Sunday, 31 December 2006

In name of Almighty, it’s time for charity


Published in Deccan Chronicle/Asian Age on Sunday, 31 Dec 2006:
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Bakrid or Id-ul-Adha is not just a festival of ritual
sacrifice. It is a festival of charity too.
Like the other grand Muslim festival of alms giving or Id-ul-Fitr, Bakrid
brings cheers to millions of poor people living across the globe and pours
in charity enough for several orphanages and madrasas to fend themselves
for a few months.
The tradition of sacrifice dates back to the grand prophet, Hazrat Ibrahim
(peace be upon him), known to Jews and Christians as Abraham. The meat of
sacrificial animals is divided into three parts. One part is distributed
among friends and relatives, the second part is meant for the poor and
needy and the third portion is for self consumption.
It has been a tradition among Muslims right from the times of the Holy
Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) to
donate the skin of the sacrificial animal. The skin or the proceeds from
its sale is to be donated to orphanages, madrasas or charitable
organisations.
Estimates show that over five million animal skins are distributed during
the Bakrid in India alone. The largest donation in the form of skin comes
from Mumbai, followed by Hyderabad by virtue of their large Muslim
population.
In Andhra Pradesh, skins worth Rs 30 crore are donated among charitable
institutions. If valued the meat portion distributed among the poor and
needy runs into Rs 400 crores. This figure for the whole of India means a
few thousand crores. According to Muhammad Saleem, former Andhra Pradesh
Wakf board chairman and vice-president of the All-India Jamiat-ul-Quraish,
about 20 lakh sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed on Bakrid and the
subsequent two days.
"The idea behind celebrating Islamic festivals is not just to rejoice but
to remember the pangs and troubles of the havenots. God Almighty has given
so much to us and it is our duty to remember the unfortunate ones at least
on the Id days. Besides the skin of animals, one-third of the meat is also
distributed among the poor. Mosques are not qualified to receive donation
of skins or the sale proceeds from them. Festivals are for people and the
poor have a greater right over the charity," observes Moulana Hafiz Syed
Shujath Hussain.
Besides individual sacrifices of animals, sacrifice is also
institutionalised in Hyderabad and other parts of the country. Several
charitable and Zakat organisations have been collecting the cost of the
animal for sacrifice from those who cannot do the same on their own. The
facility is being largely utilised by non-resident Indian Muslims,
particularly those living in the West.
The Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust is collecting Rs 2,400 per sheep
for sacrifice on Bakrid.
There is also a provision for distribution of the entire meat among the
poor, in case the person is an NRI.
Moulana Shaik Najeeb Ahmad says the sacrifice of animals on the Bakrid is
more than just a ritual. The Almighty tests the person sacrificing the
animal whether it is being done with pure intentions or as a show or pomp.
"The Almighty makes it clear in the Holy Quran that neither the blood nor
the flesh of sacrificial animals reach Him. It is the piety and pure
intentions and the spirit behind the sacrifice that counts with the
Almighty," he says.

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