Eid-ul-Azha: a festival beyond sacrificing animals

By Zahoor Ahmed

ISLAMABAD, Jul 08 (APP): Every year on 10th of Zul Hajj Muslims across the world celebrate Eid Al Azha with religious zeal and fervor to commemorate the great sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Ismail (Allah be Pleased with Them).

This ritual reminds the faithful of revered example of sacrifice and selflessness of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and his obedient and subservient son who bowed to Allah’s command manifesting unflinching obedience.

The saga starts with experiencing a dream by Jadd-ul-Ambia (Ancestor of Prophets) wherein he sees himself sacrificing his son Hazrat Ismail. Initially Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) took it as a routine dream.

But, when it repeated, he took it as will of Allah and decided to implement it. He took his son to Mount Arafat and revealed him Allah’s will. The son in return set an example of obedience asking his father to go for it even knowing that he was going to sacrifice his life.

Since, we all have heard many times how this incident culminated with the sacrifice of a white horned ram. But, the culmination was liked by Allah Almighty to the extent that it was made an obligation for the followers to sacrifice animals in the name of Allah and in commemoration of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (AS) obedience.

The Holy Quran has described him among those enjoying highest status and as “righteous.” This is because he was an exemplar in his submission to Allah (SWT) and was sincere in his worship. “When his Lord said to him ‘submit’, he said, ‘I have submitted [in Islam] to the Lord of the worlds.” (Quran 2:131).

By following the footsteps of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS), Muslims revive the same feeling of faith and submission to Allah Almighty’s will, by sacrificing healthy and beautiful animals and distributing their meat amongst relatives and the needy.

“It is the Sunnah of your father Ibrahim (AS). For every hair of the Qurbani, you receive a reward from Allah (SWT),” revealed the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

This is how Allah Almighty tests his loved ones and this episode carries a message for Muslims to remain steadfast, prepared and determined for any life test. Like many other good deeds, sacrificing animal on this holy festival means to sacrifice one’s desires for achievement of the highest ideals.

For faithful, sacrifice is the path of truth, transcendence and perfection. It brings the rich closer to poor by letting them share the meat and creates a sense of social harmony and brotherhood.

“Lesson behind the Eid-ul-Azha was to follow the command of Allah Almighty without any argument or excuse,” said Mufti Shafiq Ahmed commenting on significance of Qurbani (sacrifice).

Mufti Shafiq mentioned that Allah Almighty revealed in the chapter Al-Hajj of the Holy Quraan, “their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you, and give good tidings to the doers of good.”

He said Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) obeyed the command and tried to slaughter his son. Seeing his passion and love for Him, Allah’s call resounds immediately, ‘Enough Ibrahim, you have obeyed the command, and you are among those who perform Ihsan (excellence).’

“Allah Almighty described this sacrifice as a ‘great sacrifice,’ and made it obligatory for the coming generations,” Mufti Shafiq said. “All sacrifices are valuable, as long as they are carried out for the sake of Allah sincerely and with the best intention.”

“Allah needs your piety and subservience not only in sacrificing animals once a year but the whole life by following His and His Prophet Mohammad’s commands,” he explained.

He says since qurbani is proof of our obedience to Allah that’s why all companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to perform Qurbani. “Qurbani is not zakat and anyone can perform it regardless if they are poor or rich. This is sunnah of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and one of the most revered act before Allah.”

This respectful act of Hazrat Ibrahim was so liked by Allah that sacrificing animals has been made mandatory for the ummah of Prophet Mohmmad (Peace Be Upon Him) till the end of the world.

This ritual has also been made an important rite of Hajj where the pilgrims sacrifice animal to revive the spirit of Qurbani as manifested by Jadd-ul-Ambia (Father of Prophets), Hazrat Ibrahim (AS).

For the followers of the last Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) this festival carries a message of selflessness, subservience and brotherhood as enshrined in His teachings.

When it religiously makes the Muslims to obey and order spiritually, it also brings them closer socially as they collectively throng Eid places in the morning, offer prayers and then sacrifice animals and dine and exchange amusements collectively.

What is needed above all, is to celebrate this festival like it was celebrated by our Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) with dignity and simplicity instead of glamorizing and showing off affluence and sense of pride.

(An APP Feature)