Cow Inflation: Cost of Living or Showing Off

Posted on December 23, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

Last year we posted a rather disturbing video that might have been titled the ‘revenge of the cow’; if you did not see it, it may be worth watching again. Our bhains video this year is more docile but equaly though-provoking.

This is a Geo News report from Bakra Mandi, Walton, Lahore. Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. 1,000,000), Rs. 6 lakh (Rs. 600,000) for a cow and the bargaining goes on. “Babar” is a fine specimen for sure – wighing 35 mun, 4 year old, and drinking 10 kilo milk and eating 1o kilo of fodder a day it is being offered for Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. one million).

Is this a story about inflation? Or is it about showing off? And how does it connect with the spirit of sacrifice and sharing that the qurbani is supposed to be about? If the purpose of qurbani is sacrifice and helping the poor might it not be better to just take that money and distribute to the really needed who might find the case more helpful than a fine piece of steak? I understand the importance of ritual in any social and belief system. But the spirit of the ritual should count for more than its mechanics. No?

29 Comments on “Cow Inflation: Cost of Living or Showing Off”

  1. Rahim Khan says:
    December 23rd, 2007 7:36 am

    Participation of ordinary citizens in religious festivals has been declining over the years in proportion to the rising cost of living. The rich alone can now perform the costlier rituals like the Qurbani.
    The path to Paradise is getting narrower for the impoverished millions who can neither go to the Holy Land nor buy a sacrificial lamb. Only God knows how the great unwashed will be adjudged on the day of reckoning when the rich present themselves with their record of Umra

  2. Aqil Sajjad says:
    December 23rd, 2007 7:45 am

    Holy cow! (no pun intended)

  3. Adnan says:
    December 23rd, 2007 8:36 am

    AKD(Aqeel Karim Dadhy) in Karachi is famous for two things. One is Stock business other is buying finest and most most expensive janwars from Mandi and exhibit them before Eid. Visitors not only enjoy the exhibition but FREE food at lunch,tea break and dinner timings.

  4. Mudassar says:
    December 23rd, 2007 8:36 am

    Adil sb ,

    Had our nation been able to understand such things life wud have been far easier for the poor too……….we need to come up with rules for keeping a check on growing population, otherwise we will end up in a bigger mess….

  5. Rahim Khan says:
    December 23rd, 2007 8:44 am

    Apologize for posting comment not related to post, but this is worth a look

  6. December 23rd, 2007 9:13 am

    Relevant questions Adil. However the purpose of Qurbani is not just to help the poor by way of distribution of wealth and meat – part of that is achieved by Zakat.

    It is completely true that we’ve descended to a ritualistic low, however, arguably, the real purpose of Qurbani is sacrifice something that is very close to you for the will of God. Obviously it is not possible to establish a bond with an animal that was bought just a couple of days before eid. The animal should be reared and taken care of for sometime before it should be offered.

    Giving away money is not always the solution. Often the purpose behind the ritual is much more significant – something that a monetary act of charity cannot duplicate. Just as you cannot give away money as compensation for prayer, giving away money in lieu of Qurbani is not feasible and does not fulfil the purpose.

    Just my two cents.

  7. Mudassar says:
    December 23rd, 2007 11:20 am

    Rahim Khan,

    Having read the article and so far from experience I have reached the conclusion, that I am a poduct of a nation, which unfortunately has a history of
    Nawab Ibn Nawab ibn Nawab and Ghulam Ibn Ghulam Ibn Ghulam, and our governments cant cease to be slaves of west unless they free their own ghulams.

  8. RJ says:
    December 23rd, 2007 12:54 pm

    @Mudassar:Couldn’t agree more. Population is the biggest issue for our country right now, it is the root of all evil; without controlling it we are destined to be doomed, but no one dares to talk about it; forum like this should be used to educate people on issues like population and common sense.

  9. S.A.Mallal says:
    December 23rd, 2007 3:07 pm

    I fully agree with the remarks of Naveed Ejaz particulary when he says, ” —— the real purpose of Qurbani is sacrifice something that is very close to you for the will of God. Obviously it is not possible to establish a bond with an animal that was bought just a couple of days before eid. The animal should be reared and taken care of for sometime before it should be offered. ”
    I have a personal experience of one such Qurbani. When I was young my parents bought a beautiful Bakra for Qurbani well ahead of Eid ul Azha. It was a beautiful Bakra and had a plume of curly hairs on his fore head. It was very playful and became my pet for next 6 months or so. And then Eid ul Azha arrived and this Bakra, my pet, was slaughtered despite my vigorous protestations. Many decades have passed but I still remember how sad I was on that particulr Eid. Since that day I have been reluctant to perform this ritual.
    Now this incident does have some corelation with my not doing Qurbani but there are other reasons for it as well.
    I think Qurbani is ok as part of various rituals of Haj. But carrying out of this ritual by those who have not performed Haj does not make much sense to me. I would like to be educated in this regard.
    I also feel killing of so many top class animals in one day just to perform a ritual which is not a Farz is wasteful.
    The element of show of wealth in performing this ritual is also very much there. What really bugs me is the multipile Qurbani and Qurbani on behalf of their dead ones done by some (newly and/or filthy) rich people. Now does that make any sense??

  10. readinglord says:
    December 23rd, 2007 8:07 pm

    Rahim Khan

    It is perhaps the silliest way of sacrifice adopted as a ritual by Muslims. Ibrahim, the prophet, had tried to slaughter his son, Ismail, in response to a dream seen by him but Allah saved him and substituted the boy with a sheep as the story in Islamic literature goes. But the poor sheep had no god to save her and so she and her offspring are being slaughtered and eaten to this day by humans and that to with so much relish and show of religiosity.

    Why apologize dear Rahim; the article you quoted is quite related both to Ismail’s and our times. The time then was as lawless and the god as choosy as today, rather worse. A man who preaches moderation and enlightenment but makes a show of his religiosity as a political stunt is treating us like ‘bakras’ today. Unfortunately the ‘bakras’ have neither any rights nor any god to protect them like the god of Ismaeel which saved him. So prayers of us ‘bakras’ or those of our mothers are all vain and a ritual in futility. Of coarse we can be sure of heaven which lies under the feet of our mothers in any way.

  11. Mudassar says:
    December 23rd, 2007 8:12 pm

    Dear RJ,

    I belive it is high time that our generation realize this thing that common sense is the biggest gift of God to all mankind and we need to make use of it and someone has to dare to talk about it loud and clear and now, and forum like these can help but the main need is to create awareness amongst masses about the value of human life, we need to come up with a two child policy enforced by the government, so that we can sustain as a nation, imagine the Atta crises at the moment,,as the population grows demand for Atta increases, and the cultivatable land decreases, it is going to be a total chaos in the coming years …..please I request all of you on this forum try to create awareness amongst those you can.

  12. Watan Aziz says:
    December 23rd, 2007 8:58 pm

    Pardon me.

    Frankly, I am disappointed both at the current post (including the previous post and the responses) as well as the responses.

    Is this what the best and the brightest know about our faith?

    No wonder, those guys who have memorized six ayats and three hadees are cleaning the clock! No wonder those primary pass and middle fail fellows have been running circles around us.

    Are we answering ignorance with more ignorance?

    I do not mean to patronize, but come on folks, you can do better.

  13. MQ says:
    December 23rd, 2007 10:16 pm

    “Obviously it is not possible to establish a bond with an animal that was bought just a couple of days before eid. The animal should be reared and taken care of for sometime before it should be offered[slaughtered]”

    This sounds a little problematic. For example, there are two million households in Karachi (population 12-14 million) and half of them decide to start keeping a goat, sheep or a cow in their house a couple of months before Eid “to establish a bond with the animal”. Now imagine one million bakras bleating in the city for two months. Wouldn’t the citizens of Karachi go nuts? And what if every one becomes a “good Muslim” and starts adopting cattle at home?

  14. sidhas says:
    December 23rd, 2007 11:21 pm

    1. The prices of sacrifical animals makes mockery of people who can not afford it.

    2. If you think about it, Qurbani has other hidden costs, purchasing is just the start. After purchase, you have to arrange to transport it to your home. Then you have to take care of these animals (feeding/cleaning/providing safety or paying for safety of your animal). On the last day which is Eid. You have to either find and pay the butcher (Qasae) or
    you do it yourself which is a whole day activity (slaughtering, skinning, cutting, cleaning, and at the end distributing the meat).

    So if you add all associated cost and you have debt in your hand.

    Does someone remembers Dilawar Figars’ Nazm on Qurbani ke janwar aur qeemtain.

    Please share.

  15. Adnan says:
    December 24th, 2007 1:24 am

    half of them decide to start keeping a goat, sheep or a cow in their house a couple of months before Eid

  16. Lahori says:
    December 24th, 2007 1:41 am

    Unfortunately nearly everyone has missed the real question in this post. Inflation or showing off?
    This video and the type of bragging rights that people are trying to buy has got nothing to do with religion or eid or qurbani, this is pure showing off and rubbing ones wealth on others. Last many days all I have heard from anyone this Eid is about what they paid for their animal. SOme because they are shocked by the price and others because they want to brag about it.
    I think killing these poor animals is now murder. If people really cared for the spirit of sacrifice, they woud sacrifice their wealth in ways that actually and really help the poor. Qurbani and zakat, that is the real spirit. I am sure that God is not interested in how many killos of milk and fodder my ‘janwar’ ate. The question is did our sacrifice make teh world and His people better. And this rituals are now going against the purpose of qurbani but everyone keeps doing it because “log kiya kahain gay!”

  17. December 24th, 2007 3:20 am


    Its not necessary for every family to keep a goat in their home. Domesticated animals generally move in herds so its best to keep them together. Its very possible to keep a goat in a local commune with other animals, while tending to the needs of the animal ourselves. For all practical purposes, that would solve both nuisance and spirit problems.

  18. Morocco Property says:
    December 24th, 2007 3:38 am

    I think its not good by sacrificing this way because it includes showing off which totally move away from your noble cause of qurbani

  19. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    December 24th, 2007 5:56 am

    Rahim Khan,

    You kept on using the term “Qurbani” its an Indian
    equivlent of Balidan, human sacrifice, you keep on
    purposely mixing up ” Zebih” to something nothing to
    do with Abrahimic act. And then the story brought/forward
    by “story tellers” of street intellectuals, Bazaari Dugdugi Baz.

    If you can read once again this matter in Quran then, please
    comback alongwith your IBs, we can discuss together. ! ok ?

  20. Morocco Property says:
    December 24th, 2007 6:32 am

    Now due high prices of cows, sheeps and other animals the middle class of the country does not able to complete their religious order.

  21. Babur MAHMOOD says:
    December 24th, 2007 11:15 am

    May Allah protect this nation. We need EDUCATION, EDUCATION and EDUCATION. Only with education, we will understand Quran, Islam and the world around us. We seem to be sleep walking towards an abyss.

    When will Pakistanis wake up

  22. S.A.Mallal says:
    December 24th, 2007 3:54 pm

    Ref. comments by MQ.
    An assumption seems to have been made that half the household of Karachi numbering one million do Qurbani which means one million heads of Bakras roll on the street of Karachi on Eidul Azah. Please believe me one million is a very large number when applied to Bakras. A safe assumption will be to say 10 to 15% household in Karachi do the Qurbani. And also keep in mind that probobaly half the house hold of Karachi find it difficult to make both ends meet let alone doing Qurbani. Yes they may be doing Qurbani by keeping mum about this injustice.
    The other point I want to make is this: If we decide to do THE QURBANI IN THE REAL SENSE OF THE WORD WHEREBY A BOND IS ESTABLISHED WITH THE ANIMAL BEFORE SLAUGHTERING IT then we may find it too demanding emotionally and not be able to repeat it every year. We may do it once in a decade or once in a life time. That will be fair enough. At least it will be a qurbani more close to the spirit of Qurbani (sacrifice) than it is now. It is this sort of Qurbani which is more likely to inculcate in us a spirit of qurbani which seems to be the object of the whole exercsize.
    I have already narrated my experience of feeling the impact of real Qurbani when my pet Bakra was slaughtered on Eidul Azaha which was one of the reason I became reluctant to indulge in this activity thereafter. I must admit sheepishly (pun is intended) though that this year I let my wife do the Qurbani as she aleays desired. She went and paid Rs 5000/ to Edhi Home to slaughter a Bakra on her behalf (and probobaly mine as well) which they did most promptly and without any inconvenience to us. Afterwards she went and picked up 5 kg meat as part of her share of Qurbani a major chunk of which she gave to the poors who came to our door steps for it.
    The question is did we make any sacrifice in this operation. No! I don’t think so. Throwing away Rs 5,000/ like this was no big deal for us.

  23. Akif Nizam says:
    December 24th, 2007 5:19 pm

    I think the bigger assumption is that Eidul Azha has anything to do with the spirit of Qurbani/sacrifice. If it were so, then one would be required to give away the meat to the poor only. However, there is no such requirement, only tradition that one-third be given away to charity but you don’t have to. I think that it’s a mere commemoration of the Abrahamic act and that’s all. That does not mean that you have to sacrifice something near and dear to your heart.

  24. MQ says:
    December 24th, 2007 9:05 pm

    Please correct me if I am wrong. As far as I know, there is no mention in the Quran of a bakra or any other animal being substituted for the child. It is only in the Bible that a ram is mentioned.

  25. Ahsan says:
    December 25th, 2007 3:45 am

    “Please correct me if I am wrong. As far as I know, there is no mention in the Quran of a bakra or any other animal being substituted for the child. It is only in the Bible that a ram is mentioned.”

    Dear MQ,

    With your above comment, you have started a new debate. Is the NAME of the beloved child that Prophet Abraham intended to sacrifice is mentioned in the Holy Book? According to Old Testament it is Issac.

  26. Adnan says:
    December 25th, 2007 4:37 am

    As far as I know, there is no mention in the Quran of a bakra or any other animal being substituted for the child.


    -And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”
    -And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead,
    -You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good.
    -Indeed, this was the clear trial.

    -And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice,

    -And We left for him [favorable mention] among later generations:

  27. MQ says:
    December 25th, 2007 5:36 am

    Yes, I am aware of the substitution of Ismail with Ishaq (Issac). But I didn’t want to get into that controversy. That is why I used the word child. Frankly, I don’t want to start a religious debate here. I just wanted to know where did the tradition of sacrificing a bakra or an animal come from. To my knowledge, It is not in the Quran.

    Adnan Sahib: I am glad you quoted the whole verse. But I don’t see the mention of a goat or any animal in it.

  28. Humair says:
    December 25th, 2007 10:26 am

    Bhai log, ab maaf karo. Why turn everything into a religious debate. Does it matter which son or why, how said in Quran or not. Even if it is teh son you want to be mentioned and even if it is in Quran as clearly as you want, the real thing is the spirit. If a true spirit of sacrifice is there then it matters not at all, and if it is not there then what is the use anyhow. Look at this video, this just about commerce and snobbery, nothing to do with sacrifice.

    Isnt there a line in Bulleh Shah’s “jay rab milda naandian dhondia” about this. Ritual is ritual and no more. It works only when matched with teh spirit. I think that was the intent of the writeup here and everyone has gone off on detail missing the big question totally.

  29. Lahori says:
    December 25th, 2007 12:45 pm

    There is an entire ‘bakra economy’ that operates in Pakistan around Eid. Whatever the religious issue, the fact is that just like Christmas is important to the US economy, there is an Eid economy in Pakistan. Without this consider all the people who earn from rearinga dn selling teh animals, slaughtering them, etc.

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