With the coming of this year’s blessed days of Hajj, there are many incredible and awesome memories of our Hajj pilgrimage last year which fill my mind. These images, we pray, should indelibly remain in our hearts and minds till we meet our Creator. But there is one event that I’d like to share with you which takes place behind the scenes in Mina on the day of Eid Ul Adha—the day of the Feast of Sacrifice.
It relates to the commemoration of the Abrahamic event of total dedication and submission to the Will of Allah when the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was called upon, in a dream, to a heart wrenching instruction and the test of a lifetime : to sacrifice his son, Ismaeel.
What did Ibrahim do? Islam being the religion of total submission to the will of Allah, Ibrahim decided to comply with the instruction, but not before consulting his son who advised the father to do as he was commanded : in itself a lesson to us parents to consult our children and not simply impose our will. And as we all know from the Quranic, Talmudic and Biblical teachings, just when Ibrahim was about to place the sharp knife by the throat of his most precious son, the Almighty substituted a calf in Ismaeel’s place. Prophet Ibrahim had passed the test of obedience to the Will of Allah.
And this is what we commemorate whether we spend these days as Hajj pilgrims or Muslims the world. The eid sacrifice is an integral part of the Hajj pilgrimage and celebration. The sacrifice is called Adhahi, or Qurbani or Udhiya.
And so I was overjoyed when the Chairman & President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Dr. Ahmed Mohamed Ali graciously invited the writer to visit the Mina Camp Adahi complex where IDB is charged with operating and carrying out the Adahi program on behalf of the pilgrims.
I was advised that one's sacrifice could conveniently be arranged by going "On Line" on the Internet and placing an order. Before leaving my Tent in Mina I decided to go on line using my smartphone. I logged on to www.ahadi.org. It's a very user friendly site. Within minutes I was able to place my order and make payment using my credit card. One cattle cost me SR 475 (about US$ 125). What was most impressive was that I immediately received an order confirmation and number, with a description in Arabic, French and English. A few hours later I received another e mail, again in the three languages, confirming that the Adhai order was executed. Heartwarming accountability!
The visit to the Adahi Operations Complex was stunning: the monitoring room where the Dr. Ahmed Ali and his lieutenants watch over the operations has all the modern tools. Supervision is round the clock; the abattoirs or slaughterhouses are equipped with state of the art equipment and are very clean. About 40,000 people ranging from veterinarians to engineers, to religious scholars, workmen, cleaners and administrative staff are engaged.
The complex has the highest standards of cleanliness with a constant flow of water that keeps the slaughter houses free of standing blood and dirt; and the freezers and meat packaging plants are sanitized, inspected by public health inspectors and certified. If the slaughter house is found lacking, corrective actions are taken immediately.
The operational statistics are displayed on screens. On the day of my visit, about 795,000 sheep had been sacrificed; at the end of the Hajj a total 900,000 sheep and and 2,500 camel had been sacrificed.
The meat is distributed to the deserving in over 27 countries world wide as well as in Mecca and other parts of the Kingdom.
Since the inception of the project in 1983 under the care of the IDB, more than 17 million livestock have been sacrificed and their meat distributed the world over, especially to counties where there is strife, natural disasters, and other humanitarian challenges. The Saudi authorities have invested over half a billion dollars in the project.
What is most admirable in this massive operation is that it is accomplished with super efficiency and effectiveness, in an understated manner, with humility and no fanfare --in the backyard of Mina.
Leaving the Adahi operational complex, one can only marvel at the smoothness of the workflow. It seems the workers at the Adahi slaughterhouses simply seek the blessings of Allah for the work they are doing. Indeed we ask blessings for other organizations too such as Islamic Relief, and Helping Hands, and others who also undertake Adahi projects in various parts of the world.
The writer lives in Maryland and can be reached at