JEDDAH - Amid increasing food prices worldwide, soaring prices of hajj udhiyah sheep has hit new ebbs, putting more pressure on the Saudi government efforts to afford sacrificial sheep during the annual pilgrimage season.
We have made arrangements to utilize the meat of one million sheep and 10,000 cows and camels during this Haj season, Ahmed Mohamed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), told the Arab News.
Despite the rise in prices of livestock worldwide, we have managed to import an adequate number of sheep at a reasonable rate.
Hitting a new record this year, the cost of a sheep for sacrifice during hajj has risen by SR40 to SR490.
The udhiyah program is run by IDB, the only institution authorized to oversee animal sacrifice during Hajj.
Starting from this year, the Saudi government began to import sheep and other livestock from Uruguay and Pakistan.
The IDB is also scheduled to get livestock imports from Turkey and Australia.
The prices were even higher in Sudan and Somalia, deemed as the Kingdom's main sources of importing sheep, with a single sheep costing SR1000 and SR600 respectively during the hajj season.
Udhiyah or animal sacrifice, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.
A financially-able Muslim should offer a sacrifice of a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or a cow as an act of worship during `Eid.
The Udhiyah meat should be divided in three equal parts, one each for one's own family, friends and the poor.
It is permissible that someone in another country could perform the sacrifice on one's behalf.
The Saudi government urged pilgrims to use IDB program which spent more than SR1 billion to offer advanced slaughter houses and huge cold storage.
We deploy about 40,000 workers including veterinarians, administrators and butchers, to carry out the project every year, Ali, the president of IDP, told Arab News.
The meat for this year's sacrificial animals will be distributed among the poor in 28 countries, as well as in different parts of Saudi Arabia.
Last year, the project utilized meat of 961,829 sheep.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Muslims who perform hajj properly return to their homes having all their sins washed way as promised by Prophet Muhammad.
Over three million registered pilgrims took part in this year's hajj, based on official figures.
But many others also performed the pilgrimage without permits camping on roads and walking on foot between the holy sites.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net