Eid-ul-Adha marks one of the two holiest events in the Muslim calendar, commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) willingness to sacrifice his first-born son, Ishmael at Allah’s request, but before he could carry it out, Allah provided a lamb as an offering. In the Christian and Jewish versions of the same story, Abraham is asked to kill his other son, Isaac.
Known as greater Eid, Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The greatest day in the sight of Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, the Day of Sacrifice . . .”
The day marks the climax of Hajj, the sacred journey to the holy Kaaba, that is undertaken by about two million Muslims every year. But for those in Mecca, it marks the most dangerous point in the entire hajj with the pilgrims streaming back and forth between the symbolic stoning of the devil and the Kaaba.
Finally, the pilgrims go to the Grand Mosque for final prayers before returning to their families and continuing to observe the remainder of Eid al-Adha. The sacrificed meat is given to the poor.
Reh gayi rasm-e-azaan, rooh-e-bilaali na rahi
Falsafa reh gaya, talqeen-e-ghazali na rahi
– Mohammad Iqbal
The believers who can carry out the sacrifice of animals or udhiyah, it could be a sheep or a goat. The meat is divided into three parts, one third for that person, one third for the person’s friends and relatives and one third for the poor. Observers are also required to make donations and charity. ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stayed in Medina for ten years, offering sacrifice (every year)” ergo, a Sunnah.
For Indian Muslims, Eid al-Adha is marked by waking up early, wearing our finest dresses and observing the Eid Namaz. Many cities now have common namaz for different sects and women are encouraged to take part. After the Qurbani is done it is time for the feast. For the next few weeks, it means platefuls of delectable mutton biryani and succulent kebabs.
But the past few years have seen a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes. Muslims are now worried about their safety and also about making fellow citizens feel safe around them.
Our obligations as Indians have not changed, they have just become more difficult. As Muslims, we should rise above hate and try to be the best version of ourselves, not for the sake of appearing moderate but to uphold and mirror the honourable religious values enshrined in our religion.
That does not mean we sacrifice our religious freedoms at the altar of making people feel comfortable and safe, that sacrifice won’t be touched by Allah’s favour and replaced by a lamb.
It is important to note that the Quran emphasizes the objective of sacrifice being piety and compassion. Empathy for fellow humans is the primary attribute of piety.
“It is not their (sacrificed animals’) meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him”(22:37)
This year as we celebrate Eid, spare a thought for the victims of the Kerala floods. With over 200 dead and thousands forced to stay in relief camps. Let us try and donate in cash or kind to various charities.
Spare a thought also for those wailing wives who have lost their husbands to brutal acts of Lynching, for those children orphaned by barbaric acts of terrorism, for heartbroken mothers who children are missing, and for those away from their homes in line for the duty of the nation.
BakrEid thus unequivocally denounces human sacrifice, even when it appears divinely sanctioned. Although Allah seems to order the sacrifice of a human, it is ultimately stopped. As Muslim families around the world gather for the traditional Eid meal, they, in fact, celebrate the rescue of Ismael and the sanctity of human life.
This year, reclaiming the essence of Eid al-Adha seems more urgent. The festival serves as a reminder of the celebration of life, of the virtue of helping others and therefore let not materialism take over with an ostentatious display of wealth.
Like every year voices are raised that we should do away with Qurbani and rather give the money in charity. Interestingly, this argument comes mostly from avid meat eaters who enjoy their niharis and kormas throughout the year. The ritual is mandatory for those who can afford, if a person can afford to spend on an animal’s sacrifice once a year, then that person can for sure spend on giving charity. The two are not mutually exclusive and there is no reason to choose.
For those who would be doing Qurbani, be responsible. Ensure that animals are not slaughtered in the open but in designated slaughterhouses, safe disposal of the leftovers and hygienic handling should be the foremost concern, get in touch with municipalities to ensure cleaning takes place the same day. Also, do not post videos and pictures of animals being slaughtered. Being a good citizen that does not harm others is a basic tenet of Islam.
Let us reflect and remember our less fortunate brothers and sisters and include them in our celebrations. Share the meat and the biryani with a hungry family. Distribute some of your Eidi to the poor. Donate clothes you no longer wear to someone who needs them and if you can, buy them new ones.
Becoming the reason behind someone’s smile is blissful and a sincere prayer from someone who you helped is surely more precious than any gift in the world. In the words of Allah as written in the Holy Quran;
“And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loves those who do good.” – Surah Al-Baqarah (2:195)
May this Eid bring happiness for all of us.
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