Some Reflections On Eid Al-Adha
By Dr. AbdulHameed Badmas Yusuf
An Arabic term, Eid means festival. There are two major festivals in Islam that Muslims celebrate as social and religious events. Each of these festivals comes on the heels of a major act of worship. The first one is Eid al-Fitr celebrated on the 1st day of Shawwal which is the day following the conclusion of fast in the month of Ramadan. The second one is Eid al-Adha which is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhul al-Qahdah to mark the end of Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.
Generally, the rationale behind the celebration of the two festivals is to thank the Merciful Creator for His bountiful favors on the Muslim Community. Being Muslims, provisions of life, sound health, means of livelihood, and protection are some of the favors Allah bestows on us as a matter of previledge, and not of right. Essentially, the two festivals in Islam have been designed for Muslims to thank Allah for granting them the ability to worship Him through fast and pilgrimage respectively. Unlike so called gods that man created for himself, Allah doesn’t require anything from us for any of these favors save appreciation of Him and goodness to fellow human beings. Allah is Self-Sufficient (Qayyum). For worshiping Him, we do not do Him any favors. Instead, we worship Him to get favors from Him.See: Q51:57-58.
All festivals in Islam have religious and social aspects. The religious aspects are underscored by some of what was alluded to above. Festivals are celebrated to mark the conclusion of particular acts of worship such as fast and pilgrimage. The day of festival begins with a two -unit prayer observed on a plain field (used as praying ground) and attended by all Muslims men and women, young and old, resident and traveller. The social aspect of festivals has to do with the permission by the Creator to engage in fun and merrymaking activities that include visits to family and friends, sharing and exchange of gifts, etc. Although these are mundane affairs, they are integral parts of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha respectively.
However, while celebrating these festivals and observing their social aspects, Muslims must not go beyond the set limit. They should not patronize places of satanic fun where music, nudity, and alcohol feature prominently. As parents, we must resist temptations and emotions from our children and wards to take them out to those places. Instead, we should look for ideal Islamic parties which many Muslim organizations put in place as better alternatives. Children should be exposed to public places for social activities that will increase them in faith and knowledge, and not the ones that will corrupt them morally. This is one of parental duties which Allah will ask them of.
More importantly, as we celebrate Eid al-Adha,we should remember two major lessons of the event. Firstly, it is about the submission of Prophet Ibrahim to Allah and obedience of Prophet Ismail to his father, Ibrahim. On one hand, when the father saw in his dream that he was slaughtering his beloved son, he understood the dream as a revelation. And he did not hesitate to carry out the divine will. On the other hand, the son did not argue with his father. Rather, he encouraged him to execute the divine will and even assured him that he would be calm and patient in the process. See Q37: 102-111. It goes from here that any parent that wants his child to obey him, such a parent must first of all submit to the will of Allah by carrying out His commands – like Ibrahim did -no matter how difficult they may seem. Equally, children must also learn to obey their parents in anticipation of the breakthrough as it happened to Prophet Ismail, the exemplary son of the exemplary father !
The second lesson that we must take from the Eid al-Adha is the spirit of sharing and being charitable. A rich man that can afford the animal sacrifice is not expected to eat it alone from horn to leg. Rather, Islam commands him that he should divide the animal into three parts. The first part is for him and his immediate family members to eat; he should give out the second part as Hadiyyah (gift) to family and friends; and he should give out the third part as Sodaqah (charity) to poor members of the society who cannot afford the animal sacrifice.
This sharing formula of the sacrificial animal goes beyond the Eid period. It is the standard formula that the rich Muslims should follow in ensuring the even circulation of their resources. For Islam doesn’t want the resources to concentrate or remain in the hands of a particular class of people. See Q59:7. This is why Zakat (alms given to the poor members of the society) is one of Islam’s cardinal pillars and Zakat al-Fitr an important act of worship on the day of Eid al-Fitr for the poor to also observe the festival with some provisions.
This culture of sharing or charity has enormous social significance. It goes a long way in providing security in different dimensions, mentally, spiritually, and physically. A society that cultivates the habit of sharing and charity will be secure and protected in all these dimensions. Conversely, a niggard and selfish society is exposed to many insecurity challenges. This is an important factor for insecurity, crisis, and violence everywhere especially in Nigeria. Most wealthy people find it difficult to share the little out of their huge resources with the poor members of the society. They live with the mentality of “winners have it all”. Once they are comfortable they care less about the less previledged members of the society.
Finally, it is important for Muslims to cherish their God-approved festivals and celebrate same in line with the prescribed ways and manners so they can earn the maximum reward therein. Also, we must use the festive period to supplicate to Allah to grant us peace and stability in the country specifically and across the globe generally. May Allah make it possible for us to celebrate as many festivals as possible with firm faith, sound health, and pure wealth through out our existence on the earth. Ameen
Dr. AbdulHameed Badmas Yusuf is a scholar at the University of Ilorin
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