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On Bakr-Eid, the opportunity to remember one’s obligations to the less fortunate

The most striking Bakr-Eid in our neighbourhood in undivided Bihar involved a camel. An elderly gentleman, known for fixing sprains and selling LPG cylinders on the black market, had obtained the status of a Haji – one who has returned from a successful pilgrimage at Mecca. In an exaggerated show of piety, a camel was brought to the mohalla, stirring morbid curiosity, especially among the children. No one had sacrificed a camel in our neighbourhood of tiny streets and open drains before (or since).

Those who could not afford a sacrifice and had received the camel meat that year recall it was delicious, salty meat. It is another matter that the camel was slaughtered by a method not advised for camels under Islamic practices, as I learnt almost two decades later.

The qurbani or sacrifice is mandatory for any adult who is nasb-e-maal, or a possessor of wealth. There are different schools of thought on what constitutes wealth. The Hanafi school in Islam, which my family and large sections of Sunni North India follow, considers any person in possession of the value of seven and a half tolas of gold or 52 tolas of silver as nasb-e-maal. The amount has not changed for…

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