I know, I know…late! But hey, better later than never, right? 🙂
Well, the kids have returned to school after a long break that was extended due to the fact that their school closed a week earlier than the scheduled Eid break, because of several confirmed swine flu cases. So yeah, the break was longer than expected, but alhamdu lillaah the Eid holiday made it very enjoyable, but by the end of it everyone was ready for it to be over (cabin fever).
So the house is quiet now and I have some time to relax and just sort of lollygag as much as I want…oh yeah, and blog too :).
I was just sitting here reflecting on the day of Eid. As many of you are aware (maybe not some of the non-muslim readers), Eid al Adha (festival of the sacrifice) commemorates the story of Prophet Ibrahim and how Allaah ordered him to sacrifice his son Ismail. Ibrahim, in his commitment as a believer and prophet to fulfill Allaah’s commands, took to following through with it, but not before discussing it with his son Ismail. Ismail’s reply to his father, was for him to do as he has been ordered, and that he himself would be patient and trust in Allaah and would willingly follow through with the command of his Lord. Because of their willingness to fulfill the command of their Lord, Allaah sent a ram to be sacrificed, instead of Ismail. For muslims, the Eid represents a sort of recommitment and rededication to obedience to Allaah, by fulfilling His commands and abstaining from His prohibitions. When we remember Ibrahim’s -the Father of monotheism – unwaivering commitment to Allaah and to His obedience, it should inspire us to live our lives the same way.
So anyway, back to the day of Eid. We prayed at Masjid Bilal, our usual spot for Eid prayers, only this time we prayed indoors. The garden out back that’s usually used was soaking wet from the surprising yet refreshing early morning downpour. I missed praying in the garden, but I didn’t mind praying inside the mosque this time…it was nice and cozy, reminded me of the Eids back in Northern Virginia at the Saudi Ma’had.
After the prayer and sermon were over, as we were filing out of the mosque, we noticed that there was a sacrifice about to take place right outside the mosque on the patio. There were several men holding onto and attempting to subdue a cow, preparing to sacrifice it. When they finally were able to subdue it, and the butcher got down beside it to put the knife to it’s neck, and uttered the words, “Bismillaah, Allaahu Akbar!” (In Allaah’s name, Allaah is the Greatest!), I felt an overwhelming rush of emotions, that I can’t quite describe, and tears came to my eyes.
A little of it had to do with feeling pity and compassion for the animal, but deep inside, I knew that animal did not suffer for even one instant. Aside from the scientific evidence which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the islamic way of animal slaughter is in fact the most -and probably the only – humane method…aside from this, I knew in my heart, and trusted fully, that Allaah would never command His creation to do a thing that would include mercilessness and barbarism (as some without proper knowledge have called it).
So no, the rush of emotions that I felt had more to do with a sense of amazement when as I was witnessing an act of true submission to the commands of Allaah. Think about it for a moment if you will. We are commanded to slaughter our animals in the most hands on, down and dirty kind of way. Coming in close contact with the animal, feeling its warmth, looking into its eyes…putting a knife to its neck and taking its life, witnessing all that blood gushing forth as its body shakes uncontrollably cannot be an easy thing to do emotionally, psychologically, and physically. I would bet that the average human being could not bring himself to perform such an act, even on an animal. Nonetheless, as muslims, we have been commanded by Allaah to do just that.
It’s like Allaah is asking us, “Will you obey my commands, no matter how difficult they may seem, no matter how heavy they may seem? Will you trust that I know what’s best for you because I created you and I know you better than you know yourself? Or will you resort to your own way of thinking and perceiving things, and try to do things your own way because your way seems to be easier and more proper?”
In many countries around the world, policy makers have actually resorted to their own ways of thinking, and you see that animal slaughtering has become a hands-off task, handled by machines, gas chambers and electrical shock devices. It is believed that these ways are for the benefit of the animal because they (appear to) suffer less, but really, these ways are for nothing other than to ease mankind’s own consciences. It is understandable that no normal, sane human being likes to see another living thing suffer, and because of the goriness of it, animals are perceived to suffer by being slaughtered, which is not the case, and has been proven in the above-mentioned article.
So as I was witnessing the sacrifice on Eid day, witnessing these brothers fulfilling the commands of Allaah, getting themselves covered in blood, mentioning Allaah’s greatness, remembering that Allaah chose the most merciful way for these animals to die, I felt proud to be a part of this noble religion and noble ummah, the ummah of “We have heard, and we have obeyed!”.
I felt blessed for having been guided to this way of life that has been divinely revealed by a Merciful, All-Knowing God.
I felt tranquility and inner peace, knowing that everything Allaah commands us to do, it’s out of His love for us, and His wanting only what’s best for us…even the hard stuff that takes every ounce of faith inside of me to fulfill.
I thought about prophet Ibrahim, and how extremely difficult it must have been for him to even fathom taking his own son’s life. As a mother, I try to imagine how absolutely sick with grief I would have been had it been me. I thought about his and Ismail’s responses to Allaah’s command, and felt an overwhelming sense of admiration and respect for them- upon them be peace.
I pray that this Eid Al Adha was so much more than just about getting new clothes, going to the parties and eating lots of delicious meat dishes. I pray that it was a time of sincere reflection, for all of us, on our purpose in life, which is to worship our Lord, sincerely, by fulfilling His commands and keeping away from His prohibitions, ameen.