We Need To End Eid Slaughter

I’d like to share a few quick thoughts this Eid-ul Adha.

I’m not going to discuss the devastating impact raising and killing animals is having on the animals and environment. This is detailed in the article Don’t Kill An Animal This Eid.

Please familiarize yourself with it if you would like a little background as to why I strongly feel it is highly irresponsible and negligent to continue this practice today.

Instead, I want to speak from the heart as I feel this issue is symptomatic of much larger problems within our community. Simply put, we very much need to halt, have a moratorium or at the very least, re-examine this practice. 

Many Muslims still argue udhiya is required because “the Prophet and His Companions did it”. This is hardly an argument particularly when we are mass killing tens of millions of animals on a single day! There is no doubt in my mind if he (pbuh) were alive today and saw this, that he would not allow it.

Secondly, the Prophet (pbuh) lived in a materially and substantially different time. Udhiya was NOT considered obligatory by many of his closest and most iconic companions with several of them preferring to help the needy in different ways rather than killing an animal:

Fat’h al-Bāri adapted from ‘Selections from Fath al-Bāri by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalānī’ translated by Tim Winters. It is authentically reported in the sunan of Bayhaqī that Hudhayfa bin Usayd said :

.لقد رأيت أبا بكر ، وعمر وما يضحيان كراهية أن يقتدى بهما 

I saw Abū Bakr and Umar would not perform Udhīyah (sacrifice) disliking that they’d be followed (by people in this tradition).

They specifically did not want people imitating them thinking it is obligatory. 

 

It is also authentically reported in another tradition, that Abū Masūd al-Ansarī said :

إني لأدعُ الأضحى وإني لموسر ، مخافةَ أن يرى جيراني أنه حتمٌ عليَّ

I abstain from offering Udhīyah even though I am able to offer it, fearing that my neighbor would think that it is obligatory upon me.

He specifically did not want people imitating him thinking it is obligatory. 

 

Ibn Abbas (widely considered the best Qu’ran interpreter after the Prophet) offered udhiya in a different manner:

It is authentically reported in Sunan al Bayhaqī:

عن عكرمة مولى ابن عباس: كان إذا حضر الأضحى أعطى مولىً له درهمين فقال: اشتر بهما لحماً وأخبر الناس أنه أضحى ابن عباس

Ikrima narrated that if Ibn Abbas were to observe Udhīyah, he would give two Dirhams to his slave and say : buy meat out of it, and inform the people that this is the sacrifice (udhiya) of Ibn Abbas.

 

Ibn Hazm has authenticated and narrated from the Tabi’ī Imam, Faqih Sa’īd bin al-Musayab and Imam Shā’bi that they both have said :

عن سعيد بن المسيب والشعبي وأنه قال : لأن أتصدق بثلاثة دراهم أحب إلي من أن أضحي .

As spending by three Dirhams in charity, is more dearer to us than to sacrifice (udhīyah).  –al-Muhalla

 

It is authentically demonstrated from Bilāl when he said :

مَا أُبَالِي لَوْ ضَحَّيْتُ بِدِيكٍ ، وَلأَنْ أَتَصَدَّقَ بِثَمَنِهَا عَلَى يَتِيمٍ أَوْ مُغَبَّرٍ ، أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِنْ أَنْ أُضَحِّيَ

I wouldn’t care if I slaughter a rooster, because spending that cost to an orphan or a poor person, is more dearer to me than to offer udhiyah (sacrifice). –Musannaf Abd al-Razzāq, the Sanad has been classified as “Sahih” by Allama Abu al-Hasan al-Sulaymanī and Sh Mash’hūr Hasan)

Are these not the closest companions of the Prophet who understood his directives and commands best? Yet even so, they simply did not believe this was a required action and found other ways to fulfill the objective; which has always been about feeding the needy.

So if they can fulfill their udhiya in novel ways that does not require them to kill animals 1400 years ago, why can’t we?

 


We Have Better Options

 

Consider this: Allah (swt) has favored us to live in an era with an overabundance of food and unprecedented technological advancements. Advancements not afforded to previous generations.

Advancements that have now given us the luxury to create many different meat alternatives whether they are plant based options or lab grown meat where meat is made without the need for an animal having to die.

With such options at our disposal and given the Prophet’s generation’s innovative ways to feed the needy, why are we insisting to mass kill?

Do you feel Allah (swt) would prefer you show your devotion to Him by mass killing millions of his creation or by still fulfilling your religious obligation of feeding the needy; but protecting his creation at the same time?

Remember:

 

Their meat will not reach Allah , nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good.” -Qu’ran 22:37

 

Udhiya

 

It is not the killing itself, the meat or blood that will reach Allah (swt). Since there is no blood sacrifice or atonement in Islam, the entire lesson here is your piety or consciousness to do good and take care of the needy. This is what’s important.

If your intention is to feed 10 poor people on Eid with delicious, cruelty and blood free meals whereby humans are fed and animals are spared death – how and why is this wrong? 

I saddens me though that we need texts, opinions and ideas of other people before cross examining our hearts. Whatever happened to looking at the situation before us and innovating creative ways forward whereby both humans and animals thrive? We claim to be free human beings yet willingly surrender our intellect to imams, rulings, mathabs and teachers when common sense and logic as well as compassion demand we not run streets with blood.

You do not need permission or approval to do the right thing.


 

The Principle vs The Model

 

Principles don’t change, models most certainly do.

The Qu’ran and the Prophet (pbuh) gave us solid foundations and principles to go by. They did not necessarily give us exact models to replicate due to the significant changes societies undergo. As such, each society has their own ways of adapting and fulfilling a directive in different ways.

For example:

“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of horses of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy…” 8:60.

                   Model: horses.

                   Principle: Fight (in war) with as much power as you can.

It does not mean you have to use horses! This was mentioned simply because this was the rhetoric they understood at the time.

Another example is the Qu’ran mentions slavery in many places. Why? Because slavery was widespread at the time and the Qu’ran addressed it. 

Model: Be kind and free slaves.

Principle: Help those in need, especially those who are in less fortunate circumstances.

It does not mean you have to revert to slavery to please God!

Similarly, the entire purpose of the udhiya was to feed the poor. They used animals because they relied heavily on them for thousands of years prior, it was a strong symbol of wealth, meat was considered a delicacy and it encouraged them to give from their most valuable resources.

Model: Animals

Principle: Feed the poor and less fortunate

Today, we can feed the poor and less fortunate with many different options that do not require tens of millions of animals to have their throats slit. If we can – why don’t we?

So extracting the principles particularly on contemporary issues is going to help us far more than trying to replicate models that may very well only have been effective during certain eras.

Finally as stated throughout other articles – if the objective of udhiya is feeding the poor but performing it today (due to various circumstances outlined here) actually causes more people to go hungry; then it’s madness to persist.

The image of Muslims is also seriously compromised.

The horrific portrayal of Muslims as bloodthirsty barbarians when juxtaposed with a backdrop of mass slaughter is amplified. One could argue the mainstream media are making Muslims look bad but consider that’s the case because…we are being bad.

Pools of blood surrounding thousands of dead, dying and quivering animals cannot be portrayed any other way except for what it is – abhorrent. There is absolutely nothing holy about it. Combine this with cheering street crowds as animals are decapitated and it should be called out as repulsive, inhumane and antithetical to everything Islam stands for.


Final Thoughts

 

If animals could speak your language and understand you; what would you tell them as to the reason why you are doing this to them? How will you explain to them that leaving them in peace is NOT what God, The Most Merciful wants? 

Killing an animal on Eid is not required. We can fulfill our religious obligations of feeding the hungry in many different ways whereby we, the animals and planet all benefit.

Our collective attitudes when it comes to the udhiya is not one of objectivity but blind habit. We’re not listening to our hearts. For some odd reason, we are taught doing so is “following one’s desires” or that it is somehow wrong to act on what your conscience tells you. So instead of elevating our hearts and connection with God, we suppress it and forfeit our free minds to other people we feel know our hearts better than us. Scholars, rulings and texts have their place but ultimately, these are human endeavors.

Ironically, our independent human endeavors to make this world better is the answer to this riddle.

Eid Mubarak!

This article has 42 Comments

  1. Hare Krishna
    Time has riped to choose 2 ways of living.BEING HUMAN or BEING INHUMAN.
    Choose the better with full confidence and faith on GOD.
    Wishing your article must be an eye opener for all the people around who are eating animals as a pleasure. Eating habits are geographical.
    Because in a desert there is no plantation, growing plants are difficult they can eat animals only for survival. In a colder climates also there is scarsity of veggies growing due to rough weather. They have to eat animals and drink wine only for survival. In a rainy areas due to scarcity of land they depend on marine aquatic animals. But in Bharat(India) even though we have
    moderate weathers all 3 climates are experieced equally being a spiritual land, still 40% are vegans. Only thing i want here people to know is anything less or simple is good and anything more or complicated is a havoc or bad. Thank you very much for giving the platform. Lets celebrate Happy Humans Day.

  2. I was thinking the same. It’s so refreshing to read this article. But what bothers me is about the hajj. It’s obligatory for us to slaughter animals right during hajj. I really wanted to do hajj but when heart about animal sacrifice I can’t anymore 😔
    I am thinking of leaving this religion because I can’t think of a God who wants to be praised by killing an animal.
    Idk I’m misunderstood or not hope u can help me. Pls reply🙏😢
    Can u please include all the verse related to animal sacrifice to make it little clear

  3. I was thinking the same. It’s so refreshing to read this article. But what bothers me is about the hajj. It’s obligatory for us to slaughter animals right during hajj. I really wanted to do hajj but when heart about animal sacrifice I can’t anymore 😔
    I am thinking of leaving this religion because I can’t think of a God who wants to be praised by killing an animal.
    Idk I’m misunderstood or not hope u can help me. Pls reply🙏😢

  4. Ooops, I see the comments started in 2020, and that there are some as new as 2022. Awesome! Please keep the dialogue going!

  5. Hello Sammer, please don’t give up/lose heart on this divinely inspired revelation you have been given! Looks like the last comment was from 2020, but this message you have will only get more relevant as time goes on. I didn’t even know about Eid-ul Adha until a couple of years ago when I went to get a haircut and the stylist mentioned that he had a second job: buying and selling lambs for Eid-ul Adha. I believe the Quran refers to Jesus (pbuh), as a great prophet and also the Messiah who will come back and kill the Anti-Christ. But I am wondering if there is any reference to him as being the Lamb of God, or if Muslims would be open to other historical religious literature like the books of the New Testament to glean a deeper understanding of Jesus. My hope is that if they could also see Jesus (pbuh) as the Lamb of God, then he would be the final sacrifice needed, and therefore no more need to slaughter lambs and other animals for Eid-ul Adha.

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for your support and message.

      As far as I know, there is no reference to Jesus Christ (pbuh) as being the lamb of God in the Qu’ran since Islam does not uphold the concept of blood atonement. It refers to him as pure, a blessed Prophet & Messenger as well as God’s “word”. It’s unequivocal in its view that every soul is responsible for it’s own actions, not anyone else, and that one cannot bear the sins of the other. This is consistent with even the Old Testament:

      “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” – Ezekiel 18:20

      The Muslim world would benefit on unprecedented levels if they adopted a more whole foods, plant based / vegan lifestyle for sure!

  6. Salam alaikum. Please do not mix veganism with Islam. Islam has been set in stone 1400 years ago. We do not need vegans trying to change this beautiful religion to fit their needs. Jazakallah. And Allah knows best.

    1. WAS. Islam’s fundamental tenets are immutable yes, but fiqh absolutely must change with time, place and changing circumstances. Thank you for your input.

  7. Please share your posts on r/VeganMuslims on reddit. Please send a modmail if Sammer or Hakim would like to be added as moderators there to spread the message further

  8. I’m not muslim but really appreciate you writing this. I have discussions and talks about being vegan with people of all different religions including Islam and it’s great to find this website which is Islamic and supporting veganism. Thank you for your great work and this fantastic article.

  9. I heard that the regular deeds committed by Rasul Muhammad (SW) are defined as Sunnah Muaqwada or equal to Farz. So many Muslims claim that Rasul Muhammed (SW) sacrificed animals in every Eid Ul Adha that’s why it’s compulsory for us to maintain the same tradition. Is it true? My another question is will animals go to Jannah? I’m an avid animal lover so I feel very worried hearing many Alims’ opinion that they won’t go to Jannah. Kindly reply to my queries based on authentic sources. Thank u.

    1. There are numerous sources in this very article from the authentic sunnah in direct answer to your question. 🙂

      If the Prophet’s closest companions sincerely believed it was mandatory, why would so many openly state they don’t do it? Secondly, the article (and several others on the site) delve into the context of animal sacrifice so even if one believes the Prophet (pbuh) did something, it doesn’t necessarily mandate we must collectively do it.

      For example, the Qu’ran and Sunnah do not forbid slavery but most scholars today abhor it and outrightly forbid it as it is indeed a reprehensible act. But the reason the Qu’ran and Sunnah didn’t forbid it *at that specific time* was it was already part of society and to ban it would have caused much social upheaval. So what it did, was openly encourage the freeing of slaves – basically setting a trajectory so as time passed, the practice itself would be shunned and relegated to history.

      Nobody knows if animals from this world will go to Jannah but I do not worry for them as the Creator of the Universe/s has stated “Indeed, Allah does not do injustice even as much as an atom’s weight…” – Qu’ran 4:40.

      Also in the Qu’ran and Sunnah, we know there are many different types of animals in Jannah. So my personal belief is yes, there will be animals in Jannah, even specific ones you wish for because every desire of those in Jannah will be granted:

      “Circulated among them will be plates and vessels of gold. And therein is whatever the souls desire and what delights the eyes, and you will abide therein eternally” -Qu’ran 43:71.

      Hope this helps.

      1. “Indeed, Allah does not do injustice even as much as an atom’s weight…” – Qu’ran 4:40.
        The people who slaughter, kill and eat them as a group of corrupting a living being logically are to be punished of their bad deeds and definitely will go to Hell.
        Thanks for all enlighting comments.

  10. I have made a logical and emotional shortfilm against animal sacrifice which is an eye opener against tradition…. I wish if u could help me in sharing that film so that this bakr eid we are able to save some innocent lives

  11. What is the relation between the words ‘udhīyah’ and ‘adha’? I have never seen ‘udhīyah’ before. Is it a grammatical form of ‘adha’? Or a localised pronunciation? Please explain, thanks.

  12. This is a wonderful piece you have wrote here. Congratulations to you.
    Animals are so forgotten as sentient beings and are the most vulnerable and exploited of creatures on Earth, serving only to further human indifference and barbarity. You have restored some measure of sanity.

  13. If in Islam, people stop killing animals… That would be the greatest gift to Allah!

    It is mentioned in Qur’an that we should have mercy for animals just as for humans… And seeing His devotees becoming merciful and compassionate, will be a real pleasure to Him!

    Please sensitise more and more people.

    1. But in the Quran it is clearly stated that slaughtering an animal is obligatory during hajj 😓
      My heart is just broken I can’t think of a God who asks us to kill animal and praise him, thinking of quitting this religion 😔

  14. I really appreciate this article and that there are Muslims who do not believe we need to slaughter (sacrifice) millions of animals for Eid. In my opinion, when I look at the original story that Ibrahim was willing to give up his son for God, it symbolises giving up or sacrificing what you hold closest to your heart, As a father, he loved his son like no other human being and to give him up would have been almost unbearable. So to me, that translates as Eid representing the need for humans to reflect on what or who they think they can’t live without and consider life if they have no choice but to give them up. Ultimately, we all have to give up someone we love for God because we all have to face death. If God calls a soul to return to him, at a young age, God is telling the parents that they must sacrifice (give up) their child. So it is a reminder to humans that God expects us to remember that this life is temporary and to be able to separate ourselves from our loved ones in order to deal with death. And not to get completely attached to another person that we forget that this life is not permanent and that we must answer to God.

    I never took the story to mean go and slaughter some random animal to please God. Even if the intention is to feed those without food. There are other ways to support our fellow human beings including providing meals that do not need to come from the mass killing of animals.

    1. The essence of the practice has devolved from one of personal sacrifice to strictly killing animals which is just wrong. Thanks for your insight; we should reflect on this much deeper.

  15. I think exactly the same, unfortunately, we’re all just human,our understanding regarding this matter can’t be absolutely true,I just pray that the animals actually don’t feel pain at all during the slaughter

    1. Well said but remember, on the day of judgement, each and every soul that faced an atom’s weight of injustice will be compensated!

  16. Thank you for such an important article! May i translate the article and post it on my blog? Of course with crediting you!

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