Qurbani

Ismail, dressed in a new shiny green shalwar – kurta, excitedly pranced about the haveli. It was Eid-al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice. Mouth-watering aromas drifted from the kitchen into the courtyard, making Ismail’s stomach growl with hunger.

Ismail ! Ismail !

Rahim Qureshi called out from the main gate. Ismail ran out and hugged his father, demanding what gift he was getting this time. Rahim handed him a beautiful goat on a leash, its strong horns curvy, its jet black silken skin, velvety to touch, its eyes sparkling. Ismail fell in love with it immediately. He cuddled it and stroked its ears playfully, thinking of a name for it.

When it was time, Rahim Qureshi asked his son to bring in the ‘Qurbani’ or the sacrificial goat. Aghast at the thought of parting with his new found friend, Ismail asked, “What! sacrifice my friend? Why?”

Just then their neighbour, Rajaram Reddy entered the Qureshi courtyard with a box of sweets. “Eid Mubarak!”
Hearing Ismail’s question, he stooped down to affectionately shuffle his hair while answering, “Son, animal sacrifice or ‘Bali’ is an age old custom, meant to please a deity; ‘Shakti’ in our case and ‘Allah’ in your religion.”

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Mr. Reddy had left. Unsatisfied, Ismail questioned again and Rahim told him the story of Prophet Ibrahim who was willing to sacrifice his son at Allah’s behest when asked to do so in his dream and Allah was so pleased with this ultimate sacrifice that mercifully He replaced his son with a Ram at the last moment.

“Abbu, I do not understand. So Allah is pleased if we take someone’s life and gift it to Him? Give me a good reason and I shall part with my goat,” Ismail persisted.

“Qurbani means submitting completely to the will of God. It teaches us to share our food with all irrespective of caste, religion, creed and also we feed the poor on Eid. The goat is His creation. It does not belong to us and we are simply giving it back to Him. We learn about the mercy of God and we learn patience.”

Ismail thought hard, not replying immediately. And then he said, “Abba, but give me a good reason, why we must take someone’s life to learn these lessons. Reddy uncle comes to our house, we go to his, we share food anyway without sacrificing. You always help the poor even when it is not Eid. You have taught me that kindness is the greatest virtue. Then why don’t you show kindness to this goat? Indeed Allah is so merciful, why then would He ask for a life to be sacrificed when it is He who created it?”

Rahim Qureshi stared speechless. In Ismail’s questions he’d learnt some valuable lessons.

God is the creator of all lives. We have no right to take away life that we cannot give back. And it does not take a sacrifice to learn life lessons or please God.

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Author’s Note:
My intention behind writing this piece is to simply draw attention to the fact that animal sacrifice is unreasonable and unjustifiable.

Glossary:
Qurbani and Bali: mean sacrifice.
Eid-al-Adha: Every year during the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, Muslims around the world slaughter an animal and celebrate the festival of Eid-al-Adha
Shakti: Divine power or energy worshiped in the form of the consort of Shiva.
Abbu/ Abba: Father
Shalwar-kurta: Traditional combination dress
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this story are the author’s and the channel bears no responsibility of the same. It is to be noted that the story does not intend to hurt the religious or ethnic sentiments of anyone.

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Guncha Gupta
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