God Save Poutine

Image of Festival of Sacrifice placard Yesterday was an interesting day. It was the start of Eid al-Adha. As you know, it is all Abraham's fault. 'O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!' So We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. And when (his son) was old enough to walk and work with him, (Abraham) said: 'O my dear son, I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!' (The son) said: 'O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah wills, you will find me one practicing patience and steadfastness!' So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead, We called out to him saying: 'O Ibraheem!' You have indeed fulfilled the vision; surely thus do We reward those who do good. Most surely this was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations. 'Peace and salutation to Abraham!' Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. Surely he was one of Our believing servants. As a reward for this sacrifice, Allah then granted Abraham the good news of the birth of his second son, Is-haaq (Isaac): And We gave him the good news of Is-haaq, a prophet from among the righteous Abraham had shown that his love for Allah superseded all others: that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dearest to him in submission to Allah's command. So says the Quran. Muslims commemorate this ultimate act of sacrifice every year during Eid al-Adha.

Samir is not only a master of mosaics, but is also a plumber and a butcher. This latter skill makes him sought after at this time of year. It is clear from the Quran that humans are required for the sacrifice. There are lots of Muslims, especially Shia, who are available for this ritual. Yet most Muslims feel the need to substitute animals to prove their faith. This is the reason why sheep and cows get nervous around Eid. Samir was pressed into service to butcher a bull for the Festival. I came home early from the Library in order to be there to pick up young Adam where the school bus drops him off down the road. His mother was away and Samir was not yet back from his religious duty. We got home to find that Samir had arrived. The house reeked of the smell of blood. I found Samir in the garage wielding a large knife. There were chunks of bull scattered all over the floor on garbage bags. Somehow I intuited that this was not a government-inspected bovine dismemberment.

Samir handed me a plate of about 8 pounds of fresh steaks for having picked up Adam. I thanked him and immediately sent the meat to the freezer. It is a lot of meat but I think I will reserve it for Bruno The Boxer, my dogphew. Don't get me wrong, I could use the protein. I think it was hearing that it took Samir 30 shots to dispatch the animal. The bull died in pain and fear, releasing massive amounts of adrenaline into the meat before it died. I prefer Rosemary's gently-terminated Yaks, thank you very much. Samir told me a story later on about how he had bagged his first deer in Canada. He claims that he ran it down until it was too tired to escape. He jumped it, tied its legs and carried it out on his shoulders. On the way home, he was stopped by the police who asked him what he was doing. He told them that he had captured the deer and that he was going to kill it. The deer was to feed his family. The cops were dubious about his story. He didn't have a hunting licence. The senior officer didn't believe anyone could run down a wild deer. Samir put down his deer and cut the ropes. He released the deer. After a couple of minutes, he went after it and ran it down again. He brought it back to the officers on his shoulders as before. The cops were impressed and the senior officer let him go.

This is relevant to this overall story because Samir went on to tell me how he had dispatched the bull. The bull was free to roam a fenced-in field. Every time Samir climbed over the fence, the bull charged him. Samir first fired three .22 calibre shots into the bull's forehead. The bull ran off. Samir then would climb over the fence to get the bull to chase him and then hop back over the fence. He then fired three more shots into the bull's forehead. He repeated this until the bull could no longer chase him and just stood there, exhausted and dying. Samir wanted the bull to go down but it stubbornly clung to life. Eventually, the thirtieth shot finally made the bull drop to its knees, whereupon Samir cut its throat with his butcher's knife.

I asked Samir why he had not used a larger calibre to kill the bull; say a 30-06 or a .308 calibre. Only one shot would have been needed. He boasted that you can kill anything with a .22 calibre if you knew how to shoot in the right place. I did not argue the point. After all, Samir is a veteran of the Egyptian Army and was trained by the US Army. Meanwhile, young Adam (he's seven) had forgotten his homework at school again so I couldn't tutor him. He was watching TV when I said to him, "There is a bull's head in the garage!" That got his attention. He rushed down the stairs but his rush turned into a tumble. What is it about Semites and tumbling down stairs anyway? He charged into the garage. Sure enough, the huge bull's head was on the floor staring at him, with its tongue dangling out of the side of its mouth. It was the coolest thing that Adam had yet seen in his life. I left him grinning from ear to ear, as his father slashed away with Semitic vigour at the meat.

Submitted by Jean Brasseur, 07 November 2013