Millennium Post

Spirituality, sacrifice and Eid-uz-Zuha

What is sacrifice? A mother sacrifices her sleep for her children. A father sacrifices all his comfort for his son. Prophet Mohammed himself has been the embodiment of sacrifice all his life. The sacrifice of the animals is just a ritual whereas the essence lies far beyond. A small incident from the life of Prophet Mohammed shows what sacrifice exactly is. Once he received a Christian guest from Najran in his house. There was no meal at night except some milk of a goat. The Prophet offered him the milk.

The Prophet’s family went without meal that night although it had starved the night before as well. This is the right way to sacrifice for others.Eid is also a day on which Muslims remember the deceased, visit the sick, see relatives and friends, overlook grudges, help the needy and in general show kindness and generosity to all those whom they know.

It is also a day for rejoicing and celebrating by getting involved in a good, clean and halal (rightful) enjoyment. Eid-uz-Zuha or Baqr-Eid, the festival of reminding one’s submission to God and the feeling of sacrifice and obedience attached to it, is also known as Eid-ul- Azha.The Islamic faith has it that Prophet Ibrahim was over 80 years old and childless. After sustained prayers, God blessed him with a child (named Ismael) at this ripe old age. Ibrahim was most gleeful and thanked God.

But soon after the child had grown a bit, God ordered Prophet Ibrahim to leave alone the child and his wife Hajra in a hot and parched desert. The Prophet immediately complied with God’s command. Hajra, without whimpering, kept searching for water for her son who was getting dehydrated. She went up the two hills there known as Safa and Marwa. Today an important part of the Haj ritual is taking rounds of these two hills near Mecca.

After taking rounds of these hills in search of water, when she returned, to her astonishment, she found that a spring of fresh water was spouting beneath the feet of her son. It was so fast that she had to say ‘Zam, Zam!’ (Stop, stop!). Today Zum Zum happens to be the most holy water for the Muslims. What the Ganga Jal is to Hindus, Zum Zum is to Muslims.

This first trial by God, in which Ibrahim never wavered to leave his wife and child in the forlorn desert, wasn’t the only one. There were more in store for him. Once while dreaming, the Prophet saw that God wanted some sacrifice again. Therefore, Ibrahim sacrificed his favourite camel.

But again the dream appeared demanding sacrifice. That time he sacrificed all his camels. But when the same command appeared thrice, Prophet Ibrahim understood that God demanded the sacrifice of his son Ismael. When he asked for his only son’s consent, Ismael was only too happy to ask his father to carry out God’s order. ‘I’ll be fortunate to be presented to God!’ was Ismael’s response.Now the child was to taken to the sacrificial altar. While on the way Iblis (Satan) tried to misguide both father and son that God’s demand was only too unethical and tyrannical, and that they should not follow Allah’s command.

It was futile on the part of the Satan and the father took out his knife to slash the throat of his son. At this the son shouted, ‘Father, please cover your eyes with a handkerchief so that you do not waver while sacrificing me. Ibrahim agreed and covered his eyes. After having accomplished the task Ibrahim removed the handkerchief from his eyes. What he found was something unbelievable. His son was laughing and playing. Instead, a ram was lying sacrificed at Ismael’s place. This was the reward of God.

The story also resembles the story of Job in the Bible where he too sacrificed his animals and every near and dear one to God. The Haj, world’s unique pilgrimage of its kind, gets completed the day.
Prophet Ibrahim went out for the sacrifice of his only son.It is quite clear that God didn’t want the sacrifice of flesh and blood for His own sake. What He wanted to test was the love and loyalty of
His Messenger.
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