October 8, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6180

Pakistani Urdu Magazine Traces Origins Of Cow Slaughter Among Muslims, Says: Mohajirs Brought It To Pakistan And 'Cow Sacrifice Was Popularized By Islamic And Welfare Organizations'

October 8, 2015
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 6180

In September 2015, a group of Pakistani liberal writers launched a new Urdu-language Marxist magazine aimed at Muslim youths. The magazine is called Fikr-e-Nau (New Thinking) and is edited by Shadab Murtaza and Tahir Mujtaba. On the cover of its first issue, the magazine described itself as: "The voice of progressivism on social media." The first issue contains a series of articles questioning commonly held beliefs and interpretations of history and social practices. It is written in a very simple Urdu in order to be easily accessible to Muslim youths.

It seems that the launch of this social media magazine coincided with Eid Al-Adha (the feast of sacrifice), which was marked this year on September 25-27. In the Indian Subcontinent (including Pakistan and Bangladesh), cows are revered by Hindus. Therefore, slaughtering a cow is religiously sensitive and leads to Hindu-Muslim riots. The practice of cow slaughter was banned in several Indian states during past decades. However, on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, a large number of cows are slaughtered by Muslims, mostly in secret.

However, cow slaughter occasionally still leads to Hindu-Muslim conflicts. For example, in the last week of September, at a place called Dadri, not far from New Delhi, a Muslim man was killed by a mob on mere allegations that he ate beef. One of the articles in Fikr-e-Nau addresses the issue of cow slaughter by Muslims. The article is titled "The Politics and Economy of Sacrificing Cows" and is written by Sartaj Khan.

The cover of the first issue of Fikr-e-Nau

Following are excerpts from the article:

"Historically, In The Hindu-Majority Areas Of The Subcontinent, The Sacrifice Of Cows Was Done In Urban Centers, Which Were In Some Way The Strongholds Of Muslim Kings, Elites And Militaries"

"The animal that is most likely to be sacrificed at the time of Eid Al-Adha is cow, but sacrificing the cow is also a part of politics and the economy, in addition to being an act of reward [from Allah for Muslims]... In India, the prejudiced Modi government is banning the sacrifice of cows. [Editor's note: Cow slaughter has been banned in some Indian states for several decades before Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.] The cow slaughter is now a fresh battleground within the larger context that is taking place due to the social and economic crisis..."

"From Islamic teachings, it emerges that it was a sheep that was sacrificed [by the Prophet Abraham, whose actions are marked on Eid Al-Adha]. Cows are not born in Arab countries. So, sheep, goats and camels are the favorite animals for sacrifice. But now perhaps [the cow] is imported from abroad. In the parts of the [Indian] Subcontinent where Pakistan is situated, goats, sheep and bhains [buffalo] used to be sacrificed. Though, cow is the favorite animal for sacrifice by Muslims in India. The context for this was Hindu-Muslim enmity, which used to be a cause of riots.

"Historically, in the Hindu-majority areas of the Subcontinent, the sacrifice of cow was done in urban centers, which were in some way the strongholds of Muslim kings, elites and militaries. However, many times Muslim kings did impose bans on cow slaughter due to political considerations. Among them, the Mughal Emperor Akbar [ruled 1556-1605 CE] is well known for this. [Revivalist Islamic theologian] Mujaddid Alif Sani Sheikh Sirhindi had expressed his sadness on this [ban on cow slaughter, saying] that Muslims cannot slaughter a cow under a Muslim government. However, Akbar thought that respecting the sentiment of the Hindu majority was essential for common peace...

"In the current areas [that constitute] Pakistan, cows were not sacrificed in large numbers [before Pakistan was created in 1947]. When the Mohajirs [Indian Muslim immigrants] came to Pakistan after the Partition, they also brought the tradition of cow slaughter along with them. It was under the impact of the immigrant Islamic organizations such as Jamaat-e-Islami and the people arriving from there [i.e. from the regions that remained a part of India]... that a tradition of sacrificing the cow became strong..."

"The Advertisements [Issued By Islamic Groups On Eid Al-Adha] Include A Picture Of A Cow Is To Show That It Is A More Beautiful, Smart And Attractive Animal"

"It is said that after the arrival of Aryans to the Subcontinent, the significance of cows increased. Without going into a discussion of its causes, it is enough to say that their first religious scripture Rigveda [was written] in the upper valleys of the current Indus river and Pashtun lands... In this region even today the meat of sheep, goats and bhains is more favored than that of a cow. Even today, it is common to sacrifice bhains [rather than a cow] in the Sama Valley and Peshawar Valley, which comprise the plain areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [province] and adjacent areas inhabited by the Yousafzai tribes, such as Mardan, Swabi, Buner, Swat, Dir, Charsadda, and Nowshera; whereas in the tribal areas, the common practice is to sacrifice sheep and goats [not cows]. The same tradition prevails in the Pashtun belt of Baluchistan and a large number of Baluchis organizes sacrifice and feast along similar lines.

"In the Pashtun and Punjabi regions, bhains are given preference for milk. In other words, cow's milk is not considered thick [and thus is not preferable]. Bhains are brought in large numbers from the areas of Punjab to the Pashtun region..."

"But the practice of cow sacrifice was popularized by Islamic and welfare organizations and [those organizing] collective sacrifices. The advertisements [issued by Islamic groups on the occasions of Eid Al-Adha] include a picture of a cow to show that it is a more beautiful, smart and attractive animal in comparison to bhains; therefore, cows and goats are the favorite animals for collective sacrifices. Why does every welfare and Islamic organization give preference to them for collective sacrifices? One important reason for this is: These two are comparatively economical. In other words, these are cheaper than sheep and bhains. Since bhains are heavy and a major source of milk, their price is also high. Similarly, a sheep is costlier when compared with a goat.

"Therefore, 'cow' fits in our historical context, i.e. the Two Nation Theory [the theory that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together, which lead to the birth of Pakistan]... Call it a cow's good luck or a bhains' bad luck that the international production of cows is also high in Europe, America, Australia and the Scandinavian countries and more research is carried out on its production..."

Source: Fikr-e-Nau (Pakistan), Volume No. 1, September 2015.

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