Madrassa students out to get your hides

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LAHORE: Religious seminaries (madrassa) in the city have cancelled the Eid holidays of students to initiate the yearly drive to prepare groups of students to collect the hides of sacrificial animals over the Eid holiday, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
Religious seminaries have assigned the students duties in different localities of the city to collect animal hides while tasking them with organising the advertisement campaigns: placing banners, requesting citizens to donate hides to respective seminaries.
With Eidul Azha a week away religious seminaries around the city and country have completed preparations to collect a maximum number of animal hides. The reasonable price and availability of free animal skins every year means religious seminaries bank upon Eidul Azha to generate a majority of their funds.
To perform this task hundreds of the religious organizations workers, most of them, seminary students perform the duty to collect animal hides. Smaller seminaries employ their students to collect animals hides, which the clerics thinking it their right to assign the skin collection task to them and therefore cancel their Eid holidays.
With hundreds of religious seminaries run in the provincial capital under the guidance of different sects, thousands of students are expected to be on the streets collecting hides for their respective seminaries. Seminaries of all sects actively campaign to collect animal hides and advertise through banners, pamphlets and sms employing a number of students to get donations.
The city’s reknowned seminaries including Jamia Ashrafia, Minhaj-ul-Quran, Jamiatul Muntazir, Jamia Nazamia, Jamia Hizbulahnas, Jamia Qaadsia, Jamia Abu Huraria employ their students to conduct the hide collection drive. Seminary students have already begun to rove the streets assigned the task of collecting the highest number of hides.
A popular slogan employed is to give hides as donations to victims of the country’s worst ever floods. While these activities continue, parents and old seminary students have raised alarm at the cancellation of their Eid holidays.
“My son studies at a seminary,” Khalid Sherazi, resident of Shahdara, told Pakistan Today, “he has been assigned hide collection duties during the Eid period. It is not fair that regular educational institutions give their students holidays but seminary students will collect hides.”
Abdul Rauf another resident of Shahdara expressed the view that he was disturbed by seminary students knocking on his door for hides. He noted that it was a tradition for the people in Shahdara to donate donate hides to the poor or the nearest mosques. He opined that Eid is a religious event and it was not fair that clerics assigns duties to students. “People should be free to choose where they donate the hide of sacrificial animals,” he said.
Ismail Khan, Iqbal Town resident, said that citizens do not ask seminary students what they intend to do with the hides and simply hand them over them. He said that in past groups of students would collect for in the name of the Kashmir cause – and therefore government monitoring should be accelerated.
He opined that seminary representatives earn millions for themselves through hide collection campaigns. Ismail raised the question that banned organisations are continuing to campaign for animal hide collections, only this time, in the the name of flood victims. An animal hide dealer, Muhammad Javid, said, “My regular source of hides after Eid are religious seminaries. I pay between Rs400 and Rs500 for goat skins and around Rs 5000 for the hides of larger animals.”
Abdul Qayyum Naemi, an old student of Jamia Naimia said that people should avoid handing over animal hides to seminary students to discourage collection campaigns and donate skins to the poor. “The cancellation of the holidays of seminary students is condemnable. Their families wait for them on Eid,” said Naemi. He called for the government to take notice of seminary authorities for not giving a holiday on eid.
A media official of Minhajul Quran told Pakistan Today that the organization has set up more than 300 points around the city to collect skins of sacrificial animals. He denied that any student was bounded to work as a volunteer in the skin collecting camps. He said four to five hundred volunteers belonging to the Minhaj Youth league conduct the hide collection campaign.
The organization has an organizational structure in which members from each town work to collect the maximum number of hides. He further said that they arrange sacrifice of 120 cows in Samnabad alone and have also deputed our young members to serve the people living in flood hit areas. Beside religious seminaries other organizations, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and hospitals are also requesting citizens to collect sacrificial animals for flood affectees.