Published On:07 November 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Eid al-Adha: A Festival of Great Sacrifice

By Manzar Imam

Animal sacrifice as part of religious tradition is viewed by many as Islam being a religion practicing violence and cruelty. It must therefore be dwelt upon whether or not Islam allows acts of violence and gory incidences.

Arguments apart, this practice of sacrificing animal is carried in memory of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) who dreamed of sacrificing – It must be noted here that the Quran never says that Allah asked Ibrahim to kill (sacrifice) his son. It was a dream in which he saw sacrificing his son and later, when Ibrahim tried to interpret his dream with the most ultimate sacrifice i.e. of his son, and Ismail of his own life, it was told to him that all that was needed from him was absolute submission which he had proved.

Although Ibrahim (AS) was ready to sacrifice his dearest for Allah’s sake, writes Dr. Mohammad Ajmal, he could not just go and drag his son to the place of sacrifice without his consent. Ismail had to be consulted as to whether he was willing to die for Allah. This consultation would be a test of Ismail’s maturity in faith, love for Allah, Islamic commitment, willingness to sacrifice his life for the sake of Allah and parent’s obedience. It would also be a test of how well Ibrahim had been able to train his son in Islam and how close or apart were the two Muslims of different generations in their thinking, approach and attitude.

Ibrahim (AS) presented the matter to his son and asked for his opinion about the dreams of slaughtering him. Ismail’s reaction was absolutely astounding. He did not show any hesitation or reservation even for a moment. He said, “Father, proceed ahead for what you have been commanded. You will find me, Insha Allah, very patient.”

This mature response of Ismail (AS), his insight into the nature of papa’s dreams, his willingness to sacrifice his life for the sake of Allah and commitment to Allah’s submission were all unparalleled. The most amazing and noteworthy, however, was the perfect coherence and unity of thought, attitude and outlook between the father and the son. There is no generation gap between the two because both of them were looking at life through an Islamic paradigm – that a Muslim must submit to Allah Almighty in any circumstances and that love for Allah is over and above any other love in the life of a Muslim.

This act of complete submission to the will of his Lord was so loved by Allah that He delights mentioning it in the Quran.

The annual act of sacrificing animals was set in practice for his ummah by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) born centuries later in the progeny of Ibrahim. This animal sacrifice however, does not hold value if it is devoid of piety and purity of intention.

The Quran says, “It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you: and proclaim the Good News to all who do right. (22: 37)

The Arabic term for animal sacrifice is Dabiha which is known in Urdu and Persian as Qurbani, derived probably from the Jewish term Korban. A brief chapter in the Quran appreciates it as: “Therefore to your Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice” (108:2).
Taking name of Allah prior to sacrificing an animal is an assertion of the fact that all acts remain virtue-less wherein the will of Lord is not sought.

To further this argument it should be noted that an animal’s sacrifice in the name other than the Creator God remains forbidden to the faithful, notwithstanding the scientific findings of prevalence of bacteria and germs in the flesh of animals slaughtered by many other means.

In an unequivocal term, the Quran says: He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, – then is he guiltless, for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful (2:173). A similar message contains in verse 3 of Surah Al-Maida. 

Fundamental to everything in Islam remains permissiveness unless ordered otherwise. This day (all) good and pure things are made lawful to you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them (5:5). So eat of that (meats) on which Allah’s name has been pronounced, if you have faith in His Signs (6:118).

So far as killing is concerned, the Quran equals the killing of one innocent to the killing of whole humanity and saving of a life to the saving of the entire humanity (See Verse 32 of Chapter 5).

A person can be a good Muslim without ever touching meat. What is significant in animal sacrifice alike other acts of worship is piety, sincerity, purity of intension and seeking of the pleasure of Allah as these stand as the benchmark of the life of a faithful.

This Sunnah of the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) would then serve as a reminder that everything belongs to Allah and all will return to Him alone.

[Manzar Imam is Special Correspondent of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at manzarkhalil@gmail.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on November 07, 2011. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on November 07, 2011. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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