur Rahaman Siddiqui
Shardar Fazlul Karim
S. Manzoorul Islam
Publisher: PATHAK SHAMABESH BOOK, Bangladesh.
[ The page is dedicated to the memories of my beloved wife Chandana who inspired me a lot to become a true humanist by achieving a practice of asking questions for seeking the answers through out her entire life. She met her tragic death on 12th April, 2001.]
by Avijit Roy: