Friday, December 22, 2006
  A different kind of sacrifice...
One of the rites of the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) is the sacrifice of an animal, often a goat, sometimes a sheep, or even a cow, and the distribution of the meat. This ritual, obviously, encourages us to loosen our attachments to our worldly possessions, and to consider the needs of those who have less than we do.

Nonetheless, there has been much debate in the Muslim world over this -- is it an extravagant waste, or a ritual that benefits the most needy in society? Should we observe this ritual, or abandon it as something that no longer makes sense in a society full of Muslims.

People on the pro side are quick to point out that in many Muslim countries, extreme poverty is a huge problem; the sacrifices made and then distributed as charity during Hajj season provide what for some is a once a year taste of meat.

On the anti side, the argument runs that as it is much meat goes to waste as far too many animals are slaughtered at the same time. If every adult Muslim sacrificed an animal (or had one slaughtered) the streets would be stacked with rotting meat a few days later.

While many Muslims in the US follow the tradition of having an animal slaughtered, many do not. Many of those who do, don't actually go out and perform a sacrificial rite, but pay for an animal to be slaughtered overseas, and the meat distributed for charity.

For those of us who don't participate in this rite, and even those of us who do, perhaps a different sort of sacrifice is in order. Sacrificing an animal costs money -- the price of the animal, the cost of the butcher to sacrifice it. Perhaps it would be better to take that same money (or to set it aside if you weren't planing to spend it) and use it to sponsor a live animal for a family in need. That way, your sacrifice won't just provide a meal once a year, but will provide milk, or eggs; kids, or calves or chicks to sell, or raise and eat. It can be the first step to self-sufficiency for a whole family.

Giving a live animal may not be the letter of the ritual, but it sure seems appropriate to the spirit of it. That and the true spirit of charity -- while food is needed when someone is starving, how much better to help them never go hungry again?
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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