Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Day of Arafat

                      Snow White as a little girlie, Spring 2010

I've just come down from the roof.  It was a beautiful sunrise today.  It's so quiet in Egypt in the early mornings before tuk-tuk music and street vendors calling out their wares. 

I had to say "goodbye" to our lovely goat.  After we prayed fajr together, my husband had let me know that she was leaving us today.  Seeing her one last time was to remember the time we've had and to cherish Allah's creation.  She is a beautiful creation!  Yet, only Allah remains; the rest of us perish.  The Pyramids rising up behind her pen reminds us of this as well.  Even if we remember the powerful pharoahs who ordered momuments built, the pharoahs themselves have all left this world.

He is now changing into the clothes he wears to slaughter.

Everyone of us is fasting.  He is.  I am and I'm very happy I am, alhumdulillah.  What makes me even happier is that my 6-year-old wanted me to wake him for suhour.  I hesitated.  He's little!  Yet, I want to respect and value his journey of faith.  I woke him and rousted him from his warm bed to drink some milk and have some oatmeal with dates and almonds.  He did a great job of sitting and eating it all down.  He will not eat or drink again inshahallah until magrib around 5:00.  We all brushed teeth and he fell back to sleep.

I can hear some noise upstairs and I know my husband is preparing for the task. 

I'm happy that I spoke with my mom last night.  She could hear some of what's happening at work and comiserate.  She could also tell me how she collected children's coats from neighborhood garage sales and dropped them off at a school with a lot of impoverished families.  She didn't want them to be cold.  God bless her.  I think it's a great idea which others could follow.  It made me really proud of my mom.

One of the things I'm also happy about is that I deleted an old google account.  It was "me" before I was out of a bad marriage and a really sad situation.  The many emails, attachments, chats and documents were reminders of that life before.  It was a part of me which needing a kind of slaughtering.  It's gone.  I'm less fractured and more whole in my endeavor to be a part of this new day---

The Day of Arafat.

May Allah accept all of our efforts this day.


Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Readers,

Sometimes, friends or friends of friends get into conversations which relate to the blog. We carry on these conversations and then I want to include them here.

This is the conversation between Ana and myself:

Ana: So it's Mecca time and everyone walked around the Kabba 7 times yesterday? The day of sacrifice is this Monday?

Yosra: Today (Saturday) was the last day of Hajj. It's called The Day of Arafat and many Muslims (not just those in Mecca) were fasting today. I was and so was my husband and (alhumdulillah) even my 6-year-old (for the first time he made it allll the way----yaaah for him!) Actually, the Tawaf (7x around) is done a few time

The sacrificing started today at our house and continues the next three days all over the world for Eid. I blogged about it.

Ana: I will read your blog!

Yosra said...

Ana: You are a good writer and I can feel you transfer your feelings to words way over here on this continent. Oh, tho, the picture of the goat, my heart breaks a little. Just as you were upset that next Thursday I am taking a dead rooster that they are killing because no one wants it and it's pecking people, you wanted to make sure it's life was taken in a prayerful way. I totally get that. But to slaughter something that trusts you? Who comes up to you and you feed it by hand? I don't know. I think we are on two sides of the same coin here and both struggling, in our own ways that things are slaughtered so that we may eat or things die so that others may live. So, your post resonates with me on so many levels. We are grappling with his on so many levels. I could EASILY be a vegetarian, but I know it is too simplistic to say that anything without a central nervous system has "no feelings" or "any will to live" or any "knowing" that it even IS. I disagree with that a lot. Anyway, I'm going off track here...

Yosra said...

Ana: The question I have for you, and for everyone who has sacrifice in their religion is WHY does a god need a blood sacrifice? What does a god do with that? how does it benefit this god? For some people, sacrifice has even GREATER meaning than killing for food. But for me, sacrifice makes no sense. I was just talking to my husband a few hours ago, too, about how communion never made any sense to me. Why were we eating Christ's body and drinking his blood? Why would he WANT us to, even in "rememberance"? Isn't there other things we can do to remember that don't involve the shedding of blood? Even when people sacrifice things like bread or milk or flowers or whatever, that is absolutely alien to me. And I don't understand the significance of it.

I hope you are not angry with me as you read this. I am not writing this to you in anger, AT ALL, but true bewilderment, I know you have the mind to be able to withstand my questioning, with love. "Sacrifice" in the sense of something being killed or thrown into a fire makes no sense to me.

I read that people who make the pilgrimage to Mecca can buy a ticket to have an animal slaughtered for them, in their name, and then the meat would go to those who need it but that struck me as odd, because aren't you supposed to be sacrificing in the name of the god and not on behalf of yoruself? Do you see where I am going with this? I hope so, because i sure don't :) I am completely confused by it all when it comes to this sacrifice thing.

I think, how could I kill something I had become friends wiht? But then maybe that is better to be killed by someone you trust. I don't know. Would I rather be killed by someone I don't know and have my last moments with them or would I rather be killed by a stranger? Both seem like a nightmare to me. I know it's easy to say we all die and we all will be food. That is what I said about the rooster, and although those are comforting words simply because they are true...there IS still something in me which winces when it is *I* who chooses when this being shall die and for what cause. Like who am I to say this? Who I am to say anything? But that is paralyzing. Maybe you can help me shed some light on this. Next Thursday I will be confronted with my dead rooster. All these thoughts are rambling through my head. Did you watch the slaughter? Did you then eat her? I guess I hope you did, because, for some reason, I think that is important. To be the one that eats what you kill. Therefore we take into our bodies that energy of that animal's life AND death. I say this after eating pork chops that were on sale at Cub Foods. Pigs that probably had a rough life and a rough end. But there it is. And I ate it. Better to eat it than waste it they say. But hen maybe this comes down to "what is waste"? To people sacrificing, it is not a waste. It's just a different point of view on what one thinks is valuable. However, since this is getting too BASIC CORE question is not why WE would sacrifice. I think I know the answer to that. But why would any god require, want or need us to sacrifice to it/him/her? THAT is what bothers me. What kind of a god is that? I don't understand that.

Btw, congrats on deleting old internet stuff from old lives! Yes, cleaning one's "house" in spirit, mind, thought. I can get 100% behind, I am always trying to get better at that too.

Yosra said...

Yosra: Asalamu Alaykom Ana, I have absolutely no problem with you questioning these issues because it comes from that bewilderment place---which we all are in actually. I'm going to answer the best I can. I'm not into debate much these days but conversation I can handle :)

My father is an ecologist---he was one of those tree huggers before it became a national movement to love the environment. I often called upon his expertise in ethical matters because I trusted his judgment; I knew his thoughts emanated from a very reverent place. I asked him about the dog who was old, blind and limping along: was it wrong to have her "put to sleep"? Would be be better to let her live out her years as is? He explained how when human jump into the role of caregiver to animals that we become part of a long chain of events which drastically change the course of that animal's life. In the wild, he reasoned, an old, blind animal would be eaten by a predator. However, as a protector, we keep the animal alive far longer than would naturally occur. We intervene in their lives in the beginning which means an eventual intervention at the end. Yes, he advocated euthanizing the animal.

Now, of course we didn't eat the animal. So, some animals are raised for their meat. That is their purpose by our choice. We acknowledge that's what we're doing. I gave up red meat for a year so I could go vegetarian if need be. Honestly, it's psychological with me because I feel so much and I imagine so much.

Yosra said...

Yosra: However, I do make a choice to eat meat now. Our mutual friend and I have had many conversations about this dilema. Basically, if we are going to eat meat then we have to honor the animal and respect that a life was sacrificed so that we could live. We can't pretend that the drumsticks floated down to the planet on a styrofoam tray packed in plastic. So someone died that we may live. That was going to happen somewhere and somehow---a meat packing plant for instance.

The Islamic slaughter is very, very humane. If it was not, I could not be married to my husband (who does the slaughtering in our house). The animal is treated well and not with any anger. It is not allowed to see any other animal being killed. If it starts to feel fear, the process is stopped and the animal is calmed. The knife is brought down quickly with "In the name of God" said in Arabic. I've seen chickens slaughtered.

I've seen a sheep slaughtered. I have pictures of it on my FB. You don't see everything but you see the series of events and I describe it. I needed to witness it for me. I never thought I could but I knew that I had to ---in order to be a person of integrity. I think you feel this about the rooster as well.

I did not watch Snow White get slaughtered. I have not eaten her meat. I feel my limits. I did, however, smell the meat cooking downstairs all day. I did sit at the table while other people ate. Not all the meat is going to this family. The meat is shared with others. That sharing of the sacrifice is important. We give of our blessings to those who don't have. The pilgrims in Mecca are not allowed to do any any killing during their Hajj up until that slaughter time. the slaughter is part of the ritual. They have the chance to do it themselves or have someone else do it. Slaughtering needs a very strong person; my husband is the strongest man in the house (mashahallah) and he is the only man strong enough to slaughter the sheep and goats. Not every person making Hajj is strong either. So they have someone else slaughter for them don't think that the person slaughtering says, "In Ahmed's name." It is still "In God's name." The meat is then distributed to the poor.

Yosra said...

Yosra: Slaughtering in a ritualistic way is, in my opinion, a deeper understanding of life and death. Animals and plants die in order that we may live. We take a moment out of our busy lives to acknowledge that sacrifice. God gives us so much and we take. We don't take thoughtlessly but from a place of honoring. When we have what we need, we then should give to those less fortunate. That is the Eid slaughter.

Long answer! I do want to address something you said about the communion. I used to take communion. I don't now. It doesn't make sense to me. I'm not putting it down for anyone else because if it has meaning for them and helps them thr...ough life it's none of my business. For me, I don't eat people. I don't pretend to eat people. I don't drink blood. Muslims can not have any blood whatsoever in their cooking. I honor Jesus (peace be upon him) without pretending to eat him or drink his blood. I honor his teachings and his wisdom. I honor him as a gift from God. I honor him as a person; a prophet. Many people stop their relationship with God because things in the church didn't make sense to them. It pains them; confuses them. It's sad for me that they didn't explore other ways of being close to God. The church is not the end all be all. There are many ways to find that one path. Ana, I hope that the connection you feel to nature, to living things, to people, to love and light brings you closer to Peace.

Lastly, I would like to put what we have written in the comments section of my blog. Would that be alright with you?

Yosra said...

Ana: yes :) and thank you for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully.

Anonymous said...

Asalamu Alaikum Yosra, I love your blog thank you for taking the time to share yourself with us. I noticed a very small typo on the side of your blog in the last part of the meaning of surah Al-inshirah.It should be and turn to your lord with all of your love, just the one word (to)missing.Eid Mubarak:)

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Anon,

Thanks for the kind proof reading. Not sure if I put it up that way originally? Seems like I had it right at one point but alhumdulillah it's right now thanks to you :)