Eid Qurbani: A Time to Renew the Contract with Allah

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Tomorrow more than 3 million pilgrims will be standing in the plain of Arafat, humbly supplicating before the mighty Lord. Here at home, in spirit, we will join them by fasting and on Sunday we will celebrate Eid ul-Adha insha’Allah.

Eid Qurbani is a remembrance of the sacrifices and devotions of Prophet Ibrahim (alyhi salam). It symbolises faith, obedience and selflessness. On this day we come together as a community, strengthen our bonds and share the blessings bestowed upon us. What is the essence of sacrifice and its significance? The inspiration lies in the selfless act of Prophet Ibrahim, reminding us of the importance of surrendering and submitting to the Lord, the Caring. Then his courage, challenging idolatry, debating with the emperor, migration, leaving behind his family and home and spending his entire life teaching and preaching and his willingness to sacrifice his son. I want to briefly summarise four lessons we can learn from the momentous life of this friend of Allah.

1. The importance of sacrifice

The festival of Eid ul-Adha is the most sacred and faith-invigorating occasion in our calendar. Some people go on Hajj whilst others are preparing for the Qurbani, the Imams are extolling Ibrahim’s goodness. Here is a practical course, Prophet Ibrahim made every kind of sacrifice to gain divine pleasure. He gave up his home and family and lived like a nomad in the desert. He prepared himself to fulfil the dream, where he was slaughtering his beloved son. Just as he was on the brink of doing it the Kind Lord called out “Stop Ibrahim, you have fulfilled the dream” (Saffat: 104-105). That’s inspiring. Notice his devotion and love of Allah. Ask yourself what sacrifice have you made for Allah.

2. Being brave and bold

The boldness and bravery of Ibrahim are legendary, from his childhood, he challenged the idolatry of his people, debated and argued with them. Even resorted to a hardliner approach in dealing with the faithless people, where he went to their temple and smashed their idols. So, Nimrud the emperor of the time sentenced him to the stake to be burnt. We all know how the Lord saved him from the fire. This is bravery and true manliness. Today’s young people need to learn to be brave men like Ibrahim.

3. The importance of family

Young men need the example of Prophet Ibrahim. His fatherhood and Hajara’s motherhood teach us that man and woman are two models of God’s representative on earth, two models of humanity and each gender is unique. The male and female anatomy are different but complementary, their biochemistry is different, women have unique hormones like oestrogen and progesterone, whilst men have testosterone. Consequently, their psychology and moods are different, these are biological differences.

Scientists who study human societies believe that manliness is only achieved by men when they do three things; firstly ‘procreation’: marrying and impregnating their wife, secondly ‘provision’: learning to deliver for her and their children’s needs and thirdly ‘protection’: keeping their family safe from danger. When Ismael was an adolescent, he got married. Marriage does wonders for young men and women. It’s the most effective way of turning a boy into a man, an amazing commitment and a purposeful way of living begins. Whereas unmarried, single men and women are a risk for any society, a constant source of worry, as the unattached and immature adults with tonnes of energy are easily misled by the entertainment industry, their lusts and Satan. The raw energy of sexuality in the hands of Satan is destructive, it must be harnessed. A callous attitude to life accompanied by hormone-enriched meat and junk food can easily lead to uncivilised behaviour. If you are unmarried, please think carefully and join Ibrahim’s team and become a Muhammadi.

4. Diversity and pluralism: Love for all of humanity

This is to acknowledge the fact that humans have different languages, cultures and ethnicities yet are equal since they are brothers and sisters in humanity, the children of Adam and Eve. Ibrahim is the father of Jews, the father of Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and Solomon. The Jewish prophets that Muslims must believe in, “We make no distinction between them” (Baqarah: 136). Don’t forget Ibrahim is also the father of the Arabs. The Messenger (peace be upon him) was most proud of him.

When our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) arrived in Madina, he found that there were Jews, Pagans and Muslims living there. He made a legal agreement that Jews, Pagans and Muslims would live together as one community. Remember the Treaty of Madina, a historical statement on living together. I remember when I visited Bosnia in 2009 with a delegation of Muslim and Christian scholars. We visited a Serb-Orthodox Church and the priest showed us a plaque at the entrance saying that the Muslim Ottoman ruler Sultan Mehmet donated for building this church. When we went to a Roman-Catholic seminary, they showed us a five-hundred-year-old letter written by the Muslim ruler of the time, which gave them the freedom to teach and preach in Bosnia. Muslims have always co-existed with people of other faiths.

Conclusion

Islamic festivals are practical training programmes that make us think about the bigger picture of life, they develop our life skills that make us kind and patient. Moreover, they connect us with Allah. So, let’s sacrifice our desires, let’s become bold and brave and finally respect fellow humans. This is the wonderful message of Eid Qurbani. May this joyous festival bring immense happiness, blessings and spiritual fulfilment into our lives.