Eid al-Azha, celebrated on Tuesday, reminds us of the importance of sacrifice.
What’s sacrifice? Usually taken to mean the slaughtering of animals, it is more than that. A mother sacrifices sleep for her children. A father sacrifices all his comfort for his son. Prophet Mohammed himself has been the embodiment of sacrifice all his life. A student sacrifices for his teacher. The sacrifice of the animals is just a symbolic ritual, the essence lies far beyond.
A small incident from the life of Prophet Mohammed shows what sacrifice exactly is. Once he received a Christian guest from Najran in his house. There was no meal at night except some milk of a she goat. The Prophet offered him the milk to drink. The Prophet's family went without meal that night although it had starved the night before as well. This is the right way to sacrifice for others.
After the five pillars of Islam, Sunnat-e-Ibrahimi (sacrifice) is the most important activity. This sacrifice is the legacy of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham in Christianity) who entertains the prophetic patronage from three religions i.e. Jewism, Islam and Christianity. The festival also symbolises the test of faith and loyalty to God.
Legend goes that Prophet Ibrahim was 90 and childless. After sustained prayers, God heeded and blessed him with a child (Ismael). Ibrahim was very happy and thanked God. But soon after the child had grown a bit, God ordered Ibrahim to sacrifice his dearest. Ibrahim went to sacrifice his son. God can never be so unkind' and at the end, the boy was replaced by a sheep.
God didn’t want sacrifice of flesh and blood for His sake. He wanted to test the love and loyalty of His messenger. The bounties of sacrifice are countless. The moment sacrifice is made, God accepts it in heaven even before a drop of blood falls on the ground.
Eid is also a day on which Muslims remember the deceased, visit the sick, see relatives and friends, overlook grudges, help the needy and show kindness and generosity to the needy.