By Harvinder Chandigarh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Harvinder Chandigarh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

An online petition demanding the government to prohibit a Muslim festival’s cruelty to animals has garnered thousands of supporters.

All religions across the world have holy days for feasting or fasting, festivals for many different purposes, all designed to bring followers closer to the deity or deities that they worship. Islam is no exception. But one holiday and feast in particular on the Muslim calendar clashes with many people in 2015, and has even become the target of a petition to ban the festival from being celebrated in India.

Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, happens every year, and is celebrated by Muslims the world over. Eid al-Adha is to commemorate and honor Ibrahim, who was willing to submit to Allah and sacrifice his own son. Ibrahim was interrupted by an angel, and told that his sacrifice had already been accepted. Ibrahim and his son Ismail were permitted to sacrifice an animal to Allah instead. To honor this, every year, many Muslims the world over celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice by sacrificing an animal to Allah. The meat of the sacrificed animal is then divided into thirds: One third to the family making the sacrifice, one third to friends and relatives, and one third to the poor.

In India, the two most populous religions in the country with a population nearly four times the size of the United States are Hinduism and Islam. There have been many clashes, political and violent, between these two faiths in India historically, and Eid al-Adha has been controversial in India for many years.

Many Muslims in India wishing to celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice choose to sacrifice different forms of livestock, including bulls, goats, and similar animals. Cows, of course, are sacred to Hindus, and cow slaughter has been largely illegal in India since 1976. This year, however, there are many more restrictions than in previous years in regards to slaughtering other types of animals, particularly bulls. Many regions across the country require a “Fit to Slaughter” certificate in order for a bull or other types of cattle to be slaughter. In many cases, this means that the animal must no longer be economical or seen as potentially useful as anything other than meat.

Currently, the online petition has gathered 2,353 of its hopeful 3,000 signatures, and most of those that had signed were not from India, but rather from across the globe. It is unlikely that, even if the petition does meet its signature goal, that the President and Prime Minister of India would ban a festival outright that nearly 172 million people in that country will be participating in.

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