…It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Him but your piety (Q22: 36-37)
It is that time of the year again when Muslims across the world celebrate the holiest festival in their calendar, known as Eid-el-Kabir. The festival honours the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Isma’il as an act of submission to God’s command, before God stopped him in his tracks, informing him that his sacrifice had already been accepted.
The meat from the sacrificed animal is usually divided into three parts. The family retains one-third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends, and neighbours; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy. This is, therefore, a season of love towards humanity.
The Eid el-Kabir is a great festival. It is great because of the merger which it evolves between the profane and the sacred. This is a festival which predates Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W); it is a festival instituted by the Almighty through the agency of Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail (upon them be peace and blessings of Allah). Eid el-Kabir is a story. It is the story of a man and his pious family. It is the story of belief in the season of disbelief.
However, the state of the economy is taking its toll on the celebrations as economic hardship, dwindling disposable income and abrupt hike in cost of items in the days leading to the festival especially rams, will make this year’s celebration a low-key affair.
The significance of the Sallah rams to Muslims cannot be over-emphasised. It remains a core tenet of the Islamic faith. So important is the slaughtering of ram at Sallah, that it permeates the rich and the poor.
But going by the prevailing economic crunch in the country, many Muslim faithful might not be able to afford rams this year. Although there was a similar development last year, this year’s seems to have been further deepened, especially with the galloping and unpredictable exchange rate that has persisted throughout the year.
Most traders across the country at a ram market have blamed this development on a further decline in the economy, devaluation of the naira, poor circulation of money in the country, terrorism in the northern part of the country from where rams are brought, among others.
But it should not be a season of lamentation. It is a season of reflection on great lessons from ‘Prophet Ibrahim who believed God and took control of his life and granted his heart desires. Same way if we can trust Allah, He is going to take care of us. This is one lesson of this season.
Another lesson is that Nigerians should learn the habit of doing good at all times since anyone can leave this world at any time.
There are other lessons, which include: first, there are bound to be trials (call it tension, if you like), which are part of life, and individuals need patience to overcome them. (See Q2 vs. 155 and Q29 vs.1-2). We need to be patient with the promises from authorities, as they look for a solution to the current economic downturn and security challenges. Prophet Ibrahim had patience and trust when he was praying for a child.
Besides, we need high trust, faith and total obedience to Allah, as demonstrated by Ibrahim (AS). This endears one to Allah and qualifies one for His blessings. We should ask ourselves whether we are truly doing all these.
Again, loyalty and cooperation help to overcome tension. Ibrahim and his son agreed in all sincerity that God’s will be done. Though hard to do, but their tension turned to a big relief in the end. Nigerians should agree to live together in peace and sincerely join hands together to develop the nation. Eid-el-Kabircelebrations encourage us to forgive and give, to share and care. This lesson should be reflected in our daily living.
As God makes the sacrificial animal to submit to us, we should also submit our ego to the Creator. One big problem we have in the country today is class distinction. Once we see everybody as an important stakeholder in the Nigeria Project, then our challenges will become history.
Another lesson is that people should believe that God gave them whatever they have today for a purpose, which is to assist others that do not have. If we don’t emulate from these teachings, definitely we are not doing Sallah the way it should be done.
Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said: ‘‘If you slaughter a ram, take what you and your family can eat, that the rest should be shared with others to ensure that you make everyone happy and comfortable. That is the main essence of the festival. It’s not everybody that can afford to slaughter ram at this time of recession. But those who can afford, should ensure they give to the less privileged around them. When you slaughter the ram, it is not for you and your family alone. You are encouraged to share it to neighbours around.
The family established by Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) was a family of faith, piety and perseverance. It featured a man, two women and two sons all of whom were individually destined to impact human history in extremely dissimilar and similar ways. In other words, every action of these characters, while they were on earth, was destined to be a signifier. They were all involved in creating history without actually knowing it; they ‘transacted’ spiritual-mundane businesses, which eventually became models till eternity.
As Muslims in Nigeria join the rest of the Muslim community around the world to celebrate this festival of sacrifice, we wish our Muslims readers Happy Sallah.