Udhiyah Serves US Needy
December 26, 2006
By Sahar Kassaimah
In its second year, the domestic Udhiyah project has expanded to more cities and serves more people.
WASHINGTON — Although many Muslims in the US still prefer to dedicate animals sacrificed for ‘Eid Al-Adha to poor countries overseas, a domestic project has been launched to enable Muslims to donate Udhiyah to needy Americans irrespective of any creed, color or race background.
“In the first year as a pilot program, the Shura Council of Michigan and Islamic Relief were able to distribute over 12,000 pounds of meat to needy families and individuals in the Detroit metropolitan area,” Mostafa Mahboob, Islamic Relief’s media and public relations officer, told IslamOnline.net.
In its second year, the domestic Udhiyah project has expanded to include other cities and serve more people.
“After the overwhelming success in 2005, the project has expanded in the Detroit area to include more participation from donors/organizations and greater distribution to the needy,” Mahboob said.
The project was established through a collaboration of efforts between the Shura Council of Michigan, Gleaners Food Bank and Islamic Relief.
In California, the project is also fostered by the Muslim American Society (MAS) in Southern CA and Bay Area, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, and local Bay Area communities.
“The meat distributed to needy families is not cooked,” said Mahboob, one of the lead coordinators of the project.
“Considering the amount of meat provided to each needy family, much of the meat would go to waste if it were provided precooked,” he added.
“The meat is given to food banks and soup kitchens most frequented by the homeless, which is then used to prepare warm meals.”
A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or a cow as an act of worship during ‘Eid Al-Adha, one of the two main festivals in the Islamic calendar.
The well-off and those who have the Nisab (payable amount) of Zakah should offer a sacrifice. The time for offering a sacrifice begins after the ‘Eid Al-Adha prayer.
The ritual reminds Muslims of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma’eel were willing to make for the sake of God.
Many Muslims prefer to assist the needy in their mother countries where the level of poverty is much greater.
Mahboob asserted, yet, that most of the 60,000 animals sacrificed through Islamic Relief on behalf of American Muslims were for countries abroad.
He said people usually prefer to assist the needy in their mother countries where the level of poverty is much greater.
“The total number of beneficiaries last year were 1,588,813 people, mostly outside the US,” he said.
“I always send my Udhiyah to needy people in Egypt,” Fatimah Said, a Californian mother of three and a full time Arabic schoolteacher, told IOL.
“I send the money to my family back home and they take care of everything.”
Samar Tajj, a Palestinian-born mother of four, said that she has been sending her Udhiyah to occupied Palestine for more than sixteen years.
“Since we came to the States, we have been sending our sacrifices to Palestine where you could find lot of needy people.”
This year, Islamic Relief will perform Udhiyah in a record 31 countries across the globe.
Beneficiaries will include victims of recent humanitarian crises, including Lebanon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Niger, Somalia, Sudan and Chad and Pakistan.
Mahboob hopes collaborations between different Islamic organizations would help the new project to overcome all of the challenges it faces.
“Like any project there are always many challenges, weather it be the limitations of resources or the sheer need of the community,” he said.
“Bust through collaborations and the sharing of resources such as that between the Shura Council of Michigan and Islamic Relief we feel that we are more capable of overcoming such obstacles.”
Mahboob believes that the number of domestic Udhiyahs will increase as people learn more about their pilot project.
“The fact that organized meat slaughtering in the US is a new undertaking also is a reason more sacrifices are done overseas,” he said.
“As the US Muslim community learns about domestic Udhiyah projects, the number of sacrifices performed within the US should increase over time,” maintained the Muslim activist.
The sacrifices are performed through a local slaughterhouse in full observance of Islamic law.
“I heard of some new national projects that distribute meat over needy people here in the US and this is also great because as Muslims we should give all needy people and not just Muslims,” said Tajj, the Palestinian-born mother.