Hajj goes high-tech for bloodless Eid sacrifices

September 12, 2016
The more than 1.8 million pilgrims from around the world participating in the hajj have the option this year of computerised coupons to order a sacrifice on the Muslim holidays marking the end of the hajj, without seeing the animal

Thanks to computer technology and SMS messaging, Muslims at the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca were able Monday to make their Eid al-Adha sacrifice without getting blood on their hands.

The more than 1.8 million pilgrims from around the world participating in the hajj had the option of computerised coupons to order a sacrifice on the Muslim holidays marking the end of the hajj—without even seeing the beast.

Many among the world's more than 1.5 billion Muslims themselves pick up a knife and kill or other animals to mark the Al-Adha feast, Islam's holiest.

"If each pilgrim himself sacrificed a sheep, there wouldn't be enough space," said Rabie Saleh, a Sudanese in line at a Saudi post office at Mina's Jamarat Bridge, where pilgrims symbolically stoned the devil in the last major hajj rite.

The Eid al-Adha ritual commemorates Prophet Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son, before he was replaced by a lamb, and symbolises the believers' submission to God.

The meat is shared out, especially among the needy.

The hajj to Islam's holiest sites, housed in western Saudi Arabia, is one of the five pillars of the religion that capable Muslims must perform at least once.

Over the centuries, when performing hajj meant an arduous desert journey, pilgrims themselves sacrificed animals before handing meat to the poor.

"But now there are millions of pilgrims. If each sacrificed a sheep, that would take days and days," said Mishal Qahtani, 33, a Saudi pilgrim.

So the Islamic Development Bank, based in the nearby Red Sea city of Jeddah, devised the electronic coupon system.

For 460 riyals ($123) this year, agencies located around holy sites visited by the take charge of the sacrifice.

"As soon as someone buys from us, a request is sent to the Islamic Bank through our system and a sheep is slaughtered in an abattoir," explained Mansour al-Malki, 45, a postal worker.

The meat is then cut up and handed out to the less fortunate in the Mecca area or sent overseas, Malki said.

"Before, there were paper coupons but now it's computerised," Malki said.

Qahtani received a receipt showing he had paid for the sacrifice.

"They told me that I will soon get an SMS to tell me that a sheep has really been slaughtered," Qahtani said.

Explore further: Filipino Muslims urged to delay hajj due to MERS

Related Stories

Saudi bans hajj camel slaughter

September 12, 2015

Saudi Arabia on Friday banned the slaughter of camels during this year's hajj pilgrimage, after a surge in deaths from the MERS virus linked to the animals.

WHO: Basic hygiene can help prevent MERS spread

July 10, 2014

A World Health Organization official on Thursday urged millions of Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to exercise basic hygiene as mass gatherings pose risks of spreading the Middle East respiratory syndrome.

WHO advising Saudis on virus ahead of Hajj

September 26, 2012

The UN health agency said Wednesday it knew of no more cases in the Gulf of a mystery illness from the same virus family as the deadly SARS but was advising Saudi Arabia ahead of the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.

Prudence mixes with fatalism over MERS at hajj

October 11, 2013

Mohammed Shuaib wears a mask as he walks amid a flood of Muslims arriving for the hajj, but his wariness about the deadly MERS virus that has struck Saudi Arabia doesn't seem to be widely shared.

Recommended for you

Study suggests trees are crucial to the future of our cities

March 25, 2019

The shade of a single tree can provide welcome relief from the hot summer sun. But when that single tree is part of a small forest, it creates a profound cooling effect. According to a study published today in the Proceedings ...

Matter waves and quantum splinters

March 25, 2019

Physicists in the United States, Austria and Brazil have shown that shaking ultracold Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can cause them to either divide into uniform segments or shatter into unpredictable splinters, depending ...

Apple pivot led by star-packed video service

March 25, 2019

With Hollywood stars galore, Apple unveiled its streaming video plans Monday along with news and game subscription offerings as part of an effort to shift its focus to digital content and services to break free of its reliance ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.