Muslims in Bangladesh, as also elsewhere in the world, will observe Eid-ul-Azha in correspondence with Hajj, one of the five sacred pillars of Islam. Those who are going to perform Hajj have already reached Saudi Arabia. Formal rituals of Hajj will take place from July 7 to July 12 in the holy city of Makkah where Masjid-al-Haram is situated and nearby mount Arafah, Muzdalifa and the plateau of Mina. Qurbani, or sacrificing an animal dedicated to Allah, is a part of the pilgrimage. Eid-ul-Azha is observed on the third day of Hajj; also, on the 10th of the month of Dhul Hajj. The holy festival across the Muslim world lasts three days.
It is the second major Muslim festival, known as the festival of sacrifice, in the Islamic calendar after Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan or the month of fasting.
Eid-ul-Azha is a symbolic remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim, who, according to the Islamic narrative, was asked by Allah to sacrifice his elder son Ismail. When the Prophet attempted to do so, Allah was satisfied with Ibrahim's steadfastness in faith and rewarded him by replacing Ismail with a male sheep or ram. The animal was slaughtered instead of Ismail. Thus, a religious ritual has been set to sacrifice a domesticated animal by Muslims once a year.
The core messages of the sacrifice are to obey Allah's order and uproot one's inner evils. The Qurbani is not just sacrificing an animal but slaughtering the beast in oneself. The meat of the slaughtered animal is also permitted to eat and enjoy. There is also a direction to share and distribute the meat of the sacrificed animals with those who cannot make a sacrifice and intake animal protein regularly. That's why Eid-ul-Azha is the festival of sacrifice.
Unfortunately, the festival's spirit is not properly instilled in many Muslims in Bangladesh. This is reflected in various stages of the Qurbani -- from purchasing the sacrificial cattle, mostly cows and goats, to cleaning the premises used for slaughtering. The makeshift cattle markets in Dhaka and other cities sometimes turn chaotic. Local political leaders set up some unauthorised markets in open fields and roads.
After bringing the animals from markets, taking care of them is not easy, especially in cities. A stinking smell takes over the air, and managing animal wastes becomes difficult. The unavailability of free areas or grounds where animals can be kept secure is a big problem in Dhaka. There is also a lack of a well-maintained and hygienic dedicated place to get the sacrificial animal cut and clean.
So, things get worse once the slaughtering starts. Once the animal has been sacrificed, many people throw away animal wastes wherever convenient. Despite repeated warnings from the city corporations for not slaughtering on roads and disposing of waste materials here and there, there is a trend to ignore the advice. Again, in many cases, people even do not clean their residential premises properly. As a result, the animal blood and waste are seen on roads and streets. All this indicates that spirit of sacrifice is far away.
No doubt that Eid-ul-Azha has some significant economic implications. It is the largest annual event of cattle trading and collecting hides and skins of sacrificial animals for the leather industry. However, it does not mean that the hazardous and unhygienic practice of keeping and slaughtering the animals has to continue. For the last couple of years, the two city corporations in Dhaka have put extra efforts for removing the wastes as early as possible and keeping the roads clean. However, citizens need to extend cooperation to make the effort a success for the sake of their own health and hygiene.