By Dr. Obaidur Rahman Nadwi
Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are two festivals of the Muslims. Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of Zil-Hijjah, the last month of Islamic calendar. It is observed to reflect Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son Ismail, whom Allah bestowed upon him at the age of 86.
The story of Prophet Ibrahim’s Supreme Sacrifice is vividly mentioned in the Holy Qur’ān: “Prophet Ibrahim prayed to Allah, ‘O my Lord! Grant me a righteous son.’ So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. Then, when the son reached the age of serious work with him, he said: ‘O my son! I have seen in a dream that I offer thee in sacrifice. Now see what is thy view!’ The son said: ‘O my father! Do as thou art commended: thus will find me, if Allah so wills, one of the steadfast.’ So when they had both submitted to Allah and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead for sacrifice, We called out to him, O Ibrahim! Thou hast already fulfilled the dream. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was a clear trial and We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We left for him among generations to come in later times. Peace and salutation to Ibrahim. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For he was one of our believing servants.” (The Qur’ān – 37:100-111)
This divine narration makes it clear that a righteous and pious slave of Allah is always ready to obey his Creator’s command. Accordingly, if one wants to develop closeness to Allah and attain His pleasure, he will have to follow Prophets Ibrahim’s and Ismail’s qualities like unprecedented submission, obedience, love and faith in Allah. The whole story doesn’t require the flesh and blood of animals. As Allah says, “It is not their meat, nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your devotion that reaches Him.”( The Qur’ān – 22:37)
Needless to add that Qurbani (sacrifice) is also one of the main parts of the Hajj. Having performed the rites of the Hajj, pilgrims gather at Mina at a distance of four miles from the holy city of Makkah for offering sacrifice, worship and recollection of Allah. It should be noted that ten days of the month of Zil-Hijjah or the month of pilgrimage assume tremendous significance as enshrined in the Qur’ān and Sunnah. The Holy Qur’ān says, “By the dawn, and by the ten nights.” (The Qur’ān – 89:1-2) Most of the commentators of the Qur’ān say that by the ten nights are usually understood the first ten nights of Zil-Hijjah, the sacred days and nights of pilgrimage.
Similarly, the fasting on the day of Arafah (ninth Zil-Hijjah) also holds immense importance. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ says, “I am sure that Allah forgives sins of a year before and after of the fasting of Arafah.
It goes without saying that for four days on this occasion i.e. from the morning of the ninth to the after-noon (Asr-prayer) of the thirteenth Zil-Hijjah, praise and glory of Allah is recited after every prayer, known as takbirat-i-tashriq, the purport of the words recited is as follows: “Allah is Most Great: Allah is Most Great! None is worthy of being worshipped except Allah! Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great and all praise is for Allah alone.”
Noted Islamic scholar S. Sulaiman Nadwi says, “Islam means resignation to the Will of God. It implies complete submission to Allah’s commands. The sacrifice given by Ibrahim and Isma’il (peace be to them) proves beyond any shadow of doubt, that they were the true and loyal servants of Allah. In appreciation of the sacrifices of Ibrahim and Isma’il (peace be to them), Allah, the Exalted, named this sentiment of theirs of resignation and surrender to His as Al-Islam. It has been said in the Holy Qur’ān.
Then, when they had both surrendered (unto Allah). (37: 103)
And who can be averse to the religion of Ibrahim, but he who infatuated his mind. Indeed We chose him in the world, and in the Hereafter, he is surely among the righteous.
And when his Lord said to him: Submit, he said: I submit to the Lord of the worlds. (2: 130-131)
In fact, the religion of Ibrahim (peace be to him) is based on Al-Islam i.e. resignation and surrender (to Allah). Ibrahim (peace be to him) prayed to Allah again and again:
Our Lord! Make us submissive unto Thee and of our progeny a community submissive unto Thee and show us our ways of worship, and relent towards us. Thou art the Relenting, the Merciful.”
In fact, the sacrifice in the path of Allah is not only a tradition but the most preferred adoration of Allah. Generally, the sacrificial offering is divided into three portions, one for household consumption, another for the friends and relatives and the third for the poor and needy.
Besides, the sum obtained from the sacrificed animals’ skins is also given to the poor and downtrodden segments of the society. No doubt, the act of sacrifice strengthens the bond between Creator and His creation. It also fosters real sense of brotherhood and fraternity. In short, the Qurbani (Sacrifice) is the highest form of submission, devotion, obedience and adoration to Allah.[Dr. Obaidur Rahman Nadwi is Faculty Member, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh]