Eid marks Abrahams obedience to God
Last Friday, Muslims in Bermuda celebrated Eid-ul-adha. Eid-ul-adha is celebrated every year by the Muslim world on the tenth day of Dhul Hijah, the final month of the Islamic calendar. It marks an important rite of the pilgrimage (Hajj) of Muslims to the Holy city of Mecca. On the day, pilgrims offer animal sacrifices to commemorate the sacrifices of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his son, Ishmael.
Abraham was a beloved prophet of God who together with his family, set forth shining examples of steadfastness, faith and sacrifice for God Almighty.
When Abrahams son Ishmael was still a baby he was commanded by God to leave him and his mother, Hagar, in the desert in the valley of Mecca. He and his wife carried out Gods command without the slightest hesitation and submitted themselves wholly to Gods will. When the provisions that Abraham had left for his wife and son was used up, Hagar ran back and forth between the hills Safa and Marwa, in search of water for her baby. At last water appeared and trickled down a hill and this was the discovery of the spring known as Zam Zam. The spring attracted many caravans and gradually the area surrounding the spring became a town. It was in this town Mecca that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him, pbuh) was born.
Abraham and Ishmael set forth another shining example of sacrifice when years later both got ready to carry out what they conceived was another divine command that Ishmael should be sacrificed. When Abraham got ready to sacrifice Ishmael, God stopped him in the following words: O Abraham thou hast indeed fulfilled the dream.' Thus indeed do We reward those who do good.' (37:103-105). Abraham was then directed to sacrifice an animal. In reality, Abraham was not required to fulfill his vision in the literal sense. It was only a practical demonstration of his intention and preparedness to sacrifice his son which was desired of him. The vision had already symbolically been fulfilled in Hagar and Ishmael having been left by Abraham in the valley of Mecca.
Over the years, this intended sacrifice was forgotten until the Holy Prophet Muhammad reminded Muslims of the spirit of sacrifice of Abraham and his family.
Therefore, Muslims all over the world commemorate each year this sacrifice by slaughtering animals. Those who cannot afford to go on the Pilgrimage, and those who have discharged this duty once, are required to celebrate this day at their respective places and thus demonstrate practically the oneness of their faith and devotion to the Creator of all of the worlds. Early in the morning after sunrise, special Eid prayers are offered in congregation and it is expected that the Muslims living in the city and the neighboring villages should all gather together at this occasion. Animals are slaughtered and divided among friends, neighbors and the poor to eat.
The Holy Quran succinctly describes the significance of animal sacrifice in the following verse:
Their flesh reaches not Allah, nor does their blood, but it is your righteousness that reaches Him. (22:38)
Hence, animal sacrifice is not a means of atoning for sins nor to appease God nor to celebrate Ishmaels escape from death.
Instead the act of sacrifice is symbolic, reminding the person who offers it that as the animal is inferior to him so he, also, is inferior to God. He should therefore, be ready to sacrifice himself and all his personal interests and inclinations for the sake of God when he is required to do so as detailed in the following verse of the Holy Quran:
Say, certainly my prayers and my sacrifices, and my life and my death are all for the sake of Allah, the Creator, the Sustainer of all the worlds (Ch.6:V.163).
This is the true significance of Eid-ul-adha.
Shabnam Jheengoor is a membner of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and can be contacted at email@example.com
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