Is Eid-al-adha possible?

2017-08-24 06:00

Dedicated to my mother who taught me Islam. May Allah grant her Jannah.

IN historical perspective, Eid-al-adha originated when Abraham, on God’s instruction, sacrificed a ram in lieu of his dear son.

The starting point of the incident is Abraham dreaming of God asking him to sacrifice his son. Two questions may be raised here. To the question, “Is it an ideal dream?” I reply in the negative. It may be said that in Abraham’s vision was the emergence from the sub-conscious a suppressed notion of human slaughter which was the practice in his father’s religion.

My objection to this hypothesis is that in a prophetic consciousness mistaken impressions are never admitted.

To the question, “Who is the son referred to?” my answer is Ishmael. In this connection, the Bible says, “Thine only son Isaac.” (Genesis 22:2). The truth is that Ishmael was the only son for 14 years.

According to the Bible, Abraham was 86 years old when he begot Ishmael and 100 years when he begot Isaac. In Chapter 44, the Gospel of Barnabas argues, how is Isaac first born, if when Isaac was born Ishmael was seven years old?”

In the Atharva Veda of the Hindu scriptures we find manthras headed “Purush Medha” which means “Human sacrifices”.

Many Muslim scholars have identified Brahman with Abraham; for instance, al-Jili in his al-Insan al-kamil.

These manthras refer to Brahmaji’s eldest son Atharva (Ishmael) being offered for sacrifice. The younger son was named Angira (Isaac). Further evidence pointing that it was Ishmael is provided by the fact that the event in commemorated only by the followers of prophet Muhommad, a descendant of Ishmael.

It is recorded in the Genesis that when Abraham triumphed in this trail God said, “By myself have I sworn ... because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee; and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and in the seed shall all the nations of earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (VV:16-17)

Now, Eid-al-adha marks the readiness of Abraham to sacrifice his only dear son Ishmael at God’s behest and the preparedness of Ishmael to be sacrificed for God’s sake.

The outward act of the sacrifice of the animal is symbolic of the sacrifice of the animal within. It echoes to the Muslims that God comes first, even if it means sacrificing our dearest possessions of life.

The Quran is clear on this point when it says, “(But bear in mind) never does their flesh reach God, and neither their blood: it is only your God consciousness that reaches him (22:37).

Also implicit in this verse among other things is the fact that in Islam sacrifice is never meant to propitiate or appease an angry deity.

The repeated Quranic instance on pronouncing the name of God whenever one slaughters an animal is meant to make the Muslim realize the awfulness of taking life and the solemn nature of the trust which God has conferred upon them in the permission to eat the flesh of the animals. (Marmaduke Pickthall, The meaning of the glorious Koran, London,1930, P .342, footnote 2)

There are multifarious versus in the Quran urging welfare work. Whereas the Muslims are merely permitted to eat some of the flesh of the animals which they have sacrificed, the feeding of the poor is mandatory (Tabari and Zamakshari), and thus concedes another primary objective of Eid-al-adha.

Towards the end the sacrifices may be performed in proxy in poverty stricken areas. Also the skin of the sacrificed animal or the proceeds of the sale of the skin must be disposed of in charity (Bukhari, 25:21).

Last but not least, Eid-al-adha is a reminder that God is the provider of all sustenance and the one who gives life and death and that all must return to him.

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