The essence of sacrifice

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Zainab Ali Alvi

Being a Muslim, by just hearing the word sacrifice, the first thought that comes into the mind of most of us is the sacrifice by Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) – the sacrifice of Hazrat Ismail (A.S.) which is a very sacred thought for all of us. In its remembrance, all Muslims around the globe, by the command of Almighty Allah, sacrifice animals.
It is not only a cultural and religious ritual it is mandatory for every pilgrim at Mina while it is discretionary on a being who cannot go for a Hajj but bear the expenditure. It has a huge reward in the court of Allah, but does the Almighty give the reward on just the sacrifice of expensive animals? The sacrifice to make our children happy by bringing their favorite animal home. Bringing home an animal that is bigger and more expensive than our neighbor’s animal.
Sacrifice to arrange family get-togethers and barbeque parties at home is what most of us are doing in the name of sacrifice on Eidul Azha. It is a bitter truth but a sad reality.
But, is it on this basis we are going to get rewarded by the Almighty? The answer is no. Because we all have forgotten the essence of sacrifice. Sacrifice which Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) did by sacrificing his most valuable thing in the name of Allah.
We do not have to do something which is out of our hands, nothing close to what Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) did. We just have to sacrifice animals in a prescribed way. And distribute it to the needy and poor people. As the Almighty says in the Quran that the meat and money do not reach him. The Almighty sees the thought process behind the sacrifice and then gives the reward.
Let’s question ourselves: What are we doing today? What are our thoughts behind the sacrifice? What do we think before taking animals home for sacrifice? Is the meat cut and separated in the prescribed way which is mentioned in the Quran? Lastly, do we bring animals home for sacrifice only and the sake of the Almighty just to obey his order?
Or do we have other motives behind it? We are doing this to show off, to show our neighbors and relatives how much money we have and we can spend on it. Even these days meat is not even divided into three equal parts. Every part of the animal should be divided equally according to the Sunnah. But people put the thigh meat, the head, the brain, and other delicious items in their share and distribute the non-delicious meat to poor people.
The poor people in our category are the helpers who work in our house. We give all the meat to one person as we benefit from them. In this way, they feel obliged to us.
Other than that, different online platforms facilitate people by allowing them to book their animals online and then deliver their meat. Among many features they mention about their services, one feature is very much highlighted. That is the provision of a complete thigh piece.
Similarly, the hotels and restaurants have placed big boards on their front walls of thigh roast (Raan Roast) services. This business goes on even after one month of Eidul Azha.
Wealthy people celebrate Eid as an event to sit and relax with their families and friends. They celebrate Eid for a long time but those who wait for the whole year for this day are those who eat meat once a year. They wait for us to give them meat so their children can also celebrate Eidul Azha.
Having said that, we even discriminate in sending the meat. We give meat to those relatives who are in better relations with us. Will this discrimination let us seek the happiness of Allah?
The waste dumped on roads is seen everywhere. The canals are full of waste. It takes months to clean the mess which is created on Eidul Azha by us. According to a Hadees, “Cleanliness is half a faith”. But we forget to keep our roads, streets, and canals clean. Especially in rural areas, the waste remains dumped in different spots for many days and it gives a very bad odor.
Now is this the essence of sacrifice? And will it have a due reward from the Almighty?
Remembering the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) we should rethink the purpose of the sacrifice and what we are doing today.
This Eidul Azha let us make a promise that we will celebrate it like the Almighty has mentioned in the Holy Quran. We will divide the meat in a prescribed way and distribute it to the poor and needy people and the relatives who really deserve the meat. We will make sure that meat reaches as many poor and needy people as possible. As this is what will bring the Almighty’s happiness and blessing?
As Allah says in the Holy Quran’s Surah Al-Hajj. Ayah 37: “Neither their flesh reaches Allah nor their blood; it is your piety that reaches Him. He has subjected these animals (to you) that you may magnify Allah for the guidance He has bestowed upon you. Give glad tidings, (O Prophet), to those who do good.