Muslims worldwide celebrated the largest Eid (festival) of their two Eids; Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). This Eid is observed each year during the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar when Muslims wear their best outfit, go for congregational Eid prayer, and offer sacrifice to Allah through slaughtering of some animals.
In recent years, Eid al-Adha was observed in between the month of August and September, during which the international community — the US people especially — commemorate the 9/11 tragedy that tore a hole in the history of mankind.
In Islam, there is no such thing as a coincidence since everything in this world is in the knowledge of Allah and everything is according to His Wise Plan. Nevertheless, realising that the timing of Eid al-Adha falls around the commemoration of the 9/11 tragedy, both Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide might start to worry.
As the former group would be concerned whether Eid would, again, be unceasingly misrelated to terrorism, the latter would be fretted by that very affair — that Eid encourages terrorism — while the Muslim community celebrates it cheerfully and joyously!
What’s the big deal?
For those who don’t have a clue as to what all this is about, the ‘sacrifice’ part in Eid al-Adha originates from an incident between Prophet Ibrahim and his beloved son, Prophet Ismail. It is said that Prophet Ibrahim was ordered through revelation to slaughter Prophet Ismail as a sacrifice for the purpose of proving love to Allah. As Prophet Ibrahim showed his obedience and got ready to carry out the task, it was found that Prophet Ismail was safe as Allah has replaced him with a ram.
The subtle and underlying wisdom here is that Prophet Ibrahim has passed the test of sacrificing his father-son love to ensure it does not transcend his love for Allah. Consequently, Muslims are then required to sacrifice cattles (or sheep, camel, etc.) to follow the footsteps thus learning the lesson of sacrificing or giving up our material possession for the sake of Allah.
Perhaps upon reading this, some people might jump to this conclusion: for the sake of Allah, sacrifice is required, killing a soul is one of the ways of doing it, and such obedience shown will be favoured by Allah.
What a terrifying religion it seems to be, but that is only if it is true. Is it?
The incident itself; it’s indeed in the Quran.
Indeed this incident is told in the Quran in Chapter 37 verse 102-107. According to our Muslim faith, all the texts in the Quran are considered authentic.
Verse 102: “And when he (Prophet Ismail) reached with him (Prophet Ibrahim) (the age of) exertion, he (Prophet Ibrahim) 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.”
Verse 103: “And when they had both submitted and he (Prophet Ibrahim) put him down upon his forehead,”
Verse 104: “We (Allah) called to him, “O Ibrahim,”
Verse 105: “‘You have fulfilled the vision.’ Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good.”
Verse 106: “This was indeed a plain trial.”
Verse 107: “And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice.”
However, is it the right lesson?
In another verse, Allah acknowledged Prophet Ibrahim as an obedient disciple.
“Indeed, Ibrahim was a (comprehensive) leader, devoutly obedient to Allah, inclining toward truth, and he was not of those who associate others with Allah.” (al-Quran 16:120)
In the aforementioned verse (37:106), Allah declares that the commandment was, in actual, a test for Prophet Ibrahim. The basis of this test was to determine if he would fully obey the commandment of Allah no matter how emotionally difficult it was and submit to whatever Allah has decreed upon him, or if he would hesitate and question the order from Allah.
His love for Allah during that moment was being tested and verified; the choice was either to act based on his faith and follow Allah’s will to obtain His pleasure or act upon an emotionally clouded judgement and choose love for his only son (at that time). In spite of being granted with a son after a long period of waiting and yearning, Prophet Ibrahim realised that all these worldly possessions, his son included, belong only to Allah.
Through his act and decision, Prophet Ibrahim had to sacrifice one of the greatest blessings rewarded to him to show that his faith to Allah is firm and stronger than ever.
The decree: no human soul should be harmed
The whole thing was about piety and faith in Allah, to cut the story short. It was never about killing a soul. The same purpose is to be embraced by Muslims by following the lessons from the incident.
“Their (the animals’) 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-Quran 22:37)
As proof, Allah The Almighty replaced the throat of Prophet Ismail that was exposed to the razor-sharp knife with a ram and delivered the glad tidings to Prophet Ibrahim that he’d passed the test.
Likewise, Allah could tell Muslims to slit the throat of a human (a beloved family member) and perhaps He would replace it with cattle from Heaven, provided that we offer our full submission to His decree. However, the decree for the Muslims is not so: the livestock is going to be sacrificed instead of a human soul and thus we are spared from such a heavy test that Prophet Ibrahim himself went through.
It is also worth mentioning that Allah is very strict when it comes to harming another soul that He even strictly forbids the killing of an innocent soul.
“Do not slay the soul sanctified by Allah, except by way of justice and law.” (al-Quran 6:151)
Suffice to say that if anybody justifies violence and terrorism in the name of God, he has so much diverged and strayed away from the true lesson about sacrifice derived from this incident of Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail.
If the non-Muslims understand the teaching behind this particular story of Eid al-Adha, there is one heartwarming lesson that will stay with them until the end: that today, even if we want to prove our heartiest and noblest of love to Allah, no human soul should be our scapegoat. The unfortunate and cruel incident of 9/11, indicated the absence of love for Allah from those responsible, whoever they really were.
With the remembrance of the victims of 9/11, any Muslim who possesses a strong love for Allah is also disheartened and should shed tears of sadness, along with the rest of the US citizens for the irresponsible and inhumane act of the plotters and executioners.