Safely celebrating Bakrid, Feast of the Sacrifice

Eid al-Adha or Bakrid is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al-Fitr), and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God’s command. But, before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this intervention, an animal, usually a sheep, is sacrificed ritually and divided into three parts. One share is given to the poor and needy, another is kept for home, and the third is given to relatives.

But in the time of this pandemic, to keep everyone safe, WHO has issued special guidelines for those celebrating this festival from July 31 to August 3 (dates differ per sighting of the moon).

First things first, the WHO stresses that “cancelling social and religious gatherings should be seriously considered,” based on a standardized risk assessment exercise, taking into account current epidemiological trends, capacities, and resources, reports

However, if one is to proceed with social and religious gatherings and animal slaughter, there are a range of measures to be taken, surrounding prayer venues, dealing with livestock, slaughtering of animals and processing and distribution thereof.

Apart from observing social distancing and encouraging mask wearing at the venues, the WHO suggests holding the prayers outdoors, else ensuring that the indoor venue has adequate ventilation. In addition, shorter events with fewer people are encouraged instead of large gatherings. Worshipers should bring their personal prayer mats to mosques.

Sacrificing a goat, camel or cow on Eid al Adha is considered obligatory for all those who can afford it. Most countries are now moving toward having designated slaughterhouses where people can take their sacrificial animal for slaughtering by expert butchers in relatively sanitary conditions. However, many still follow the convention of getting the deed done at their doorstep.

In this view, the WHO guidelines sternly advise countries to take strict measures around the selling and slaughtering of animals and the distribution of meat while ensuring that national food safety and hygiene regulations are enforced.

The WHO suggests that when people distribute meat, they should consider physical distancing measures, and it is better to nominate one household member to perform and order the sacrifice, preferably through centralized agencies or services.

Image courtesy of Photo courtesy Manchester Evening News

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