Sri Lankan Muslim clerics are encouraging worshippers to refrain from offering animal sacrifices a day after Eid Al Adha celebrations which coincides with the Buddhists religious Poya day.
The request to Muslim congregations during prayers has been made to avoid hurting the sentiments of the majority Buddhists in the country, said a Muslim cleric, Moulavi M. Hannan.
“We have to respect the religion and culture of the people we live with,” he said during a congregational prayer.
Around 1.5 million Muslims are celebrating the Eid Al Adha festival on Wednesday in the island nation where Buddhists make up a 70 per cent of population.
Muslim leaders have been urging the faithful to refrain from offering the ritual Udhiya sacrifice on Thursday.
Buddhists consider every full moon day of the month a sacred Poya Day, which falls a day after the Eid Celebrations this month.
“Co-existence is mandatory in Islam whereas sacrifice of animals is only optional, so there’s no harm in avoiding Udhiya until an alternative is found if it hurts sentiments of our majority brothers,” said a Sri Lankan scholar from the Madinah University Sheikh Mueen Abbas.
Animal sacrifices in Sri Lanka have become controversial since the recent past with Buddhist groups calling for its ban as killing of any life form is against Buddhist scriptures.
“We also need to seek alternative slaughtering methods. One way of overcoming problems would be to implement sophisticated slaughtering houses in different parts of the country where the slaughtering and distribution is undertaken during Eid celebrations, and individuals don’t need to engage in religious sacrifices themselves. This is an area of funding in this country that Muslim NGO’s should look into,” said Abbas.
In August this year a Sri Lankan Appeal court banned the slaughter of animals in religious places of worship after Buddhist monks filed a petition seeking a ban on animal slaughter at a Hindu temple in the north western town of Chilaw.
The annual ritual mass sacrifices of animals in the Munneswaram Temple have continued to draw protests from Buddhist groups and animal rights activists over the past few years.
During this year’s celebrations in September, the temple obtained a court order preventing protests from taking place near the temple premises.
Last year after monks and a government minister vehemently protested near the temple against the animal sacrifice, President Mahinda Rajapaksa intervened and requested the temple high priest to stop the animal sacrifice. (Source: Khaleej Times)