Jan 13 2006, 04:32 PM
Translated from a Dutch newspaper article:
Pilgrims participating in the Hadj have slaughtered over a million animals in the last 3 days, in Mina, Saudi Arabia -- mostly sheep, cows and camels. In this way they celebrate the successful closure of the islamic pilgrimage.
Not every pilgrim slaughters his own animal. Most of them purchase coupons with which they outsource the job to the Buro for Islamic Development. This institution performs the sacrifices in the name of the coupon holders and distributes the flesh to the poor, nationally and internationally.
To slaughter this enormous amount of animals quickly and efficiently, Mina holds the world's largest slaughter house. The 120 acre complex is able to process 200,000 sheep a day and about half that amount of cows and camels. Ten thousand workers work in shifts of 12 hours around the clock.
More than two million pilgrims participated this year in the Hadj, one of the five pillars of Islam. Recently, during a symbolic stoning ritual, a stampede cost the lives of over 350 people and injured over a thousand. Earlier, a hotel housing pilgrims collapsed and killed 76.
Jan 14 2006, 12:55 AM
Maybe they should do what many Orthodox Jews do. Traditionally Orthodox Jews sacrifice a chicken right before the high holydays - I think just before Yom Kippur. In the ritual, the live chicken is swung around the head while making a prayer that all one's sins be transferred to the chicken. Then it is slaughtered and given to the poor.
But it not necessary to use the chicken. Instead, the money that a chicken would cost is tied up into a handkerchief and waved over the head with the blessing and then the money is donated. Nicer for the chicken and probably better for the poor.
As for the Islamic Hajj - it is one reason why I know that I could never be a Muslim. The sight of all of those millions of people all doing the same thing seems somehow robotic to me and freaks me out. I feel sorry for people who are born Muslim - when you have a religion that tells you that your parents can come and murder you if you leave it - it is kind of hard to leave even if you want - so you are trapped. Orthodox Judaism actually teaches the same thing, but unlike Islam, it is rarely practiced these days, if at all.