Every year comes the 10th of Zulhijjah in the Muslim world. For Muslims the number of months in a year is 12. Its proof is in the Quran under Surah Tawbah (Repentance) 9:36. “Lo! The number of months with Allah is twelve by Allah’s ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth….” The Islamic calendar also known as Hijri calendar is based on lunar system with seven months of 30 days and five months of 29 days which begins at the time of new moon making a year of 355 days of lunar calendar.
The year commences with Muharram and ends with Zulhijjah. Tenth date of both the months has a historical, social and moral significance. The two ‘tens’ are observed worldwide. Hereunder is an overview of later.
On 10th of Zulhijjah Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is performed at Makkah, and sacrificing the animals at Mina is the part of the event of Hajj. Baqr Eid, Eid-ul-Azha, Eid-e-Qurban or Youm e Nahr (day of sacrifice) is celebrated throughout the world where Muslims reside. Animals like camel, buffalo, ox, cow, goat, fat-tailed sheep and sheep are sacrificed.
Their meat is distributed among neighbours, relatives or anybody else including non-Muslims who may accept it. People wear new clothes, and enjoy different dishes; some people also indulge in some hedonistic tastes of sight & stomach. This forms a conspicuous part of most of our celebration which else has an important intrinsic lesson to follow from the tradition of prophet Ibrahim AS since more than 4000 years ago.
The genesis of the event is in Prophet IbrahimAS who was passing through old age and had no son. At the time of migrating from his homeland he had with him his wife and nephew LuutAS . It was but natural that he prayed for a virtuous son which would divert his mind to get over grief of being away from home. As per the Quran (37: 100 to 111) he prayed Allah to vouchsafe him with a virtuous son.
Allah gave him tidings of that with a forbearing son Ismael AS from his second wife HajrahRA , of Egyptian origin, as the first wife SarahRA had passed the child bearing age. However, after the event of sacrifice of IsmaelAS SarahRA too bore a son named IssacAS. Both were prophets. When IsmaelAS (from whom the last prophet Muhammadpbuh descended) was old enough to walk with him, IbrahimAS one night dreamt as if he was sacrificing Ismael. He interpreted the dream of killing his son although he had not killed him finally in the dream. IbrahimAS narrated the dream to his son and enquired of his thinking. Enquiry was not to seek consent for sacrifice or else to forego. It was to see whether the offspring he had supplicated for was actually virtuous ready to sacrifice his life for the pleasure of Allah, and was not his dutiful son merely physically but morally & spiritually too.
He told his father to do as commanded and Allah willing he would find him steadfast. IbrahimAS along with a knife took his apple of eyes for sacrifice at the altar (at Mina) away from his home and family. For parents their children are the dearest thing in the world. They sacrifice everything for their wellbeing. Animals too love and care for their young ones till they reach the weaning period but humans have an everlasting bond. No substitute for parents is the admitted truth. Imagine the emotions of an aged father whose spiritual & physical solace was nearing termination soon.
Father-son duo surrendered to Allah. Father flung his son down upon his face lest fatherly affection should cause an impediment or delay in obedience to will of Allah. Think over the scenario. A great father laid down his virtuous son for sacrifice. As he was ready to strike the throat of his son Allah called unto him that he had fulfilled the vision. That was verily a clear test and Allah rewarded him and ransomed him, and left IbrahimAS for the later folk. IbrahimAS succeeded in the test of faith. Allah praised his loyalty and was pleased with his unquestioning faith. The good was rewarded as IbrahimAS was one of the believing slaves. As per exegetical writings on The Quran the angels with the command from Allah brought a fait-tailed sheep that was finally sacrificed in place of IsmaelAS. This led to Muslims’ practice of sacrificing domestic animals on 10th of Zul-Hijjah every year.
From this magnificent event of sacrifice which is beyond a ritual emanates at least the following lessons to follow:-
Allah testifies people to elevate them to higher levels and positions of spirituality & worldly honour.
The dream of a prophet used to be not an outcome of psychological or environmental reflections but one of the kinds of revelation from Allah.
One should be ever ready to surrender one’s dearest possessions, even life, before the Creator.
· Satan and satanic forces do not succeed before a prophet.
· Parental affection and love should not come in the way of Allah.
· Nothing can happen sans approval of Allah.
· If we sacrifice an animal under our command, we ought to submit to our Commander.
· Everything is for man who is neither for the earth nor for the sky but for Allah,
· To attain pleasure of Allah is the ultimate success.
Unless the quintessential of this factual occurrence is fulfilled sacrificing the animals will not serve the core purpose. Under such circumstance the sacrificial animals, if given power of speech understandable to people, will surely object to their killing. However, it should not be construed to dispense with the symbolism as repetition leads to ponder over the prophetic tradition for practice. We look more for tastes than treaty with Allah Who says in The Quran, surah A'raaf (The Heights)7:172, “And (remember) when thy Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their reins, their seed and made them testify of themselves,(saying): Am I not your Lord? They said: yea, verily. We testify. (That was) lest you should say at the day of Resurrection:Lo! Of this we were unaware.”
Do we stand the test on the touchstone of practice, answer has to be prepared?
The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.
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.