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‘Qurbani with kindness and care’

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With Muslims across the globe preparing themselves for the religious practice of Qurbani over Eid al-Adha celebrations this weekend, Islamic scholars and animal rights activists, have appealed for slaughtering to be conducted with ‘kindness and mercy for the animal’. In an in-depth discussion on the conditions of Qurbani on Tuesday evening, Sheikh Muhammad Moerat, the imam of the Zeenatul Islam masjid, said the criterion for the slaughter of animals was clearly stated within shariah law. Amongst this was that all animals met a minimum age required, had no physical defects, and were not disease ridden.

For those planning to conduct the Qurbani themselves, he said it was imperative that they followed the correct protocol to ensure the animals were being slaughtered in the least traumatic manner possible. This included ensuring the cutting knife was a sharp as possible, and the animal was completely relaxed. He urged people “to be excellent in the slaughtering”, as intention was a vital part of the process.

“The person that is going to slaughter needs to know his story before he can take a knife in his hand,” he stated simply.

In many Islamic schools of thought, the Qurbani is viewed as compulsory once a child has reached the age of puberty. As a result, many parents choose to take their children with to the various Qurbani farms, to experience the process first hand. Moerat said it important to observe a child’s sensitivity to such practices, as it may be emotionally traumatizing for some. He urged parents to be careful when making such decisions, and to avoid forcing children to watch the slaughter.

“It is not part of our religious system for a person to take a child, and tell them that they must stand there. You’ve got to watch if the child is going to be traumatized or not,” he warned.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), regularly conducts inspections at the various Qurbani farms, ensuring that the humane treatment of animals is being upheld during the practice. SPCA CT chief inspector, Moyo Ndukwana, said the NGO’s views on Qurbani were no different from what was listed in the Islamic scriptures.

“Everything has got to be humane. One word I would love everybody to take is that all this is about compassion. Everything a person does during the Qurbani has to be about compassion. If there is no compassion, then in my opinion, that Qurbani is not going to go well,” he said.

Amongst the most notable violations witnessed by the SPCA centered around the handling of sheep. Ndukwana noted incidents of sheep being dragged by their legs or wool, being carried upside down, and even being dragged across the floor. He said it was imperative that the environment and process be kept as stress free as possible for the animal.

“By minimizing the stress, the welfare of the animal is taken into consideration. When an animal is less stressed your meet quality is improved, and your bleed out time is also reduced,” he said.

Under the City of Cape Town’s Environmental Health By-law, individuals looking to conduct Qurbani in a residential area are required to apply for a special permit. Whilst acquiring those permits were not a strenuous process, he strongly advised people against practicing Qurbani at their homes. This was due to a lack of appropriate infrastructure in the residential areas.

For more information on Qurbani protocol, or if you would like assistance with conducting the religious practice, you may contact Sheikh Moerat at 083 583 9095. You may also contact the SPCA at 021 700 4140, or visit their website VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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