The spirit of festivity

As Muslims celebrate another Eid Al Adha the time has come to ponder on the real essence of the festival of sacrifice.

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Published: Tue 16 Nov 2010, 10:20 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:47 PM

Falling immediately after Haj, the annual pilgrimage mandatory for those affluent enough to make the religious ceremony once in their lifetime, Eid Al Adha commemorates the great sacrifice undertaken eons back by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son Prophet Ismail (AS).

Haj itself is a momentous occasion. One of the five pillars of Islam, it symbolises the ultimate journey towards God for the millions of Muslims who undertake this every year. Among those millions are those who have put together their life savings or sold assets to be able to fulfill this commandment. There are also thousands who have been given this opportunity because of the kindness of wealthy benefactors or relatives who may have already performed Haj before.

In order to understand the spirit and meaning of Haj and Eid Al Adha, it is important to understand how and why God immortalised the ultimate sacrifice by Prophet Ibrahim. By willingly sacrificing his son Prophet Ismail when commanded by God, Prophet Ibrahim proved his obedience and subjugation to God’s will. His faith in God was duly rewarded when a ram was substituted in place of Prophet Ismail at the time of the sacrifice and he was saved. Later Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail built the Kabaa at Makkah — the first House of God — the black cubic structure that stands thousands of years later as the pivotal point for Muslims worldwide to congregate and undertake the ritual of Haj. Replicating Prophet Ibrahim’s wife Hajjra’s running between Safa and Marwa hills to find water for her son, Ismail, the pilgrims enact the same to honour the sacrifice of the blessed family.

The fact that Prophet Ibrahim is equally revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims is important. This should lend Haj and the concluding sacrifice on the day of Eid Al Adha significant interest for non-Muslims, as well.

The occasion of Haj also offers Muslims worldwide to shed their reservoir of negativity, prejudices and past sins to start a new spiritual beginning. Not only does Haj unite all ranks of Muslims it offers an ultimate bonding opportunity with the Creator. More importantly it gives Muslims time to reflect and study the essence of Haj and Eid Al Adha, which is basically subjugating one’s self to a greater cause. Sacrificing one’s selfish interests or love for worldly things in the way of God is the lesson Haj gives us. The teachings of Islam focus on generosity, kindness, serving people and following a moral code which if practiced would only bring peace, harmony and goodwill. By putting aside petty differences, prejudices and bias and showing generosity, kindness and tolerance to the poor among others, those Muslims who have been unable to go for Haj can also contribute. Not only should this be remembered once a year, we should make a conscious effort to inculcate this in our daily lives.

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