The Islamic religious holiday of Eid Al Adha is the nearest thing that Muslims have to a Christmas. It’s a great family occasion and a big meal is consumed. It is a religious duty of all Muslims to sacrifice an animal at this time, normally a sheep or a goat. Cows, cattle, camels and others are also used when groups or extended families may pool together for the purchase of larger animals. The sacrifice is to honour the story from the holy book when Abraham gave thanks to God for sparing his son, after God had earlier tested Abraham by asking him to kill him. Abraham then killed a sheep as a sacrifice in thanksgiving. The same story appears in the Christian Bible, albeit both books state different sons names (Ishmael in the Quran and Isaac in the Bible).
Government abattoirs normally carry out the killing of the animals but many private operators (very often Pakistanis) will also carry out the killing for you at a cheaper rate in your private home or other location. MB attended a back-street killing operation a few years back and observed the scene. The killing is done by the religiously hallal (permitted) method involving cutting the throat of the animal by severing the main artery and oesophagus with a very sharp knife in a series of quick cuts. The animal then bleeds to death within a few minutes. For reasons of cleanliness, all the action takes place on a large plastic sheet spread out on the ground. Minutes later the animal is skinned, cleaned out of its innards and the meat cut from the bone into plastic bags for presentation to the buyer. There is a duty on the owner of the meat to share it by giving one third to poorer people, one third to extended family and friends and keeping one third for immediate family.
The animal markets are alive with people over the week leading up to the Eid holiday. And prices are inflated as much as the sellers can get away with (same the world over!). Whole families are often seen attending as they view the animals on offer and wander amongst them in search of a suitable meaty sacrifice.
In MB’s below photo, two Somalian goats are taken away from Sharjah animal market after purchase (MB knows his Somalian goats from his Pakistani goats from his Iranian goats at this stage!). They don’t have long to live.