Another Year, Another Qurban Bayram
It’s time to commemorate the story of Abraham sacrificing a ram, after God both commanded him to and stopped him from sacrificing his own son, Ishmael. Qurban Bayram (literally, Sacrifice Holiday, also known as Eid al-Adha) starts today, November 16, and continues tomorrow. That means most business are closed these days and families who can afford to are butchering a sheep. The meat from these sacrifices is then supposed to go to the needy in the community. I’m not sure how that distribution works, but I hope that works out.
There are a series of news stories coming out of Turkey about the Qurban holiday, including this animal rights story:
Though the ritual slaughtering during the Kurban Bayram holiday has become controversial, some believe the story behind the tradition actually highlights the importance of animals. The holiday commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God, who gave him a ram to sacrifice instead. “Thus, sacrificing an animal is as dear as sacrificing one’s own child, as interpreted in the thesis of Adil Bor, a professor at Haseki Theological Education Center in Istanbul,” Aracı said.
I’m no animal rightist, and I’m not going to oppose killing animals for food, but this is a particularly interesting debate to be having during the holiday. It’s probably not a debate that will be happening much here in Azerbaijan, as I’m yet to meet an Azeri vegetarian. There’s also an argument to be made for animal welfare, concerning the conditions in which these animals are slaughtered. While everyone makes appeals to the conditions of a Halal slaughter, anyone who has witnessed slaughters here knows that there is very little about the killing that reflects Halal conditions. The situation is usually pretty intense, the animal fairly fearful, and I don’t think anyone around here actually has a sharp knife.
For a brief summary of the holiday, check out this article from Sunday’s Zaman in Turkey. Just note that it seems as though the emphasis on hajj is much less here in Azerbaijan than she conveys.