We must admit that we thought for a long time about whether we should comment on the misinformation circling the Internet these days regarding our campaign, “Anonymous Mothers” which included billboards, whose goal was to raise awareness that animal abuse is standard in our society.
Since the 7th of July, when the campaign officially started, we received a lot of support and compliments, but also a number of hateful messages. We were accused of spreading islamophobia even though our billboards targeted animals slaughtered for grilling. Imam Muhamed Velić’s statement attracted the most attention when he stated that our billboards are “a latent attack to the Muslim feelings”, and we believe that this statement is highly inappropriate and harmful. It is interesting that Mr. Velić gave a statement about our campaign just before Eid, even though our campaign started on the 7th of July. The campaign mentions a lamb and grill, and we really do not see any connection between it and slaughtering animals for Qurban, having in mind that Qurban is a sheep that has to be at least one year old, whereas the custom of grilling animals is connected only to celebrations, and not to religious holidays.
We, both as individuals and representatives of the Vegan Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina always raise our voices against every type of discrimination, including Islamophobia. The goal of this campaign is not to spread hatred against Islam or Muslims, and religion is not mentioned on our billboards at all. We condemn Islamophobia, and we believe that it is unacceptable to discriminate against anyone for their religion. Members of our association are personal advocates of religious freedom and religious expression in every sense, as long as it does not violate the freedom and well-being of others.
We believe that it is inappropriate to spread hatred by provoking and offending persons who want to make a positive change in their own society through promoting nonviolence towards all living beings. Given the fact that our campaign is currently identified with Eid al-Adha, we would like to emphasize some of the values of this religious holiday. During Eid al-Adha, we are supposed to get closer to God by doing good deeds and going to Hajj and get closer to other people, our family, friends, and those who need our help. It is important to be gentle, patient and not spread hatred.
“Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best: for Satan doth sow dissensions among them: For Satan is to man an avowed enemy.” (Al-Isra, 53)
When it comes to sacrificing Qurban during Eid al-Adha, our association organized a panel discussion called “Does veganism align with religion?” at the beginning of this year, at which we touched upon this topic. The conclusion was that Qurban is actually a sacrifice (not necessarily animal) by which we give up something valuable to us in order to get closer to God and become better persons and better believers. No religion promotes violence and violence is what animals go through every day in the 21st century everywhere in the world.
Allah’s Messenger said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.”
Therefore, the very obligation of Qurban can be done by giving money to those who need it, buying (vegan) meals for the poor, giving up bad habits that are not commended in religion (such as judging or offending people for different opinions). We would appreciate it if you would watch this very interesting panel discussion in which members of three monotheistic religions talk about religion and veganism, and about how one relates to the other.
God did not subject animals to us so that we can treat them how we want to because we are above them. We must appreciate and respect animals, and we must not be violent toward them:
“All the creatures that crawl on the earth and those that fly with their wings are communities like yourselves. We have missed nothing out of the Record- in the end they will be gathered to their Lord.” (Al-An’am 38)
“Did you not realize that the purity of Allah is proclaimed by all those in the heavens and the earth, and by the birds with their wings spread out? Everyone knows one’s own (way of) praying (to Allah) and one’s own (way of) proclaiming Allah’s purity. And Allah knows well what they do.” (An-Nur 41)
We sincerely hope that you will spend this Eid with your family and friends spreading peace and happiness, trying to make the world better by respecting others, widening your perspective and sharing ideas with other people, and helping those who need your help all the time, not only during the Eid.