Eid-ul-Adha: The sacrifice of all odds


The joy of Eid-ul-Adha is set to spread forth again. A festival which culminates the yearly pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, and thus commemorate the sacrifice God’s friend, Ibrahim (peace be upon him), made to Him.

For some non-Muslims, if they’re asked about Eid-ul-Adha, they’d jovially say, “this is the one they (Muslims) share meats.” Isn’t it meaty!? Well, the other one is Eid-ul-Fitr — the festival celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan.

Their understanding, however, resulted from the fact that there’s no other month wherein Muslims slaughter animals (cow, ram, sheep) of different breeds to God than this day of happiness. Thus, no Muslim is expected to be seen in a state of sadness or desperation on this particular day. Everyone ought to be extremely joyful.

Due to the magnificence of the day of Adha, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had recommended that even if a lady has no veil (Hijab or adornment), anybody with an additional veil should borrow her one so that she could get herself entangled in the joyful scenes.

On a normal day, too, a female Muslim is prevented from going to the Mosque when she’s having her monthly flow. But when her ‘flow’ coincides with Fitr or Adha, she’s allowed to near the prayer ground because of the greatness of the day. She’s just not permitted to offer the prayer. Yet, she can take part in the other forms of worship.

Across the globe, after the two units of prayers have been performed, hopefully on the day of Eid, especially in places like Nima, Fadama, Tudu and the likes, Muslims would, by that time had tied their animals (sheep, ram, and cow) returning home, chanting words of praises to God and smearing salutations on Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

If one thinks that Muslims aren’t many then this is the time to clear his doubts. Mammoth crowd of Muslims would fill the Independence Square, and other giant prayer squares in Kumasi, Tamale, Koforidua etc. They go to the prayer grounds in their numbers, showcasing ‘acceptable’ culture, different styles of dressing, fostering unity and solidarity.

Though this isn’t Ramadan, Muslims are bound by the traditions of Islam to hold a short fasting session until the prayer is performed. This would usher them into a spiritual cleansing before they stand in front of their Maker to pour their hearts out. Answered prayers are thus assured.

A number of animals would be slaughtered. For those who’d be making the sacrifice, they’d have to break their short fasting by slaughtering the animal.  Whereas those who wouldn’t make the sacrifice would break theirs with date or mere water.

And oftentimes one would see that house A, or mosque B sacrificing more animals than the other. Yours isn’t to speak ill about it; just keep calm. The Muslims understand it better. Notably, it’s not a show-off scene. “Compete with each other in righteousness and piety, but do not to engage and support one another in evil and rancor.” (Quran 5:2)

People with the wherewithal normally sacrifice more animals to show their gratitude to God, for endowing and sustaining them throughout the ages. God’s instruction is that “Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).” (Quran 108:2)

Muslims are mandated to have the meat divided into three and share one third of it with the non-Muslims in the community where they reside. The act of sharing of meat is not to show that Muslims have beautiful animals, or theirs taste better.

Chinua Achebe said: “A man who invites his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to redeem them from starving. They all have food in their homes, when we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound; we come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.” Therefore, the intent is to evoke the Islamic principle of maintaining a good relationship between Muslims and Non-Muslims.

Islam places a huge responsibility on its adherents to treat their neighbors aright. For example, a Muslim is not a Muslim if he could go to sleep full while his neighbors haven’t eaten. In some narrations, it is mentioned that the companions of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) became so stupefied as they noticed that their neighbors could even be made to inherit them due to how serious Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) looked anytime he spoke about the rights of one’s neighbors (especially non-Muslims) on him.

Eid-up-Adha is actually the day of sacrifice. The sacrificing of animals is just allegorical. What is  required to be sacrificed in the life of a Muslim are the “odds” of life. The misdeeds and misnomers! We all have one.

Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ismael (peace be upon them), collaborated and put the obedience of Allah into proper perspective. Though Allah tested him with his son, a ram was eventually provided for the sacrifice. Spiritually, there are more to Eid-ul-Adha than merely slaughtering animals.

The first odd we sacrifice is self-reliance. A Muslim is required to have self-esteem and confidence anyway, but to rely on God is next to nothing. Looking at the story, Ibrahim (as), though having had a vision, he trusted himself to carry out the order. He is to sacrifice his first son: human sacrifice!? No. What isn’t missing is his ultimate reliance on God. He knew very well that Allah will provide. Thus, as Muslims make the sacrifice, they become abreast that the trust in Allah is key. “And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.” (Quran 65:3)

The next odd which is sacrificed is ego. The dreams of Prophets could be a sign (or revelation). They are nothing but divine truth. For example, the dream Prophet Joseph (as) had about the stars and moon bending towards him.

Now, Ibrahim (as) could have hit his ego (that’s if he was egoistic) and abjure his son that he has to sacrifice him, for even his dream is a revelation. Listen to what Ibrahim said to his son, “…and when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” Quran (36:102)

Ismael’s response is more inspiring, satisfying, and absolute manifestation of his reliance in God. “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” (Quran 36:102)

This is what Islam teaches us that we always take the form of a council, or a referendum known as “Shura”. And people with ego hardly do so, especially when they are in the helm of affairs.

So as the sacrifice of animals is ongoing, Muslims are tasked to reflect that they’re sacrificing the ill-thought of them wanting to be addressed as the repository of knowledge. That they’d want to take decision and push it on to the throat of others without recourse.

When that is had — that’s listening to others — children develop the ability to think for themselves, and not their parents always thinking for them. And godly children won’t start disgracing their parents when they confide in them that they’re ‘broke’! Similarly, in a group, it shows that the leader is a listening one, and considers the inputs of his subjects as gratifying.

Coupled with the above mentioned, impatience is also an odd which gets sacrificed. The story of Ibrahim (as) best teaches ‘patience’. While He was moving towards seeing to the sacrifice of his son, his patience level, like that of Jacob, whose sons connived and sold Joseph, was indeed a ‘beautiful patience’. He knew that Allah will provide.

But it is only with patience that would get to execute such a great deal of trust in Allah. “But if you are patient – it is better for those who are patient.” (Quran 16:126)

The animals also submit themselves for the sacrifice. The odd Muslims sacrificed here are defiance and rebellion. Allah calls us that “And die not except in a state of total submission to Him.” (Quran 3:102)

A Muslim is required to submit wholeheartedly to God. Not that he’d pick and choose what’s evil and what’s not evil. That he’d drink alcohol and say fornication is evil. Or he’d backbite and say that insults are forbidden. And that he’d say giving and taking loan are evil, but he doesn’t pay his annual charity (Zakat). No. A Muslim refrains from all forms of evil as much as he can. Thereby submitting to God.

Let’s not forget that the animals sacrificed are just symbolic. Allah cautioned that “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Me: it is your piety that reaches Me: 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.” (Q22:36-37).

The conclusion of the whole matter about Eid-ul-Adha is that Muslims will attain the level of piety where Ibrahim (as) reached and he could say: “Surely, my prayer and my sacrifice, my life and death are all for Allah the Lord of the worlds”.  (Quran 16:162)

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