Beef-eating not a virtue for Muslims – Zafar Sareshwala

Zafar Sareshwala“When cows are slaughtered, all bones are taken away by gelatine manufacturers, blood by pharma industry and cosmetic industry and skin by leather industry. These industries are mainly owned by Hindus, who are engaged in mega exports of cow by-products. … But the law is quite strange. If you have beef in your house then you are a criminal. But if you are caught with hide, bones or blood of the cow then you are not.” – Zafar Sareshwala

BaburnamaYou have to understand that there is a fundamental misconception among a major section of Hindus that eating beef is a virtue for Muslims. It is not. Islam has nowhere said you should eat beef. It is permissible to eat beef but it is not a virtue. You can eat mutton, fish or camel meat. It is not staple diet of Muslims.

Let’s go back to Babur era. In Baburnama, which is the hidayat or sermon given to his son by the first Mughal emperor during his last days: “Son if you have to rule this country respect the sanctity of the beliefs of the people of this country. They worship cow so you abstain from eating beef. They consider cow as an object of worship, it is revered. Don’t touch beef.”

There are alternatives available; ox, buffaloes, camels and goats. All through Mughal period, even during Aurengzeb reign, cow slaughter was banned. The import of beef went up during the British era as Europeans are beef-eaters. Actually they brought beef to India.

I want to make this distinction clear to Hindus. Immediately after Independence the largest seminary in Asia, Darul Uloom Deoband, issued a fatwa in 1955 that “in the interest of peace and coexistence between communities, we direct Muslims to refrain from offering beef for sacrifice because alternatives are available”.

In the interest of peace if I want to respect your sanctity and even sacrifice my own custom. It is the biggest and most important obligation before God. Having said this, I want to make it clear that all this bogey about beef is being created by vested interests.

Clear distinction needs to be made between cow and buffalo meat. Cow slaughter is banned in as many as 24 states.

But India is the largest exporter of beef in the world. Many are not aware that it is buffalo meat and not cow meat. For years, 20 per cent of world’s beef consumption owed to exports from India.

But the whole economic cycle involving cows does not have Muslims at the centre. In our country mainly farmers own cows. They sell cows to traders, who take them to slaughterhouses. Over 99 per cent of farmers in the country are Hindus.

Kapil & Promila SibalWhen cows are slaughtered, all bones are taken away by gelatine manufacturers, blood by pharma industry and cosmetic industry and skin by leather industry. These industries are mainly owned by Hindus, who are engaged in mega exports of cow by-products.

But the law is quite strange. If you have beef in your house then you are a criminal. But if you are caught with hide, bones or blood of the cow then you are not.

Why are industries using by-products of cows including hide, bones, blood and oil not being targeted? A large number Muslims involved in meat industry are moving towards alternative sources of employment.

Beef issue is not going to make much difference. I have been to many places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Religious polarization has become a thing of the past. It worked in Cow Slaughter Ban1980’s and early 1990’s but today the polarization is between rich and the poor, employed and the unemployed, people with houses and without.

The Balyans, Sakshi Maharajs and Adityanaths and their ilk will be relegated to history books very soon. What does an average Indian want? He wants health, education, infrastructure and jobs. During a recent visit to hinterland of Bihar along with my friend we saw people in pathetic conditions. I asked my friend – do these people look like Hindus or Musalman? He replied, “they look pareshaan” (bothered).

All the criticism against Prime Minister Narendra Modi is misplaced. I have known Mr Modi for 12 years. He is one who believes that conflict between Hindus and Muslims will put him in reverse gear and only peace and harmony can take the country forward. – The Asian Age, 11 October 2015

» Zafar Sareshwala is chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, and a leading businessman. He has accompanied Prime Minister Modi on foreign tours to encourage investment in India.

Cow slaughter in Andhra Pradesh on Eid al-Adha ( Bakr-Eid)