Reality of sacrifice in Eid-al-Azha: There is no fantasy of symbolic act in Islam

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By Dr MA Rashid* 

The companions of Prophet Hazrat Muhammed Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam (Peace and blessings be upon him) asked, “What is this sacrifice(Qurbani)?” He answered that it is the Sunnah of your father Hazrat Ibrahim Alaihissalam(Peace be upon him).” This historic Qurbani incident took place about five and a quarter thousand years ago in “Mina” near “Khana-e-Ka’aba” located in Mecca, a desert region of Arabia.

This touching event will keep the faith fresh and remain enlightening and memorable for the Muslim community throughout the life.

Sacrifice is very important among different forms of worships performed for Allah. The reason for this is that Hazrat Ibrahim Alaihissalam was the most beloved prophet of Allah. Allah himself conferred upon him the title of “Khaleel”, which means an intimate friend. This incident of the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim Alaihissalam provides an example of a practice which show unlimited and superlative love for Allah.

Hazrat Ismail(Peace be upon him) was the only and very beloved son of Hazrat Ibrahim Alaihissalam and the only support of old age. Allah wanted to see and show people that the love of Hazrat Ibrahim(Peace be upon him) is more towards his son or more towards Allah.

It may be noted that Hazrat Ibrahim(Peace be upon him) offered many sacrifices in the love of Allah, but Allah wanted special sacrifice in His love instead of these sacrifices. In Surah Saaffaat, lines 101 to 107 of the Holy Qur’an, the significance of the sacrifice is presented in such a way that “And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you think!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’ Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of As-Sabireen (the patient ones).”

Finally when both of them surrendered themselves (to Allah) and Ibrahim Alaihissalam laid the son on the floor (so what must have been the scene at that time, think!) and we called him saying, “O Ibrahim! You have fulfilled the dream (vision)! Verily! Thus do We reward the Muhsinoon(those who do righteous deeds)”. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial and We ransomed him(Ismail(Peace be upon him)) with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram);And We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. Peace be upon Ibrahim”. The great sacrifice refers to an animal(sheep), which was then presented by the Angel of Allah to Hazrat Ibrahim Alaihissalam in order to sacrifice it in lieu of the son. It was embellished with the words of a great sacrifice as it was the ransom of the faithful, patient and brave son of Ibrahim Alaihissalam. That is why this Sunnah(practice) of Ibrahim(Peace be upon him) was called “Sunnat-e-Jaariya”(perpetual way) and was ordained forever for the generations to come.

According to historians, the incident took place on the hill of “Mina” near Mecca where Hajj pilgrims offer sacrifices on 10th Zilhajj(12th Month of Hijri calendar). In exchange for Hazrat Ismail Alaihissalam, the horns of teh animal that was sacrificed, were safely kept in Khana-e-Kaaba till the time of Hazrat Abdullah bin Zubair(Allah be pleased with him). This incident of Qurbani is given special place in “Manaasik-e-Hajj”(Hajj rites).

In Arabic, “Azha” refers to the sacrifice of a legitimate animal. Selling animal for sacrifices brings many benefits to cattle rearers. The cattle business fetches a significant amount of money for the cattle roarers from rural areas. This promotes animal husbandry. Especially the animal vendors of Qurbani get a big relief for many economic problems.

Thus from this organic and natural management; according to the principles of remittance, wealth reaches every corner of the country to livestock owners and capitalists do not have a means of accumulating money.

Apart from this, we should also pay attention to aspects of sacrifice. This kind of sacrifice from Hazrat Ibrahim(Peace be upon him) was not demanded spontaneously by Allah but his whole life has been devoted to the sacrifices and is also memorable.

For the sake of Allah, he was deprived of parents’ love and affection, their wealth, amenities and comforts. Hazrat Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) was also deprived of the support of family and relatives and prospect of priesthood. He had to leave his beloved country. The Nimrood, (the king of Mesopotamia) threw Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) for his love of Allah.

In the desire and emulation of Allah, he had to leave his beloved wife and the only son in a barren desert and go to other countries to introduce the way of Allah.

When this child grew up, Allah ordered Ibrahim(Peace be upon him) to sacrifice the son by putting knife over his neck and leave all the support of the world and become a “Muslim Haneef” to present a complete depiction of Islam. The line#131 of Surah Baqrah of the Holy Qur’an states that “when his Lord told him to be a Muslim (obedient), he said without hesitation, I became a Muslim of Rabbul Alameen(the sustainer of the universe)”. Islam means absolute obedience, complete surrender and true loyalty.

Therefore, this unique sacrifice can only be done by one who is truly a follower of Allah in his whole personality and in his entire life, who is loyal to Him in every sphere of life and who has surrendered everything to Allah.

If our life is not a testimony that we are Muslim and loyal slaves of Allah and we have not devoted our whole life to Allah, then the Sunnah of Hazrat Ibrahim cannot be refreshed by just sacrificing the animal. At the time of the sacrifice, it is said that “In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest, O Allah, accept this sacrifice on my behalf, just as you accepted the sacrifice of your friend Ibrahim(Peace be upon him) and your beloved Prophet Hazrat Muhammed(Peace and blessings be upon him)”. Subsequently, in Surah Hajj, line 37 of the Holy Qur’an, it is said that “neither the flesh nor the blood of the sacrificed animals reaches Allah but your Taqwa(piety).”

This is the essence of Taqwa and sincere obedience is the soul of sacrifice. Only the sacrifice offered to Allah attains the status of acceptance which the people of Taqwa present with His passion. These feelings of Taqwa are not created merely by saying “I am a Muslim of Rabbul Aalameen” or praying whenever you wish, fasting in Ramadan and leaving afterwards, doing any specific work of Islam and then leaving, committing Shirk(assigning partners to Allah) in conduct and affairs, immorality, fraud, falsehood, false evidence etc. or spend life in an arbitrary way or waste the life and strength, abilities in such acts like suicide, murders, and expect from Allah that He will accept the sacrifice of our Eid-ul-Azha? Which is absolutely uncertain.

Similarly, there is no exemption like symbolic sacrifice in this sacrifice in the  same way that we do not behave symbolically in transactions, buying, selling, catering, marriage, but in exchange of money and checks or couple of bride and groom are seen in the marriage. So, no kind of symbolic sacrifice can be imagined in Islam.

*Homeopathy doctor and active social worker based in Nagpur

 

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