In Islam, there are many basic acts that are expected by devout Muslims, also known as the Five Pillars of Islam. These include declaring your faith (Shahadah), performing daily ritual prayers (Salat), paying forward charity to those in need (Zakat), fasting during the month of Ramadan (Sawm) and undertaking the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). With each of these responsibilities, Muslims can feel closer to Allah and feel satisfied that they are living a responsible and good life according to the expectations of Islam.
By taking part in these acts and showing their generosity, there are certain special occasions that Muslims get to enjoy, particularly the two festivals of Eid, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. During these festivals, communities come together to enjoy good food and celebrations, giving small gifts to children and paying forward their Zakat to those less fortunate so others can take part in the festivities as well.
What is Qurbani?
As part of Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam and the obligatory journey to Mecca includes the rite of Qurbani, in which an animal must be sacrificed in the name of Allah. Qurbani is based on the story of the Prophet Ibrahim, who willingly put forward his son Ismail for sacrifice in the name of Allah proving his dedication to the Almighty, who in turn replaced Ismail with a ram at the moment of sacrifice in reward for the Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion.
When Qurbani is performed, the animal is divided up into shares, of which a certain amount goes towards the family that paid for that animal and the remainder is sent to families who are struggling and unable to pay their own Qurbani. While different charities and Islamic organisations package and distribute their Qurbani shares in different ways, there are ways that could make the process cleaner and eco-friendlier for all. Follow the link for more information on the rules of Qurbani.
How to Have a Greener Qurbani?
For animal sacrifices to be made during Eidul Adha, livestock needs to be kept and cared for prior to the Qurbani taking place. Not only does this require plenty of resource in order to ensure the well-being and health of the animals to be sacrificed, but it can require a lot of space to provide comfortable habitats for the animals. While there isn’t much that can be done to reduce the amount of resource to keep a healthy livestock animal, there are methods that make the process greener.
For example, cows are one of the worst methane producers on the planet, this large amount of methane production affects our atmosphere, thickening the ozone layer and contributing to climate change. Keeping animals that produce less waste materials such as sheep, goats and camels can ensure the process is already less harmful to the surrounding areas and friendly to our earth.
Another process of Qurbani that can be quite harmful to the environment is how the meat is packaged for distribution. Traditionally meat was packed in large plastic bags that are then sealed for delivery. As plastic is another material that is extremely harmful on the environment, with large amounts ending up in the ocean, Qurbani organisations would do better to use recycled materials or biodegradable plastic that will naturally breakdown over time.
Finally, another way to enjoy a greener, eco-friendlier Qurbani is to use less resources during your own celebrations. Consider reusing the previous years’ decorations or give gifts that have use in day to day life like clothing or educational resources, rather than a trinket that will be thrown away. If every Muslim family around the world who can afford to contribute their Qurbani share were a little more conscientious about the resources they use and the waste they create, we can make a greener, happier world for all.