First of all, welcome to my new blog. I decided to migrate to squarespace after hearing many good things about this platform on many podcasts and decided to give it a try. I took the 2 weeks free trial. fell in love with the clean and minimalist interface and decided to plunge in. I might transfer contents from my old blog to here overtime.
After 5 years celebrating Adha in Egypt, I'm finally able to celebrate one here in my village. Raya was held on the 5th of October this year and I was lucky enough to see a cow being sacrificed by the villagers with my own 2 eyes.
Hari Raya Aidiladha or Eid Korban is the second of two religious festivals celebrated by fellow Muslims around the world - the first being Hari Raya Aidilfitri which is to celebrate the conclusion of our 30 days of fasting in Ramadhan.
Aidiladha is celebrated to honor the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim in obeying God's commandd to sacrifice his son Ismail. Of course this was all a test by God to test Ibrahim's faith to Him.
At the moment his blade was to struck Ismail's throat, God intervened and replaced Ismail with a lamb instead. This test from God to Ibrahim is a perfect example of Aqidah, one of the many fields of Islam.
Welcome to my village, Kampung Sokor, which is a 45 minutes drive from the heart of Tanah Merah. A few years ago entering the village is a bit hard, there's no tarmac and the roads to enter the village were red soil roads. However now transport is a bit easier since they macadam the roads with tar. However the layer of tar is a bit thin so there are many places in need of a pothole patch.
My grandparents migrated here close to 60 years ago, working more than half a century as rubber tappers. They can't keep up with the work anymore, and since none of their 8 offsprings wants to carry on their legacy, their rubber farm were lended to a couple of nice youngsters from Thailand who lived nearby.
My mom is the eldest of her 8 siblings.
Mom did not grew up with her parents, instead she was sent to Pasir Mas to live with her grandma instead. The reasoning for this is so that she can go to school and hopefully get a well paying job to support her parent and siblings.
It is hard to imagine how hard life must be back then.
Here is the village imam, Ustaz Abdullah. The villagers call him Haji Lah. Even though he's from Pasir Mas (an hour drive from this village), he lived here long enough to be considered a local. Her daughter used to take care of me and my siblings when I was 8 years old and he loves hearing my travel stories ever since I started studying in Egypt.
Like Aidilfitri, Aidiladha begins with a sunnah prayer of 2 rakaats followed by a short sermon. Attending the prayer is not compulsory but is highly recommended.
This small mosque has a less than average acoustics, but from my limited memory the sermon tells us to always remember to always help those in need.
It tells us to remember that no matter how poor we think we are, there are always those less fortunate than us out there.
This is my grandfather. I call him Tok Ayah.
The prayer started quite late, we rushed by before it was 8.30 AM thinking we were late for prayer. Turns out we were the first one there, even the imam wasn't around yet.
The prayer started way past 9 o'clock in the morning.
For this shot I equipped my lens with a circular polarising filter and was surprised to see how clear the water looks after shooting with it. Many photographers say that a circular polarising filter is one of the best filter to use all around and after using it on and off for over 4 months, I kind off agree with that statement.
It was half past 10 when we finished our prayers. The weather was good, not too sunny, but not that cloudy.
After prayer, we had a quick bite at Ustaz Abdullah's (or Ustaz Dollah for short). His wife cooked rendang, ketupat palas, kuah kacang and an assortment of many other tradisional Malay cuisine. Unfortunately I did not take a picture there since my hands were full, literally.
Next I hopped on a bike with my cousin to see a korban held deep within the village's rubber tree estate.
Even though I have a motorcycle license I can count with one hand how many times I drove a bike since then. I let my cousin Asyraf drove the bike whilst I sat behind him with my camera in hand. I forgot to set my camera settings to Auto thus lots of the picture taken while I'm on the bike came out blurry.
We parked the bike here, near the river.
The butchers are already here. They are looking at the cow that will be slaughtered to complete the korban.
The cow for korban this year. A tradition in Malaysia is to let the slaughter happen far away from other animals of the same kind thus the reason for bringing it here.
I was told that Ustaz Dollah was the first one to arrive here - he will lead the cut today.
In Islam the preferred method for distribution of the slaughtered meat is to divide it into 3 parts. 1/3 of the meat will be kept by the family that owned the slaughtered animal, 1/3 to be given to their relatives and neighbours, and the last 1/3 to be distributed to the poor.
Of course this is all optional, one can keep all the meat to themselves or distribute it all to the poor if they want.
More and more villagers are coming. Some came to assist whilst some came to watch this once in a year event. The middle aged lady in grey on the other hand came because she owns a part of the cow that is to be slaughtered.
A cow (or a buffalo or a camel) can be owned by up to 7 people for korban. A smaller animal like a goat or sheep on the other hand, can only be owned by 1 person.
Even with the sheath I can tell that the knives used are extremely sharp. Sharp blades are a must to make sure the slaughter goes smoothly and to ensure the kill is hasten as well.
The cultural differences in handling a korban between the Malaysians and the Egyptians are so staggering. You can read my experience in attending an Egyptian slaughter event here.
Those who owned parts of the cow are paying their money to Haji Lah. The current market price for a fully grown cow is about RM4000 thus not many are able to buy a whole cow. Buying 1/7th of a cow costs only RM570.
Remember that the meat from the cow cannot be sold in any way whatsoever.
The villagers are tying the cow to a tree to prevent it from running away. Cows do run away, atleast in this village. The truth is there should be one other cow here today for slaughter, but the other one managed to escape earlier this morning and as quoted by a villager "fled deep into the woods."
This kind of thing happens every single year in this village. So bizarre.
One of the hardest thing to do is to lay down the cow and make the head of the animal face the qiblah. Of course this is not compulsory but it is a tradition in this village to do it in this specific way.
Here are some portrait shots before the sacrifice began. I shot most of these with an aperture of F1.4 which shows some beautiful out of field effects.
You can click on the thumbnail to scroll through.
After much hardship, the villagers managed to put the cow down on the ground. With its feet all tied up, they positioned the cow to face the qiblah.
Now Haji Lah took the lead to begin the slaughter. In arabic, the process of slaughter is called Dhabihah.
Dhabihah is done by cutting the 2 blood supplies in the neck along with the oesophagus and the trachea. The 2 blood supplies are called the jugular vein and the carotid artery; both transporting from and to the heart respectively.
But the nerve supply and the nervous system must be left intact. This is to make sure blood is drawn out from the animal to induce brain death. For large animals like cows and buffalos, it takes roughly 45 seconds. Sheeps and goats will reach brain death in under 10 seconds.
The villagers start to mutilate the cow. I had done this various time in Egypt. It was not as easy as it looks.
The story of Aidiladha goes way back during the time of the prophet Ibrahim whom was born in Babylonia (modern day Iraq), who overcame all trials that was bestowed to him by God. Ibrahim was the father of 2 other prophets, Ismail and Ishak, but the story of Ibrahim and his first son Ismail is what transpire Muslims to celebrate Aidiladha every year.
It was told that Ibrahim and his wife Siti Hajar conceived Ismail at a very old age, some sources states that Ibrahim was 86 years old when Ismail was born.
God commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as proof of his loyalty to Him, imagine the feeling of the by then 99 years old Ibrahim in hearing this command. It was close to a century that he was able to conceive an offspring of his own and now God asked him to kill his own son. Ismail was 13 years old when this happened.
This test of faith from God to Ibrahim is a perfect example of Aqidah, one of the many fields of Islam. A popular belief is that aqidah means faith - this is just not true.
Another field of Islam called iman means faith. Aqidah rather, means our principle of faith, or creed or in other words conviction. Confused? I used to as well.
An example of akidah in our everyday lives is in regard to the handling and consumption of pigs. A muslim is forbidden to eat pigs and other species in the swine family. As more advances are made in the medical and science field, some conclude that the presence of an organism called taeania solium is the secret cause of what makes Islam forbids eating pigs.
Basically taenia solium is worm found inside pigs that can be transmitted to human consuming it, mostly one undercooked. Presence of this worm in this body can lead to a condition called cysticercosis which can cause skin, eye, muscle, nerve and brain damage.
However as dangerous as cysticercosis is, this is not the reason that we are forbidden from eating it. We are forbidden to eat pigs because God says so, full stop. We cannot eat one even if taenia solium is eradicated. This is what akidah, or creed means - basically trusting God's command without asking why or how. And that is why Ibrahim succeeded in his trial, he believed in God's will.
Another example of akidah is the story of Musa and Khidir in surah Al-Kahf.
You can see how tiring this activity was to the villagers, most were inexperienced in slaughtering and mutilating animals. The didn't bring any food here, just some fruit juices to quench their thirst. Thankfully the tall tress prevented the harsh sunlight from seeping through.
They transferred the meat into a jeep droved by Haji Lah's son-in-law.
Even the kids, who were watching all this while helped as well. I'm sure they are more than happy to be of help, in what way or form to the adults.
Not long after the villagers packed their things and went back home to take a shower and eat. The meat will be cut into small pieces and be distributed according to the wishes of the respective owners.
One villager will use the meat to cook food for his son's wedding feast in a few days.
Scroll on the picture on the left for pictures during and after the slaughtering process.
Even though I didn't do anything of importance this day was tiring for me as well. Ayah Di called and told me that food is ready, Cik Na and her family had just arrived from Kota Bharu bringing with them 2 kilos worth of homemade rendang daging. Me and Asyraf hopped on the bike and went straight home - the wind and the breeze and the view somehow makes the travel home feels like an instant.
Thanks for reading.