As we in Pakistan are passing through a trying and
difficult period calling for great sacrifice and steadfastness, Eid-ul-Azha
this year takes on added significance. The example of Hazrat Ibrahim and his
son (Peace be upon them) is of course inspiring for all Muslims but for us
it has a special message in the context of our present predicament.
Upholding this glorious tradition demands dedication of the highest order
and full faith in Allah to overcome seemingly insuperable obstacles and
problems. The Quranic version of the ultimate test prescribed for His Friend
(Khalilullah), his unhesitating compliance with it and the great rewards
that followed is most instructive. It needs to be recalled on this day to
strengthen our will and conviction.
Born in a leading family of idol-worshippers, Hazrat
Ibrahim rebelled against the prevailing polytheistic order and challenged
the false gods fearlessly. The enlightening flame of faith within him could
not be extinguished by the direst of threats and consequently the blazing
fire into which he was thrown was by a miracle transformed into a garden of
roses. He preferred to abandon his home rather than his mission and stuck to
his resolve in the face of the most fierce trials. After passing through
these ordeals courageously and successfully he was made by God an "Imam
to the Nations."
Those who claim to follow Ibrahim's Sunnah in letter
and in spirit must search their souls to see if they are embracing only the
symbols without the substance. In slaughtering an animal do they tame the
animal hidden in the inner recesses which keeps rearing its ugly head and
which feeds on base desires? As the Quran says, "It is not their
(animals') meat nor their blood that reacheth Allah. It is your Taqwah
(piety) that reaches Him." The quotation conveys the purpose behind the
ritual of slaughter that can only be realized if honestly and sincerely
imbibed and grasped.
Hazrat Ibrahim's mission reached its culminating point
and crowning glory in the life and tradition of Muhammad (Peace be upon
him), the final Prophet and Messenger of Allah. In his first address from a
mound in the Valley of Safa, he exhorted his followers to stop worshipping
man-made images of mud and stone and to believe in one God Who has no equal.
This stirring call struck the order of the time as a thunderbolt and those
very people who regarded him as "the most honest, the most
truthful" (Sadiq and Ameen) turned against him, tormented and tortured
him till he was forced to leave Makkah. But like Hazrat Ibrahim he stood
firm by his convictions and wrought a revolution in a record time. In his
last memorable message three months before his death, the vast Haj concourse
in Arafat heard him speak from atop Jabal Al-Qaswa.
His farewell address knocked down the false notions of
tribal, racial, national and parochial prejudices. This in fact was a
charter emphasizing the Unity of God and Unity of Mankind which Hazrat
Ibrahim sought to deliver. Ever since then the increasing multitude of
pilgrims who throng to Makkah and go round the Kaaba every year have been
hearing echoes of this inspiring oration. Muslims from many lands, belonging
to different nationalities - rich, poor, young, old, black and white - come
together under one banner of faith, congregate in the same mosque and
perform Haj all as one fraternity.
Those who perform Haj and chant "Here I come, O
Lord" make a solemn vow that should be fully grasped and absorbed in
one's conduct. The Millat as a whole must resolve anew at this time to act
in keeping with their Faith. Unity, fraternity, equality and discipline in
evidence during Haj could change the destiny of the Muslims who are
unfortunately divided, disorganized and as such deprived of the promised
blessings. In order to reap the divine reward in this world and hereafter
and hold the banner of Islam aloft, they should regulate their lives
according to the tenets of their faith. Sectarian differences leading to
murder and riots must be eschewed and the broader spirit and vision of Islam
imbibed. Perseverance, patience and constancy are essential to realize the
goal of higher humanity. We can give concrete expression to the spirit of
sacrifice by struggling ceaselessly to bring about a change for the better.
When our actions conform to our faith and our vows, the day of deliverance
will dawn, Insha Allah. This is the meaning and message of Eid-ul-Azha.
Courtesy, Dawn, March 6, 2001