Rather than look at this past week’s celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid from the outside in, I have invited other bloggers to share their personal experiences. Thursday’s guest entry asked readers, “are we losing the spirit of Eid?” Today, a blogger from ProductiveMuslim joins us on Inside Islam to explore this topic further. The entry below tells the story of Abraham and the meaning of his infamous sacrifice from an Islamic perspective.
Our guest, Mohammed, is a UK-based blogger for ProductiveIslam, a site that aims to link Islam to productivity. When I asked him to elaborate, he started off by pointing out that as a new religion, Islam’s teachings introduced the written word to Arab culture, improved literacy, and had many positive effects. The message behind ProductiveIslam is that Islam is still an inventive and creative force in the world today.
The blog points to resources and tips that inform and enlighten others from an Islamic perspective. Sometimes the material is verses from the Quran, and sometimes it’s a saying from prophet Muhammad. Mohammed also looks for modern tools and resources that Muslims can use to be more productive using the web, and become more aware of Islam’s positive impact in society at large. Welcome to Inside Islam, Mohammed.
Eid and the Story of Sacrifice
There’s something about the Eid of Sacrifice which moves me. I guess I love it when tradition blends with faith, and culture mixes with religion, and how customs which we were thought are unique to one area are actually part of a global ritual that is performed once every year.
Most importantly, the festivity of Eid comes with a meaning, comes with a story, that is told and re-told hoping that we’d learn from it and apply it to our daily lives. Prophet Abraham (Peace be upon him) sees a vision (and the vision of Prophets are Revelations) that he slaughtering his son. He goes and asks his son what he thinks and what shall he do? I usually pause here and ask myself: Why did he go and ask his son? He could have simply killed his son, fulfilled the dream, end of story. But he asked him. Perhaps he wanted his son to join him to obey Allah, just like he asked his son later on to join him to build the House of God, Al-Ka’aba.
His son agrees, they move swiftly to act on God’s command, before doubts fill their mind, and guess who turns up? Good old Satan! He tries to tempt them away, calling them to rethink, but his evil cries and whispers fall on deaf ears. I get two lessons here:
First, when you embark to perform a sacrifice for God, or in fact do anything for Him, Satan will try and stop you. Think about the last time you wanted to give charity, you probably thought to yourself, I’ll give $100 today in charity, but before you even donated, Satan comes up to you to remind you of all the bills, and the credit crunch, and the fact that you might lose your job, therefore $100 is too much! next thing you know, you’re barely giving 1 cent in charity!
The second lesson is that Satan’s whispers sometimes do sound like good advice; it sounded like a genuine advice to Abraham not to sacrifice his son, but what Abraham taught us by ignoring Satan’s cries is that in the face of God’s command, in the face of obeying Him and sacrificing for Him, even when things may not make sense, even when others seem more reasonable with their advice to you against such sacrifice, follow your Heart and know that God is Great.
Abraham puts his son down, places the knife over him, attempts to slaughter, but the knife doesn’t cut! He tries again, and knife doesn’t cut! A caller from Heaven calls, “O Abraham! You’ve fulfilled the dream!” Abraham looks up, and sees an angel coming down with a large ram which he is asked to sacrifice instead of his son!
Ask yourself the question: Did Abraham lose anything by obeying God? By sacrificing for Him? He didn’t. In fact, he gained; He gained love of his Lord, He gained a large ram, He gained his son, and he gained respect and awe throughout time from every believing men and women for his readiness to perform the ultimate sacrifice for God.
Dear friends, let us reflect once more on this age old sacrifice, and see how it applies to our daily lives… when we need to make the right decisions, sacrifices will be made, and once we embark on the sacrifice, remember doubts will come to try and stop us, but remember something else: if you go all the way, you’ll gain much more than you lose. That is, if you lose anything in the first place.