Eid ul Azha Observance in Pakistan Transfers Billions of Dollars from Urban to Rural Population
By Riaz Haq
An often overlooked benefit of buying and sacrificing millions of animals during Eid ul Azha celebration is the massive transfer of wealth from relatively rich urban population to the comparatively poor village population. In other words, it helps create jobs and redistribute wealth to alleviate poverty in a way as zakat, taxes and sadaqa (charity) do.
Pakistanis are spending about $3.5 billion on Eid ul Azha this year, according to analysts. This includes $2.8 billion worth of livestock and another $700 million on clothes, shoes, jewelry and various services. This amount represents a huge transfer of wealth from urban to rural population in the country.
Animal Sacrifice: Eid al Adha commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his most beloved son Ismail (Ismael) when asked to do so by God. It follows Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims from around the world each year. Muslims believe that God had angels remove Ismael from under the knife of blindfolded Abraham and had him replaced by a lamb.
The commemoration includes sacrifice of cows, goats, lambs and camels. This year, the media reports indicate that 4 million goats, 2.7 million cows, 800,000 lambs and 30,000 camels are being slaughtered in Pakistan on the occasion.
Using a conservative average price of $600 per cow, $200 per goat or lamb and $800 per camel, the total cost of animals adds up to $2.8 billion. Various services offered by transporters, butchers and slaughter houses are besides this amount.
Apparel Purchases: The Eid celebration includes buying and wearing new clothes and shoes as well as women's jewelry and other accessories that add up to another $700 million spent in Pakistan.
Charity: Animal hides and significant amounts of meat are donated to various charities and the poor on Eid. Charities like Edhi Foundation are big beneficiaries of this largesse.
Rural Economy: Rural residents who raise animals for sale on Eid bring in billions of dollars into the rural economy. These inflows help provide livelihoods and alleviate rural poverty.
Summary: Eid al Azha this year represents a $3.5 billion worth of economic activity that is generating jobs and helping charities and rural residents of the country.
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