More expats now perform sacrifice locally

DUBAI/SHARJAH — The way the religious obligation of sacrifice is fulfilled on Eid Al Adha here in the UAE has undergone considerable change, with a growing number of expatriates from the Indian subcontinent opting to do it locally, and the nationals going for "sacrifice for charity".

By Our Staff Reporters

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Published: Mon 9 Jan 2006, 10:07 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 6:54 PM

The Muslims among the Indian and Pakistani expatriate community, who earlier preferred to sacrifice animals back home either because of personal beliefs or the general hassle of waiting for hours at the local abattoirs, are now fulfilling the religious obligation here in the UAE.

According to many Indian and Pakistani expatriates, a majority among the communities used to send money back home to their families to get the animal sacrificed at their houses. The only exception to this was, and is, the affluent class among the two communities, who had their families, as well as a large circle of friends and relatives, based here in the UAE.

"While the sacrifice is a religious obligation, it has a lot of social elements involved as well. People who live here alone or only have their spouses and children with them, prefer to have the sacrifice done at their place back home," said Sohail Syed, an Indian expatriate.

"Mostly parents back home insist the sacrifice be offered at the house there, and people with limited means can afford only one animal. For those who cannot afford one animal, there are options back home to contribute to a joint sacrifice," he added.

Another compelling reason for the practice has to do with the hassles involved in sacrificing an animal locally. "The animals have to be taken to an abattoir for sacrifice. While getting it done at the abattoirs is in the interest of public health and general hygiene, it is a time consuming and tiring affair," he said.

"Who wants to spend an Eid Al Adha in a jam on the road, followed by a long queue at the abattoir? I know a lot of people who get it done back home just to avoid a trip to the abattoirs," said Khalid Sami, a Pakistani national.

Interestingly, a considerable number of those who sacrifice animals locally do not do it at the abattoirs.

"No doubt the abattoirs here, particularly in Dubai, are efficient and fast, but the high volume of people thronging to the facilities is what makes it difficult. There are lots of people who gather their sacrificial cattle at a decided place, usually a villa, and the sacrifice is done there," said another Pakistani expatriate.

Some respondents said that sacrificing animals at homes rather than the abattoir is not unusual in Dubai, but is more prevalent in the neighbouring emirates. They said annual rise in the prices of cattle on Eid Al Adha is an indicator of increasing demand, which translates into more people doing the sacrifice locally.

"There's no doubt the trend is shifting. More people are doing it here now, unlike how they would do it a couple of years ago. Whether they are getting it done at the abattoir or at a friend's villa is a different issue," said AbdulRazzaq Mamdani.

An alternate practised mostly by families which are financially better off involves a cash payment to a charity organisation that arranges for the sacrifice and then distributes the meat to the poor, locally as well as internationally. This trend is mostly prevalent among UAE nationals, some of whom prefer to sacrifice more than one animal with the purpose of charity.

Aun Al Sayegh, a UAE national who is a banker by profession, said that Al Udhiyah (the ritual sacrifice of an animal) is highly recommended to those who can afford it. He noted that most of the UAE nationals are financially strong so they can conduct the sacrifice for themselves, besides arranging for other sacrifices for donation to charity organisations. These organisations, he added, can reach the needy people throughout Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and some parts of Europe.

Hamad Al Dhahiri, Manager, Administration Affairs Department, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that charity organisations in the UAE are well known for distributing Islamic Aid. Local and regional charity organisations also distribute fresh meat on the days of Eid Al Adha in 58 countries around the world, he said, noting that the UAE fortunately does not have poor masses, but those who don't have any source of income register their names at the charity organisation, which donates them the sacrificial meat.

Mohammed Mazroui, a UAE national businessman, said: "It's a vital part of our religion to give humanitarian aid to needy people throughout the year and especially during the Eids. I use to give my sacrifice to the charity organisation because I don't have the time to do it and I want to bring happiness to Muslim families. The charity associations are helping the donors with carrying out the sacrifices during Eid Al Adha, and they can select the country or countries where food is expensive due to short supply.

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