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Religious Leaders Urge Students in Program to Stay Away From Animal Slaughter on the Annual Festival of Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha






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First Classes

Talks by religious leaders about

Press Releases:

27 March 2013

21 October 2012

1 April 2012

Media Coverage:

Quaker Concern for Animals,
15 August 2013

Jerusalem Post,
10 May 2013

Reshet TV,
19 April 2013

Panet, 15 April 13

Panet, 6 April 2013

Panet, 21 Oct 2012

Karmel Portal, 22 October 2012

Kol Israel Radio interview, 26 May 2012

Kol Israel interview partial transcript, 26 May 2012

Ma'ariv, 30 March 2012





Imam Ahmad Hasan speaks to schoolchildren about animal sacrifice
at El Harubia Elementary School


As part of the "Expanding the Circle of Compassion" program, a Druze Sheikh, a Christian priest, and a Muslim Imam spoke to students of all three faiths about the importance of respecting animals and treating them with empathy and compassion.


"Avoid slaughtering animals or witnessing the slaughter of animals on the annual Festival of Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, as it has a negative impact on the soul," Imam (religious leader) Ahmad Hasan, an attorney and head of the mosque in Shfar'am, Israel, advised elementary school students, school officials, and their parents. "Unlike some commandments in the Koran," the Imam explained, "the act of sacrificing an animal is not mandatory. The real meaning of the holiday and what is mandatory is to sacrifice the evil in us in order to bring joy to others."


Over 100 million animals are slaughtered on Eid al-Adha in Arab countries every year. Animal rights activists have criticized the cruelty that results from lack of regulation of the slaughtering. Classroom observers noted that 4th grade students who were forced to witness or participate in the slaughter were too upset to focus on their lessons, and counselors had to be called in to help. Witnessing or participating in violence at an early age can have a negative effect on children's psyches and lead to violence toward humans when children become adults, studies have shown. In the future, Hakol Chai will lead children in acts of charity during the festival.


The Festival of Sacrifice commemorates the story of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son for God. According to the story, the son was saved when God saw Abraham's faith and gave him a ram to sacrifice instead. "God's message was not a call to slaughter animals, but rather a call to obey God," the Imam told students. "The ram was only a symbol. God had mercy and intervened so Abraham's son would not be killed. We are commanded to follow God in his mercy and have mercy on all forms of life."


Students listening to religious leaders
at Marashan Elementary School


Hasan called on students to love and respect all living beings and to refrain from causing them harm. He told stories from the Koran to illustrate that those who show mercy and compassion will be rewarded and will be shown God's mercy, while those who harm animals will be punished. The Imam also sang verses from the Koran about the lives of the smallest creatures—ants and bees—and explained their importance and their right to protection from even unintentional harm. He encouraged students to be charitable to members of their communities and to visit family and relatives so they will experience joy at feeling cared about. Hasan's family is vegetarian, and he points out that the Koran permits Muslims to be vegetarian.


Imam Ahmad Hasan and Father Androus Bahouth
at Marashan Elementary School in Shfar'am


Father Androus Bahouth, a Christian priest who spoke together with the Imam in one of the schools, told students that everything in nature is sacred and they are to respect and appreciate the beauty of every living being. Humans were created last, after all other living beings, he said, and we are responsible for and guardians of all the other life forms created before us.


He held up St. Francis and Noah as models for how we are to behave. St. Francis loved and cared for animals and was able to communicate with them. When the weather was cold, he worried about the bees, and he set out honey and wine for them. Father Bahouth also told the story of how Noah saved the animals during the great flood and saw to their individual needs.