Philosophy of Sacrifice

This sacrifice is a symbol for the faithful who want to tread the path of truth, transcendence, and perfection
"It offers us an opportunity for internal deliberations on the plight of the poor and the destitute, imbuing with the spirit of generosity, compassion and care for the poor."
"It offers us an opportunity for internal deliberations on the plight of the poor and the destitute, imbuing with the spirit of generosity, compassion and care for the poor."Haseeb Ibn Hameed for Greater Kashmir

As Eid al-Adha or Eid –e-Qurban kicks off this week end. We have to reassert our faith and seek forgiveness from Allah (swt) for our sins and mistakes.

The first ten days of Zul Haj ,the last month of Islamic calendar, are very sacred, and Muslims pray and read Quran and say Tasbeehat and keep fast.

It offers us an opportunity for internal deliberations on the plight of the poor and the destitute, imbuing with the spirit of generosity, compassion and care for the poor.

Eid ul Adha is the culmination of Haj, marked with sacrifice undertaken by Muslims all across the world. Eid al-Adha enjoys special significance because the Day of Sacrifice marks the climax of Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.

This annual pilgrimage to Makkat ul Mukarama and Madinat ul Munawarah in Saudi Arabia is an obligation only for those people who are physically and financially fit to perform it, once in their lifetime.

The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar, as it follows the moon. The months are based on the moon’s phases. That means it is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.

The principles of Islam are rooted in human rights and human dignity; and public good in the Islamic tradition has priority over individual interests. Therefore, the intensions (Niat) occupies centre stage. This in turn leads to self righteousness..

The sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is a confirmed sunna (sunna mu’akkada) and not an obligation. The sacrifice is not a pillar in Islam but it is a prophetic practice of purification and sign of trust in God. Eid-ul-Adha strengthens the egalitarian aspect of Islam against any tendency on the part of its followers to develop individualism to an extent which would shatter their essential unity as believers.

If we pay attention to the philosophy inherent in Eid al-Adha, many paths will be opened up for us. A select Messenger of the Righteous One, Hazrat Ibrahim, made a sacrifice on Eid al-Adha. In some cases, sacrificing your loved ones is beyond sacrificing your life.

Hazrat Ibrahim was about to sacrifice a loved one in the way of Allah. Agreeing to sacrifice a young child whom Allah had bestowed on him at an old age after a lifetime of waiting is itself ultimate instance of faith and Trust. Hazrat Ibrahim said,” Praise be to Allah, Who has given me in old age Ismail and Ishaq. Most surely my Allah is the Hearer of prayer.

This sacrifice is a symbol for the faithful people who want to tread the path of truth, transcendence and perfection. This is impossible without a sacrifice. In fact, all the tests that we go through involve a sacrifice in one way or the other.

Sometimes this involves sacrificing your life and wealth. Other times it involves forgiving somebody for a comment he makes and insists on stubbornly.

Being tested means going through hardships and if we go through this hardship, we will reach the desired destination. But if we fail to utilise the talent within ourselves, we will fall by the wayside.

This is what a test is. Allah does not put us through divine tests in order to get to know us and see at what level we are. Divine tests are in fact a step towards one’s destination.

When we are tested and we manage to go through the hardships of tests, we enter a new situation, a new stage of life. A nation and an individual are not different from one another in this regard.

Hazrat Ibrahim, Allah be pleased with him, was subjected to a great test, yet he was fully prepared to follow Allah’s command and do as He instructed. He took his son to the top of Mount Arafat and brought with him a knife and rope. Upon reaching an appropriate place, he told his son about his dream and what Allah had commanded him to do.

Being an obedient son, Hazrat Ismail immediately obliged to the wishes of Allah (SWT) and his father and asked that his hands and legs be tied so that he may not struggle and that his father blindfolds himself so that he does not have to witness him suffer.

Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Ismail had just passed a difficult test from Allah and that is the philosophy of sacrifice. Since then, every year on the 10th of Zil Hajj, Muslims from around the world celebrate Eid-ul-Azha and perform Qurbani which is a lesson in obedience and submission.

The important thing is that on the day of Eid-ul-Adha, there is nothing better in the sight of Allah than the sacrifice of a halal animal. It is considered better to utilise animal meat to help the poor.

Helping the deserving and poor people can be done all year round but sharing their happiness on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha is an important and recommended act. There is nothing wrong with sacrificing money, but there is nothing wrong with helping the poor with the pieces of meat.

The festival also serves to reduce the economic inequalities and build up a contented society, sensitive to the needs of the have-nots.

While commemorating the historic sacrifice made by Hazrat Ibrahim, it lays stress on the fact that real happiness and true joy are not to be sought in the acquisition of wealth but giving away freely for the pleasure of Allah.

The festival is also a confirmation of the faith that man’s unique place is earned through absolute and unquestioned submission to Allah’s will and a total rejection of doubt and disbelief in the fulfillment of His commands.

Say, surely my prayers, my sacrifices, my life and my death are all for Rabul Aalameen.

Allah put Hazrat Ibrahim to a test, so that this supreme manifestation of the faith and unquestioned acceptance of His will may be set forth as a beacon light for the entire humanity.

The unquestioned submission and the unshakeable resolve to obey Allah without any thought of self is a great lesson. This submission solved many social issues.

Man’s emotional attachment to his wealth, and his unwillingness to part with it in the interests of society as a whole proved the most powerful obstacle to the creation of an egalitarian society envisaged by Islam, and it was through sacrifice on the occasion of this festival that this tendency was sought to be curbed.

The Holy Quran makes the intention behind the sacrifice of animals clear in the verse which says: It is not their flesh nor their blood that reaches Allah, but to Him is acceptable righteousness on your part.

The slaughter of an animal is a constant reminder of the motive. Only those who have spiritual insight can sense and feel its impact. It is a great example of piety, devotion and to rise above material temptations.

On this festival of Eid ul-Adha we must remember the ultimate sacrifice of the Hazrat Ibrahim, and fulfil our responsibility to show compassion to families living in poverty.

It is only when we are compassionate towards the less fortunate among us that Allah shows us his divine mercy.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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