Beloved Circle Guides, Dervishes and Mothers and Fathers,
Our beloved Baqi Taslima has asked me to contemplate and respond to some of your objections to a Kurban. She herself has written a letter which i honor. Thank you. Forgive me if I proposed something that goes against your heart and conscience.
If you are vegetarian or vegan it is completely consonant with your position to opt out of a Kurban. I overlooked your views and I ask forgiveness for this oversight.
At the same time I want to clarify that a Kurban is the act of transferring another creature’s life to our own in a sacred manner. It is conducted with gratitude, prayers and petitions to God, and prayers for the creature to continue its life in a beautiful way and prayers for all creatures who are living on this planet together with human beings. The life of the creature is taken gently thru blood letting so it goes into a gentle dormancy and then passes thru the door of death. Its death is a taste, a passing state, not a terminal state.
I agree that this is a huge thing, to take another’s life to support our own. The thought of it makes us bow in humility, and for its very hugeness many people have become vegetarian. Maybe some day everyone on earth will be vegetarian. Many of us are tending in that direction. Until then, the Kurban will be an act that can make halal all of our eating, just as one prayer can stand for all of our times of not praying. Reflect that the flesh we normally consume comes from a creature who has a much worse experience than the creature who is offered as a sacrifice. But because of the separation between buying a piece of meat in the grocery store and the actual experience of the creature during its confined life and its death we do not feel the same pain.
I am in complete accord with animal activists who are working to bring better living conditions to all the beings whom we designate with that name, meaning ‘soul, anima’. The level to which we have fallen in our care for the beings who help to feed us, the beings who share this planet with us and for the planet itself is so appalling that we cannot even envision it. Looking at it is looking at a level of hell.
Know that the careful, conscious taking of a creature’s life to feed the poor is not the same thing.
And yet today the ones responsible for Kurban at the time of the big feasts have themselves fallen to a low level of mistreatment and apparent unconcern for the creatures. These are packed on boats and herded in pens and slaughtered rapidly without the love, gentleness and prayer that Kurban requires.
Many years ago in the New York Dergah, after Mustafa and Ali were both horrified by the agonizing conditions at the local Muslim slaughter house, Mustafa and his wife Rahima set out to find another way. They ended up with the Amish who raise their creatures closer to the way God prefers. And then our Amish lamb was sacrificed in the true halal way. At other times we have opted out of a literal sacrifice and we have contributed our feast donations to an organization called “Heifer” which distributes lambs, chickens, ducks, beehives, cows, goats and more to families around the world. It is a brilliant organization working to lift people living on the land out of poverty. The creatures are not intended for slaughter but rather for culling the wool, milk, eggs and honey they provide.
The solution to our dilemma, as one of us suggested, could be to donate to such an organization or to donate to our local food pantry. Each circle can donate to its own.
The main thing is that we are helping others to eat and survive.
The original intention for this Kurban was to bring peace to the hearts of the Mothers in our Tariqat who feel pain and distress and insufficiency, as well as to be a blessing for all of our children and grandchildren. If there is a better way then let’s follow it. I know that many of you are suffering financial stress too, so it would also be an option to help someone in your circle. Even a little bit of help from the hand of a dervish is multiplied like the ears of corn from a seed of corn. If some of you still want to join together to offer a Kurban then you are also encouraged to do so. Each of us, with our differing temperaments and interpretations of truth, is on a path to the Beloved. Our brother Ibrahim in New Mexico was instructed in the Dergah in Mexico City on how to conduct a Kurban. He has offered his service if requested.
One final note, let’s make this offering an offering from both the mothers and the fathers, because both have the great responsibility for the children and both have hearts that suffer and are wounded. And further, as we go from the particular to the universal, whoever wants to participate in this offering of Sadaqa out of a concern and love to their dervish students if they are circle guides or out of a love and concern for the community of humanity, please do so. We are all the parents giving birth to and care-taking the new humanity.
Allah is the Generous Sustainor and the One Who multiplies all the blessings.
Ya Mujib, Ya Karim, Ya Razzaq, Ya Salam, Ya Rahman, Ya Hu.