It's that time of the year again when the streets are bloody and meat is eaten like there's no tomorrow. It's Eid ul Adha - the Islamic festival of animal sacrifice.
The ritual has its origin in the Koran when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his most beloved son, Ismael. When Ismael was about 13, God tried to test Abraham's faith. He showed up in Abraham's dream and commanded him to sacrifice Ismael, who was born after many years of prayers.
So, what happens when this guy dreams that a voice from God is telling him to sacrifice his only beloved son? Of course he went along with it! Abraham, being the obedient believer he was and never questioning a thing, went ahead and told his folks about the dream that he just had. What happened then? Did those folks try to talk him out of this madness? Of course they didn't! Either this guy was living in a neighborhood of Crazy Town or offering your son for a sacrifice wasn't frowned upon in that society. But wait, he just couldn't drag his son to the place of the sacrifice and cut his throat, right? He had to be thoughtful about it. Right. He had to ask for his son's consent. TIME FOR ISMAEL'S TEST OF FAITH, BABY!
Is Ismael's faith mature enough?
Is he an obedient believer?
When Abraham consulted Ismael and told him about his dreams of slaughtering him, Ismael was overjoyed and couldn't wait to be slaughtered. No kidding. To be clear, the little courageous boy did not show even the slightest hesitation. What else do you expect from a 13 year old? The kid just trusted his dad too much! Ismael was willing to be sacrificed and asked Abraham to "do what you have been commanded". We all know where this is going, right? BAD PARENTING!
Finally when the day comes, Abraham offers his son for sacrifice and cheerfully cuts his throat open, only to be disappointed to see the boy still alive. Turns out Ismael was replaced with a lamb by God in a last ditch effort to improve his PR. And today millions of people follow this demented ritual every year in the Muslim world. Expensive animals are bought and then sacrificed in the name of God who somehow feels pleased every time a goat gets beheaded.
Eid ul Adha is one of the most barbaric, medieval festivals we still get to witness in today's modern world. If the blood-soaked streets and the disturbing celebration after the slaughter of the sacrificial animals do not turn you off, the mythical event from where this ritual originates is quite gruesome itself. Just imagine your dad happens to hear voices in his dream one day and decided he had to drag you up on a mountain and slaughter you. Now imagine that this is all part of his belief that he holds dearer than himself and his family. Imagine the psychological abuse on the son and how he instantly agrees to be sacrificed, which shows us exactly how dangerous such indoctrinated beliefs could be for an innocent child. Those who have had the distasteful experience of corporal punishment at home would know that sinking feeling when your father is about to grab that leather belt and give you a good beating. Now imagine if your father is doing that because he believes he's pleasing God and you're told to play along because you can't question your father OR his imaginary friend.
Why would a perfect, all-knowing and merciful god need to ‘test’ anybody to prove their faith? And why would anyone want to worship a God who would test them in this way? I know at this point some people would want to point out that Abraham's son was replaced with a lamb and he didn't get killed after all. Well then, what kind of perverted God would play a joke like that?
Today, parents kill their children because of ‘God’ or ‘angels’ or 'witches' or ‘demons’ or 'spirits'. None of these inhumane acts are justifiable in any way. These people are called insane. Abraham is no exception.
I come from a culturally Muslim family and this year I've managed to convince my parents to skip animal sacrifice and instead donate to a struggling local school and an elderly care home. If you believe the whole point of Eid ul Adha is to give generously to others and help those who need your help the most, then there are many ways to do that. You don't necessarily have to take an animal's life with your own hands and feel good about it. There are many causes and charities that you can donate to. But beware: some Jihadi outfits out there are posing as Islamic charities/organizations and collect hides and donations from people on Eid, using the money to fund Jihad. Don't fall for them. Donate wisely.