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Institutional significance of prescribed rituals

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06th-Oct-2015       
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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque and Dr. Md. Shakhawat Ullah Chowdhury :
Description of the institutional significance of Islam is incomplete without reference to the rituals prescribed by it. In fact, ritualistic expression mixed with minor traditions   is the keynote of a strong religious faith with universal appeal. The holy Eid of sacrifice thus performed enables a pious Muslim to become close to Allah. The Almighty loves any pious Muslims who strictly follows the rules of the ritual like Eid Ul Azha. The literal meaning of Korbani is sacrifice. This is an expression of utter 'submission' to the Almighty  Allah by making  sacrifice.  The word is significant symbolically meaning 'both strong outer act and inward acts of intention' and strong fidelity and modeled behaviour of pious Muslims in traditional manner.
There seems to  be a common manifestation of reverence to the five pillars of Islam that act as an axis for spiritual, moral and humanitarian development. 'Muslims believe in one God and follows the way of life laid down for them by the Prophet(SM)'. Such a belief is the manifestation of tawhid (divine unity) as the 'primal epistemology of Islamic world view.' The Quranic commandants are followed by the momin and musulli (staunch believers and practioners). They are devotees clinging to rituals prescribed by the Holy Quran and Hadis praying five times a day and attending weekly and periodic religious congregations, paying Zakat and performing Hajj depending on financial strength.   The believers realize that there is a life after death. The sinners will suffer punishment in the hell for their misdeeds and not for following five pillars  as the key guidelines of Islam. The good souls will live in peace in heaven for pious life and merit. The Muslims believe that those who have gone astray from the right path will be severely punished even in grave until the resurrection.
Sacrificing Halal animals is not enjoined upon the poor. The affluent Muslims have a duty both religiously and culturally to sacrifice it in celebration of Eid Ul Azha as the feast of sacrifice. To cite Wikipedia:
It also called the Feast of Sacrifice being is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year. It honors the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his promised son, Ishmael (Ismail), as an act of submission to God's command, before God then intervened, through his angel Jibra'il and informs him that his sacrifice has already been accepted. The meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy. In the lunar-based Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year, drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.Eid al-Adha is the latter of the two Eid holidays, the former being Eid al-Fitr. The basis for the observance comes from the 196th ayah (verse) of Al-Baqara, the second sura of the Quran.[2] The word "Eid" appears once in Al-Ma'ida, the fifth sura of the Quran, with the meaning "solemn festival". Like Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha begins with a Sunnah prayer of two rakats followed by a sermon (khutbah). Eid al-Adha celebrations start after the descent of the Hujjaj, the pilgrims performing the Hajj, from Mount Arafat, a hill east of Mecca. Eid sacrifice may take place until sunset on the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The days of Eid have been singled out in the Hadith as "days of remembrance". The takbir (days) of Tashriq are from the Fajr prayer of the 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah up to the Asr prayer of the 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah (5 days and 4 nights). This equals 23 prayers: 5 on the 9th-12th, which equals 20, and 3 on the 13th.
In the feast of sacrifice "a Muslim who is capable presents the sacrifice of animal for Allah's pleasure. Though the meat of the slaughtered animal is the feast from Allah, but Allah observes the intention and sincerity of man. As Allah says in Holy Quran, "It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him.This sacrifice consists of sincerity, honesty . Sacrifice is not only to slaughter an animal but it is emotions of piety and its goal is to seek Allah's closeness.This sacrifice consists of sincerity, honesty and piety. Sacrifice is not only to slaughter an animal but it is emotions of piety and its goal is to seek Allah's closeness."
While observing the festival one must keep it mind that cleanliness is next to godliness. So keep environment clean. Observe the festivity in a proper manner selecting proper place or slaughtering ground. The government has fixed specific points in the main cities for sacrificing animals during Eid-ul-Azha to avoid pollution and filthiness. It has been instructed to " slaughter sacrificial animals at 493 spots in two city corporation areas of the capital and at 20 points in the Chittagong City Corporation area during the second largest religious festival of the Muslims.Muslim devotees in Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) can slaughter animals in 285 points while 208 points have been fixed for the dwellers of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC)" However in some Muslims Countires including Saudi Arab here is a slaughtering house  for the sacrifice. Animals to be sacrifice are sent there with a token for the collection of meats. This to avoid environmental pollution.  
For the purpose solvent Muslims " purchase a goat, cow or other domesticated animal from an animal market weeks before the holiday.  In some cultures, family members affectionately decorate the animal with flower necklaces, paint and colorful beads." For three days, Muslims slaughter animals in commemoration of the prophet Ebrahim's (peace be upon him) willingness to sacrifice his own son for the sake of  Allah.  "As Abraham was about to slay his son Ishmael (peace be upon him) which he believed came as a direct order from God, a sheep appeared before him in place of his son." The sacrificial animals having loving bond  is "slaughtered with a sharp knife while it is fully conscious and in many cases, the slaughtering takes place on the actual grounds of the family's home.   The meat of the animal is then distributed three ways: one-third for oneself, one-third for friends and family and one-third for the poor."
Nevertheless the sacrifice must be made from the core of  pious mind. This is not to demonstrate that  a rich  is able to purchase expensive animal ready to spend as much as possible, say even ten lakhs. This unholy competition among the bigshots not permissible according to rules of the rituals.runs counter to concept of sacrifice. Mind that a pious man   will meet his loving animal thus sacrificed in the heaven.
(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Professor, Department of Public Administration, Chittagong University and Dr. Md. Shakhawat Ullah Chowdhury Assistant Professor, Department of General Education, Southern University Bangladesh)

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