I See Cartoon Lambs (Everywhere)

One thing I don’t recall seeing 5 years ago, which was around the last time I celebrated any sort of Eid in Jordan, were these modern ways to sacrifice the Eid Al-Adha lamb. Lately little cardboard cutouts of cartoon lambs have been popping up all over western Amman’s traffic circles, which as many Ammani dwellers know are plentiful.

The sacrifice of the lamb is an act of sunnah that is incorporated into Eid Al-Adha, the day of sacrifice or atonement. It’s done to commemorate the ultimate act of prophet Abraham (pbuh) sacrificing his son Ishmael. To sacrifice a lamb on this day is regarded as wajib (obligatory). The sacrifice is divided into three parts: for consumption (family), for gifts (neighbors: regardless of their religion) and for the needy or poor. But one can donate it all to the poor.

No doubt city life and technology have had their effect on religious rituals. Days before Eid Al-Adha sheep breeders would come from all over to set up their tents all over Amman. Now the government is pushing them out mainly because (a) there is no more land (b) traffic (c) and the mess they tend to leave behind. I can still remember the smell, the blood and makeshift holes that were dug to slaughter chosen sheep out of sight from the herd according to Islamic law.

So it seems the growing trend nowadays is to simply make a payment to an organization that will sacrifice the lamb for you and distribute it amongst the poor. No fuss, no mess, no modern day hassles.

The cartoon lambs around town are such a project. The organization in the photo, Tkiyet Um Ali, is offering the sacrifice for 90 JDs. Another organization, The Islamic Charity Center, is offering a similar price. The latter has a little newspaper insert that have some numbers from last year where they claim they had 4,710 sacrifices, costing 324,000 JDs and benefiting 26,210 families across our small kingdom. The former organization, Tkiyet Um-Ali, will be distributing to families who have members that earn less than 15 JDs a month. I’m guessing this is mostly beggars who make 20 JDs a day but don’t file taxes.

90 JDs is not bad at all considering that the average price in the tents seems to hover around 120 JDs. Yes; the price of lambs have dramatically risen in the half decade of my absence. It’s no wonder that these specific signs have been placed mostly in West Amman; I drove around briefly to some spots in East Amman just to check. Even the representatives are located in high end places like Mecca Mall, Abdoun Mall and Safeways. The idea is (probably) to subtly discourage East Ammanites from making the sacrifice while encouraging the wealthier Western Ammanites to go ahead with it. Simply because to an extent the poor tend to be a tad more religious and thus are inclined to do the sacrifice even though they are not obliged to. Now consider that the average income of such areas stands at 145 JDs and that the sacrifice is a minimum of 90 JDs. That’s more than half their monthly income right there and you end up with families starving the following month. It’s the same thinking that causes the poor to get a loan in order to make the Hajj trip when it’s not allowed to do so.

In any case this kind of marketing at least attempts to bring about some social balance. And at the end of the day these localized organizations are probably more efficient at sacrifice distribution across the kingdom. Better than the average Jo and probably better than the government as well. So I liked the idea and hopefully their allocation will benefit a lot of needy people.

I think Emad Hajjaj humorously and accurately depicted the situation in his latest Abu-Mahjoob caricature:

Note: If my father decides to instead take a brief drive outside Amman to make the sacrifice live, then I’ll be sure to take pictures and write a ‘how to’ guide to choosing a good lamb. (I think you have to flip them over and tap their bellies and listen cautiously for the sound of emptiness).

1 Comment

  • Takeyet Om ali.. is an organization I find pretty interesting, glad you mentioned it here.
    According to what my mom said, This organization or foundation was established by HRH Princess Haya, and it’s called Om Ali, after her mother’s name. It’s there to support orphans, who lost their father, mother or both. There are many ways to donate, the most known is by the “na3i” on newspapers, Al Ghad to be specific.
    Takeyet Om Ali is pretty active, and I liked the interesting idea they came up with for Eid El Adha.. i.e. the cartoon lambs.

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