The greatest sacrifice ever!

02 Sep 2017

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Friends, what will you do if your best friend asks you for your most treasured belonging? Would you give it away without a moment’s hesitation or think of excuses you could make for not parting with your prized possession? This question may be a difficult one for you as none of us can easily make such a great sacrifice for friendship’s sake.

There is a great example set by Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) who is so rightly called Khalilullah (Allah’s friend) who passed this difficult test with flying colours. Would you believe what Allah had asked him to sacrifice? Ibrahim (AS) had a dream that Allah was asking him to sacrifice his beloved son Ismail in His name!

Ismail was born to Hazrat Ibrahim when he was rather old, so Ismail was very dear to his father. But both father and son had such a strong faith in their Creator that both agreed easily to give this unbelievable sacrifice.

strong faith in their Creator that both easily agreed to give this unbelievable sacrifice.

Allah, the Merciful, had other plans for His friend. He was only testing how far His prophet could go to prove his friendship with his Creator. Ismail advised his father to blindfold himself so that his hands would not falter while slaughtering his dearly loved son. As Ibrahim lay down his son for sacrifice, Allah sent his angel Jibrael with a ram which Khalillulah was advised to slaughter instead of Ismail.

His sacrifice was so precious for Allah that He made it mandatory for every affluent Muslim to sacrifice every year a goat, ram, cow or a camel in His name and this great festival of sacrifice is called Eidul Azha.

We celebrate this second biggest Muslim festival with great zeal and fervour. Children have a great time as they love to play with the sacrificial animals. We can hear happy shouts in neighbourhoods as they gather after school to race their goats and rams. Animals are given the best possible fodder and decorated with a variety of adornments, available in stalls which spring up at every nook and corner.

There are people (specially our domestic help) who can enjoy dishes prepared with meat to their hearts’ fill only on Eidul Azha. Their children look forward to the kebabs, biryani and stews their poor mothers would cook after they get meat from the homes they work in. Make sure that mummy gives away big packets to these needy people.

The three days of Eidul Azha bring with them a new period of enjoyment as most children wear new clothes and their mothers prepare delicious feasts with the sacrificial meat.

But besides all this merriment there are a number of lessons to be learnt and re-learnt every year. We also need to remember the true spirit of Eidul Azha and what it teaches us. Here are some points I would like my young readers to keep in mind throughout the year.

Obedience

By readily agreeing to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ibrahim has taught us a great lesson.

Allah, in His infinite mercy, always plans the best for all of us, hence it is our duty to obey the rules and guidelines by Him through the Holy Quran and our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) teachings.

At times we may find it difficult to follow some of them, but submitting totally to Allah’s Will is the best path to a good and content life and a better Hereafter.

Our parents are always our best well-wishers. At times you may find the rules set by them a bit harsh, but always remember that they are only for your own good. Instead of complaining or grumbling, obey the rules set by them with a smiling face.

Believe me, there will come a time when you will look back and be thankful to your parents for the set of rules they made you follow!

Don’t show-off!

Friends, some of you may be better off financially than your friends or extended family. Instead of discussing the prices of the animals your father had bought, just have a good time together as you feed, walk and look after your goats and cows.

Allah does not want us to buy expensive animals for sacrifice; He only wants to test our spirit to surrender to His will. So instead of bursting with pride if your animal is more costly than that of your friend or neighbour, try to create an atmosphere of compassion and understanding by not comparing prices or sizes.

Share your blessings

There is a sharp rise in the sale of refrigerators and deep freezers in the days before Eidul Azha. People usually stuff the meat in their freezers, ensuring that they store as much of it as possible. Although it is not wrong to keep the sacrificial meat for your own use, there should be a proper balance between what you keep and what you give away! It is a common practice to keep the best cuts for ourselves and giveaway the sides we do not like to eat. This is a very wrong notion and should be discouraged by all means.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

There are people (specially our domestic help) who can enjoy dishes prepared with meat to their hearts’ fill only on Eidul Azha. Their children look forward to the kebabs, biryani and stews their poor mothers would cook after they get meat from the homes they work in. Make sure that mummy gives away big packets to these needy people.

Also, try to keep a few packets in your freezers which you can give to them after a few days. Remember that they do not possess fridges or freezers to store the meat, which is more than their day’s requirement.

A lesson in compassion

Always be thankful for your blessings and think with companion about the sufferings of the people who struggle to make both ends meet. By giving away your extra clothes, shoes, books or toys to the needy, you can make their lives more comfortable.

Occasionally, try to keep Hazrat Ibrahim’s Sunnah alive by giving away a prized belonging. Volunteer to be of assistance wherever and whenever you possibly can (and your parents allow). Remember that a kind word, a warm smile and a helping hand will cost you nothing, but may make someone’s day.

This Eidul Azha, in addition to enjoying and feasting, remember the true spirit of this great festival by following the lessons of obedience, compassion and sacrifice, we can try to make our world a better place to live in.

Published in Dawn, Young World September 2nd, 2017