Story time: The essence of sacrifice

Published June 15, 2024
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

“Wow! Baba, the goat is so beautiful!” exclaimed Hina.

Baba had just brought home the white goat with brown spots. Baba and Ahmed had set out at dawn in search for the perfect goat that would fulfil all the requirements for an animal suitable for sacrifice and had returned from this tiring journey in the evening. Hina, Ahmed’s younger sister and Hamza, the youngest, were jumping with joy seeing the cute goat in front of them.

They set up a small tent outside the house and also installed lights as they planned to stay up tending to the goat all night long, along with the other kids of the neighbourhood. The kids played Monopoly and Uno with their friends, as well as took their cows and goats on a walk in the vicinity. The alley was teeming with animals for sacrifice and kids looking after them.

Finally, it was the night before Eid. Baba talked to the butcher and they decided to sacrifice the goat by 11a.m. Hamza had grown extremely fond of the goat as he had spent every possible moment with it and had gone as far as having his own food while sitting beside the goat! The thought of parting with his beloved goat made Hamza feel sad.

In the morning, the two boys and Baba took a shower and wore their new Eid clothes. After offering the Eid prayer, while Ammi and Hina had prepared sheer khurma for the family and they enjoyed it together.

“Hamza and Hina, the neighbour’s cow has been sacrificed,” shrieked Ahmed.

Upon hearing this, Hamza’s face turned pale thinking about this happening to his beloved goat soon. Finally, the butcher arrived at their house.

“Where is the goat, Imran bhai?” questioned the butcher.

Baba smiled as he replied, “Did you not see the white and brown goat on your way inside.”

The butcher moved his head sideways and Baba’s mind struggled to process the reaction of the butcher. Immediately, he scurried towards where the goat had been tied. Colour drained from his face at the sight in front of him. The goat was indeed not there. Baba yelled for the kids as Ahmed and Hina came running, he scolded them for not attending to the goat at all times. He instructed them to take their friends and search all the alleys near the house, while he would search the streets further away.

Hina, with her neighbourhood friends Aliya and Amna, went to look for the goat around their house. All of them frantically left no stone unturned and yet couldn’t find the goat. As the girls stopped to catch their breath, Hina cried excitedly.

“Look!” Hina shouted, “Over there beyond the fence.”

They all looked in the direction of Hina’s hand. Hamza was feeding the goat with hay, while petting it lovingly. Ahmed let out a sigh of relief that the goat had been found uninjured and called his father to give him the good news. All the kids rushed towards Hamza as Baba reached there too.

“Why did you bring the goat here, Hamza?” Hina crouched down to his level and asked gently.

“I didn’t want to part with it,” said Hamza between sobs, “I didn’t want him to die.”

Hina smiled and understood the problem. Ahmed took Hamza’s little hands in his and tried to make him understand.

“Hamza, we don’t kill the animals; we offer it as a sacrifice for the sake of Allah. This is the true essence of sacrifice, to willingly part with something you cherish dearly for the sake of Allah, commemorating the noble act of our Prophet Ibrahim.”

Hina agreed with Ahmed and continued, “Yes Hamza, Eidul Azha is celebrated in the memory and appreciation of Prophet Ibrahim’s test from Allah.”

Hamza was sad and silent, but it was clear that he now understood the essence of sacrifice on Eidul Azha. Then they took Hamza home and the goat to the butcher. After the sacrifice was done, the meat was divided in three parts. The first two were kept for family and relatives and the third was distributed to the needy by Ahmed and Hamza.

Later Hina asked Hamza, “Are you still upset about the goat?”

“No, I have faith in my Lord,” responded Hamza and Hina ruffled his hair smiling.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 15th, 2024

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