Muslims throughout the world celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, timed towards the end of Hajj.
Generally, the event is celebrated as a festival of joy with dressing up, feasting and having a good time with family and friends.
However, there are deep and most significant lessons embedded in marking this most important occasion in the Islamic calendar.
Both Hajj and its integration with it Eid-ul-Adha commemorate the trials and triumphs of Prophet Ibrahim (a) together with his wife Hajrah and son Ismail (a).
Ibrahim’s (a) willingness to sacrifice his most beloved possession, his son Ismail (a) and in turn Ismail’s (a) willingness to be sacrificed are considered as ultimate acts of obedience to the commandments of Allah.
During the celebration of Eid-ul-Adha, Muslims remember Ibrahim’s (a) trials by themselves sacrificing an animal where most of the meat is given away to others including the poor, family and friends.
The act of sacrifice symbolises the willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow God’s commands.
It also represents our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need.
However, sacrificing an animal is just symbolic. The real lesson from this sacrifice is indeed self-sacrifice, that of sacrificing our ego, self-interest, whims and fancies, our wrong desires, our corrupt behaviour, injustice and unfair treatment of others, friends or foes.
Muslims generally are suffering from disunity, violent conflicts, injustice, inequity leading to suffering on a grand scale.
Character building, understanding, empathy, love and peace needs to be built from the grass root level and therefore pondering on the lessons of self-sacrifice from Eid-ul-Adha and reflections on our behaviour will certainly lead us to live Islam in our daily life.
Solution to inter-Muslim conflicts, injustice, sectarian hatreds, corruption and violence needs to be addressed first on an individual level.
The Imam of Makkah’s Grand Mosque, Sheikh Saleh Mohammed al-Taleb during his sermon last Friday before Hajj strongly denounced those who “cause conflict among Muslims,” reflecting on rifts among Gulf neighbours and sectarian wars in the Middle East.
“Anyone who causes conflict and discord among Muslims ignores the blessing of harmony, imitates those who lived in ignorance [before Islam], harms his people and cheats his nation,” he said.
Muslim leaders, thinkers and writers need to come out and express their strong unhappiness with the state of the Ummah in order to bring inter-Muslim discord, that is causing great suffering and world chaos, to an end.
In this issue, a number of AMUST columnists have written on conflict resolution, reconciliation, toleration and understanding and correct response to hate and injustice.
Dr Daud Batchelor pleads for reconciliation to end sectarian conflicts. He contends that in reality these conflicts are based on political manoeuvring and self-interest of ruling elites rather than any religious differences of theology.
Mohammad Hassan Bakhtiari writes on virtues of patience and toleration against rage, hostility and hate in order to lead a peaceful life.
Dr Salih Yucel quotes from Quran and Sunnah in order to develop the correct response to hate and injustice rather than inflammatory rhetoric, outright condemnation and violent protest or reaction.
Hence let’s pledge on this day of Eid-ul-Adha to inculcate good values and develop strength of character within ourselves, our young people and in our community in order to bring about peace and harmony in our society, our nation and our global village.