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Message Of Eid ul Adha

Eid in commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s Sacrifice
Published in The Hitavada Nagpur, 26-10-2012.

Historical incidents carry spiritual lessons for all. But when they are reduced to rites and rituals, spirituality gets lost and merely traditions remain. A lot of dust will be kicked and much rhetoric would be unleashed, but the soul would remain unquenched. Hardly ever any attention is paid to emulate the great souls, but the festivals are celebrated with immense pomp and grandeur. Teachings of almost all great men get lost in the din of the celebrations. The message of peace, harmony and blessings for the enemy given by the Prophet Muhammad are forgotten. Fervor of celebrations goes on. Let us see the significance of the Eidul Azha here.

It is a tradition of the Indian subcontinent to give nick names like Chunnu, Munnu and Pinto to small kids. Sometimes it is even difficult to figure out if a particular name is for a male child or a female. Similarly, a festival celebrated with great gusto in the Indian subcontinent has come to be known as ‘Bakri Eid’ here. Through out the world it is called Eidul-Azha. But we have our nick names. Eid festival is meant for celebration for human beings, not for animals.

This festival has continued to be celebrated for the last five thousand years in memory of certain devoted acts of Prophet Ibrahim, who is known to be the great patriarch of the three monotheistic religions called Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Allah says in the Quran:

“…. Be in the spiritual doctrine of your father Abraham; He has  named you ‘Muslim’ (one who is submitted to One God) in earlier revelations as well as in this one, so that the Messenger is witness over you. And you are witness over humankind! (22: 78)

Prophet Ibrahim was born in an elite family of the most famous city of Mesopotamia which was then known to be the most civilized place around the world.  Any civilization at its zenith is vulnerable to several diseases just as a healthy body gets afflicted with viruses. Such civilizations begin to nurture selfishness, tyranny, nudity, crimes, corruption and disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Similarly, superstitions, exploitation, crimes, corruption and polytheism become commonplace. That’s not all. Such societies do not tolerate reformers and begin to dislike the talk of reform.

Prophet Ibrahim (in English, Abraham) was born in such circumstances in a well-known family. Ibrahim could not mould himself according to the prevalent ways of the society and began to look for ways to reform the society. His quest began for a framework that could address all the maladies at a time. Man happens to be an animal who does not accept any fetters on his freedom. But when he is afraid of severe punishment on following his own whims and fancies, he would accept and abide by moral laws. But if he is assured that corruption or any other means could save him from the punishment, he begins to employ such tricks and manipulates these laws. But then the Qur’an reminds the human beings:

“No! The fact is, human does indeed transgress, when he looks upon himself as autonomous. Indeed, towards your Lord is his return.” (96: 6 to 9)

Greed takes a corrupt society fully into its grip and blind beliefs begin to take roots in such societies. Thereafter, a class of people in the garb of religion begins to reinforce such superstitions and propels the society forward. But the gracious God and the highly compassionate Lord of this universe brings forth such people from the society who guides the humanity towards the righteous path.  

These great reformers remind the humanity of the day when everyone would have to face their account before God and have to be punished for each of their sins and crimes.  No crime, no misdeed can be hidden from the sight of that Lord who is ever watchful and ever vigilant. No tyrant, no oppressor can get away from Him, be he the emperor of his times. No intercession would work, no auditor, no lawyer and no solicitor would be able to bring any remission for a sinner. Everyone would be busy with his own account and would find no escape from guilt.

The youthful Ibrahim was deeply distressed at such great moral decline of the society. He was trying to discover if there is anyone lording over this world? Or if there is someone who would call everyone to account? How could different people live in appalling poverty and affluence at the same time? How could injustice, tyranny, corruption, exploitation, deceit, and bloodshed prevail in a society and there be no one to regulate the affairs of the humanity?  How could the Lord of the universe who has created this earth, the sun and the moon, the stars and the constellation, the soil and the forests, the clouds and the rain, the morning and the evening, the day and the night with such perfection, could leave the humanity to lead their lives in an utter disorderly fashion?

Ibrahim began to apply the reason and common sense that each human individual has been naturally endowed with. A stage came when he attained the enlightenment. He came to the conclusion that the Lord of the world has given a thinking mind to this two-legged being in order to think. He has set the human beings at liberty to do whatever they think fit, but simultaneously be aware of the Day of Judgment when they would be called upon to account for their all misbehavior, immoral and criminal actions. The Lord has thus created a system whereby the man has been allowed to operate within a limited freedom for a while but has to be constantly reminded that this freedom be better utilized for virtues rather than vices in the man’s eternal interest. If he were to put this freedom for crimes and sins, he would be endangering the future of the human society and his own.

As soon as Prophet Ibrahim began to invite the fellow beings towards the enlightened path, he encountered opposition. The dominant elite criticized him and raised a storm against the Divine message he had begun to disseminate. Even his own father turned against him and asked him to go away. Ibrahim left the place in pursuit of the worship of the one Supreme God.

Historians have recorded that he migrated to Kan’an, a distant place at the border of today’s Turkey. A devout and extremely obedient servant of God, he began to follow the Divine Commandments. He was asked to settle his elder son Ismail in the midst of sandy wastes of Arabian Peninsula. God blessed the habitation with a natural spring of water which came to be known as Zamzam. It continues to flow even today not only quenching the thirst of the inhabitants of Makkah, but it is carried to far off lands by the millions of pilgrims who gather there all year round. Today, this water is pumped through heavy machines to even the city of Madinah, 400 kilometres north of Makkah. It is to be borne in mind that the entire Arabian Peninsula has no river.

Later, the father and the son together built a place of worship for one God. Such was his devotion to God that He designated him as the leader (Imam) of the entire humanity. God says in the holy Quran: 

“And when Ibrahim was tested by few commands from his Lord, he fullfilled them. The Lord said: I will make you Imam (leader) for all humankind. Ibrahim asked: “And my children too!” The Lord said: “My promise is not for the transgressors.” (2: 124)

Hazrat Ibrahim was put through the greatest of the trials in his old age when he saw in dream that he is sacrificing his son Ismael, his most beloved, for seeking pleasure of The Lord. He talked with his son and asked his consent. As usual Ismail took it as GOD’s commandment and presented himself for sacrifice. Now that the duo headed for the ground for the final act of sacrifice, the Lord called out: “O Ibrahim! You have indeed realized the dream …” Your Lord did not wish a human sacrifice. Instead you may sacrifice the domestic animals. It was a great test of Ibrahim’s devotion.

Now it is clear that God does not demand the human sacrifice, nor the sacrifice of one’s own offspring. He is all-forgiving and forgives even the worst of sins committed by the human beings. Ibrahim’s willingness for the sacrifice of his most beloved thing was however ceremonially consecrated for the generations of human beings in future.  At that time, the animals were the most loved possessions after the offspring. They used to provide food and nutrition, their hides would be used for tents, their wool for the making of clothes and their fat for the burning of lamps. The use of natural resources continues to this day in many parts of undeveloped world and difficult terrain where modern day facilities are not available. But it is also clarified in the Holy Qur’an that Allah does not need the flesh and blood of the animals, but HE only tests the piety, devotion and spirit of sacrifice in His slaves.

HE also ordained that the meat from the sacrificed animals would have to be divided into three parts, one for the poor and the poverty-stricken sections of the society, another for the relatives and friends and the third may be consumed by the people who sacrifice the animals.

Thus, this festival rather than being just another occasion for celebration and jubilation is designated as the festival of sacrifice. It therefore calls upon us to at least take a vow to sacrifice our bad habits. We should sacrifice our anger and sense of revenge.  We should not indulge in searching faults of others, nor we would show contempt to anyone, nor would we give nicknames to others.

It is the need of the hour that we inculcate in ourselves the habit of service to the humanity and sacrifice for the sake of our Lord.  It is better that we care for those Indians whose daily endeavour cannot ensure them two square meals a day. We should pay attention to those who cannot arrange for their treatment and those who have to lead their lives on footpaths exposed to the elements.

The disparities between the rich and the poor are soaring by each day in our beloved country. If any measures initiated by us could rescue them from misery, it would be a great sacrifice. If these sacrifices are accepted by God, it would ensure our welfare and success in the life after death. We will attain salvation. Our brethren too would come to share our joys and festivities. I extend you the good wishes for the Eidul Azha. This is proper name of the festival. Coming out from the darkness to light.