The Big “Eid” : lesson on Investment by Sacrifice

The Big “Eid” : lesson on  Investment by Sacrifice

Pilgrimage (Hajj) is one of the major five pillars of Islam. The majority of the scholars are of the opinion that the order to make pilgrimage as a must was revealed in the six year after the migration of Prophet Muhammad to Medina. Pilgrimage is mentioned in both the Qur’an and the Prophet’s traditions.


Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah . So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs 'umrah - there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good - then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.” (Qur’an /Surah2 Verse 158).


They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, "They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj." And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is [in] one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed. "(Qur’an/Surah 2 Verse 189).


" And complete the Hajj and 'umrah for Allah . But if you are prevented, then [offer] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head [making shaving necessary must offer] a ransom of fasting [three days] or charity or sacrifice. And when you are secure, then whoever performs 'umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And whoever cannot find [or afford such an animal] - then a fast of three days during Hajj and of seven when you have returned [home]. Those are ten complete [days]. This is for those whose family is not in the area of al-Masjid al-Haram. And fear Allah and know that Allah is severe in penalty.” (Qur’an/Surah 2  Verse 196).


Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do - Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah . And fear Me, O you of understanding.” (Qur’an/Surah 2 Verse 197).


Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) said;


1) Narrated Abu Huraira:
 The Prophet (PBUH) was asked, "Which is the best deed?" He said, "To believe in Allah and His Apostle." He was then asked, "Which is the next (in goodness)?" He said, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." He was then asked, "Which is the next?" He said, "To perform Hajj-Mabrur."


2)  Narrated 'Aisha:
(The mother of the faithful believers) I said, "O Allah's Apostle! We consider Jihad as the best deed." The Prophet (PBUH) said, "The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj (pilgrimage) Mabrur (Free from sins)."


3) Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not get in sensual relation with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew."


4)  The Prophet (PBUH) said also that the Hajj Mabrur is rewarded by paradise. 


Among the many celebrated events in Islam, Muslims enjoy Eid of feast after the month of Ramadan and Eid of sacrifice or simply the Big Eid. These two annual occasions stand up as the most festive of all. The literal meaning of “Eid” is to repeat, re-examine, and to reaffirm. The Big Eid is an event to reaffirm our willingness to accept the obedience of God (Supreme and most high, SWT) over human made choices. In return, the Lord’s promise to the obedient will certainly come true.
During the Big Eid, muslims perform Hajj. The process of Hajj involves visiting the sacred places in Mecca and its surroundings. Pilgrims sacrifice an animal and share its meat with friends and give one third of their sacrifice to the poor. During these supreme moments, muslims all over the world share also the celebration and sacrifice an animal too. Many of the rituals of today’s Hajj were performed first by prophet Ibrahim (Peace Be upon Him, PBUH) by the command of God (SWT).
The performance of Hajj is an obligation, at least once in a lifetime, for every adult muslim who is mentally, financially and physically able. The full description of the rules and steps followed during the Hajj can be found elsewhere.


“And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.”  (Qur’an/Surah 22 Verse 27).


“That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor.” (Qur’an/Surah 22 Verse 28).


During the Big Eid, muslims remember how Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) brought Lady Hajar and their baby son Ismail (PBUH), by the command of the Lord, to the deserted uncultivable valley of Mecca where the sacred house, Ka’bah, is now located. On leaving her and their son alone by the order of God (SWT) she said, “never ever will our Lord neglect us”. Shortly thereafter, she ran back and forth looking for water only to find a spring of water at the feet of her baby. God (SWT) never neglected them. That same water is still gushing. What a miracle!
    During the Big  Eid, muslims reflect on the “manifest trial” of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) by GOD (SWT).  So why is life a trial? This is a big question which needs the big Eid to answer. The answer is present in this the beautiful dialogue narrated by God (SWT) on Prophet Abrahim’s (PBUH) tongue:


" My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous." So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy. And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast." And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, "O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision." Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, And We left for him [favorable mention] among later generations: "Peace upon Abraham." Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good.” (Qur’an/Surah 37 Verse 100-110).


These verses give the absolute lesson on the value of the trials of life. More to the point, prophets go through more adversities, although they serve the Almighty God (SWT) who can make things easy for them. This shows that sacrifices are needed to serve goodness. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said God (SWT) does not make two hearts for one person. A person can not be fair if he/she has two hearts. When it comes to the delivery of divine messages and leading humanity only those with strong wills are chosen. Divine messages are carried only by the fully obedient and trustworthy. So it was the full trust of prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) in his Lord which gave him the attitude of pleasant surrender to accept the sacrifice of what he loved most, his own son; a state of Islam. His willingness to sacrifice was his investment. The ward of God (SWT) came true. His beloved son was ransomed. Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) earned the leadership of humanity, and was appointed to re-build the sacred house with the help of his grown-up son Ismail (PBUH).


“Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah - blessed and a guidance for the worlds. In it are clear signs [such as] the standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves - then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds)." (Qur’an /Surah 3 Verse 96-97).


With this perfect level of obedience Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) laid the solid foundation and fulfilled the divine instruction that sacrifice is an investment that brings a great reward, which earns its giver a great virtue in this life and the hereafter.

         God (SWT) tries us by life for reasons. Life is not a mere play or passing time. It is a large classroom where everyone is expected to play a role and to be tested by the trials of life. Trials have many benefits. They are not means of punishment. Trials challenge us. During trials, we have to take stands and we must be constant. So we have to choose between obedience and arrogance and this requires sacrifice. Trials are divine tools to distinguish between those who subordinate their ambitions to the divine rules and those who do not. The road to sin is slippery and the reward for virtue may be delayed. . Evil has a slippery trail and the throne of goodness may look harder to climb. If we are not careful, trials of life can be bigger than us and we are certainly vulnerable to evil. Trials, similar to school examinations, are tools to test our performance. They are not means to cause our failure. They remind us of our limitations and weaknesses. Alone, our natural instincts and past experiences are not enough to overcome the desire for wealth and power Muslims believe that obedience to God (SWT) requires freeing our hearts from all selfish desires, that is, to sacrifice our choices to his commands. They teach us that real success is measured by obedience to the Lord and not by how much we gain in this life. Trials teach us that we ever need divine help to succeed and thereby make us closer to our lord (SWT).
Divine help came through his prophets. Prophets set the perfect example for us to follow. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that all of you enter paradise except those who refuses. He was asked: who refuses paradise? He (PBUH) responded: The one who obey me enters paradise and the one who disobey me refuses. God (SWT) gives wealth to some of us and makes others poor to see if we obey his prophet. He (SWT) gives health and makes us sick. He makes some genius and God (SWT) is the wisest.
We are guaranteed forgiveness of our sins, and they are certainly many, in return for any hardships, sickness or afflictions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reminded us that the affairs of believers are miraculous because God (SWT) remits sins through afflictions. He (PBUH) reminded us that the magnitude of grief or joy in this life is trivial when compared to punishment or reward in the hereafter. Trials are necessary to strengthen our characters. They make us ready for future challenges. They make us patient, resilient and compassionate. How can you feel the joy of pleasure if you do not taste the pain of difficulty? Now you felt the pain so do not hurt others. Remember that the supreme God (SWT) can bring you to retribution if you take advantage of others. So be good to others even if they become harsh with you. Trials are also reminders to encourage those who wish to repent. Put together, trials are reminder to those who trust that this life is a field for work and that the hereafter is a time to harvest.
Therefore, we should have no excuse not to follow the footsteps of prophets. That is one of the reasons why God (SWT) chose humans from us to lead humanity. If their nature was different, we could say sorry we can not do the things prophets can do because they are not humans like us. Prophets belong to a different higher species and therefore they can do these things.
       In his wisdom, God (SWT) has created us with great potentials to achieve. Our biggest challenge in life is to determine how to use our potential. Life is filled with both enticement and opportunities and we have to choose and sacrifice. Evil may appeal and goodness requires time and efforts to achieve. Sacrifice is needed to harvest the rewards of virtue. You are either a prisoner of selfish motives or you contain your needs to their proper size. With sacrifice we squeeze our desires to their proper size so as for our souls to grow.  Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that fire hill is enshrined with enticement and Paradise is surrounded by hardships. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said also to his followers that the good people of the book before you found exquisite pleasure in being constant in obedience during hardships because it brought them closer to God (SWT). With sacrifice, we can climb the mountain of piety to free ourselves to purity and pride. Pride is not in meeting the false demands of life. Material gain or loss does not measure our pride. It is measured by the nature of our response to the challenges of life. It is measured by the constancy to love and give at both times of ease and times of hardships.
Sacrifice is a state of self-controlled freedom.  It is either you belong to yourself or your self belongs to you.  In this state, we assert our authority over our desires. In sacrifice, our souls control our outlawed desires. Our consciousness overcomes our greed. It is not about giving up rights and pride. It is not about tying our hands to our neck. It is about freeing our hands to do well. Our freedom to eternity exists in our submission to the Lord’s security.  Our sacrifice is a continuous credit for our investment for the hereafter. Sacrifices help our souls to stand up to temptations and to the gusty winds of life. Without sacrifice we are greed with no limitation; life without heart, or robots without control. 

Thus the Big Eid reminds us of what we should do with ourselves and not to seek greater attention in ourselves: A reminder of our duty to our neighbours and society at large.
The occasion of the Big Eid helps muslims to fully grasp the enormity of their investment in this life for the eternal life to come. Muslims believe that deeds in this life are a credit for the hereafter. Your investment grows whenever you wish to give. The relationship between sacrifice and investment is exponential. The more you give, the more that you save for the hereafter. Our work in this life is a mean to attain a higher end and this life is not the higher end. To Allah we belong and to him we return. God (SWT) Almighty teaches us that salvation exists in our willingness to sacrifice.
During Eid, muslims renew the pledge that their interest is in a life in their faith, not in faith in any life.  Their duty is to make objects of life, not to make life the object. During Eid we capture the true voice for our eternal investment. That’s why this occasion brings a scene of nostalgia, serenity and happiness. 
Therefore, muslims celebrate the Big Eid to learn how to invest by sacrifice from the lessons given by prophet Ibrahim (PBUH).
The process of Hajj serves many other purposes. It is the largest annual convention of faith anywhere, which gives a chance for people to know one another.  It is a wholesome declaration of the universality of Islam where people from all walks of life, from all classes and every corner of the globe assemble in response to the call of God (SWT).  They dress the same, perform the same rituals, and utter the same supplications. It is a reminder of the grand assembly on the day of Judgement when people will stand equal in humbleness before the Lord waiting for court and a verdict of their final destination.
 Eid is an occasion to experience the beauty of Islam.  So, we wish to share these moments of joy with the rest of the world.