By Hameed Abdul Karim –
What instantly came to my mind when I read Shenali Waduge’s article on animal sacrifice was a scene from an old movie where we had the fascist Adolf Hitler furiously slamming his desk with his fist, his face as hideous contorted as you can imagine, saying ‘It is NOT right’. Those words happened to be the title of Waduge’s latest anti Islam tirade in the Daily News (Thursday 17 October, 2013). Not surprisingly the article was timed to coincide with the Muslim festival of Eid ul Adha when Muslims sacrifice cattle or goats to commemorate the selfless act of obedience of the Prophet Abraham (peace be on him) who was asked by God almighty to sacrifice his son Ishmael as a sign of his obedience to Him. When Abraham was about to carry out the command, God almighty, in His mercy, placed a sheep in Ishmael’s place and thus Ishmael was spared and the practice of animal sacrifice to remember the messenger Abraham’s (pboh) obedience began on that day and continues to this day. This practice shall continue till the end of time, God willing….or in sha-Allah, as we Muslims say. The flesh of the animal sacrificed or slaughtered is distributed among the poor and kith and kin, but mostly among the poor.
Now I know animal sacrifice and slaughter is disliked by some among us and I have no problems with that. I can live with it. Problems crop up when people want to enforce their wish and will on others who toe a different line. This is unbridled fascism and in a multicultural society like Sri Lanka the authorities must ensure that nobody encroaches on each other’s faith and beliefs.
I disagree with Ms. Shenali Waduge, as will all sensible people from all communities in Sri Lanka, when she makes a spurious and xenophobic claim that ‘the so called One Sri Lanka will remain a pipe dream if we suppress the fundamental values of the original indigenous culture….’ She has forgotten that Muslims are also a part of the indigenous culture. We had been here for centuries as history records as I, along other writers, had pointed out in our previous discussions on the halaal issue. There is no point in going over those matters again. Is it Ms. Waduge’s wish that we take a giant leap backwards and go back centuries where we can find that nobody other that the indigenous people the Vedhas lived? If I remember right it was the Buddha who said ‘nothing is permanent’.
Ananda the Muslim
Thomas W. Arnold records in his book ‘The Preaching of Islam’ of a certain Ananda, a grandson of Qubilay Khan from the fearsome Mongol tribe converting to Islam and become a zealous Muslim in circa 1323. He had converted a great many persons in Tantgut and won over a large number of troops under his command to Islam. He was the viceroy of Kan-su province. He was summoned to court and efforts were made to induce him to renounce his new found faith and to conform to Buddhism. When he refused to abandon Islam he was flung into prison. But shortly afterwards he was released for fear of an insurrection among the inhabitants of Tangut who were very much attached to him. This is just one anecdote among thousands of the peaceful spread of Islam all around the world.
Buddha and beef eating
And indeed there is evidence that the Buddha ate meat as did his disciples. At one point it is reported that he had advised his followers “Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you” Mind you this advise was only for monks and not the lay Buddhist.
Then there is the case of Uppalavanna, a female disciple, who prepared beef for the Buddha after a gang of thieves who had slaughtered a cow had left some of the flesh for her seeing how serene she was whilst meditating. The next morning she flew over 200 kilometres ‘as the crow flies’ to Rajgaha where the Buddha was staying to offer him the beef meal.
I have quoted the above two incidents from the newsletter Ajah Brahmavamsa published by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia to show your readers that the Buddha did eat meat as did his disciples. If the Buddha allowed meat eating then obviously he must have known that slaughter of animals for food was prevalent during his time as it is at present. So when Ms. Waduge’s urging of Buddhists not to sacrifice the first precept I wonder if she knows what she is saying considering that besides cattle other animals are killed and Buddhists do eat these meats. Also take the case of fish which probably go through the most agonising of deaths of all ‘sentient’ beings being asphyxiated sometime for almost an hour. Fish is found in buth (rice) packets in the delicious ‘Sinhala Kamay’ parcels. Going by these facts I am convinced without a shred of doubt that Ms. Waduge’s anti slaughter/sacrifce campaign is in line with her anti Muslims campaign. Bear in mind Shenali Waduge’s latest tirade also coincides with the BBS march from Kandy to Colombo against ‘halaal’ products.
Of course it is horrible to see videos of animal slaughter or even fish suffering when removed from their ‘homes’. There is this practice of animal sacrifice in Thailand, which follows Thervada Buddhism like does Sri Lanka, and I am sure these videos would be equally repugnant to some of us. I saw one from Thailand and another from India and I promised myself never to look at another one again.
I find Shenali Waduge citing Putin’s order that animals should not be allowed to be sacrificed in Moscow rather out of place and a desperate bid to quote somebody of some standing to support her xenophobia. It’s not like as if Putin was saying don’t slaughter/sacrifice animals anywhere in Russia. Russians are big eaters of animal of all varieties including cattle. If he were to stop meat eating he would be out of job before he could say ‘Ivan Ivanovich’!
DI leather products, liquor and casinos
DI leather products have been in business since 1938 and are among the few corporations that is making money. Now this wouldn’t happen if cattle were not slaughtered for food. This company supplies the army, police, air force and the navy with fine quality leather footwear and jackets. If cattle slaughter were to stop then this profitable company which also boasts of large export earnings would have to put up its shutters or become hypocritical and begin importing cattle skins from India. By the way India, where the cow is regarded as a sacred animal, is the largest exporter of beef, beating Australia, New Zealand and Argentina in the process. It is also the largest exporter of cattle hide and a large exporter of leather products. And yet you won’t find Indians complaining about this commercial enterprise.
One of the biggest problems confronting Sri Lankans is the proliferation of casinos. Add to this the scourge of liquor consumption and we certainly have a problem on our hands. But it seems Ms. Waduge is not troubled by these anti-social elements which are corrupting our society. All this goes to prove that she is gunning for Islam and the Muslims. A little sobriety on her part will do her no harm, I am sure.