Eidul Azha is one of feasts in the calendar of Muslims who the moment Eid moon is sighted exchange feelings of hope, peace and brotherhood via e-mail and cellular phones.
What unites them intellectually, whether they speak Urdu, Sindhi, Baluchi, Punjabi, Pashtu or Seraiki, is nothing but Islam which promotes tolerance and human rights irrespective of caste, creed and colour.
What does Islam teach us? It says there is only one God who addressed the problem of ‘roti’ (bread) for mankind prior to the birth of Adam and Eve.
The sacrifice of animals in the name of God Almighty on Eidul Azha and distribution of meat among the poor and the needy by persons with fair means of income provides spiritual satisfaction to them. The feast also promotes fellow feeling---and that’s the will of God.
In a not yet improved socio-economic scenario dominated by old class system, many questions arise:
Does fellow feeling exist today in the same way as it was reborn during the struggle for Pakistan? How do surging petrol, energy and food prices impact human ties? Isn’t the rich-poor gap widening alarmingly? How much painful is the feeling of being deprived of Eid pleasures because of unjust distribution of wealth Nature has provided to Pakistan.
City elders say: “The poor and the lower aside, even middle class people are not in position to buy sacrificial animals whose prices have gone up about 100 per cent; only the millionaire and billionaire can afford ‘qurbani’ (slaughter) of seven animals, including cows and ‘bakras’ and a camel, at sky-high prices. But that amounts to a show of upper class.”
Elders recall an Eid message of the founder of Pakistan, saying Islam lays great emphasis on the social as well as economic side of things.
Everyday the rich and the poor, the great and the small, living in a locality, are brought five times in a day in the mosque in terms of perfect equality of mankind, and thereby the foundation of a healthy social relationship is established through prayers.
“But”, regret the city elders, “all that is vanishing; we’ve not effected any meaningful change in the political and economic system we inherited from the foreign rule at the time of independence; we spend billions on general elections and salaries and other benefits of members of assemblies and senate -- but very little on health and education of masses and children who realise on Eid days how much deprived they are.”
An overseas Pakistani who came to Gujar Khan with his ailing father told this scribe he had to pay one lakh rupees for a cow plus double the normal slaughter charges.
The rich and God-fearing rulers, if any, need to revive the spirit of sacrifice and brotherhood and most needed national unity.