Human Sacrifice in Hinduism and Other Polytheistic Religions

When the fire began to scorch this poor woman, she contrived to disentangle herself from the dead body and creeping from under the pile, hid herself among some brush-wood. In a little time it was discovered that there was only one body on the pile. The relations immediately took the alarm, and searched the poor wretch; the son soon dragged her forth, and insisted that she should throw herself on the pile again or drown or hang herself. She pleaded for her life at the hands of her own son, and declared that she could not embrace so horrible a death—but she pleaded in vain; the son urged, that he should lose his caste, and that therefore he would die or she should. Unable to persuade her to hang or drown herself, the son and the others present then tied her hands and feet, and threw her on the funeral pile, where she quickly perished.”[1]

This is what a son did to his mother in 1796 at village Majilpur near Jaynagar under district 24-Parganas, some 15-20 miles to the south of Calcutta. This was an enactment of Sati, or, widow burning, as practiced by Hindus.

This nauseating and horrifying account of a Hindu son killing his own mother by burning her on the funeral pyre is bad enough. What is cause for further grief is the reason why the son killed his mother. He was ashamed of losing his caste. This is baffling. For the sake of caste, a person is willing to kill his own mother so horribly? Why would a person degrade himself in this way? What could push a human being to these lows?

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Hindu Scripture states the following:

Mahabharata Vana Parva 3.116 “And then Rama, the slayer of hostile heroes, came to the hermitage, last of all. Him the mighty-armed Jamadagni, of great austerities, addressed, saying, ‘Kill this wicked mother of thine, without compunction, O my son.’ Thereupon Rama immediately took up an axe and therewith severed his mother’s head.”[2]

We understand from the above that the polytheistic religion of Hinduism includes human sacrifice.

As one studies the polytheistic religions, there seems to be a common factor amongst them: Human Sacrifice.

In Africa, where people worshipped their ancestors, servants or slaves were buried alive with their deceased, or, they were first killed and then buried.[3]

In Mexico, people believed that the sun needed human nourishment, so they sacrificed thousands of people during the Aztec and Nahua corn ritual.

The Inca sacrificed people when a ruler came into power.[4]

In China, those who served the ruler were sacrificed with him upon his death.

In Japan, followers of the Shinto religion also offered human sacrifice.[5]

In Egypt, the people believed that the River Nile had divine-like characteristics and would make offerings to it. Before Egypt came under the shadow of Islām, the people would make an annual sacrifice of a young girl to the Nile. Some historians say that the sacrifice was made to the River God: Hapi. They believed that if this offering was not made, the Nile would not flow for the coming year. This evil pagan custom was abolished and ended with the advice and counsel of Sayyidunā ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘As radiyallāhu ‘anhu and Sayyidunā ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattāb radiyallāhu ‘anhu.[6]

What is heartbreaking to note is that some scholars have reported that later on, people began re-enacting the pagan custom by offering a clay effigy of a young girl and made that as an offering to the Nile. We seek the protection of Allāh Ta’ālā from falling into misguidance after He has blessed us with the light of īmān and Islām.[7]

Now, before going any further, let us understand a basic difference between the sacrifice of these polytheistic religions and the sacrifice offered in Islām.

The most notable example of sacrifice in Islām is the annual Eid-ul-Adha, where a sheep or goat or cow or camel is offered as a sacrifice for the pleasure of Allāh Ta’ālā. The history of this significant event involves the initial command to sacrifice a human, i.e., the son of Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhi as-salām. However, Allāh Ta’ālā clearly states that this was a major test of faith and the human sacrifice was not the objective.

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On the other hand, in the polytheistic religions, the sacrifice is taken as the objective – as the deities for whom the sacrifice is done – are non-existent to begin with. From this, we understand that the polytheists hold on to custom, and deviance – sacrificing their own in the process, to please none other than Shaytān. At this point, the following verse of the Noble Qur’ān strikes the heart and mind with a fascinating light:

‘O my father, do not worship Satan. Indeed Satan has ever been, to the Most Merciful, disobedient.’[8]

Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhi as-salām advised his polytheistic relative not to worship Shaytān, whilst he worshipped idols. Hence, in essence, polytheism is Satanism.

With the sacrifice of a human being, a mother, a father, a son, a daughter or anyone else, the trauma that follows is unimaginable. This is what polytheism like Hinduism brings upon mankind.

In Islām, any sacrifice made for the sake of Allāh Ta’ālā is highly valued and appreciated in the Divine Court. Muslims throughout the world will bear testimony to the fact that sacrifices they made, whether financial or physical – on condition it was for the sake of Allāh Ta’ālā – they saw the many wonderful fruits of it later on. This is even before they will enjoy the great rewards for it in the hereafter. May Allāh Ta’ālā bless us all with the correct understanding. Āmīn

RELATED: Kashmir: The Forgotten Struggle and the Terror of Hindu Nationalism


  1. Biswas, A K, Social and Cultural Vision of India, Pragati Publications, Delhi, 1996, pp. 53-54.[]
  6. The History of Islām vol.1 p.333,
  7. Ibid
  8. Sūrah Maryam: 44


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