CAIRO - The discovery of a fake website selling Udhiyah (animal sacrifice) to Muslim pilgrims, just days before the start of `Eid Al-Adha, one of the two major Muslim festivals, is ringing the bells of alarm in India.
"The website claims to be managed by Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jeddah, a member of the Central Hajj Committee of India (CHCI), told Times of India on Sunday, October 21 on condition of anonymity.A website has offered Udhiyah for Muslim pilgrims to sacrifice during `Eid Al-Adha, due to start on Friday, October 26.
But officials found that the website, www.hajhouse.in/index_qurbani.php, was fake after a notice from Saudi authorities.
The consul general brought this to our notice perhaps after being informed by the IDB, the Indian official said, referring to Saudi consul Faiz Ahmad Kidwai.
Authorities found that the website was run by a company operating from Mehdipatnam which had registered the website's domain name, which was visited by 31,000 visitors.
The IDB has also distanced itself from the fake website.
"This fake website in order to mislead the public, has incorporated specific details from which is the official website of the IDB, Jeddah," it stated.
The IDB said it was not responsible for Udhiyah bookings made on this site as "IDB, India does not undertake any activity to do with qurbani whatsoever".
A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during the four-day `Eid Al-Adha.
The ritual commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail to Allah as an act of obedience and submission.
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.
Despite the discovery, Indian officials are still assessing the impact of the problem on the pilgrims.
"Qadim-ul-hujjaj (Hajj servants) will be keeping an eye on the qurbani remittances, an official with the Andhra Pradesh State Hajj Committee (APSHC) said.
Last year the qurbani amount was 350 Saudi riyals. This year it is expected to be priced around 450 Saudi riyals, which is around Rs 4,500.
According to the APSHC, only Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Post are authorized to collect Udhiyah charges from pilgrims.
Indian officials will be able to assess the magnitude of the problem when the sacrificing ritual starts on Friday, October 26.
CHCI officials said that they were exploring all legal options to check the degree and nature of the fraud.
"We are going to check the legal status of the problem, CEO Shakir Hussain said.
However, we had clearly mentioned the process of making qurbani remittances to the pilgrims in the Hajj Guide given to them.Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.