By Saulat Pervez
Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice inspired the Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, and exemplifies the worship of the One God, belief in His prophets and righteous living.
This weekend, Muslims across North America and the rest of the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice.
Eid-ul-Adha commemorates the legacy of Prophet Abraham and his son, Prophet Ishmael. According to the Quran, the book Muslims revere as God’s revealed word, God commanded Abraham to take his wife, Hagar, and their son, Ishmael, to the valley of Mecca and leave them there. During one of his visits, Abraham dreamed that he was offering Ishmael as a sacrifice to God; he interpreted it as a divine command. Both father and son submitted themselves to God’s will and prepared for the sacrifice. God, however, was only testing their obedience, and they were instead directed to sacrifice a ram.
In the same spirit, Muslims around the globe will be sacrificing an animal (a goat, sheep, cow or camel) as a spiritual act of devotion to God. In the Quran, God says, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches God but your piety” (22:37). In His Mercy, God instructs Muslims to share one-third of the meat with the needy, one-third with one’s relatives, and keep the rest for one’s own family. In many parts of the world, Eid-ul-Adha affords the poor a rare occasion to have free access to meat. Hence, the underprivileged become recipients of the material benefit of this spiritual sacrifice.
Eid-ul-Adha falls during the days of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage millions of Muslims undertake to Mecca and its surrounding areas. Completing this journey is mandatory for Muslims at least once in their lifetime, so long as they are physically and financially able. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Other pillars include testimony of faith (that God is One and Muhammad is His prophet), prayer, charity and fasting.
Abraham and Ishmael went on to build the first house of God in Mecca, the Ka’aba, and enacted the first pilgrimage, as mentioned in the Quran (22:26-27). Muhammad, a descendant of Ishmael, was born in Mecca in 570 C.E. By then, Mecca was a pagan city and the Ka’aba was filled with idols. According to Islam, God chose Prophet Muhammad to revive His original message: to worship the One God, to believe in His prophets and to live righteously.
Muslims believe that Muhammad is the final messenger of God in the long chain of prophets, who include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, among many others. God constantly references them in the Quran. Islam maintains that all the prophets, starting from Adam up until Muhammad, came with the same core message; the practice of religion kept evolving, but the central message itself never changed.
Abraham best exemplifies this idea. He is mutually revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Although the actual practice of religion was different back then, he subscribed to the intrinsic belief in submission to the One God — this is what binds each faith to him. Muslims simply extend this metaphor to encompass all the prophets, including Moses and Jesus.
Indeed, Muhammad inspired his fellow people to embrace their Abrahamic origins, which Muslims of all races and ethnicities continue to honor to this day. So, this Eid-ul-Adha, let us celebrate the spirit of sacrifice and reflect upon the common thread that unites all of us: submission to the One God. Have a blessed Eid!
Saulat Pervez is Content Editor for WhyIslam, a project of ICNA, dedicated to providing accurate information about Islam, dispelling common misconceptions and promoting peaceful co-existence. Contact her at [email protected] For more information, call 877-WHY-ISLAM or click www.whyislam.org.
Article Courtesy: mycentraljersey.com