July 16, 2024

Eid al-Adha (Bakr Eid) is one of the major festivals among the Muslims. This festival honors the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. In commemoration of this profound act of faith, Muslims perform the ritual of animal slaughter (Qurbani or Udhiya), a practice that includes many ethical and environmental concerns.

Examining the facts and data, animal slaughter during Eid al-Adha represents a small fraction of the global animal slaughter. Data indicates that approximately 232 million land animals are slaughtered daily and 85 billion annually worldwide. During Eid al-Adha, an estimated 250-300 million land animals are slaughtered for religious purposes. While this number is massive in itself, it constitutes only a small percentage of the global figures.

However, the core issue with this ritual extends beyond the numbers. The issue with this ritual comes with the influence it persists over the eating habits among the Muslim World with the ‘religious approval’ it has which is the primary barrier hindering widespread rejection of animal slaughter for food among Muslims. Given that Muslims comprise approximately one-fourth of the global population, their adoption of dietary changes is crucial for reducing global dependency on animal killings for food. Animal slaughter in the name of religion makes it deeply ingrained in people’s food choices and traditions.

The meat industry ranks as the second-largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. The vast majority of the world’s agricultural land is used to raise livestock for meat industry. More than 70% of agricultural land is used to grow animal feed for livestock which is staggering. Consider the potential agricultural output if even a fraction of this land were used for growing human food crops instead. Such a shift could end food scarcity in many regions of world and save the Earth from the continuous expansion of agricultural lands causing deforestation. But for this goal to be achieved, the world has to decrease its dependency from animal food sources which would also lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

This goal becomes difficult when the animal killings are backed and appreciated by religious rituals for around quarter of world’s population which is Muslim. While the volume of animals slaughtered during Eid al-Adha may appear proportionally smaller compared to global figures, but its impact is huge on the food choices and environment. Balancing tradition with compassion, sustainability, and ethical considerations can ensure that Eid al-Adha continues to be a meaningful and respectful celebration for all.

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