Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eid Mubarak!

Today is عيد الأضحى (aka Eid al-Adha). Today, Muslims world wide reenact the Ibrahim's (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael (his first born, from Sarah's handmaid Hagar) [Jewish/ Christian tradition maintains that Abraham took his son Isaac (from his wife Sarah).] Ishmael (or Isaac) was spared and a sheep was offered instead.

So what does this mean to me? First of all, I get two days off from work (which is really a technicality since I'm using the time to update Atlas Rubicon, our online curriculum database). Also, the cows and goats that have been popping up in the parking garages, and streets of our neighborhood over the last week or so are all now dead. (I very quickly walked by the disemboweling of the cow in the bottom of my stairwell on my way to work this morning.) Step quickly and wear shoes that the blood can wash off. I also passed some men dressed all in white (with amazingly few blood splatters) with large (2 feet long, 3 inch wide?) bloody knives that were looking to see if any more animals needed to be slaughtered.

None of this should be too surprising. I live in a Muslim country and this is an important festival. What I do find a bit surprising was the condescending comment from another expiate here, "I think the people performing the sacrifices are the real animals. They're trying to appease the gods." (Ummm... I'm pretty sure that is GOD, singular.)

If you're going to be an animal rights activist (please, please, please) look at home and your own traditions first.
1) crabs and lobsters are thrown LIVE into a pot of BOILING water.
2) if you by chicken in your local grocery store, the chicken has most likely lived a horrible life that includes being drugged, having it's beak and feet cut off and immobility.
3) Many animals grown for slaughter in factories have restricted movement, are pumped with drugs and are otherwise mistreated
4) Hunting, although an acceptable 'sport' can cause prolonged death, including the animal drowning in its own blood

Okay, so maybe killing cows in the car park isn't ideal- but it's done by a professional with a sharp knife and one swift cut to the neck. (Well, in theory, I've heard that's not quite the case here in Bangladesh, but I'll avoid that at the moment.) But much of the meat is also donated to poor people who rarely get to eat meat.

I have to admit, I feel somewhat self-righteous writing this. I simple plea though- be a bit more reflective about your own culture/ lifestyle before giving blanket condemnations of another tradition. Please.


UPDATE: If you want more pictures and some witty commentary, check out one of my colleagues' blog.

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