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Human& Animal Sacrifices in Religion
Sacrificemeans differently, but most importantly, it is well-regarded withinreligion context. A sacrifice is defined as a religious rite wherebyan object is offered to the recognized divinity when the one isfocused on establishing, restore or maintain the desired relationshipwith the sacred. In other words, a sacrifice is regarded as the actof slaughtering a person or an animal, or can also be given of apossession as an offering to a divine/supernatural figure (God). Themeaning and the process of a sacrifice is highly defined by areligious group or religious identity of the community (Rosenblum,15). Many a times is when the community beliefs, or religiousdoctrine controls what is offered, at what time, and to what supremepower. Sacrifices remain one of the common practices among differentreligious groups globally. This paper discusses the issue of humanand animal sacrifices in religion.
Theform of sacrifice being performed depended on the religiousdefinition of a community, some of the sacrifices that have beenperformed include human and animal sacrifices. Just as they arereferred by names, animal sacrifice is the performance of a ritualwhereby an animal is slaughtered to appease the deity. It makes oneof the commonly performed and practiced adherents by many religiousgroups. Animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and chicken among othersoffer as a sacrifice. On the other hand, there is the Humansacrifice, which was performed in ancient times and by variousancient cultures. Just like the case of animal sacrifice, peoplewould be killed in a manner to appease gods or a god. Animal andhuman sacrifices are types of sacrifices that have been practicedsince ancient times by different religions. However, the approach hasbeen different, i.e., the ceremony and the manner if the sacrifice,as well as differences in reasons as to why the sacrifice wasoffered. For example, in some communities/religions, human sacrificewas performed in case of bad omen such as earthquake, drought, deathof the king among other bad occurrences as people turned to the‘gods’ for a solution. In the other case, other communities wouldperform a human sacrifice for giving thanks to their gods for a goodharvest, or victory in war. Just as the case of the human sacrifice,the animal sacrifices were also done for the same reasons. However,the purpose of every sacrifice performed varied from one community orreligion to another (Winkelman, 56).
Overtime, there has been massive civilization as well as adoption andincoming of new religions, which has in turn led to the diminishingtrend of the practice of human sacrifice. In the ancient cultures,some communities recognized and respected human sacrifice. However,the increase in advocacy for human rights led to reduced practices ofhuman practice. More so, the establishment of law governing nations,and the recognition of human life, human practice was abolished ingreat extent as it was termed as against the law (Bryant, 98). Today,human practice has become a rare practice among the numerousreligious groups in the world. With the spread of modern church(Christianity), Buddhism, Islam among other religion, even the animalsacrifice is slowly dying as other forms of sacrifices are resultedin.
Focusingon different religions and their regard to sacrifices, practices inIndia regarded animal sacrifices high. This is according to textsfrom Brahman. Sacrifices were a norm, and could be performed withinthe course of a year, or at different occasions. Others wereconducted with reference to certain meaning and specific times.However, this case was opposite compared to the practices ofBuddhism. Sacrifices were not much part of the religions activities.According to Buddhists, human and animal sacrifices were viewed to beineffective and also as a form cruelty. More so, sacrifices wereknown to be against the law of Ahimsain Buddhism. This was also referred by many as the ‘lawof no injury’.This does not however mean there were no sacrifices among Buddhist,but there were accounts of his self-sacrifice. Buddhism religionpromotes sacrifices which are ethical, actions which portrayself-discipline and also some instances of devotional offerings, forexample, burning incense to their god Buddha (Rosenblum, 10).
InChina, human and animal sacrifices existed, but were practiced bydifferent communities differently. There are records of humansacrifices which were performed after the death of their ruler, theybelieved there was life after death and therefore there was a needfor their leaders to be accompanied by those who served them to thenext life. However, since the common people in China were not allowedto participate in royal sacrifices, they had few gods in which somewere just local and others universal, but there were also animalsacrifices for them. Throughout the history of China, ancestralworship dominated and was viewed as a universal kind of religion.Despite both animal and human sacrifice being noted in Chinesecommunities, the adoption of Buddhism led to the diversification ofthose sacrificial practices in China (Drinan, 19).
Inancient Greece, the full sacrificial rites are contained in theHomeric poems. According to the poems, these rites lasted for morethan 10 centuries without being changed. They were of two types,rites which were addressed to the Olympian god. These rites includedburning parts of the body of an individual and later participating ina cheerful meal which had previously been offered to the gods duringthe daytime so as to establish communion with their gods (Bryant,86). Also, rites which were primarily addressed to the infernal gods,it involved fully burning or burying a person in a ceremony so as toappease the gods. Apart from these rites, the Greece people alsosacrificed animals and foodstuffs such as vegetables, cheese, andfruits as a form of thanksgiving to their gods by the people whoworshiped from all levels of their society (Faraone, 2012).
Inthe Islamic religion, they practice animal sacrifice, which isreferred as ‘Dabiha’in Arabic and in their holy book Quran. This type of sacrifice isonly offered in Eid ul-Adha. The animal to be sacrificed can eitherbe a cow, goat, a camel or a sheep. The condition for animalsacrifice is that it must be conscious and healthy. During the EidUL-Adha occasion also known as the festival of sacrifice, those wellof Muslims performs the Sunnah of the prophet Ibrahim by sacrificingone of the those animals (Bryant, 90). The festival is performed byMuslims all over the world. After the sacrifice, the animal’s meatis then divided into 3 equal parts. The person who performed thesacrifice retains one part gives the second to his relatives and thelast part is given to the poor people in the society. According tothe Quran, this sacrifice has nothing to do with blood, the Quranstates that it is not the blood or the meat of the animals thatreaches God, but the person’s poorness and holiness. They believethat the sacrifice is meant for helping the poor and also to rememberthe obedience and willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his only son toGod (Faraone et al, 2012). According to Islamic, human sacrifice isforbidden and is seen as murder, it is a sin and therefore it isstrongly forbidden
InChristianity, there are many different ways of presenting a sacrificeto God. According to the Bible, Christians believe that the humansacrifice was prohibited by God. Christians believe that the lasthuman sacrifice was offered by God when he offered his only son Jesusto come to earth in the form of a human being, be crucified and diefor the sins of the human race. Instead, they only offer sacrificesin forms of foodstuffs. They believe that since human sacrifice wasprohibited, their firstborn son is dedicated to God instead ofsacrificing him. According to Christianity, practicing of humansacrifice is against gods teachings. Early Christianity alsopracticed animal sacrifice rituals (Winkelman, 30).
Inconclusion, despite the diversity in the practice of both animal andhuman sacrifices, it is clear that, sacrifices have remained part ofthe different religious establishment. However, with the adoption ofmodernity, the practice of human sacrifice has abolished amongsacrifices. Animal sacrifices, however, remain in practice, but notas rampant as in ancient times. The evolution in the way sacrificesis conducted among different cultures, as well as adoption ofmodernity in the religions, there has been massive change to the waysacrifices are performed. However, sacrifices remain key to manyreligious establishments and cultural groups.
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Drinan,Robert F., and Jennifer I. Huffman. "Religious Freedom and theOregon V. Smith and Hialeah Cases." Journalof Church & State 35.1(1993): 19. AcademicSearch Premier.Web. 11 May 2016.
Faraone,Christopher A, and F S. Naiden. Greekand Roman Animal Sacrifice: Ancient Victims, Modern Observers.Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.
Rosenblum,Jordan, Lily C. Vuong, and Nathaniel DesRosiers. ReligiousCompetition in the Third Century Ce: Jews, Christians, and theGreco-Roman World., 2014. Print.
Winkelman,Michael. "Aztec Human Sacrifice: Cross-Cultural Assessments ofthe Ecological Hypothesis." Ethnology 37.3(1998): 285. AcademicSearch Premier.Web. 11 May 2016.