Eid al-Adha, or Eid il-Kabir, is known as the Feast of Sacrifice. It dates back to the historic event when Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was commanded by Allah (God) in a vision to sacrifice his son, Ishmail (Isaac). Out of obedience to Allah, Prophet Ibrahim was in the act of sacrificing his son when Allah sent the Angel Gabriel with a ram. Angel Gabriel informed Ibrahim that his vision was fulfilled and instructed him to sacrifice the ram as a ransom for his son. Therefore, Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to honour the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his young first-born Ishmail as an act of submission to God’s command and his son’s acceptance of being sacrificed.
Ismail’s response, his insight into the nature of his father’s dreams, and ultimately his willingness to sacrifice his own life for the sake of God were all unprecedented. The fulfilment of this noble command of Allah by Ibrahim signifies faith, obedience, perseverance, and total submission to the command of Allah.
Eid al-Adha holds special significance as the Day of Sacrifice marks the climax of Hajj or Pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. This annual pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it at least once in their lifetime. Each Eid festival is a wholesome celebration of a remarkable achievement of the individual Muslim in the service of Allah.
It is a day of remembrance and reflection. Muslims make a fresh start of the day with a session of congregational prayers to Allah in an open space. They use the occasion to pray in remembrance of Allah’s bountiful grace and favours.
Islam does not impose a burden
Immediately after the congregational prayers, Muslims are expected to slaughter an animal, which is a landmark of the festivity. It is worth mentioning that Islam does not impose a burden on individuals who cannot afford it. In fact, Prophet Muhammad slaughtered two rams during his lifetime, saying one was for him and his family, while the other was for his followers of all generations who might not have the means.
The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly shared among family, friends, and neighbors across religious beliefs. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the needy.
The act symbolizes the willingness to give up things that are beneficial or close to one’s heart, in obedience to Allah’s commands. It also symbolizes the willingness to give up some of one’s own bounties to strengthen ties of friendship and help those in need. With this sacrifice, Allah has once again demonstrated that the life of the innocent is sacred. This obligates all humans to respect and ensure the sanctity of human life.
It is therefore necessary for governments at all levels to ensure their primary responsibility, that no life is lost to criminal elements in the name of agitations, banditry, or even Boko Haram. It is also important for all Nigerians to imbibe the virtue of Eid al-Adha by respecting and protecting human life and dignity, being each other’s keepers, upholding tolerance, forthrightness, and the fear of God, so that the nation will be truly united.
Writing by Hamza Alkali of our Political Unit; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu