Sacrifice guidelines set out for UK’s Muslim community

Demand for sheep meat in the UK is set to see a significant increase in sales during the end of September when the Islamic festival of Eid-al-Adha falls.

The celebration also signifies the end of the Hajj pilgrimage – where members of the Islamic faith gather at Mecca – and is when the lamb sacrifice is carried out as part of the festival.

However, there is concern that not all of the lamb sacrifices, known as Qurbani, are carried out in the correct manner here in the UK according to shari’ah law.

“For Muslims, Qurbani is the most important sacrifice of the whole year,” said Moulana Yunus Dudhwala from the Halal Monitoring Committee.

“Abattoirs and butchers must be vigilant and responsible in ensuring all the laws pertaining to Qurbani are adhered to, so that this important spiritual day is not ruined by intentional or unintentional wrongdoing.”

According to convention, Qurbani sacrifices can only be performed after Eid-al-Adha prayers. If not, it is considered unlawful and therefore cannot be considered as Qurbani. The time of the prayer begins 10 minutes after sunrise, with the sacrifice only being carried out after the prayer has been completed.

Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, of the Halal Authority Board, commented: “The Halal Authority Board is pleased to remind our fellow Muslims, especially abattoirs and butchers, to perform the sacred Qurbani after the Eid prayers and not before. Those persons performing Qurbani before Eid-al-Adha are doing so against the Sunnah and thus against shari’ah.”

To ensure that the procedure is being executed in the correct way in UK slaughterhouses, the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has produced a set of guidelines for local authorities and consumers.

Saqib Mohammed, chief executive officer of Halal Food Authority (HFA), supports the guidelines. “HFA encourages Muslims to fully abide by the Qurbani guidelines that are compiled by the AHDB in line with Islamic jurisprudence. We fully support Qurbani operations that are run under independent supervision and certification of appropriately qualified Islamic institutions, with the motive of achieving transparency, traceability and excellence.”

Meanwhile, halal industry adviser Mohammed Saleem urged Muslims in the UK to be aware of the correct procedures. “The Muslim community must be more vigilant, as research has shown that over one in three Qurbani being performed in the UK are fraudulently done. This is a crime against Islam and the perpetrators of this crime should be prosecuted by the enforcement agency, though I doubt this will happen.”

The campaign being run by AHDB is printed in both English and Urdu (the national language of Pakistan).

According to the Yorkshire Asian Business Association (YABA), more than 80% of the Qurbani being performed in the UK by the Muslim community is executed on their behalf, with the money for the sacrifice being sent overseas, equating to over £1m-£2m of lost revenue to the British farmer in one week of sales.

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