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Bloody Dilemma: Children Watching Udhiyah?

“I used to place little red ribbons on the sheep’s head. I knew that he’ll die but we didn’t see it happen. The slaughtering would happen while we slept.”

This was how my mother recollected her memories of the udhiyah from her childhood. People in old Cairo usually buy the sheep a month before `Eid and keep it on their houses’ rooftops.

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Every day after school, she and her siblings would go up and play with the sheep and sometimes decorate it. In fact, she recollects kids would walk around sheep while singing; “tomorrow meat from this will be worth two piasters.”

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Yet only a few parents acted or still act like my grandparents, preventing their children from watching the slaughter.

It’s common in Egypt to see children dressed in their fresh, crisp `Eid clothes walking with their parents to the butcher shop where their udhiyah awaits its turn to be slaughtered. Some watch the slaughter fearlessly while others hide their faces in their parent’s clothes.

But is it a necessity to take the children there?

According to Sheikh Hamdi Amin, Imam and Lecturer at the Egyptian Ministry of Endowment, it isn’t. In response to a question asked through the Fatwa Phone service; Amin said: “It’s not an obligation to force children to go. Only if they wanted to. It’s an obligation for the adult person who is performing the sacrifice. For the child, forcing him to see this may traumatize him or cause insomnia.”

Bloody Dilemma: Children Watching Udhiyah? - About Islam

Preparation is Important

Psychologists agree that parents must prepare their child before introducing the kid to the slaughtering scene.

“If parents expose their child to the sight of the sacrifice without preparation he will receive the event as violence. And he may suffer trauma as well,” said Mohamad El-Mahdy, Psychiatry professor, Al-Azhar University.

The preparation, El-Mahdy suggested, includes giving the child the historical and religious background of the slaughter. “Parents can add that this sheep’s meat will bring happiness to many poor homes,” he said.

Part of the preparation is normally taking the child to butcher shops year-round when his parents buy poultry or meat. It shouldn’t only be during this time of the year.

Dalia Mo’men, Psychology lecturer at Ain Shams University, also agrees that the preparation is essential. “Before any event, be it moving school, relocating or any major event, parents need to talk with their children. There is no difference,” she explained.

Bloody Dilemma: Children Watching Udhiyah? - About Islam

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