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Id – Al- Adha: A Sacrifice Still Misunderstood!

Sheikh Muhammad Mahmud Turi
In the name of Allah who states “We called out to him, O Abraham! Though hast already fulfilled the dream! Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was a clear trial. And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice” Q37: 100 – 104.

May His everlasting peace and blessings be upon our master Muhammad and his gifted progeny who demonstrated the greatest sacrifice.

We are still in Zulhajj, the twelfth month of Islamic calendar. As we said earlier, it is sacred and highly respected by all Muslims.

Therefore, we are generally encouraged to put more effort in all forms of worship with the aim of drawing closer to Allah, the Most High! At this time, the pilgrims are busy performing their hajj rites in response to the call of Allah through His great messenger, father of monotheism, prophet Ibraheem peace be upon him. We pray that they will perform “hajjum mabrour”; the acceptable pilgrimage which the seal of the prophets said is directly rewarded with paradise! We also hope these million pilgrims should understand the lessons in this worship, reflect and propagate the same in their various countries.

It is imperative to remind ourselves the well known prophetic sermon in his farewell pilgrimage on this plain where he emphasized the inviolability of blood and properties, stressed the need to observe one’s duty sincerely to Allah, avoidance of all forms of corruption and mischief on earth, kind treatment towards women. The prophet also described piety as the criterion for superiority before Allah and concluded with the oft – repeated tradition of the two weighty things – the book of Allah and his holy progeny which he assured the Ummah of everlasting guidance provided they hold fast to them.

The tenth day of Zulhajj is celebrated as Sallah day. It is very popular for slaughter of animals as sacrifice for the sake of Allah.

The pilgrims do the sacrifice at Mina after which they culminate the hajj rites. The non – pilgrims perform the historic offer based on their capacities. If we may ask; what is the essence and rationale behind this slaughter?

Historically, prophet Ibrahim attained hundred years of age without a child. His wife was also about ninety. So he prayed to Allah “O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)! So We gave him good news of a forbearing son. Q37:100 – 102

Allah answered his prayer and granted him a forbearing son, Prophet Isma’il, peace be upon him, the ancestor of Arabs and grandfather of the seal of the prophets. However, on a teenage age, prophet Ibrahim was commanded to slaughter his beloved child! Having submitted to thewill of Allah, he laid him prostrate on his forehead using his sharp knife on his jugular vein but Allah miraculously ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice!

As could be deduced this sacrifice is the greatest of all trials to prophet Ibrahim, and the essence was to gain the pleasure of Allah by accepting the offering of our hearts as a symbol of sacrifice out of faith and sincerity to Him.

Obviously, it is not the slaughter of animals that is really meant butthe love of Allah and His preference. If not? With which kind of animals did Isma’il compare to Ibrahim (as)? How could you assume yourself under such a situation? Can you compare his submission with your love towards your wife and children? It was neither a joke nor a dream, the two prophets were tried by Allah and they excellently passed!

So it is the full submission, faith and preference of Allah that cover the test not the nature of animal one slaughters at all. The question is how much do you love Allah and to what extent can you sacrifice in His name?

Can you sacrifice your son or yourself for the sake of Allah? What of your good office or selfish interest? This is the real logic behind the sacrifice!

Think of the great sacrifice of Imam Husain, the grandson of the noble messenger who said “if the religion of Muhammad could only stand at the expense of my dear life, let it be, while sacrificing his life in the cause of Islam! The Imam was referred as the ransomed momentous sacrifice by some Qur’anic interpreters. The band of his followers responded immediately “O our master! We are all ready to defend you and your Ahlul bait and to sacrifice our lives for the cause of Islam!

For over thirteen hundred and seventy years, they are remembered with great respect and prayers by not only believers in their faith but all people with common sense of humanity. A good example here is Mahatma Gandhi, the India’s political and spiritual leader though not a Muslim said regarding the unique sacrifice of the Imam “I have carefully read the biography of Imam Hussein and have contemplated the events of Karbala. I am sure Indians must follow his ideas on the path to victory”.

In addition to the sacrifice of animals on our respective capacity, the real sacrifice is determined by our action at the event of variance with guidance of Allah in this mortal world.

Generally speaking, there are various lessons in the physical sacrifice of animals and actual sacrifice of preferring the guidance of Allah in variance with our desires or interests. For example, we are encouraged to give significant part of the meat to the poor and the less privileged on humanitarian ground.

It is imperative to emphasize the need for donating the skins of our sacrificed animals to martyrs foundation of the Islamic movement for those wishing to share the abundant reward of Allah the Most High.

With these donations and others, the Islamic movement cares and upholds the children of the respected martyrs of the movement. Thanks to Allah, as we said and repeated none of the children of our martyrs is outside school. In fact, many are studying outside the country at postgraduate level. And no doubt many of them will only come back to this country sometimes as Islamic scholars. Recently, one of the daughters of the martyrs was honored for moral and academic excellence in the Al – Mustapha International University in the Islamic republic of Iran.

During the Sallah celebrations, sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) organize what is a banquet popularly referred as Sallah feast where he extends invitations to people irrespective of their tribal and religious inclinations. Pastors, Reverends and other prominent Christians willingly honor such invitations.

In the programme, the Christians are freely given time to talk and express their views regarding the event or anything in they wish in our country’s socio – economic life. This is very clear in the sheikh’s indefatigable ethno – religious tolerance worthy of emulation by other scholars.

Back to the lesson of sacrifice conclusively which this Sallah clearly demonstrates by the slaughter of animals as the prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him willingly submitted sacrificed his son, we can see that from the words and action the revered sheikh may Allah protect him and rewards him abundantly when his three sons were brutally murdered on a clear provocation by the Nigerian military but he referred everything to Allah the Most High!

While praying for Allah’s reward, forgiveness and mercy for the little we will offer, I wish our pilgrims a successful pilgrimage, safe return, and all a happy Sallah celebration in advance!

Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah.