Adapting to the pandemic

From online sale of sacrificial animals to collective sacrifice, this Eid is all about altering traditional practices in accordance with Covid-19 safety needs

A live session on an all-women Facebook page selling sacrificial animals ahead of Eid ul Azha is an interesting experience. Such platforms are better known for selling makeup products, home decor, artificial jewellery and clothes. It might appear strange but the change is a response to a need of the times.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused severe social and economic consequences across the globe. It is because of the new circumstances that there have been dramatic changes in how businesses act and consumers behave.

This possibly explains why this Facebook page received a tremendous response from women users. The live session quickly turned into an online animal market where the seller exhibited the product (animals), and buyers started bargaining.

“This was my first online experience but it was extraordinary,” Muhammad Akram, the seller of sacrificial animals on the Facebook page, tells The News on Sunday. “I was hesitant at first but the outcome has made me more confident about taking a digital approach in the future as well,” he says. “This has created some good business opportunities during the ongoing hard times where many have closed”, he adds.

Apart from live sessions, many charitable and for-profit organisations are asking people to approach them for collective sacrifice of animals. Diverse arrangements for shares (hissay) in sacrifice of a cow and prices of goats are being offered in advertisements by these organisations. Interestingly, some of these organisations have been formed for the exclusive purpose.

The Imran Khan Cancer Appeal (IKCA), under the umbrella of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital (SKCH), is among charitable organisations appealing to the public to book their qurbani (sacrifice) with them.

Collective sacrifice during the ongoing pandemic has been encouraged by federal and provincial governments, religious leaders and health practitioners. A few days ago, Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman, chairman of the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, along with other notable religious scholars appealed to the people to opt for collective sacrifice of animals arranged by various welfare and religious organisations instead of making the arrangements at their homes or in their neighbourhoods.

Dr Badar Munir, president of the Ulema Rabita Council, says that Islam is a flexible religion that guides its followers in every situation. “We have good examples set by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in how to alter life patterns during epidemics or other hardships,” he says. “Collective sacrifice is a good idea considering the severity of Covid-19 and its threat to human lives.”

Many people, especially in villages and remote areas, raise animals and feed them all year around with the intention to sacrifice on Eid ul Azha. “They can go for individual sacrifice following the established SOPs,” says Dr Munir.

Collective sacrifice has already been in practice at religious seminaries and mosques. However, many seminaries are closed because of the pandemic and thus, the burden on those offering the service has increased.

Jamia Naeemia is a seminary that attracts handsome donations every year for collective sacrifice. “Though current circumstances are challenging, we are prepared to do our religious duty as usual,” says Dr Raghib Naeemi, head of Jamia Naeemia. “Our responsibility becomes even more important considering many seminaries are either closed or not making arrangements for collective sacrifice this year. People are contacting us for the purpose. Donations have already been received for more than 150 cows.”

Considering the current pace of donations, the management of Jamia Naeemia is expecting to sacrifice more than 300 cows this year. “It is great to see the public showing social responsibility amid the pandemic and fulfilling the religious duty as well,” says Dr Naeemi. But he is a little sceptical of the organisations appealing for donations for the first time.

“Unfortunately, some elements are trying to use this opportunity for monetary profit. The public must exercise caution and demonstrate responsibility while choosing an organisation or institution to offer sacrifice on their behalf,” he says.

Several religious-political parties are also among those asking people to opt for collective sacrifice of animals this year. They are also offering services in this regard and are collecting donations personally as well as online.

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) is one of these organisations. According to Qaiser Sharif, the JI’s information secretary, arrangements have already been made with slaughterhouses in various cities. The Al-Khidmat Foundation, the charity wing of JI, is also collecting donations for collective qurbani (sacrifice). “The Al-Khidmat Foundation has performed this religious duty every year. However, this year the volume of such donations is expected to be much bigger than the previous year. A hefty amount has already been received for collective sacrifice,” he says.

The writer is a staff member. He can be reached at warraichshehryar

Adapting to coronavirus pandemic this Eid-ul-Azha