Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Spirit of Qurbani

''Why do Pakistani's throw up blood from their mouth?'' I was astonished as you are after hearing this question from a cousin of mine who had visited Pakistan for a vacation. He had returned after thirteen years and given that he was only six on his last visit, I decided to give his question a logical thought. It turned out that my cousin had been observing the market from his balcony and had seen several people spitting paan. Yes, he was not acquainted with that stuff and thus was confused when he saw people routinely spitting red liquids in a corner right underneath his observational view.
He went to ask a string of other questions like that making all efforts to register as a retard in my opinion. However, it turned out that his questions were not out of place or against common sense. After all, where in this entire world would he have had seen people slaying animals right in the middle of the road? To clarify, I would like to add that my cousin had lived in Canada throughout his life and so the very practices that Pakistani people cite as their culture and heritage turned out to be in conflict with his common sense. He failed to understand why people entered into a price race when they bought animals for Eid ul Azha? He is not one of the best Muslims I have met but growing up in a Muslim family he has learnt and practices well the basic tenets of Islam and hence I felt that some of his questions pointed to the stark truths that Pakistanis had grown accustomed to. His belief that qurbani is a sacrifice and that going by the Islamic way, there has to be equal proportions for distribution between self, relatives and the poor is scarcely observed in practice in Pakistan. Not that there aren't people who do it that way: there are however, these have been far outnumbered by the ones who buy animals costing a million rupees (and sometimes even more) and then freeze the meat in their deep freezers. My cousin’s invented a new slogan for them in place of “Eid Mubarak!”…it’s “Meat Mubarak!”

I decided to investigate by asking the same question in my neighbourhood. Very soon I felt too like a retard because the replies I got clearly indicated that qurbani for some people meant that they had to 'show' their wealth to their relatives in order to stay in the 'elite' circle and for that the higher the price of the animal, the better the bargain (albeit not the qurbani). A series of homogenous answers led me to the sad conclusion that Muslims or better said Pakistanis have lost the meaning of the word 'qurbani' in its true sense. Attending sermons and Eid prayers has not helped them change their ideology about qurbani, how it is to be done and the merits of distributing meat rather than bbqing it in bulk. I consider myself included in the list of people who need to rethink their stance and interpretation of qurbani and eesaar. I believe that if qurbani, as what is done in Pakistan, is what has been enjoined in Islam, then I would prefer to be labelled a retard and make peace with my cousin with whom I was at loggerheads because he could not understand why I drove past a red signal three times while dropping him home. I told him that it was Eid and traffic was low volume but he simply did not get it. Retard, me.