By Syed Ilyas Basha
The love and affection are basic elements for establishment of bond between two living beings. The strength of this bond is determined by the sensitivity, the two have for each other. True love makes one feel strong and if put to test, he may go to any extent to prove it. Love between God and a man, is measured by the attachment man, the creature has for the Lord the Creator, in the form of obedience and submission. During these three days of festivities, of sacrificing a permitted animal and distribution of its meat among the poor and needy is in rememberance of such event.
Prophet Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) has been the grand father in hierarchy to Prophet Mohammed (may peace be upon him). He is commonly revered by the followers of three Semitic-orginated religions other being Judaism and Christianity. He was blessed with a son at the age of about 84 years to his second wife after years of prayers and duas. The boy quite naturally was cynosure of his eyes, most beloved and a source of immense pleasure in his old age. He used to take him always where ever he goes. The child too, a symbol of submission to his father used to keep attached him self to him all the time. There is a separate chapter named “al-Ibrahim’’ revealed in the Quran in narration of Prophet Ibrahm (may peace be upon him), his strong Faith, his way of preaching the one-ness and prowess of Almighty Allah to his people. We are informed that the Almighty, watchful of his Prophet’s attachment to his beloved son desired to put him on test. Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) had a dream constantly three nights, that he is slaughtering his only son Ismaail (may peace be upon him). He had no doubt that it is the direction from Almighty Allah. He sought the opinion of his son. The son readily agreed and rather urged his father to comply with the divine command early. The duo proceeded one day to Mina (near Mecca) to accomplish the task. The father layed the son down on earth, placed the knife on son’s throat to complete the act. Almighty Allah rushed angel Gabraeel. Gabraeel replaced the son with a ram from Paradise. Sacrificing of an animal by the faithful on 10th, 11th and 12th of Zul-Hajjah, the twelfth month of lunar calendar every year is in rememberance of this incident. It is a symbol and a pledge by every Faithful to keep one self ready always to sacrifice his desires, belongings and life in compliance with a divine command any time and every time.
As is commonly called, ‘Bakrid’, the Festival of sacrifice or Qurbani (in Urdu) is celebrated all over the world by Muslims. The act of sacrificing a permitted animal is enjoined upon the Muslims who can afford it. While doing so, the Faithful are diected by Scholars to scrupulously observe the local laws in force. It is a major function, a form of worship during these three days. A minimum of 2/3rd quantity of meat is ordered to be distributed among the poor, needy and the relatives. It also forms a part of Annual HAJ ritual performed in Mecca, which is the fifth and last pillar of Islam.
The entire episode of the sacrifice is narrated in Holy Quran in Chapter ‘al-Saaffaat’ thus:
“He (Ibrahim) (alaihis salaam), said: I will go to my Lord. He suely will guide me. O my Lord! Grant me a righteous son. So we gave him the good news of a fore-bearing 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 you in sacrifice. What do you say. The son said: O my father! Do as you are commanded. You 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! you have already fulfilled the dream. Thus indeed 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 salutations to Ibrahim. Thus indeed we reward those who do right.”
This act of sacrifice in compliance of divine command is ordered to be remembered and renewed by offering sacrifice from permissible animals once in a year. The following verses from Qur’aan vouch for its significance:
1.”TO THEE WE HAVE GRANTED THE ABUNDANCE. THEREFORE, TO YOUR LORD TURN
IN PRAYER AND OFFER SACRIFICE”. (Chapter 108/Verses 1 & 2).
2.“TO EVERY PEOPLE DID WE APPOINT RITES (OF SACRIFICE), THAT THEY MIGHT
CELEBRATE THE NAME OF ALLAH OVER THE SUSTENANCE. HE GAVE THEM FROM
ANIMALS (FIT FOR FOOD). BUT YOUR GOD IS ONE GOD: SUBMIT THEN YOUR WILLS
TO HIM (IN ISLAM) AND GIVE THE GOOD NEWS TO THOSE WHO HUMBLE
- “IT IS NOT THEIR MEAT NOR THEIR BLOOD THAT REACHES ALLAH; IT IS YOUR PIETY
THAT REACHES HIM; HE HAS THUS MADE THEM (THE ANIMALS) SUBJECT TO YOU.
THAT YOU MAY GLORIFY ALLAH FOR HIS GUIDANCE TO YOU. AND PROCLAIM THE
GOOD NEWS TO ALL WHO DO GOOD.” (Chap.22/Ver.37)
The importance of ‘sacrifice’ has been conveyed by Prophet Mohammed (may peace be upon him) through the AHADITH (His sayings), observed during his life time, followed by his Companions and later all the followers.
In compliance with the divine injunctions referred to above, the Scholars of Islam conclude that offering of animal’s sacrifice during these three days discussed above is compulsory for the faithful who can afford it financially. The symbolic act is a gesture by the faithfuls to express self-preparedness and readiness to sacrifice their wealth, desires and even life at any time on Almighty Allah’s command.
Some writer has put it wrongly saying that this act of animal sacrifice is mere part of tradition and a wasteful expenditure. He has called it an occasion for fulfilling one’s desire for eating meat and a brazen display of money-power. The fact is ignorance of that person and lack of proper knowledge has made him do so. It is a compulsory act (waajib), a form of worship unanimously declared by all the learned Scholars and Imams. It is an avid symbol of obedience and submission to divine command by the Almighty and observed by the Prophet and his Companions. It is more like a rehearsal for the faithful to prepare self for sacrificing his beloved belongings on Almighty’s commands. The event is made purpose-oriented for a large quantity of meat is distributed among the needy, poor, relatives and friends.