ISLAMABAD: With Eidul Azha providing an opportunity for seasonal and non-professional butchers to make a quick buck, in the capital this has increasingly provided a good source of earning for even non-Muslim butchers.
While some are more than happy to have the rite adequately executed, others are divided on what impact it may have on the sacrifice.
“Over the past few years, there has been a surge in the number of non-Muslim and non-professional butchers slaughtering sacrificial animals on Eidul Azha in Pakistan,” notes Khurshid Qureshi, the president of the All Pakistan Jamiatul Quresh (APJQ), a butchers’ association.
“Everyone wants his animal to be slaughtered on the first day of Eid; therefore, they end up hiring anyone holding a knife and a chopping tray in his hand,” he lamented.
He cited lack of awareness, undue haste and the inclination to save money among the leading reasons why people chose to overlook the work history of the butchers or even their religion.
“High inflation and growing unemployment also force people to briefly take up the profession during Eidul Azha,” he said, noting that butchers – if they play their cards right – stand to make a lot of money during the three days of Eidul Azha.
Qureshi said that it was astonishing to see people, who spend between Rs80,000 to Rs500,000 to purchase a sacrificial animal, be reluctant to pay Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 to the butcher.
“Most people tend to look for a butcher who charges lesser than what a professional butcher would ask for. They also ignore which religion they belong to or how professional he is,” he said.
But when asked whether there was actually a shortage of butchers on Eid day, Qureshi said that there are as many as 600,000 families tied to the profession registered with the APJQ across the country. With Qureshi estimating that two to four butchers per registered family, that makes them a sizeable community.
But with millions of animals sacrificed on Eidul Azha, even that sizeable community is insufficient to complete the task.
Curiously, despite his complaints of non-Muslims taking up the knife and meat cleavers, Qureshi said that no non-Muslim butcher is registered with their association.
“Professional butchers do not visit homes for slaughtering animals, rather they prefer to slaughter and butcher animals at their own shops,” he said, advising people to check whether the butcher they have hired is registered with the APJQ or not.
Religious scholars divided
Even as people hire non-Muslim butchers, religious scholars are divided over who is entitled to slaughter a sacrificial animal.
Some scholars believe that the butcher should at least be a man of the book – either a Christian or a Jew – to perform the slaughter. Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia general secretary Qari Hanif Jalandhari, Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairperson Professor Mufti Muneebur Rehman and Maulana Khalid Mehmood, support this stance.
“If a butcher is Ahl-al-Kitab” (People of the Book) like a Christian or a Jew and he slaughters an animal by stating ‘Allah ki rah mein’ (Per God’s will) then there is no issue.”
They, however, believe that if the butcher belongs to the Hindu or Sikh faith, then it is forbidden for them to carry out the slaughter of a sacrificial animal.
Others argue that the sacrifice can only be carried out by Muslim butchers.
Maulana Abdul Malik, a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami and a member of the Ulema Mashaik Council, believes that getting your sacrificial animal slaughtered by any non-Muslim butcher is strictly prohibited in Islam.
“It is mandatory that we hire a Muslim butcher otherwise, your sacrifice will not be accepted,”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2017.