Kolkata: Ashik Khan, a businessman by profession and a singer by passion, has chosen not to sacrifice an animal this Eid-ul-Adha. A resident of Topsia, a densely populated Muslim area in Kolkata, Khan will be donating the money he had set aside to buy the animal for Qurbani to a madrasa in Batanagar so that it can be used to feed and educate poor orphans.
Speaking to eNewsroom, he said: “This year has been quite a difficult one for us. The pandemic has made it necessary for us to maintain social distancing. The poor have been the worst affected. Given the choices we have, I decided to help the poor this year, instead of sacrificing an animal. If things are normal, we can do it next year.”
Khan is not the only Muslim in Kolkata, who has chosen to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha differently during the pandemic. There are many who are opting to distribute money or rations to the poor instead.
The great great grandson of Kind Wajid Ali Shah, Shahanshah Mirza and some of his friends have also decided not to sacrifice an animal this Eid-ul-Adha. Mirza told eNewsroom: “We have decided to donate the amount that we spent last year for Qurbani to the poor who are affected by the pandemic and Amphan.” This year Mirza has also added 10 percent for inflation to the amount he spent last year on the animal.
“It is an individual decision and there is no directive by any cleric regarding it. We believe that Allah sees the intention and our intention is to help the needy,” Mirza added.
Eid-ul-Adha is the festival of sacrifice and even during normal times, Islam stipulates that the bulk of the meat from the Qurbani should be distributed among the poor. It is another way of doing charity – something that Islam is very strong on.
Along with some individuals, organization like Jamiat Ul Quraish, an association for the butcher community in Narkel Danga area of Kolkata has also taken similar step. The community did not hold its annual livestock market for the festive season this year.
Md Ali, one of the members of the association, informed: “For forty years we have been organising this temporary livestock market for Eid-ul-Adha at Narkel Danga. We understand the risks involved in holding the market this year. Social distancing will be impossible. Hence we have decided not to hold the market. We had also given a written application to the concerned police station regarding the same.”
When asked about the mood in the livestock market this year, he said: “People understand the risks involved in performing Qurbani (sacrifice) this year. It’s an unusually grim year. The market is very quiet. Around 50 per cent of the Muslim community is abstaining from performing Qurbani at their homes. I know of many who have chosen to give the money to madrasas and orphanages.”
He added: “I have personally been advising people with a big budget for Qurbani, to use a large chunk of it for community development. And many have taken my advice.”
Taking a similar step is HSP Millat Committee, a voluntary association of residents at the Heritage Srijan Park apartment complex in Park Circus, Kolkata. Hashim Khan, head of the committee said, “We are a voluntary association, which aims at celebrating festivals in a coordinated way in our complex. We have been organising tarawih (prayers) during Ramadan and Qurbani in our society for years now. But this year, because of the pandemic, we had a meeting with our members and came to a joint decision of not holding Qurbani in our complex this year. The reason is very evident – we don’t want to take any risk during the pandemic.”
“Doing Qurbani in an organised way is not an easy task. So many of our residents have opted to donate the money or are doing it elsewhere,” said Khan.
Sabir Ansari, another member of the HSP committee mentioned: “This year I have chosen to have the Qurbani performed at a distant madrasa. We have simply given the money to them and have instructed them to feed the poor with it.”
Taking the sentiments of fellow citizens into account Bengal Academia for Social Empowerment (Base Bengal), a registered trust has distributed pamphlets in Muslim dominated areas of Kolkata, raising awareness about things that they shouldn’t be doing during the festival, especially if they have opted for Qurbani. “Please celebrate the festival with your neighbours. Don’t do things that hurt the sentiments of others. Invite friends from other communities to celebrate with them. Talk and spread love,” said the poster that is now in circulation.