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Celebrating Eid Ul Azha with non-Muslim neighbors – An Indian Muslim’s perspective

Muslims performing Eid prayer at historical Jama Masjid in Delhi .

By Dr Sajid A.H Khan

On Monday 12 th August 2019, majority of India’s Muslim community will celebrate Eid ul Hajj or Eid ul Azha (Eid of sacrifice) or ‘Bakri’ Eid – as popularly known in India.

For years, India has flourished as a progressive nation with multi-cultural and multi-religious acceptance in our well-knit society from times of the much-maligned Mughals which was also the era when India was amongst the world superpowers called literally ‘’the golden bird’’ or ‘’sone ki chidiya’’.

But with constant efforts of a certain section of society fuelled by unconditional hatred against Muslims because of Islam’s basic concept of equality for all humans and oneness of God; today India is fast progressing to a majoritarian nation with complete control of all state machinery rendering it a diminishing democracy.

Just few days before Eid, the government took a very sudden step of revoking ‘special’ status of the only Muslim majority state of Kashmir; upsetting the largest minority community.

This situation is very similar to what the Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him encountered in the early phase of his Prophethood and proclaiming of the divine message in Mecca; and we can benefit from the example he set by his patient response to the situation.

Islam does not allow the believers to fall into despondency even in most trying circumstances!

So Indian Muslims need to take up this situation as a God-given opportunity to show their faith in God Almighty by remaining patient, positive and cheerful with His decree (Qadr) and building bridges with the majority Hindu community and also with the Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist citizens.

Love and rational dialogue can conquer all animosity and misunderstandings spread by certain mischievous elements!

Today we are going to discuss whether Muslims are allowed to gift a portion of our Udhiya or Qurbani meat to non-Muslim neighbours and friends?

Traditionally Muslims worldwide have been dividing udhiya or qurbani meat into 3 parts:

  1. For own family,
  2. to distribute to the poor and underprivileged people in own community,
  3. to close relatives and friends.

But seeing the special situation this year, there is a genuine need to put in extra efforts to reach out to our Hindu neighbours, colleagues and friends on this Eid.

It may very well be advisable rather commendable that we also give a portion of Qurbani meat or even sweets to our non-Muslim neighbors.

Non-Muslims too come under the umbrella of our neighbors and friends of our society and also the needy, if  they belong to underprivileged society.

It is also but natural of our non-Muslim neighbors to feel envious, if we distribute the blessed Qurbani meat only to Muslim neighbors or Muslim poor! ( though Indian Muslim community is definitely the most underprivileged as seen in many studies and also they form a majority amongst slum-dwellers and economically backward sections)

In Quran and saheeh Hadees, there is no specific prohibition of presenting our non Muslim acquaintances with the sacred meat of Udhiya.(also according to jurisprudence of predominant schools of thought)

Rather if we analyse objectively, the Prophet always encouraged companions to be generous towards our neighbours, irrespective of religion, gender, class or caste.

According to a famous hadith; when one of the lady companions of Prophet (Sahaaba) inquired of the Prophet peace be upon him, which of the neighbors is most worthy of good conduct, he replied it is the neighbor whose door was the closest to hers!

The holy Quran also specifically recommends a Muslim believer to always be on good terms with non-Muslims who reside in peace amongst them, whether they are a majority or minority in that nation.

In today’s Indian society where a certain section have created an atmosphere of intense hatred against Muslims in India, it is all the more imperative that Muslims take this opportunity of  Eid ul azha to foster relations of love and brotherhood with all their Hindu neighbors, including those who are not on good terms with!

The Prophet also taught us that the best way to increase love and brotherhood amongst ourselves is to share gifts, presents and to say Salaam (Peace) to each other.

Also some important things to avoid this Eid:

  1. Muslims should not make open display of slaughtering goats, camels or buffaloes and be sensitive to the feelings of our neighbours; nor should we share images of actual slaughtering on social media – this is definitely not Sunnah of our beloved Prophet.
  2. As slaughtering cows is a criminal offence in most Indian states, there can be no question of any Muslim even thinking of committing this crime in India, and inciting others against his own community.
  3. Also as there are some mischief-mongers waiting for a chance, entire community need to be more vigilant and wise in avoiding unnecessary trouble. They should transport animals in good manner, with proper documents in hand alongwith receipt of ownership and proper licence.
  4. Need to tone down Eid celebration to a modest level ( avoiding extravagance) this year to avoid untoward situations because in today’s situation even law-makers are not always able to control situation.
  5. Minimum amount of animals should be sacrificed to curtail jealousy, envy and hatred from others. More people can take qurbani shares and try to support orphanages , special needs and old-age homes.
  6. There should be no insensitive display of large animals on the roads for show-off or out of ignorance of proper Islamic etiquettes.
  7. Non Muslim friends, colleagues and especially respectable officials should be invited courteously to participate in the modest (non-extravagant) feast and  enjoyment of Eid in houses, musjids and in big multi-cultural societies. This will definitely foster inclusiveness amongst communities creating well- wishers and genuine friendship by clearing misunderstandings.

May Almighty Allah accept our following the footsteps of our illustrious forefather Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him; and make this ‘Bakri’ Eid a joyous and smooth celebration increasing love and brotherhood in our beloved nation.

May Allah accept our efforts and Hajj; make our sacrifice noble and helpful in feeding nutritious protein to our poor and underprivileged citizens and let it become a blessing for our entire India.

(Feedback and constructive criticism from scholars and Ulema always welcome in comments section)

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