EID UL AZHA:ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY OF SACRIFICE – Adfar Shah & Amir Suhail Wani

Then when (the son) reached the age of serious work with him, he said: “Oh my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what thy view is!” (The son) said: “Oh my father! Do as thou art commanded: Thou wilt find me, if Allah so wills one practicing patience and constancy”! So when they had both submitted their will to Allah, and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead for sacrifice, we called out to him, “Oh Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” Thus indeed do we reward those who do right? For this was obviously a trial and we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 37, Verses 102-107).

 Islam is comprehensive in its commandments and each of its tenets embodies a deep philosophy in it. The same holds for Islamic concept of festivals. They are not the days simply meant for celebration but convey a deep seated message. “Eid Ul Fitr” is a moment of joy for those who cleanse their souls and purify their characters in the month of Ramadan. “Eid Ul Azha” is a commemoration and an anniversary of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (A.S) Sunnah. Its celebration is in fact representation the greatest of all philosophies, the philosophy of sacrifice. The philosophy of sacrifice forms the very basis of Islamic system of life. In all spheres of human activity sacrifice is demanded in one form or the other. The lack of spirit of sacrifice connotes the lack of faith and imperfection of character. The slaughter of animal on Eid ul Azha is a symbolic manifestation of the fact the true believer is always ready for sacrifice in the path of Allah. The spirit of sacrifice dilutes man’s affection of temporal worldly things and prepares him to look via much broader prism. Performing slaughter of an animal as demanded by Allah’s will is expected to prepare a man to kill his own devious and vicious desires. Sacrifice doesn’t stop at slaughter, but its philosophy must permeate the entire life of a man. He must happily kill all his evil desires that stand between him and his lord. Ahsan Danish beautifully says:

                                “janwar qurbaan karne se nahi chalta hai kaam

                                  Khwahishu ke shoal-e-raqsa ki qurbaani karo”

The act of sacrificing an animal is regarded as affecting the heart, as it is connected with righteousness, with submission to Allah, with humbleness of the heart, and patience under sufferings. So when one slaughters with the proper accompanying Intention and not for the sole purpose of eating the flesh on this occasion, one is again complying with the laws in the Holy Quran and completes yet another of the pillars of Islam. The animal sacrificed is symbolic of the animal in man (man’s nature).So, when he slaughters, he is reminded of the necessity to eliminate that “animal nature” which he has within him. It actually signifies the sacrifice of the sacrificer himself, and becomes the outward symbol of his readiness to lay down his life in the cause of the Supreme Creator of the universe.

Hazrat Ibrahim’s act of taking his beloved young Son Hazrat Ismail (A.S) is not only a story of sacrifice in Islam or an incident of a bygone era but the great episode reflects on the ideal ethos of the social institutions like that of family and religiosity in islam, It speaks of the ideal relations between a father and a son, where father orders and son takes happily and willingly out of piety and religiosity and respect for father. It has serious lessons for the son of today’s era where indifferent attitude towards parents and elderly abuse is the order of the day. Where old parents are treated as rotten vegetables, where even fathers/parents themselves also abuse and curse or mistreat their own children in many cases, where beating/scolding even young children, use of bad language against them is habitual and treated quite normal. This great Islamic episode also reflects the legendry stature of a Muslim women in that era like Hazrat Hajra, who could give birth to such a great obedient son and tells us the family setup of those times where a wife is so obedient to her husband compared to today’s Muslim women majority of whom hardly care for their husbands and hardly practice Islamic lifestyle, despite being Muslims. This Eid also teaches us what should be the practical authenticity of any religious decree from Almighty and what should be the true realization of Islamic codes, orders and principals. It tells how should a Muslim son look like, behave like, how should a Muslim wife and mother like and how should be a Muslim family or society like.

In today’s era even religious celebrations/festivals like Eid(s) have been merely reduced to dish preparations, meat eating and devouring of good tasty varieties, which must be a concern to rising Muslim Ummah.

The anchoring question is, are we really aware of observing Islamic festive occasions? Are we celebrating such days in a true Islamic Fervor?

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