Archive for November, 2011
For Muslims, Zilhajj is important because its is in this month that Hajj is performed, the khutba of Arafat is read out and Eidul Azha is observed, as it will be today in the country, by sacrificing animals in memory of Prophet (Ibrahim) Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son on the orders of Allah. On the other hand, the other Eid, Eidul Fitr, happens in the month of Shawwal after the holy month of Ramazan, during which Muslims fast.
In Pakistan, the Eid after Hajj is not marked by any quarrel over the sighting of the moon because of the consensual ritual of Hajj which takes place in Saudi Arabia. But before Eidul Fitr, our clerics get into arguments with each other over the sighting of the moon and we have Eid on different days in the country and elsewhere in the Muslim world. However, what they have in common is that both Eids are increasingly becoming subject to economics.
There are fallacies to be removed. We should not believe that economics will suspend its fundamental laws in deference to religious feeling. Why do we want the law of supply and demand suspended when suddenly our consumption goes up either in quantity or quality? If people start reading newspaper archives from 1947 onwards, they would find many an editorial indulging in self-flagellation over price hikes during Ramazan and during the period when sacrificial animals are to be bought.
There is an uncontrolled emotion that says that somehow during these two occasions the supplier should ignore economics and make a sacrifice of his trade in order to benefit the faithful masses. There are reports of profiteering during the fasting month. What sellers should do is sacrifice their margin of profit during Ramazan, moved by Muslims forgoing food in the name of Allah.
What happens, in fact, is economics. In the fasting season, even the poor try to make the keeping and breaking of the fast a special occasion by arranging food that is not their routine. This means additional consumption, which translates into increased demand. This, following a basic law of economics, leads to a rise in the prices. The month passes amid accusations of impiety and lack of mercy.
The Eid of sacrifice is more overtly subject to economics. The animals that are to be bought for sacrifice are grown in the countryside. They are brought to the big cities where people have the earnings commensurate with the price tags on these animals as opposed to rural areas where the cash economy is weak. What the sacrificial animals do is transfer some of the wealth created in the cities to the countryside. The demand is inelastic in many households, where sacrifice is taken to be compulsory, regardless of income. Each year, the sacrificial animals are more expensive in relation to the earnings of the consumer.
This year, there was a fall in the number of animals bought for sacrifice. The reason should be obvious: prices were too high. The numbers have been falling for some years now and this is only to be expected, given the rising prices of sacrificial animals. Why is the supplier not flexible in the face of this demand curtailment? He has options. One option is to go from city to city to take advantage of relative prosperity. The other option is to take the animals across the national frontier and exploit the neighbouring state’s fondness for meat. The butcher shop is the third option.
The media has created the yearly stereotype of national moaning over high prices in relation to both Eids, as if these special occasions were times for self-rebuke. This is not right. There is economics working in all transactions and there is no reason that this process be suspended on Eid. And if there is rising poverty in the country because of low growth and policies that seem to reward those who are already quite well-off, these laws are bound to become more highlighted. Somebody makes a little more money during this period and, in most cases, he is a not-so-rich man trying to make an extra buck.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2011.
In Morocco, Eidul Azha is referred to as Eid alKabir (big holiday) and after Eid prayers families either convene for the sacrifice or do it individually at their own homes. Prior to this, they will enjoy a breakfast with herbel (wheat and milk soup) and harsha (semolina pancakes).
Hafsa Soussi, a 28-year-old school teacher states, “It’s a tradition to prepare organ meats such as the liver and heart on the day of the sacrifice, which is generally the first day of Eid. The next few days include meatier dishes like steamed lamb and mrouzia (a beef casserole with raisins).
In Somalia xalwo or halwa, made from sugar, cornstarch, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder, is a popular confection served during Eid celebrations. Yasmin Suleyman, a 23-year-old art student, reminisces about her Eid festivities as a child in Somalia, “We would travel to our village on Eidul Azha and sacrifice cows or a camel there and distribute some of the meat amongst the poor. My mother would let the meat slowly cook overnight and on the second day of Eid she would make meat pies from the camel mincemeat”.
Similarly, Eid for Nigerian Muslims is also all about community gathering. Amala — prepared from dried yam powder which is boiled and made like semolina — is the common Eid meal. It is eaten along with condiments. “Mulokhia (a green herb) is prepared with different kinds of pepper and tomato along with meat,” said Om Abdussamad, a Nigerian homemaker. “We also have something similar to Indian biryani, but less spicy called jellof,” she said, reported thepeninsulaqatar.com
Apart from the obvious meat dishes present on the table, sweets are particularly popular. Iraqis make a rosewater-scented, date-filled pastry called klaicha. A similar cookie called mamoul, served in Lebanon and Syria, is filled with dates or ground walnuts. Palestinians make a butter cookie with almonds or pine nuts called ghraybeh.
In Saudi Arabia, “You will always find small dishes that contain different types of tateema” (platter of olive variations, cheese, honey, jam and different breads). On the other hand, shakshookah, a Saudi variation of scrambled eggs mixed with vegetables, is made minutes before Eid breakfast as it needs to be served hot,” states Ahmad Khalifa, a Saudi businessman.
Although the majority of European population comprises of Christians, eastern Europe consists of a large Muslim population, especially residing in the “tan” countries.
Eid is known as Orozo Ait in Kyrgyztan and sees, “Dishes of fruit, candy and salads placed on the table for self-service. The family feasts on plov (a traditional dish with rice, carrots and sheep meat), “reveals Yaqubov, a college student.
In Turkey, dishes often eaten at Eid include “bulgur kospe (cracked wheat parcel, filled with mincemeat and deep fried) and hellimli-zeypinli bitta (haloumi and olive bread)”, states aspiring Turk musician Elkin Ali. However desserts are more popular on Eid. Things like baclava, lokma (deep fried syrupy dumplings), sutlu borek (very thin pastry, covered in syrup), ekmek kadayifi (bread pudding) and kurabiye (a biscuit, dusted with icing sugar) are very popular.
Pakistanis like to devour all the meaty delacacies like kaleji (kindneys), maghaz masala (brain curry), nihari (beef curry) and paye ka salan (sticky curry made from goat hooves). Sejal Tariq, a homemaker, reveals, “I’m very finicky, never liked eating qurbani ka ghosht, so Eidul Azha is a time for me to turn vegetarian.” Seviyan, or vermicelli noodles, kheer (rice pudding) and sheer khurma are the traditional Eid breakfast in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
In Malaysia, Eid is called Hari Raya. Beef rendang and nasi lemak (spicy meat curry cooked with coconut) are the highlights of Eid. Ayam masak merah — slow braised fried chicken with sweetish tomato and chilli gravy is also famous in the southern parts of Malaysia, reports tourismmalaysia.com.
Smriti Husain, a Bangladeshi based in the UK, states that “Desserts like feerni, kheer are eaten for breakfast! For lunch usually we prepare polao, beef rejala, chicken roast, beef masala and different types of salad. Some prepare haleem as an afternoon snack.”
Did you know?
1. Eidul Azha is celebrated annually on the 10th day of the last month of Islamic calendar.
2. In Pakistan alone nearly 10 million animals are slaughtered on Eid days costing over $3 billion, reports asiancoresspondent.com.
3. The Muslim population around the world in 2011 is estimated to be 2.1 billion, reports islamicpopulation.com
4. Eidul Azha falls approximately 70 days (two months and 10 days) after Eidul Fitr.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2011.
The interior ministry on Saturday issued a revised list of 31 proscribed organisations which now includes the recently banned Peoples Amn Committee in Karachi, Shia Tulaba Action Committee, Markaz Sabeel Organisation and Tanzeem Naujawanan-e-Sunnat from Gilgit.
The interior ministry on Friday had issued a directive making it mandatory for individuals and organisations to take prior permission from the deputy commissioner to collect hides of sacrificial animals. However, the DC office will remain closed over the weekend.
A member of Majlis-e-Wahadat-e-Muslimeen said their student wing, Imamia Student Organisation, will collect hides. “We could not obtain permission from the DC as his office was closed.” He added that they had yet to come across any such notification from the ministry.
The list of proscribed organisations include the already banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, Jamiat-ul Ansar, Jamiat-ul-Furqan, Hizb-ul-Tehrir, Khair-un-Naas International Trust, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Islamic Students Movement, Lashkar-e-Islam, Haji Namdar group, Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan Liberation Front, Lashkar-e-Balochistan, Balochistan Liberation United Front and Balochistan Musallah Defah Tanzeem.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2011.
2. Call me an infidel, but I just can’t bring myself to make merry at the idea of mass murdering a few hundred thousand cute, furry, unsuspecting farm animals in a span of 72 hours … and that too publically, in front of a sadistically gleeful audience.
3. All the barbeque talk. Show some sensitivity people!
4. The questions: Are you slaughtering a goat or a cow? How much will you be spending this year? Only two days left, dude, where’s your animal? Seriously guys. I’ll get whatever I want, whenever I want — the fact that I’ll probably only be able to afford an undernourished midget cow is my business and my business alone!
5. How everyone, including some highly intelligent people, lose their marbles a week before Eid, spending everyday just staring at their animals. Poor thing’s bound to get the heebie-jeebies!
6. Eid morning — help me God if I have to leave the house and witness the genocide… which I always do, with unrealistic expectations of remaining all Zen at the sight of blood and gutted animals.
7. Becoming a vegetarian for a couple of weeks after freaking out at the sight of above-mentioned blood. Especially if you’re the kind of person who actually looks forward to his weekly steaks and hamburgers.
8. How the true essence of the tradition is lost on most of us — people would gladly spend bundles of cash on four goats and two cows at Bakra Eid so they can feed their own greed and gluttony by stuffing their deep-freezers to full capacity, but go berserk if a truly deserving person should ask them for a little meat to feed his/her hungry children some other time during the year.
9. How some parents think watching Jackie Chan act like a nincompoop in a movie is bad influence for their kids, but watching four blood-soaked men brutally attack, slaughter, skin and butcher an 800 pound cow — live — is healthy entertainment.
10. Post Bakra Eid dinner parties with red-meat dishes in great abandon. How very subtle!
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, November 6th, 2011.