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Marking sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim

Holiday time: fireworks in the United Arab Emirates as the country celebrates Eid al-Adha

This coming week, the Muslim world will be celebrating Eid al-Adha to commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ishmael (Peace be on both of them).

Eid al-Adha also marks the completion of the haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims. One of the main rituals of Eid al-Adha is the sacrifice of an animal, which is then shared among family, friends and the needy.

The Holy Koran recounts the following incident regarding Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Ishmael (as):

“And when he (Ishmael) was old enough to run along with him (Ibrahim), he said: ‘O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I offer thee in sacrifice. So consider what thou thinkest of it! He replied: ‘O my father, do as thou art commanded, thou wilt find me, if Allah pleases, steadfast in my faith’.

“And when they both submitted to the Will of God and Ibrahim had thrown him down on his forehead, We called out to him ‘O Ibrahim, thou hast indeed fulfilled the dream. This indeed do We reward those who do good” (Ch 37: 103-105).

This incident embodies the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Ishmael (as) to sacrifice themselves and their personal interests for the sake of God Almighty. It is this spirit of sacrifice and willingness to submit to the commandments of God which Muslims commemorate on Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Adha thus serves as a reminder to Muslims of the importance of submitting to the teachings of the Holy Koran and making every kind of sacrifice for the sake of God.

If followed, the simple but powerful message embodied by this celebration can bring about a drastic change in the disastrous situation prevailing in the Muslim world nowadays. The Holy Koran lays great emphasis on Muslims fulfilling their obligations and duties towards others, irrespective of their faith or lack of faith. It emphasises the need for justice, fair play, transparency and honesty in every dealing. It advises that if Muslims wish to win the pleasure of God, they must do their utmost for the spiritual, moral, social and economic uplift of mankind. If instead of focusing on fighting for their own rights through any cruel and unfair means, Muslims in accordance with Islamic teachings, focused on fulfilling their duties towards others, the bloodshed and chaos being witnessed in the Muslim world would abate. Muslim neighbours would then not slaughter each other simply because they belong to different sects of Islam and adhere to slightly differing ideologies.

The aforementioned incident also brings to light the excellent moral and spiritual upbringing of Ishmael (as) by his parents such that Ishmael willingly submitted himself to be sacrificed for the sake of God. Recently, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, addressing an audience of more than 35,000 people in the UK on the occasion of the annual Jalsa Salana (a three-day convention), emphasised the need for parents to focus on the moral and spiritual training of children, educate them regarding the true peaceful teachings of Islam and inculcate in them the value of hard work, honesty and justice in every sphere.

This is the only way to prevent Muslim youths from falling prey to the deviant and un-Islamic teachings of the so-called “religious scholars”. Muslim youths would learn that Islam being a peaceful religion strongly condemns the use of coercion and force in religious matters and instead advises that Muslims use powerful and logical arguments, gentle speech, sincerity in thoughts and prayer and benevolent actions to convey the message of Islam to non-Muslims.

Ignorance about the peaceful teachings of Islam must be educated away. It is only then that the fear of Islam will be dispelled from people’s hearts and Islamophobia will melt away, facilitating the integration of Muslims in western society.

May this Eid be an Eid of peace! Eid Mubarak!