Groups Offer Web Festival Sacrifice

Reuters, Dec 19, 2006

Religious organizations in Pakistan are using the Internet to help Muslims in Western countries buy and sacrifice animals for an annual festival.

Eid al-Adha marks the end of the Haj pilgrimage each year to Mecca and is known as the feast of sacrifice. Muslims who can afford it buy and slaughter animals and distribute the meat among the poor and relatives.

Muslims in Western countries unable to perform the ritual can now buy an animal over the Internet, and even watch it being slaughtered, before its meat is given away.

“It is not easy for them to buy animals and carry out the sacrifice according to our religious rites in those countries,” said Sohail Ahmed, an official at the Al-Khidmat trust Islamic welfare organization.

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In Pakistan, thousands of cows, goats, sheep and camels are sacrificed to celebrate Eid al-Adha, which this years falls in the first week of January.

Traditionally, sacrificial animal markets are set up in big cities and towns where traders bring animals in from villages.

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“It is a matter of convenience. People nowadays don’t have time to go to the markets and haggle over prices,” Sheikh said.

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The Alamgir welfare trust also offers the option of viewing the sacrifice on its Web site.

“We have a dedicated IP address and people can watch the sacrifice no matter which country they are in,” said organization official Shakeel Dehalvi.

Animals are available on the Web sites for between $100 (6,000 rupees) for a goat and $450 (27,000 rupees) for a cow.

Some Islamic groups shun the Internet, however, as Web purchases involve paying interest, which is prohibited under Islamic law.

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