On Animals Being Slaughtered

May 13, 2006 at 12:21 pm (Uncategorized)

Warning: The following post contains elements that may not be suitable for people with weak stomachs. We assume no responsibility for any appetites lost or meat set aside hereafter. Read at your own risk. This is not a campaign by PETA. Or, it may be if PETA means “People for the Edible Treatment of Animals.” Indeed, despite all the below, We love meat a lot (particularly Porterhouse steaks, medium well, thankyouverymuch). And we suggest all to try goat-meat particularly if prepared in a South Asian manner. Very delectable.

We are used to the image of animals being “sacrificed.” (Among Muslims, one may not say an animal slaughtered for consumption is anything but sacrificed. This emphasizes that the act of taking the animal’s life is permitted and done according to the rules revealed, as they say, by God. To say an animal is “slaughtered” is considered very bad form.)

We would see this every year at least at ‘eed al-aDHaa when every family is supposed to sacrifice an animal. This would usually be a goat. Wealthier families would sacrifice a cow. Very wealthy (or ostentatious) people would sacrifice a camel (which is quite difficult and inhumane indeed: the camel is slaughtered by throwing knives at its neck until it is hit and it falls down; then the camel is tied up and its throat slit – this is from what We have heard, We have never seen it personally; the occasion of slaughtering a camel becomes a community spectacle). As a child, watching the animal being tied up, slaughtered, opened up, gutted, skinned, meat and edibles divided and bagged – it was all a curious and exciting spectacle. Often We would see meat all the way from the living animal to becoming a dish before Us that same day. Although this may turn many people off of meat, We, and other boys, took it in stride. Usually boys were far more interested in watching the sacrifice and subsequent procedures; women and girls stayed inside the home. If kids were upset, it was at the loss of a pet (albeit one they had for only a few days if not weeks). Kids would name the animal, feed it, walk it around, play with it – all under the watchful eye of an adult, of course.

When We did not have school, We would go with Our mother to the Tuesday Bazaar. On an empty field, a huge open-sided tent would be set up. Inside there would be hundreds of stalls: clothes, vegetables, soap, brooms, tapes, CDs, knicknacks, and chicken among many other commodities. After getting everything needed (usually vegetables and fruit), Our mother would go to where the chickens were. They would be at one of the edges of the tent. They were alive and in a coop with a hole on the top. After telling the chicken-man how many chickens she wanted, he would take the first chicken out, hold its neck between the foot’s big toe and the second toe, say the modified basmalah, and then with one swift movement sever the head. The skinning, gutting, and other relevant procedures were done very quickly. The meat was put in a plastic bag which would be put in the basket holding the other items bought. (The basket would be held by a boy, a porter of sorts.)

This never fazed Us. At times, when Our mother would go to get goat- or cow-meat and We had no school, We would go with her. Although there would be some goats around the butcher’s stall, tethered with strong ropes, the meat obtained would be from already-sacrificed goats whose meat would be hanging from hooks. The butcher would get the type of meat requested and bag it. The sight of a hanging carcass never fazed Us. Indeed, it was intriguing – the red muscles and meat, the white parts (tendons?), the flies, the sound of the knife chopping up meat and through bone. Although, We must admit, the smell was quite unpleasant and even at times nauseating. The smell from the Tuesday Bazaar’s chicken area was not as bad: particularly considering it was basically in the open, with the tent for shade, it was quite tolerable. Thankfully, servants would usually get goat- and cow-meat. (In Pakistan, even the poor have servants.)

This is one reason why the depiction of a woman being slaughtered like all those goats and cows and chickens We have seen slaughtered in the past, brings up rage and hatred within Us. A human is a human, not an animal.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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