Festival of sacrifice
Anis Fatema :
Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha are the two major festivals of Muslims. Being Islamic ways of celebrations these auspicious days have benevolent values based on sacrifice and spiritual moral appeal. After the Holy month of Ramadan Muslims of the world rejoice Eid-ul-Fitr. The sacrificing occasion of Eid-ul-Azha arrives with the message of Imanic devotion, purification and emancipation. Each and every ritual of Islam bears a vital aspect of learning and reflects a significant moral value. Eid-ul-Azha also approaches with the session of benevolence, purification and emancipation through the process of sacrifice of life and wealth. The sacrifice that is made on this auspicious occasion is a manifestation of Faith and reliance on the Almighty Allah.
Festivals come with moments of good cheer, exchanging gifts, greeting family and friends and above all the moment of expressing gratitude towards Allah Rabbul 'Alameen. Eid-ul-Azha is an embodiment of diverse human values along with the message of sacrifice, patience and constancy. It is celebrated all over the world on the tenth of Zhul-Hijja through the rituals of prayers and sacrifice in memory of the glorious sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim (As) and his son Prophet Ismail (As). For the sake of confirming their Faith in Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the world, both the father and the son obeyed the Command without giving a second thought to the painful circumstance that they would go through. The patient way in which both of the Prophets (Peace be upon them) offered to suffer any self-sacrifice bears the utmost eloquent testification of their Faith on Allah. Allah Subhanahuta'ala, being The Most Merciful, accepted their Heavenly devotion and blessed the son Ismail (As) with further period of life. The Great Prophet Ibrahim (As) set the example of sacrificing even the dearest one to prove his Faith on Allah. On the contrary, Allah Subhanahuta'ala absolved the life of Ismail (As) and declared his acceptance of the sacrifice made by the enlightened souls.
Following the footsteps of the Great Prophet. Muslims all over the world sacrifice animals that plays a vital role to enhance their Imanic strength. In the Holy Quran Allah Subhanahuta'ala says, "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him : He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify Allah for His guidance to you : And proclaim the good news to all who do right." (22 : 37) It is also testified in the Holy Quran by Allah, The Almighty : " He (Ibrahim) said, 'O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice. Now see what is thy view !" (37 : 102) The son whose very character was to be 'Halim' meaning ready to suffer and forbear, replied, 'O my father! Do as thou art commanded : Thou will find me, if Allah so Wills, one practising patience and constancy." (37: 102).
It was indeed a great trial for both of the Prophets. In one hand the father Prophet Ibrahim (As) filled with deep grief experiencing the thought of loosing his dearest son, on the other hand the son Prophet Ismail (As) who was to embrace death in order to fulfill the Command that laid upon his father by Allah. As the Prophet Ibrahim (As) came for consultation, Ismail (As) readily consented and made the moment of obeying the benevolent decision easier for the father. In a solitary corner near the hills in Mina Ibrahim (As) took his son Ismail (As) for the Supreme Sacrifice. Satan was present there with its mischievous planning; but it was of no use. In the Holy Quran the incident is narrated : ".. when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah) and He had laid Him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice) , We called out to him : O Ibrahim! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision". (37: 103-104) The son Ismail (As) was replaced by a ram . Allah in His Infinite Mercy declares in the Holy Quran : "Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this way obviously a trial - and we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And we left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times. Peace and salutation to Ibrahim!" (37 : 103-109).
Muslims are provided with a great opportunity of receiving the Divine Mercy and reward through sacrifice, patience and constancy on the Holy occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. We celebrate this Day with joy and happiness, pleasure and gaiety. It is our accountability to mould our life in the noble pattern of devotion towards Allah following the Divine incident occurred in the life of the Prophets Ibrahim (As) and Ismail (As). Merely purchasing an animal and slaughtering it on the day of Eid-ul- Azha can never derive the true significance of the Divine incident unless we uphold the determination of being a true devotee towards our Creator Allah Subhanahuta'ala, unless we achieve the capability to keep aside our worldly desires and to prefer a pious and righteous life. While sacrificing the animals over which we have control we should keep in mind that the Almighty Allah is our Creator and only He is the Supreme Power. We should always be there to lay down our own lives in the cause of Truth and Justice. The short span of life should not block our eyesight of seeing Truth as on the destined moment we have to embrace death.
(The writer is a translator, columnist, story writer, and poet.)