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Eid-ul-Azha Amid Covid-19 Crisis

By Rayhan Ahmed Topader
24th-Jul-2020       
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Eid-ul-Azha is the second biggest Muslim festival after Eid-ul-Fitr in which Muslims sacrifice cattle including sheep, goat, bull and camel. Muslims believe that the very moment Ibrahim raised the knife, God told him to stop, that he had passed the test, and to replace Ismael with a sacrificial ram. Muslims worldwide traditionally slaughter sheep or cattle in commemoration. The meat is distributed among the family and neighbors as well as the poor and needy. But before the slaughter, men, women and children alike flock to mosques around the country to take part in the prayers. Across the Muslim world, families were in a festive mood as they took to the markets and malls on Monday night, preparing to mark the occasion. Eid-ul-Azha is not just a festival. It teaches humanity by sharing food with the hungry, and togetherness by celebrating the festival with family and friends. Moreover, sacrifice reinforces the notion of letting go of materialistic things, and prayers evoke calmness and humility. While it is known that this Eid calls for animal sacrifice, the story behind may be less popular. This festival of sacrifice honours and commemorates Abraham's selfless and willing sacrifice of his son. It is believed that God intervened at the last second and provided him with a sheep to slaughter instead of his only son. Greater Eid is celebrated on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar, which also marks the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime mandatory pilgrimage for all able Muslims (physically and financially) to the 5th pillar of Islam. According to the teachings of Islam, there is specific guidance on how the animal-meat is to be distributed. Hence, the meat of the sacrificed animal should be divided into three parts- the first part is for the poor and the underprivileged, the second part is for family and friends, and the third part is for self-consumption. The animals sacrificed at Mecca on Eid are distributed to the needy around the world. The head of the Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons of Istanbul has warned that 1 million people could be at risk of contracting the covid-19 disease during Eid-ul-Azha. Also animal markets across the country every year on Eid-ul-Azha attract thousands of people coming from different areas, as they cram marketplaces, where they inspect animals to sacrifice and shake hands with others.
Muslims across the world celebrate the Festival of Sacrifice by the slaughtering of sheep, goats or cows, a mandatory custom for those practicing the religion to share with the poor. Last year around 150,000 animals were sacrificed in Istanbul and some 3.5 million across Turkey, according to official data. Face masks should be made mandatory inside the markets this year, while suggesting disposable plastic shoe covers should be worn at entrances and thrown away at exits.
And vigorous handshaking between the seller and the buyer after negotiating on a price is a tradition in Turkey, but this should be abandoned completely until the end of the pandemic. People should not take the animals they buy outside the markets to slaughter on their own premises, but that they should be sacrificed in altars inside the market area. Everybody wants to sacrifice their animal on the first day of the holiday. But we should expand this length to three days to stop overcrowding in these markets in Turkey.
People in Bangladesh, especially women, have been massively gathering for the Eid shopping, violating social distancing rules, which a medical doctor dubbed destructive amid the country's rising records of coronavirus. The South Asian state of 165 million people registered 432 deaths from the fatal virus while the tally of infections surpassed 30,000 marks. The virus has already reached to the country's all of 64 districts and the fatality rate are on rise for the last couple of days. The government imposed countrywide lockdown on March 26 to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus that has also paralyzed the greater parts of the globe. After one-and-a-half month, the government on May 10 partially eased the lockdown on the occasion of the Muslims' biggest religious festival Eid al-Fitr.
On condition that the social distancing rules and other Covid-19 health guidelines will be strictly maintained during the celebration of this Eid-ul-Azha. But, Bangladesh, one of the world's most densely populated countries with more than 1,200 people in per square kilometer, has reportedly failed to maintain social distancing in market places, signaling drastic deterioration of coronavirus outbreak in days ahead. Describing the situation "very alarming", that the virus may rapidly spread in all remote areas of the country. In that case minimum treatment for such a huge group of infected patients will be totally impossible. It may collapse the whole health system in the country. Most of the people in Bangladesh, still with more than 26% illiteracy rate, are seemingly very emotional to religious issues even without proper knowledge. Many people have been ignoring social distancing rules since the very beginning after the first case was recorded on March 8 in Bangladesh. As part of the preparations for the Eid-ul-Azha, the Home Ministry, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests should inform all operators concerned of the necessary measures that must be taken to ensure adequate sanitary conditions in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the usual measures for monitoring the health of animals and hygienic conditions, additional preventive measures must be observed in the context of Covid-19 throughout the chain from the sale of animals until the day of sacrifice.
Similarly actions have been taken namely the publication of a guide on Covid-19 preventive health measures to be respected on the day of Eid, notably by butchers, and organizational measures to establish in the cattle markets intended for Eid Al Adha, the setting up of additional temporary markets for Eid-ul-Azha, the reinforcement of control measures for the transport of animals intended for Eid on the whole territory and the extension of health measures to short-term jobs which are linked to Eid-ul-Azha event to preserve these jobs.

(Rayhan Ahmed Topader is a writer and columnist. E-mail raihan567@yahoo.com)

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