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Sacrifice, Sacrifice- Why bother?


Did you hear-?

With the hundreds of popular ‘styles’ doing their rounds amongst us, be it in dress or living, the one quickly going out of fashion from our circles is the Sunnah style. We were to love him, Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam, more than our family and sons, yet today we hardly know him…

I can vividly remember how it started last year. ’Eid ul-Adha was approaching, dividing people into three clear groups like always. The best of them know what the festival brings with it; however the other two are unaware of its demands upon us. It was to be so that I learnt of the latter from a very close standpoint.

Firstly, there are those who take animal sacrifice in its physical sense to epic proportions, however low they may be falling on the sincerity scale. They do not allow themselves to think of their pocket, nor do they consider other fard obligations that they are responsible for, before Allah asks them if they fulfilled the sunnah of animal sacrifice. The second group however, consists of the unfortunate who find this act unnecessary in and of itself. These are two miserable extremes.

It was October 2008, and northern Pakistan suffered a massive quake. When Zulhijjah came around, a friend suggested that we should be giving away this money to stabilise our brothers and sisters in plight; come next year, we can celebrate ‘Eid along with them. In view of the emergency situation in the country, the idea did have its merit. (Many scholars have declared the sacrifice to be a Sunnah Muakkadah (confirmed Sunnah), and not Fard (obligatory).)

Another year passed, and it was ‘Eid ul-Adha again. The same person was now found to declare, “This time I had to sacrifice because Mum was too insistent, but I have decided and my (older) sister too; next year onwards we’re going to just give away this money in charity…it is a Sunnah for us anyway”.

Do you realize what is wrong with the latter scenario? We have put the spirit of the act away in the dark recesses of our mind, never to be accessed again -let it rot there until we can find better things to replace it with. Allah’s sole purpose that we do sacrifice was not so we can help the needy eat meat. It is but a secondary aim, something which will come naturally to us insha Allah, if only we were to understand the primary purpose – that of laying down our lives for His sakes if need be; that of doing away with what we love for the greater Love, His; that of remembering the submission of Ibrahim AS and Isma’el AS to Allah’s will. Ibrahim AS was ready to give away his only son, and an obedient and excellent son at that, in Allah’s way, without a second glance! He was ready to do the deed himself – do we understand even an iota of the kind of submission and love that it entails?? Allah says in the Quran:

فَلَمَّا بَلَــغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يٰبُنَيَّ اِنِّىْٓ اَرٰى فِي الْمَنَامِ اَنِّىْٓ اَذْبَحُكَ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرٰى ۭ قَالَ يٰٓاَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُــؤْمَرُ ۡ سَتَجِدُنِيْٓ اِنْ شَاۗءَ اللّٰهُ مِنَ الصّٰبِرِيْنَ    ١٠٢؁

And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” (As-Saffaat: 102)

Soon after, Allah further elevates the status of Ibrahim AS: Indeed, he was of Our believing servants. (As-Saffaat: 111), and gives him glad tidings of a righteous son.

Considering the other extreme (that of exaggerated and ostentatious sacrifices), never does Allah promise that you exceed beyond measure in show and He shall relieve us of our obligations. The rights of Allah, and those of His creation- we are to fulfil both. He explains it beautifully in His Book:

لَنْ يَّنَالَ اللّٰهَ لُحُوْمُهَا وَلَا دِمَاۗؤُهَا وَلٰكِنْ يَّنَالُهُ التَّقْوٰي مِنْكُمْ  ۭ كَذٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُوا اللّٰهَ عَلٰي مَا هَدٰىكُمْ  ۭ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ  37؀

Their meat will not reach Allah , nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good. (Al-Hajj: 37)

Piety or taqwa (God-consciousness) – can it ever allow man to forget about his blood relatives in need, a brother who requires financial help etc.? Let us pray for guidance that we may be able to perform the rites of worship with sincerity and hope, and that we may grow in love and submission to Him.

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