[This was first published 2 years ago. Here it is again with some minor edits. The blood-stained hands above are mine. I was a small player in the qurban team.]
It’s 10 Zulhijjah on the Muslim calendar today, one of the most significant days in Islam. On this day in Makkah, 2 million people are performing the Hajj, the fifth pillar of the religion. This is the day when Muslims in Makkah and the world over slaughter animals in the name of the religion. In the name of sacrifice.
For the large majority of Muslims who are not in the holy land during this period, sacrificing a cow, goat, sheep or camel is the second best thing you could do if you can’t make it for Hajj. Indeed Eid-ul-Adha is about sacrifice. This ibadah, or act of worship, is steeped in history and deeep in meaning.
To cut a long story short, on this day, many many moons ago, Allah instructed the Prophet Ibrahim (or Abraham to some) to slaughter his son, the Prophet Ismail (Ishmael to some). Yes, you heard that right, slaughter a human being who also happened to be his son! It was a test like no other. For Ibrahim, he never had a test like this neither. All he said was ‘Dad, we can do this!’ (rough translation). Siti Hajar, the missus, could barely witness the sight of her husband about to kill her son but she just told Ibrahim to just get on with it.
And indeed, that’s precisely what Ibrahim did. The Prophet Ibrahim slaughtered his son. Then, miraculously, by the grace of God Almighty, Ismail turned into a goat! It was an act of sacrifice and ibadah on the part of Ibrahim that was without pre-conditions. No questions asked. Allah wants you to do it, you just do it.
And that was the start of how this day, Eid-ul-Adha, became the day of sacrifice. One in which you slaughter an animal and the meat is then distributed to the needy.
Qurban is sacrifice. You sacrifice time, effort, money. In the name of Islam. For the needy. On this beautiful day, you’re also supposed to remember the sacrifices that your Mom and Dad made for you. Imagine that you’re little Prophet Ismail, about to be slaughtered by dear Dad and witnessed by Mom. You might think that YOU have sacrificed for them but let’s be clear on this. What you have done is nothing compared to what Ibrahim and Hajar (or your parents) went through. Nothing!
So, what are the lessons do we take from this? Today we remember, recognise and appreciate what your parents have done from you when you were little, and what they are sacrificing for you now. If you can’t do anything else on this wondrous Eid day, do this – just BE with your parents. And if you have some cash to spare, you should have spent it on the Qurban. It’s your ride to Jannah, remember? If you’re not with your parents today, no biggie, do it next year. For today, give them a call. Say thank you, I love you.
Eid Mubarak, everyone. Peace!