Today we are celebrating, by the grace of Allah, one of the greatest festivals of Islam -Eid ul-Adha (festival of sacrifice), which is also known as Eid al-Kabir (the Great Eid). It is a day of joy and celebration, a day to show happiness and delight, a day in which we renew our faith and recalibrate ourselves to live our lives according to the teachings of Qur’an and the example of our beloved Prophet.
According to Abu Dawud the Prophet (pbuh) said: “the greatest day amongst the days of Allah (swt) is the day of nahir” (the day of sacrifice).
Above all, this is the day in which we celebrate our relationship with a special friend of Allah; this is the day in which we show gratitude to Allah (swt) for guiding us to be on the millat of this special friend, the millat of Ibrahim (AS). Allah (swt) says: “Then We revealed to you, [O Muhammad], to follow the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth; and he was not of those who associate with Allah.” (An-Nahl [16:123]).
We are honored to be from the millat of Ibrahim; this message of Muhammad (pbuh) is not a new message but rather it is renewal of the message of Ibrahim and through the institutions of Eid ul-Adha and Hajj we are taught to closely align ourselves to this same message of Ibrahim (AS).
He was the model of Islam, who came to Allah (swt) with an al-Qalb al-saleem (a sound heart) in total submission and obedience to Allah (swt) –directing his entire life totally focused towards Allah (swt). And so he says: “For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I make partners with Allah”. (Al-An’am [6:79])
He grew up in a society that was deeply rooted in idol worshiping. He himself was born into the house of an idol seller of high family. And yet he was able to recognize the falsehood of the society, he was able to see through the illusion, the magic mirrors, tricks, that were used to divert society from understanding who created them, who they are and where they are heading.
This is akin to our society, with its idols of consumerism and materialism, movie stars and celebrities –everyone chasing after the pounds and pennies –spending their whole lives looking for life that is temporary that will fade while exchanging it for life that is ever lasting and blissful.
And yet, the people who have always submitted their will to a Divine authority, people who have always been thinkers, who have always reflected, who have always been determined not to follow the latest fad, the latest fashion, the latest must have… these, have always seen through the illusion and the web of Satan. They have seen through the glitter and fool’s gold that builds the weakest of homes.
It is said that “if you want to know where you stand with Allah, look where Allah stands with you”. We need to know where we place Allah in our list of priorities in our daily and hectic lives.
Our priority list should be according to what Allah says and Ibrahim expressed this in his personality and manifested it in his life “Say: truly my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and death are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds” (An-am 6:162).
From a young age Ibrahim (AS), using his own reflection and intellectual capacity recognized that all his nation worshipped –that could neither speak or hear, help or harm –were all false and thus he directed himself to Allah (swt) “I am going to my Lord and He will guide me”.
He invited his people to the worship of One God, he feared no one but Allah (swt), and when no one would listen to him –not even his close family, he left his home, his people and wondered the wilderness because of his conviction and firm resolve to Allah (swt).
This, for Ibrahim was a cleansing process and renewal was the path through which he attained the rank of “leader of mankind” (Al-Baqarah 2:124). And when he asked Allah (swt) to give him a son, in his old age, Allah (swt) responded by giving him a “righteous forbearing youth”.
And as you know their story, when both of them entered into the state of complete and absolute submission, Ismail, with prostrating his forehead and Ibrahim in submission to execute the command of his Lord to sacrifice that which he loves Allah (swt) called out to him and said: “O Ibrahim, you have fulfilled the vision. Indeed we thus reward the doers of good (muhsaneen)”. [37:105]
This is the sacrifice, the example of a man who has been purified through trials and tribulations, yet in each circumstance his resolve was unmatched and his determination to please his Lord was unswerving.
Where do we stand?
The real question is where Allah (swt) is in our lives. What are we willing to sacrifice for the deen of Allah? How are we living our lives? Are we completely immersed in this worldly pursuit and completely neglectful of our ultimate appearance before our Lord in the court of the Majestic?
My dear brothers and sisters; Sacrifice is an essential requirement to test the sincerity of our Iman and to fortify our position with Allah (swt). This has been clearly demonstrated through the examples of Prophets Ibrahim and Muhammad (PBUT).
People today are completely immersed in pursuit of worldly things, pursuit of temporary possessions. Everything is about the dunya, all about pleasure and luxurious things. Luxury is not and should never be our goal in life; we should never aspire for such a low pursuit.
This does not mean we can’t enjoy what we have of the blessings of Allah (swt) but our focus should be Allah (swt). Our pursuits of the world should be for the pleasure of Allah (swt) not for the sake of pleasure. We must pursue the material to enable us to look after our families, our relatives, to support our communities and our country. And we must remember those closest to Allah (swt) are the ones that are tested most severely, with their properties and their persons and through this they have redefined, remodeled their life to focus on achieving the pleasure of their Lord and Creator.
The sunnah of Allah (swt) is that those He loves most are tested most severely. Just like to purify gold it needs to be heated to remove all the impurities and hence trials and tribulations are used to shape and develop our personalities. Those who stay firm strive hard and persevere, receive Allah’s guidance and reward, and so the severe trials of Ibrahim (AS) warranted him the title “Leader of mankind” (Al-Baqarah 2:124).
We should always be willing and waiting to sacrifice the things that we love and collect. Our money cars, houses, clothes, jewelry, land –all of which are possessions of this world. We must be willing to sacrifice all if we are to “strive in the cause of Allah with our property and person” (Al-Saff 61:10-11)
My dear brothers and sisters our sacrifice of goat, sheep or cow is a symbolic sacrifice. In a sense that we should reflect that just like the helpless animal is willing to be a sacrifice for the will of its Creator, we must also be willing to sacrifice our lives, possession, inner desires and egos. So we should ask ourselves, are we willing to place ourselves like a helpless animal in the control of the will of our Creator?
Far too often this lesson is missed and our sacrifice on this great day becomes only a ritual practice without any meaning to change ourselves our personality.
Let us prepare ourselves for the life of sacrifice. Without making the sacrifice we will not be able to start the revival of Islam. We should be ready to sacrifice our time, our wealth, our resources and our personal likes and dislikes. If we are sincere then Allah (swt) will help us. He will guide us and open the doors of success for us.
So make this day, a day of renewal of your covenant with Allah, make it a day of renewal of your faith in the heart and in actions, make it a day of taubah. And make this day a day in which we draw near to Allah (swt) for He says ‘’call on me and I will answer you’’.