Today, the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, known as Eid-el-Kabir, is celebrated by Islamic faithfuls throughout the world. The festival is rooted in scriptural accounts of both the Islamic and Judeo-Christian theology as evidenced in the Al Qur’an Kareem (The Glorious Qur’an) and the Old Testament respectively.
The homogenous accounts (Qu’ran Chapter 37; Genesis Chapter 22) highlight how, in a singular act of obedience to a divine command, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), took Ishmael, (Isaac in the the Judeo-Christian tradition) his son which was begotten in his old age, to a location and prepared him for ritual of immolation as piety to God. As he got set to cut the throat of the blindfolded son, behold!
A ministration came from heavens; Allah conveyed the good tidings, stopping the killing and revealed that a ram had been sent by Allah as a vicarious replacement for the sacrifice. God added that Ibrahim had passed the ultimate test of faith and would be amply rewarded. The ram was promptly slaughtered while both father and son returned home in ecstatic joy. This exemplary story of Prophet Ibrahim’s fully manifested intent to sacrifice his most adored progeny is well known, what many do not however bother to imbibe is its essence.
The demonstration of this sublime virtue of selflessness, yield to the divine fiat, a reference point in man/God relationship. Ideally, as the embodiment of all knowledge and wielders of all powers, God should be seen as the Guiding Light to the path of redemption. Mortals are finite while God is infinite; what remains hidden to man is laid completely bare to God, with no more than just a single glance of his omniscient eye.
Yet, most humans tend to disregard divine guidance through obstinacy borne out of selfishness. There are enough injunctions in our religious books that would have made the society better if willingly obeyed, alas, what we often have is a case of selective obedience if not outright disobedience or crooked manipulative interpretations of God’s words to suit our pre-conceived foibles and whims.
Today, God may not require us to kill our children to prove our unconditional submission to his will, but how many are truly eager to comply with even the comparatively easier obligations required of us in this modern times? The two Holy Scriptures are replete with passages urging virtues of honesty, righteousness, integrity, good neighbourliness and love. But do we practice them? Underscoring the imperative of yielding to God, The Qur’an, in Chapter 4, Verse 125, says: “Who could have a better religion than someone who submits himself completely to God and is a good-doer, and follows the religion of Abraham, a man of pure natural belief?
God took Abraham as an intimate friend. Now, if we find it difficult to submit to God in the relatively easier obligations confronting us today, how miserably would we fail if called to make superior sacrifice like Prophet Ibrahim? Superior sacrifice may imply giving away one’s most prized possession.
What translates to most prized possession differs among individuals. To some people, their riches, manifested in millions, billions or trillions of money and assets rank supreme, to others, their chain of degrees and other certificates come before everything else; others place the highest premium on looks, some people’s most adored valuables are sporting talents, tribal or national identity, or some other mundane human values.
How many Nigerians today can give up their most prized possession in alliance to divine commandments? Indeed, most of the problems facing us as a country stem from the people’s attitude of superimposing personal preferences and selfish agenda over all other things, including God acclaimed commandments and directives. God says do not kill, we always find excuses to do so, he says do no steal, we do for personal aggrandisement, he commands we show love to your neighbour, we engage in baseless sadism borne of wanton hatred.
Politicians who steal with impunity from the public treasury know that God abhors it, yet rather than give up such selfish pursuits in the light of the creator’s antipathy to the vice, they expect Him to compromise his standards and overlook the disobedience!
What about those who kill and maim other people for money and other selfish or misguided reasons?
As we celebrate this year’s Eid el- Kabir, let us be reminded that the essence of this great festival is total submission to the will of God; it is not reckless bingeing and partying; it is not mere storing of ram meat in cellars for hedonistic purpose of titillating the palate in drawn-out consumption many weeks after the Sallah; neither is it an occasion to flaunt wealth. The demonstrative purpose of Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice story is to underscore the virtue of total submission to the will of Almighty Allah as following His will invariably inspires the spirit of love, charity, caring for others and selflessness.
Eid Mubarak! Barrka de Sallah!