Bilal was impatient for Eidul Azha to arrive because it was his favourite time of the year. The arrival of sacrificial animals in his apartment building and neighbourhood was like the arrival of his long lost friends. After the first animal arrived, Bilal would try and spend all his time with it and when his own goat arrived, he would have to be literally dragged back home to eat and sleep.

Finally, a week before Eid, his father bought a goat. Bilal became every excited, but he was a little disappointed too. The goat was a regular-sized one, not too plump like many of the others in the neighbourhood. After the initial excitement died down a bit and the goat was safely tied up, Bilal went to his father.

“Why did you buy such a thin goat? I wanted a very big one, like the one Faraz has. I don’t like this one at all!” the boy declared to his father.

“This is such a healthy and active animal, dear. You know the fat ones are just nice to look at, but their meat is not as nice, as it is full of fat. Moreover, the prices this year are very high, I managed this one in our budget with great difficulty. Maybe next year we can get a bigger goat like the one you want,” Bilal’s father tried to explain.

Hearing this, Bilal’s grandfather called him and made him sit down next to him. “You don’t like the goat your father got for sacrifice?”

“Yes grandfather, it is too thin! The kids in the neighbourhood will make fun of me and the goat just like they are making fun of Uncle Ashraf’s cow that is very small too,” Bilal explained his point of things.

His grandfather laughed, surprising Bilal. Then he spoke gently, “Oh dear, we also showed off our animals when we were young and thought that only the biggest and heaviest animals were the best ones on Eidul Azha. But do you know why we sacrifice animals on this Eid?”

“Yes of course, I know. We do it because Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) obeyed Allah’s command to sacrifice his son and Allah replaced him with a sheep that got sacrificed instead. And we do it to remember and honour that sacrifice,” Bilal quickly shared his knowledge.

“You are right. What matters is that we obey what Allah has commanded us to do on Eidul Azha and Allah dislikes people showing off their possessions or making fun of others. So if you just want to follow Allah’s orders, then this goat is the best as it is the best that your father could afford. Allah looks at our intention.

“If you want a goat just to show off and for it to look bigger than others around it, then Allah will take that as your intention in getting a big, fat goat. Your intention would be to please yourself and others and not Allah, so what will be the use of sacrificing such an animal when you didn’t get it only for Allah’s sake?” saying this his grandfather fell silent.

The silence continued for a few more seconds when finally Bilal looked up and said, “Thank you grandfather for explaining to me the real essence of this Eid and the sacrifice we give on it.”

Bilal then went to his father and spoke softly as he felt too ashamed of the way he had acted earlier, “I am sorry, Dad, for what I said about our goat. I didn’t ....” before Bilal could go any further, his father hugged and kissed him.

“Hey! You don’t have to say sorry! This is only natural at your age, we all feel this way about many things until we understand the deeper meaning of things and what really matters to Allah. Don’t worry, you still have a week to feed it so much that it becomes very fat. Come on, let’s go and get some really nice leafy things for our goat to eat!”

“Wait! First have some food yourself as the dinner is ready,” they heard their mother calling from the kitchen.

“Don’t worry, we will come back and have it. We won’t be long!” his father answered as the two walked out hand in hand.

Published in Dawn, Young World, August 10th, 2019