To Muslims here in America, it is a ritual, the “festival of sacrifice.” To Eddie Rowe it was a way to make some extra cash at his hog farm. To the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, it constituted an illegal and unsanitary slaughter facility.
The Muslim families that live in “Research Triangle,” from Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill have an annual tradition. After morning services of the first day of Eid al-Adha-“the festival of sacrifice”–families would meet up at local hog farm to slit the throats of goats and lambs.
To research scientist Ahmed Mamai, 40, a native Moroccan, performing the sacrifice on Rowe’s property allows him to maintain an ancient tradition that would be difficult to square with his lifestyle in suburban Raleigh. If he slaughtered an animal in his backyard, Mamai said with a smile, “My wife would sacrifice me.”
The farmer, Eddie Rowe, had sold 250 of the animals at up to $160 a piece. After Rowe was served with a restraining order from the N.C. officials he attempted to return some of the money already paid while others chose to take their animal “elsewhere” to perform the ritual throat cutting.
That was of little help to Muhammad Mannan, 56, from Bangladesh, who holds a doctorate in statistics and lives in Apex, just west of Raleigh. “But Eddie, where can we go?” Mannan asked the hog farmer Wednesday.
“Well,” Rowe said, “y’all can take ’em home and kill ’em. That’s what we were told.”
“I do have a big backyard,” Mannan said, as if thinking aloud.
For some reason goats and lambs do not fall under the jurisdiction of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. If the animals had been puppies or kittens the reaction might have been different than the “no reaction at all.”
Animal sacrifice on Eid al-Adha is not a requirement in Islam, but it is suggested by the Prophet Muhammad. A feast with family and friends typically follows the slaughter, and some of the meat is given to the poor.
In the end no one was charged with a crime. Some of the families had their money returned while others drove away with a live lamb or goat in the trunk of their car.
It will be another year before the next Eid al-Adha rolls around. Ample time to find a new way to legally sacrifice (slaughter) lively lambs and goats to Allah.