The Knife Sharpener of Tangier
This being the eve of the Aïd, the culmination of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, knives are being sharpened all over the Muslim world, in preparation for the sacrifice of millions of sheep. BBC has a nice explanation of the feast. We wish our Muslim friends
عيـــد مبــــارك سعيــــــد
And now, we indulge in some of the sights and sounds of Tangier…
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Knives everywhere. Not just the usual pocket ones, which you can pick up off a blanket from a sidewalk salesman. But big ones, including meat cleavers. Drawn by the sound of the whirling stone, which sends its sparks flying, my wife takes advantage of the guy who's set up shop on our corner and now our kitchen knives are sharper than ever before.
Sheep, and the bleating of sheep, everywhere. Sheep on roofs. Sheep tethered on the medina streets. Hay for sheep. Sheep dung. Soon, the day of the Silencing of the Sheep. Those knives…
A friend, living in the suburbs, wants to have materials delivered for a home improvement project. Sorry, all the three-wheeled mini-vans have been commandeered for sheep transport.
Beware of hydatid disease, where humans can contract tapeworms from eating the offal of infected sheep.
With our NGO partner FTAM (la Fondation Tanger al-Medina), we distribute Aïd trash bags to the women of TALIM's medina literacy program, courtesy of Amendis, the water company. The message: throw the huge quantities of sheep waste from the do-it-yourself slaughterhouses into the bags, and not into the storm drains.
However, those nice yellow plastic bags are also great for storing things…
Neighbor Mark comes back from the massive outdoor sheep market, having just bought a goat for a deserving family.
Same outdoor market frequented by Mohammed, who finds that the laws of supply and demand, plus the onset of heavy rains, have brought the price of sheep back up. Rains mean fresh grass, so sheep farmers can afford to keep those sheep for another season rather their lower their prices.
People who bought their sheep two days ago, before the rains, got great deals. This is important, when the price of some sheep is the equivalent of a month's pay. For those who cannot afford the price of a sheep, the response can sometimes be tragic.
I once witnessed the sacrifice of a goat, and partook of the meat hours later. The meat was a mite too fresh for my palate.
Is there a vegetarian option? Consult VegetarianMuslim.org.
What can you do with leftovers? Suggestions from Bangladesh.
For Americans who complain about the cost of a turkey, be happy that you only have to eat turkey sandwiches for a few days, and that the bird does not set you back a month's salary. I haven't heard of anyone getting into debt to pay for Thanksgiving, but some Moroccan observers are asking, "Must you get a loan to buy a sheep?"
Food for thought. In the meantime, wishing everyone the best for the Aïd.
وكـل عـام وأنتـم بخيــر
1 thought on “Sheep Tales”
Aid-ul- Adha is about sacrificing animals. There is no mention of any sacrifice in the Holy Quran except during Hajj. Please read my letter on vegetarianism to all my Muslim brethren:
Dated: day of reading.
SUB: ISLAM AND VEGETARIANISM.
First accept my Salaam and good wishes.
You may have read my website: http://www.vegetarianmuslim.org. You advocate the slaughtering of animals and eating its flesh while I condemn slaughtering of animals or eating its flesh. Very few Muslims would favour me for what I write and preach. It does not come as a surprise to me, for I am learned and enlightened while most of you do not know your religion or may never have read the Holy Quran with its deep meanings. I have nothing against you. Ultimately, we have to pay for our karma or deeds, sometime, somewhere, and somehow until we die. But it is my duty to let you know the reasons why I preach vegetarianism, why I am against slaughtering or eating of animal flesh, it may be a bird, a four legged animals, fish or any kind of eggs. Even honey and undue use of milk is avoided by me. WHY ? IS THE QUESTION
Brother, my reasons are as under:
1. Islam was introduced to us by our Holy Prophet Mohammed(peace will always be upon him). He was a hardcore vegetarian. Even small children who read the life history of the Prophet knows , when the Holy Prophet moved away from Mecca to Medina, he did this under great hardship for several days through the dessert and the jungles and on the way he lived on cooked leaves. He never slaughtered any animals during this transit period. He cautioned everyone that meat of animals are intoxicating like wine and also told his followers that they should not turn their stomach into a grave of dead animals.
2. Islam started as a religion giving equal right to the animals and all living beings. Islam is vocal in animal rights throughout the Holy Quran. This is why the colour of Islam is green( colour of vegetarianism) and not red, yellow or black. Please read 6:38. Translation by Mohsin Khan: “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered”.
3. As I said Islam started as a vegetarian religion, but Arabs were hardcore meat eaters and could not refrain themselves from eating meat of any kind. Many of the Arabs were reluctant to convert to Islam. Many who did convert, did not follow Islam religiously and showed resentment against living on vegetarian diet. To motivate them, their request were honoured, and hence the sura 5:1 was revealed. Please read 5:1. Translation by Shakir: “O you who believe! fulfil the obligations. The cattle quadrupeds are allowed to you except that which is recited to you, not violating the prohibition against game(hunting) when you are entering upon the performance of the pilgrimage; surely Allah orders what He desires”. This surah may have been revealed between 5th and 10th year of Hijrah. Many authority regard this as the last surah. Rodwell placed this surah chronologically as last in the line. The Significant part of this surah is, it talks about making cattle lawful for Muslims. It does not say that rice, potato or vegetables have been made lawful or allowed to Muslims, which clearly means that in earlier times Islam did not encourage the eating of animal flesh, only later it was allowed to please the followers. In addition, the surah begins with a pre-condition for Muslims to fulfil their obligations, meaning following the Islamic laws strictly.
4. You put in much of your valuable time in accusing me of spreading vegetarianism amongst Muslim people. You also show great anguish and resentment against my little suggestion to honour and respect the lives of innocent creatures. Did you, in your entire lifetime, spend even a fraction of that time objecting against Muslim brothers and sisters who are into gambling, drugs, prostitution, dancing and singing, smuggling, theft, dacoity and looting, murder, rape and other sins of the highest order?. Yet, you are so overwhelmed by my request to spare the lives of innocent creatures, instead provide those monies to deserving Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. My suggestion to contribute that money to deserving Muslims does not suit you, as the intoxication of flesh eating has entered your blood stream, rightly said by our Holy Prophet.
5. Tell me brothers and sisters in Islam, how many of us are Muslims today?. When it comes to slaughtering and eating the flesh of animals, you quickly and promptly put the words of your Lord about the permission to slaughter and eat the flesh of animals. Keeping friendship with Christians and Jews, encouraging any interaction with Christians and Jews are strictly prohibited in Islam. Yet, most Muslims can do anything to live and die in the lands of the Christians and Jews. Most Muslims can do anything to let their children study in Christian schools and most Muslims are all out to negotiate business worldwide, with Jews and Christians. Islam clearly warns all Muslims about being “One of them” if they interact with Jews or Christians. Yet we feel proud to be in Christian countries, study in Christian/Jews schools and negotiate business as exporters with Christian and Jewish people. Do we still call ourselves a Muslim. Perhaps you think I am joking. No, it is your poor knowledge of Islam that you frown upon my argument. Please read the Holy Quran 5:51 ,translation by Mohsin Khan-“ O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliya’ to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliya’, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong¬doers and unjust).”
6. We are aggressive about slaughtering animals as a ritual or even in our day to day eating. Why are we not so aggressive in bringing the Islamic law of cutting off the right hand from the wrist joint of the thief? This is more important to build the character of Muslims than eating flesh. Holy Quran 5:38, translation by Mohsin Khan: Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. And Allah is All¬Powerful, All¬Wise.
7. You perform Hajj, slaughter animals to please God, yet you are ignorant about the fact that your pilgrimage is not at all correct and acceptable by your Lord. Your travelling by ship, train or air to perform Hajj is totally unacceptable to Allah. Only when you travel to perform the Hajj on foot or on a lean camel is your Hajj valid and in keeping with the laws of Islam. Please read Holy Quran 22:27, a translation by Mohsin Khan: And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj).
8. Finally, Allah, in his Holy Quran, from cover to cover, has only shown us the positive side of all gifts on this earth to be used by mankind. In surah Al-Rahman(55) or in surah (5) Al-Maidah, Allah has nowhere told the Muslims about the snakes, scorpions and other beasts that may bite or endanger Muslims also. Allah has nowhere mention about flood, lightning, earthquake or any other natural calamity that may befall Muslims and their innocent children. In the same way, Allah in Sura 5:4, translation byYusuf Ali: They ask thee what is lawful to them (as food). Say: lawful unto you are (all) things good and pure: and what ye have taught your trained hunting animals (to catch) in the manner directed to you by Allah: eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of Allah over it: and fear Allah; for Allah is swift in taking account.
Another surah I-an-Am 6:142 translation by Yusuf Ali: Of the cattle are some for burden and some for meat: eat what Allah hath provided for you, and follow not the footsteps of Satan: for he is to you and avowed enemy. Yet another surah Ghafir 40:79 translated by Mohsin Khan: Allah, it is He Who has made cattle for you, that you may ride on some of them and of some you eat.
Allah in all these verses never mentioned the benefits of eating meat. It has only said it is lawful and may be had as food. Even in verse 5:4 it is mentioned “Lawful unto you are(all) things good and pure” after a break it says “and what ye have taught…………taking account” (please see above) In the adjective “good and pure” meat does not appear. It has been used in the next sentence. Eating meat, therefore, has been made lawful, but neither with pure and with goodness, nor compulsory.
If you are not satisfied with the above English translation, I can send you six more such English translation by Islamic scholars.
I have many other reasons from the Holy Quran to prove to you that you need to correct your views about Islam, but those will give you extreme sleepless nights and further feelings of guilt. With what I have already mentioned above, you may be neck deep into guilt and you will live with it until you die.
It is time we Muslims consider being more loving and merciful towards animals and turn vegetarians. Even milk should be curtailed in our diet as it is meant for the calves. We can milk the cows and buffalos only after the calved had their belly full. Muslims should also avoid the consumption of honey, which the honey bee collects to sustain them during the winter seasons. All these acts and omissions will not only get us blessings, but will also show we Muslims as chivalrous, compassionate, and merciful.
Brothers and sisters, the choice is yours. It was only my duty to enlighten you and make you a better Muslim in years to come.
Your brother in Islam