COW slaughtering and beef eating have once again sparked a heated debate in India. In this debate, Muslims have no special concern and they need not take it as a religious responsibility to fight for the right to slaughter cows. The question raised by an Indian and the answer given by the permanent Research and Fatwa Committee consisting of eminent scholars of Islam from Saudi Arabia, a few years ago, are worth recalling and highly relevant in this context.
The question was this: “Is it permissible for us to slaughter cows in India although we may be beaten robbed and killed if we do so ?” The following was the answer from the fatwa committee. “If slaughtering cows or selling their meat in that country exposes a Muslim to danger and severe punishment it is not permissible to slaughter them or sell their meat. In this case, to avoid harm Allah says “and do not throw yourself into destruction. And do good; indeed, Allah loves those who do good.” (Quran 2:195 ).The fatwa was signed by six well known scholars including Shiek Ibn Baz (Fatwa committee chairman) Sheik Abdil Aziz Afifi ( Deputy Chairman) , the current chairman of supreme council of Islamic Scholars, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Alu Sheikh etc. A reasonable percent of Muslims all over the world do not eat meat at all. Muslims should realize the nasty tricks and traps behind those who highlight beef issue as a Muslim issue.
The extremists are aiming at fueling communal tensions and polarization among Indians. Muslims should come forward to declare that beef is not a Muslim issue at all, rather it is an issue of common man who takes beef as a part of their food habits. Economists and meat traders have already convinced the issue of heavy economic setback India is going to face in the context of banning slaughtering all over the country. Banning of slaughtering of cows in 21 different states of India has already been enforced. In addition to it, the court has also issued order against slaughtering and selling livestock. Now the prohibition is being enforced into the rest of the Indian states including Kerala.
As pointed out and presented to even to the prime minister by experts it is going to have tremendous impact on Indian economy. Moreover, it is an unjustifiable assault on the social, commercial and cultural freedom of the people of India. All the protests and campaigns against must be to expose these realities behind the sensationalized beef conspiracy. Once the ban is complete, the first community that would come forward against it will be Hindus. Contrary to the propaganda and claims by the extremists, as majority of Hindus are meat eaters except a less than 10 percent Brahmins. Yadava, Eazhava and Dalit sections of Hindu society depend on beef as a part of their food habits. Apart from that, India is one of the biggest exporters of beef and 75 percent of beef traders are Hindus. Eating beef is not at all a religious necessity or faith related food of Mulsims. It is only a false propaganda that beef is unavoidable to protect Shariah. Muslims also have the right as every Indians to eat beef, that’s all. In the past, under the leadership of Vinobha Bhave a group of people had started raising a slogan “Ban cow slaughter to protect Hinduthwa” to sensationalize the issue.
Intelligent and peace loving Muslims scholars in that period responded to it with the statement ”you ban it or not, it is not a Muslim issue at all”. It resulted in effectively mitigating communal tensions and eliminating violence in the country. When those who work to ensure social justice and communal harmony and to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens through democratic means and tools , peace loving people should support them wholeheartedly by keeping away from making it a community specific issue. The writer is a renowned Islamic Scholar and Chief Imam of Grand Muhiyuddeen Mosque of Calicut and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.