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Eid-ul-Azha: Message and Meaning

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Eid-ul-Azha is being celebrated today in a situation of uncertainty and insecurity. Nobody is sure of of which turn the situation can take. With deaths taking place almost daily the clouds of gloom and despair are only but thickening. But all this should not keep us away from the soul of the Eid-ul-Azha. Let we keep away from the festivity but keep on with spirit of the Eid. In text and practice, it is one of the great festivals of Islam. On this day Muslims relive the struggle and sacrifices of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). Those who can afford it are dutifully meeting their religious obligations by doing the rounds of the animal bazaars that, as always, spring up all over the place at this time of year. The sacrifice of an animal and the spill of blood is a symbolic demonstration of our unreserved love for Allâh. It is our display of unquestioned obedience to the law of Allâh and a reminder that the closer one gets to Allâh the greater the struggles and sacrifices. Ibrahim’s AS’s legacy reassures the Believers that truth must prevail if we have conviction and commitment. “Say: ‘If your fathers and your sons and your brothers and your spouses and your clan, and the wealth that you have acquired, and the commerce whereof you fear a decline and the dwellings in which you take pleasure (if all these) are more beloved to you than Allâh, His Rasûl and the struggle in His cause, then wait until Allâh makes manifest the fulfilment of His Command – (Know that) Allâh does not guide those who are openly wicked.’” (9:24)
Those who are consumed by the love of Allâh find indescribable joy in placing the sword of denial on everything that impedes the true love of Allâh. Loving Allâh necessitates obeying, trusting, surrendering, adhering and yielding to all that pleases Him. Our families, our wealth, our properties and palatial abodes should not prevent us from striving in His path and searching for His love. Those whose hearts are immersed in the love of Allâh freely subjugate themselves to His pleasure. The Qurbani of Ibrahim AS was not some kind of heartless compliance of a slave before His Master. It was the undying love of a slave seeking to win the love of his Master. “It is not the flesh, nor the blood that reaches Allâh, but it is your conscious awareness of Him, that reaches Him.” To believe is to acknowledge His existence, to love is deny your own existence. “Muhabbah [love] is the erasure of the qualities of the lover, affirming the essential being of the Beloved.” Allâh instructed Ibrahim to sacrifice his son. He obeyed the command of Allâh without question. Ibrahim AS believed in “Divine Rights” and human obligations. He believed that Allâh’s law embraces the whole of man’s life- his individual, social, private and public life. Divine law was beyond the sanction of his people, governments and politicians. When the people of Ibrahim AS failed to prevent him from the truth, they resorted to plotting and punishing him. “So naught was the answer of (Ibrahim’s) people except that they said: ‘Slay him or burn him.’” (29:24) Ibrahim could have given up his message and his beliefs to save himself from the fire of Nimrod. He chose to die for Allâh’s message to live. He chose to step into the fire of oppression and tyranny in order to save humanity from the fire of ignorance and godlessness. Ibrahim AS challenged oppression, prejudice and ignorance. He turned away “from all that is false” at the cost of being branded, mocked and ridiculed, yet he remained steadfast, positive and unwavering in challenging falsehood. The crusade against Islam is as old as human history. Muslims today are being stereotyped and profiled negatively. Are we prepared to take up the cudgels and relentlessly champion the teachings of Islam, as did Ibrahim AS?
“… And do not lose hope of the mercy of Allâh; verily none but people who deny the truth lose hope in the mercy of Allâh.” (12:86) Truth and justice will prevail if we have the conviction in Allâh’s mercy and commitment to His word and command. Eid-ul-Adha is in essence a day to renew our bondage to our Creator, to embrace His word without a murmur of hesitation and to positively respond to the challenges that we face. Are we prepared…? May Allâh Ta’âla fill our hearts with His love and grant us the steadfastness to uphold the banner of Islam for as long as we live.