Every year Indian Muslim community celebrates Eid al-Adha festival in autumn and eats beef, and every year voices are heard in favor of or against cow sacrifice. This year is no different.

Syed Hussain Madani, an Islamic scholar based in Hyderabad, urges Muslims to desist from sacrificing cows during Eid al-Adha.

Hindus consider a cow a sacred animal, and most states prohibit cow slaughter as well as sale of beef. Many Christians, Muslims, and others oppose the ban and complain that Hindus are preventing them from consuming beef.

People who eat beef also argue that they would eat goat meat; however, cow meat is less expensive than goat meat for a family with many mouths to feed.

Above arguments – one has right to eat beef and beef is less expensive than other meat – are of little use when one examines the consequences of eating beef on health.

Beef is bad for human heart; it clogs arteries that carry blood to heart. And the medical cost of recovering from a heart disease is far greater than any gain from eating beef.

Moreover, doctors say that human version of mad cow disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is caused by eating beef products made from meat of cattle infected with mad cow disease.

Beef and other red meat are also linked to cancer.

While cow meat is bad for our health and hygiene, cow milk is good for us; and cow dung is good for our soil and makes better fertilizer than chemical fertilizer.

Often non-Hindus argue that Hindus used to eat meat in ancient time. Perhaps, but back then grains and vegetables were unknown, uncommon, and unavailable; it was easy to kill and cook animals, a defenseless group of species.

Madani and other Islamic scholars stress that if Muslims desist from butchering cows and bulls and bullocks then it would make Hindu community happy, improve relations between Hindus and Muslims, and promote communal harmony.

What if Hindus start slaughtering pigs in the name freedom to do so? Would that not hurt Muslims’ sentiment?

If we are not willing to respect sentiments and beliefs of different communities, in the name of freedom or any other reasons, then our multi-faith society may never find tranquility.

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