Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Awash in Blood & Gore

It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches God: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify God for His Guidance to you...
Qur'an 22:37

Who says there is no such thing as bad publicity? I got one for you.

This past Monday, for the first time in recent memory, most Muslims across the US and Canada celebrated Eid Al Adha on the same day. When I realized there wasn't a single person I knew who celebrated it on Sunday or Tuesday, I worried I wasn't embracing Muslim diversity enough...I mean, was I becoming too snooty and selective in the friends I had? Possibly.

I wish that were the saddest realization I had this Eid. That arrived soon enough, in the form of a 10 mega-pixel picture gallery in the online edition of The Washington Post. The leading text was fairly innocent:

Every year on the holiday of Eid Al-Adha, Muslims take part in the Festival of the Sacrifice at local farms in Virginia and Maryland. For some, it is a festive occasion with balloons and laughter; for others, it is a solemn ritual as they pray over the chosen animal.

But I knew we were in trouble when, even before the first slide showed up, the following parental advisory flashed:

Editor's Note: Some images in this gallery may be disturbing because of their violent or graphic nature.

A mentor once told me, "it's not what you say, it's the listening you create." I am afraid most WP readers didn't see what Eid Al Adha is supposed to mean for Muslims. (For a quick read, check out Wikipedia and if you want to learn a lot more: The Tent of Abraham.)

The slide show goes downhill from the appropriate parental warning...20 slides in high, high resolution of what appears to be at best an uncivilized bunch killing animals. It certainly did not capture the solemnness that my parents taught me is associated with laying down to slaughter an animal for food. The necessary reflection on the meaning of life, on how we express thanks for the livestock God provides for our nourishment, how we don't slaughter them or hunt them for mere sport. We created some bad listening, I am afraid.

WHY WOULD ANYONE INVITE A PHOTOGRAPHER TO CREATE A SLIDE SHOW OF MUSLIMS SLAUGHTERING GOATS AND LAMBS? Is the world lacking in the stereotypical association between Muslims and disturbing, violent activities? Have we not contributed more than our share of galleries that may be disturbing because of their violent or graphic nature? Oy ve!

More than 10,000 Muslim Americans of all shades and color, from newborns to folks in wheel chairs, speaking English in every accent known to mankind, attired in the most exotic and diverse regalia, gathered at the new and beautiful Convention Center in America's capital city to pray, play and party as a way of celebrating Eid. We invited leaders and members of other faith groups so we build bridges of understanding with our neighbors. But how does the Washington Post show we celebrated Eid? By being awash in blood and gore, of course! I don't know I can blame Carol Guzy, the photographer WP assigned to cover the story (member of a Pulitzer-winning team, by the way). But I certainly hope they find a new PR person at the mosque which thought of inviting Carol there.

I am not calling for censorship. Just balance. A lot more happened on Eid day than the "bloodfest." And the spirit of the sacrifice as captured in the verse I quoted above from 22:37 was not even remotely conveyed. Islam is strongly for animal rights. In days when camels and horses were the only means of carrying load around, Islam prohibited overloading them. You may not burn ants if they infest your backyard. We may not hunt animals for pleasure - only if you intend to consume them for food. No fur coats. No ivory on our walls. I think you get the point. And I doubt you got it from Carol Guzy's slide show.

You want a link so you can see the slides? Go do something better with your time (smile).

5 comments:

Naeem: said...

AA- ATM,

Well said!

BTW, your new colors on the blog are annoying. What was ever wrong with simple white??? :-)

Anonymous said...

please change the layout and get back to the simple white

ThinkingMuslim said...

A blogger has to be VERY worried if the layout changes he makes create vastly more reaction than anything he ever wrote. This is a very humbling start to my weekend. Either that or I need new friends.

~sahra said...

The article was indeed very intriguing and TRUE! But as a friend always tells me, haqq is powerful and hence why shaitaan uses a little bit of it to lead men astray!

Oh, and please DO change the colors brother, I noticed that right away! LOL

ThinkingMuslim said...

You wrote:
> haqq is powerful and hence why shaitaan uses a little bit of it to lead men astray!

I TOTALLY missed that one...could you restate the point you're trying to make? And don't let this discourage you, I AM slow.