Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You won't find this on Groupon

I recently took this photo from the passenger seat while Sam drove behind a city bus (thus the poor quality as it was taken through glass, completely zoomed in, while moving). It's an advertisement for coupons in various increments that people can buy to contribute to a less fortunate Muslim family's observance of Eid al-Adha (which was in November, but I only now saw the ad for the first time).

Left to right, the coupons read "Eid Clothing", "Adha (Sacrifice)", and "Easing Haj"

Eid al-Adha, which means Festival of Sacrifice, is the period following the Haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, when Muslims remember Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, to God, and the graciousness of God in providing an animal to sacrifice instead. Sound familiar? The Torah, and thus the Christian Old Testament, has a very similar account with one major difference – the name of the son (Isaac rather than Ishmael).

In the Eid al-Adha tradition, Muslims divide up the sacrificed meat into three equal parts, one for the family to keep, one to give to friends, and the third to give to the poor. It's a noble concept, and before you get all huffy about the death of innocent animals, I'd just like to point out that all of us non-vegetarians regularly sacrifice them to our stomachs, with much less significance attached.

So, the idea of using a filthy city bus to raise money for people to sacrifice animals to Allah is somewhat disturbing to me. Combine that with the use of coupons, and it seems downright offensive. Not that I blame the marketing company for following an instinct to use all the modern methods at its disposal, but it seems like such an unholy way to fulfill a holy tradition. It calls to mind images of a concessions vendor at a baseball game, weaving through the crowd, yelling "Popcorn, peanuts, sacrificial rams. Get 'em while they're hot!"

Sam has just rightly pointed out to me that similar crudeness likely occurs during efforts of the Christian faith to raise money for its charities (in fact, our own church once organized a casino night as a fundraising event to refurbish the church grounds; which may seem like a contradiction in interests to some), so I'd like to add that I'm not limiting my critique to the Muslim faith, just to those who promote the sacred with coupons.

1 comment:

  1. Just want to say that I love your homepage pic......