As a fairly new “member” of the WordPress weekly writing challenge, (this will be my third contribution) it has become evident, with this post actually, that I have not fully become accustomed to the notion of having to blog about topics that have been suggested to me. To me blogging is more than just penning my opinion about a particular topic. Rather, it is insight into my thoughts and feelings towards something… something that I feel and then decide to share. Not something someone else feels and decides to demand others share.
This week’s post…well, last week’s post…actually, If you want to be technical, then 2 weeks ago’s post; but who’s keeping track, hey? Yes, I procrastinated on this one a bit – Nonetheless, the personal nature of the post forced me to reconsider whether or not the weekly challenge was something that I wanted to continue anymore. As far as I see it, posts of a personal nature should willingly come from me; not suggested by a stranger!
My decision however was to remain a weekly contributor. If the aim of the “group” was to encourage interaction and participation then I guess it’s not so bad…? The up side is that as a writer, and willing blogger, we are able to pen what we are comfortable sharing… with that said, nobody forces us to share everything. After some thought, I have realised that despite the topic being suggested, we have the choice to mould our article to according to our desired comfort levels. Now, without further ado I take you to the moment that changed my life forever…
To be honest there’s not really ONE particular moment that I can think of but many. It seems so wrong to cheat the other moments by mentioning only ONE. Anyway, I’m rambling. Let’s get on with it …
I have to say one more thing though; A while back I was busy with an Eid post, (when I got distracted and decided to rather blog about the UCT suicide– how morbid, I know) anyway, this is where I resume my Eid post. How convenient that this post will be that post. Tongue twister gotcha there!
This year I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the traditional sacred ceremony of Qurban (an animal sacrificing ceremony). It is customary for Muslims to Qurban every year if they are of the financial means to do so and I have only been to one, when I was younger. I was both excited and afraid because I actually suffer from a condition called “being squeamish around blood”. When I see blood in copious amounts, I tend to black out wherever I am, regardless of what I’m doing and I cannot control this reaction.
I have tried conquering this condition by trying to stare blood in the eye but alas, my efforts have proved futile. Nevertheless, Qurban is tradition and I was ready to get my spiritual on!
A little background on Eid
Muslims globally, celebrate two Eids:
- Eid-ul-Fitr (Marks the end of the holy month of Ramadaan or fast)
- Eid-ul-Adha (Feast of sacrifice) and also marks the end of Hajj (Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca)
Eid-ul-Adha is considered more important than Eid-ul-Fitr and lasts for several days, in which Muslims engage in activities geared towards commitment to remembrance of and forgiveness from Allah (God).
Origins of Eid-ul-Adha
This is a story that is not only known by Muslims but crosses religious boundaries into Judaism and Christianity as well. Please note that this is a summarised version of the story. If you are not familiar with the story of Nabi Ebrahim (Abraham) then see below:
It is told that Allah ordered Nabi Ebrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Nabi Ismail, as a token of devotion to Him. When Ebrahim told Ismail about what Allah was expecting him to do, Ismail did not hesitate or resist.
Ismail asked his father to tie his hands and legs so that he could not struggle; and to blindfold himself so as not to see Ismail suffer. After the sacrifice, Ebrahim removed the blindfold only to see Ismail standing next to him and in Ismail’s place lay a dead ram.
Ebrahim feared that Allah will now punish him for being disobedient however in Allah’s eyes, Nabi Ebrahim proved his commitment and love for Him by showing his willingness to perform the sacrifice.
Eid ul-Adha celebrates the faith and obedience of Nabi Ebrahim and it shows us the bounds of Allah’s mercy. Today animal sacrifice (in accordance with Halaal requirements) is an important part of Eid-ul-Adha. This tradition serves to remind us all about how sacred life is.
In my family, it is tradition to have all our Qurban performed at my uncle’s house. He has been the designated family “Qurban organiser”.
My uncle’s house is designed to facilitate the Qurban and it is clear that he had this in mind, even prior to purchasing his plot. He has a long driveway where a bakkie loaded with sacrificial animals awaiting patiently and which is situated far from the slaughter area. The slaughter area has a grave hole for the blood to be aimed into, immediately after the animal’s neck has been slit; and around the corner from the slaughter area is another grave hole above which a hanging line stands, for the animals’ blood to be drained further. I actually never saw the final contraception because my condition wouldn’t allow me past the actual animal slaughter. I guess my stomach was not strong enough to see. Nonetheless this is how the final hanging section was described to me.
The commencing of the Qurban is signalled and everyone who wishes to witness gathers around the grave hole where the animal will be slaughtered, and starts to pray, in unison. “Allah-hu-akbar! Allah-hu-akbar! Allah-hu-akbar! La- illa- ha- illallah- u Allah-hu-akbar! Allah-hu-akbar wa- lilla hil hamd.” (Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest! There is none worthy of worship but Allah! Allah is the greatest!)
Whilst everyone is praying, the sheep is brought in from the bakkie and laid down on a plank over the hole. He is unaware of what is about to happen. He is calmed down and the slaughterer strokes him and pours warm water over his neck and into his mouth. Everyone is still praying. I am too scared to move to the front and witness the blade go through the sheep’s neck, so I stayed at the back. The smell of blood in the air is overwhelming and through the crowd, I see the sheep’s body resisting. Despite the knife being sharp, the sheep still resists!
I had to leave the slaughter area to take a breather and to collect myself. I was being overwhelmed by emotions that I did not even understand. The smell of blood wasn’t exactly helping either.
Throughout the ceremony my mind was racing, thinking about the symbolism of the process. The sheep is taking a loved-one’s place. Would I be able to accept if Allah were to request the same of me? Could I agree to my parents or siblings being sacrificed, even if for His sake? The reality of the truth was and is still upsetting. Because the answer is “no”, I am not ready.
In addition to the entire process rocking the strength of my Imaan (faith), I was going through another battle of sorts. This is my food. Watching the process of Qurban has brought me closer to the emotional aspect of survival.
With commercialisation it is easy to just go to the store and purchase the food we need. We are not required to hunt our food any more. So that process of slaughter has been entrusted to individuals whose main purpose is to mass provide. In a way, we have been desensitised to the trauma that animal has to go through in order for us to eat; for us to survive. I have never been wasteful, I am a person who would rather freeze food for another day, take doggy bags and even eat from the previous day’s food, than waste food; I even get irritated when watching movies where they have food fights! I must say though, that watching the Qurban has made me even more aware and has spurred me on, more than ever not to waste.
For days after the Qurban, I found myself day-dreaming about the sheep. I sometimes just sat in my room thinking about it. Picturing it. Imagining myself under the knife. Imagining my family under the knife. Smelling the blood. I was sad for a while and even cried sometimes. Witnessing the process has made me appreciate life even more. I am humbled by this process and to be honest I wish that that feeling could remain with me every day. However, with the passing of each day, that emotion is slowly leaving me. Perhaps due to eating all the junk food I have become desensitised to where it comes from, perhaps due to y busy schedule I don’t stop to think about where it comes from, who know? What I do know is that I am happy being able to feel that connection…be it with a sheep, I guess it sound silly when I say it outright, but nonetheless, I have made niyyah (intention) to return again next year.
This post written in response to the WordPress weekly writing challenge
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ToxicSweety over and out!