Social practices ceremonies and celebrations




In the past, the man or the head of the family practised this profession whenever needed in the house or neighbourhood. A sheep or camel would be slaughtered using a knife with the animal facing the qibla. The head would be chopped off and the animal would be hung from its limbs on the family trunk, or a place designated for slaughter. The animal would then be skinned and cut into small pieces, which would be prepared for cooking by the family. At a later stage, qassabs (butchers) emerged, who started practising the trade and selling meat. Meat would only be sold on Friday; however, it was available on a daily basis in the month of Ramadan.

Qassab-s still exist to this day. In the past, qassabs practised their profession (slaughtering animals) at the outskirts of creeks. The maqssab (site of slaughter) was a sandy area in the open air, in which the qassabs fixed pieces of wood to the ground to hang and skin the animals after slaughter. Qassabs practise their profession during holiday seasons and festive occasions in sakeeks (narrow alleyways between homes), courtyards or front yards. Some people prefer to witness the slaughtering process in person. Qassabs would wander the alleys and offer their services. They carried a sharp knife with a wooden blade and a cleaver that was placed in a piece of canvas “khaish” with a rope attached to it that would be used to hang the carcass after skinning.

Slaughtered animals were very cheap and affordable for everyone. Each slaughtered animal was worth between 2.5-3 rupees. The qassab would receive two rupees as compensation for each slaughter. The owner of the animal would sometimes reward the qassab by giving them a piece of the animal, such as the head, internal organs, or the neck. There are men who have the necessary knowledge about the slaughter process, yet they do not practise the profession. They only slaughter animals for their families or provide assistance to their neighbours. Qassabs are known for their good qualities. They are always kind to the slaughtered animals, they provide them with rest and water prior to the slaughter and they do not sharpen their knives in front of the animals. In addition, they mention the name of Allah while slaughtering the animal, as Allah states, “And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned”.


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