The word “Eid” means that which returns back again and again. The celebrations that return every year to bring in the zeal to worship God Almighty with utmost fervour is the Eid.
I remember my Brahmin teacher who lives in the Middle East as an expat sharing her experience of Eid in the Arab world. This is what she told me: The Arabs are such boring lot, there are no festivities outside on the streets; no noise; no pomp. It’s all silent on the day of the Eid.
She’s right. That’s how most of the Muslim localities are on the day of the Eid. And that’s what is closer to what the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) inculcated in the believers. Making any kind of disruption to the regular system, in the name of celebration is all discouraged in Islam. Blocking the roads, blasting the music, throwing away eatables and ornamental things on the streets are all disliked in Islam. However, there’s scope for fun-time. Competitions such as Qiraath – Qur’an recitation, tournaments, lectures and get-togethers are all allowed in Islam. All things are fine, as long as one doesn’t do the prohibited entertainments.
A celebration of the Eid is also a religious act. There’s no scope for boozing, head-banging, dating and all to mark the celebration of Eid. Most of the people wear new or good clothes, eat good food – mostly non-vegetarian, visit relatives and do their regular duties. Food is shared with their neighbours, relatives, friends and the poor. All the fun is had, while not hampering the regular duties. Regular duties are the 5 daily prayers. There’s no holiday for the masjids on the Eid day too. Muslims visit the open grounds – generally called as Eidgah, or they go to the masjids along with their women folks and children, pray the Eid prayers in congregation, listen to the sermon given by the Khateeb – Speaker (generally a learned scholar), and then disperse.
This Eid celebration signifies the love that the God Almighty has for Prophet Abraham, and the love of Prophet Abraham towards God Almighty – Allah (Arabic word for the God Almighty). Yes, it is in a way to commemorate the friendship of God and His friend Abraham (Ibraaheem).
Prophet Abraham sacrificed his entire life for the pleasure of Allah. As a child, he debated with his father over theology. Abraham preached monotheism to his polytheistic father who used to make idols and worship them. He preached the oneness of God to his people and the King. He was commanded by God Almighty to leave his wife and son at the barren land in the midst of the mountains of Safaa and Marwa in Makka, at a place where there wasn’t much resources to survive. There was no noise, no vegetation, no animal and no people there when Abraham left his family in Makka. Abraham just obeyed God Almighty at every instance and found God’s help throughout. He was catapulted into fire by his own people who didn’t like his preachings. His dad even threatened him of stoning to death. The King used his power against him. At every instance, Abraham relied on God’s intervention and found himself honoured and protected by God.
And when God wanted to test his friend by a test of the highest level, He commanded his slave and Prophet, Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his elder son Ismail. Ismail was born to Abraham and his wife Haajar. Abraham loved his son very much, more so because the child was born when Abraham was a very old man. God even tested him by not giving a child for such an old age.
But when God wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son Ismail, the father conveyed God’s revelation to his son. The unimaginable strength of faith displayed by his son is truly remarkable. He too said that he will be among the patient ones, ready to fulfil the God’s command. As the father and son were getting prepared to the sacrifice; to the extent that the knife was placed over son’s neck, as the son was prostrating touching his forehead on the ground, God intervened and helped him once again. God asked Abraham to not sacrifice his son and asked him to sacrifice a sheep instead. And as a miracle, God sent a sheep from the heavens and asked Abraham to slaughter it instead of sacrificing his son. And that’s the significance of giving a sheep in sacrifice even today.
The test was too heavy; beyond the level of common men to bear. It was a test from God to let people know the level of faith and love Abraham had for his God.
There are lots of instances to talk about the Eid-Ul-Ad’haa; and the sacrifices of Abraham and his family. Lot many books and literature are available to know them in detail to enrich and rejuvenate the faith in God Almighty. And in this month of Dhul Hijjah, the Haajis (Pilgrims to Makka) perform their acts of rituals that symbolise the sacrifices and dedication of the believers. Maybe in another occasion, I shall write about the Hajj pilgrimage in detail, God-willing.
Abraham was a slave of God. He did anything that his master commanded him to do. At the same time, Abraham earned the title “KhaleelUllaah” – “Close friend of Allah”. God honoured Abraham and his progeny amongst whom came the great prophets such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (may peace be upon all of them). And this honour has been conferred due to his great love and devotion he showed to God Almighty.
Hence to me, Eid-ul-Ad’haa is a time of remembrance of two things. God’s love for His slave. And slave’s love towards his God.
Writer: Umar Shariff (President, DIET, www.discoverislam.co.in)