By Bilyaminu Gambo Kong-kol
Eid Ul Ad-ha also known as The Eid of Sacrifice is the second festival celebrated each year by Muslims all over the world after Eid Ul Fitr. The festival is being celebrated on the 10th of Zhul Hajj, the last month of Islamic Calendar. Muslims on this day, are expected to sacrifice sheep, goat, cow or camel. The meat of the sacrificed animal is expected to be divided into three portions. The first portion is for the family, second for friends and relatives while the last part is for the needy.
The festival is celebrated to commemorate the spirit of obedience and sincerity of Prophet Abraham (A.S). It was reported that Prophet Abraham (A.S) had severally dreamt that Allah (SWT) ordered him to slaughter his only beloved son named Ishmael as a sacrifice. He informed his wife, and later the son too, the development and they had all agreed to obey the order from their Creator. While trying to slaughter his son, Iblis (The Devil) appeared and asked him, how dare was he to slaughter his son? Abraham (A.S) pelted the devil seven times and then moved to another place to slaughter the son, here too, Iblis followed him, he again pelted him with seven stones and moved to the third place. As he was about to put a knife on the neck of his beloved son, Allah (SWT) sent a sheep to replace Ishmael.
What transpired above was one of the numerous tests and challenges Prophet Abraham (A.S) underwent during his lifetime. Recall that Prophet Abraham (A.S) was the son of Aazar, the idol worshipper and seller. At about seven years old, the little Abraham started questioning idol worship. He was once reported to have asked his father, “how could you worship what could not help or harm you?” He then advised Aazar in a respectful way to stop worshipping Iblis, and follow him, he would show him the guidance. The father -Aazar got angry at one point and threatened to stone his little son, Abraham if he had continued asking silly questions.
Furthermore, his community too decided to burn him to ashes as a punishment for destroying their deaf and dumb gods – idols. After setting one of the hottest fire on Earth, the idol-worshippers catapulted Prophet Abraham (A.S) from a far distance into the fire. His prayer was ” HasbunAllahu Wa Ni’imal Wakeel meaning “Allah is enough for me.” Allah then asked the fire to become cold and peaceful to Abraham (A.S). The fire had answered the order from its Creator and untightened him from the ropes and made him feel comfortable in it. Abraham (A.S) later walked out from the fire majestically without being hurt. The idol-worshippers were shocked and realized that the real Lord was with him but unfortunately none of them accepted to follow Abraham (A.S) but his little nephew, Lot (A.S). They (Abraham and Lot) decided to migrate (first migration in the world for freedom of worship) from Iraq, where they were born, to somewhere in the Middle East.
When Prophet Abraham (A.S) married his beautiful wife, Sarah and left for Egypt, the King of Egypt, Nimrod attempted to sleep with Prophet Abraham’s wife but with supplication and absolute trust in Allah by Abraham (A.S), Sarah was protected and the arrogant King was paralyzed. Allah then gave Prophet Abraham (A.S) Hagar and then revealed the whole set of laws while Prophet Abraham (A.S) was at the age of 80. In the laws, he was ordered by Allah to circumcise himself which he did without questioning. Prophet Abraham (A.S) prayed to his Lord to grant him a child and his prayer was answered and he got his first son, Ishmael through Hagar. They were happy and joyous but his wife Sarah was jealous and wanted Hagar and her child to leave. Allah then ordered Prophet Abraham (A.S) to go and abandon the duo in a desert, the present-day Mecca, when Ishmael was barely a year old. Hagar asked Abraham (A.S) that was he commanded by Allah (SWT) to keep them there? Then Prophet Abraham answered Yes and had his way. Hagar and her son exhausted the bottle of water that Abraham (A.S) gave them. She, therefore, moved back and forth seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa to search for help. She later returned to her son who was starving and dehydrating to give him shelter. Allah SWT sent angel Gabriel to dig a well known as Zam-Zam at the exact place the little Ishmael was kicking his legs.
The aforementioned were some of the tests and challenges Prophet Abraham (A.S) went through and he had successfully passed them. What are the lessons to be learnt from this Man of Honour? Prophet Abraham (A.S) was a symbol of bravery in which he challenged his father, his community and the most powerful King of his time – King Nimrod on the need to abandon their idols and worship Allah, The Creator. Prophet Abraham (A.S) also symbolized sacrifice, patience, perseverance, patriotism, respect, determination, commitment, dedication, trust, truth, justice, sincerity and obedience to Allah at the expense of his happiness.
The question is, what then did he get in return for demonstrating these unique qualities?
Allah has declared in the Holy Qur’an, the book in which Prophet Abraham’s name was mentioned 73 times in 25 different chapters, one of which was named after him, that “I shall make you the leader amongst men.” Thereafter, all the prophets who came after him were from his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. All the children of Israel, the Jews, Christians and Muslims look up to their father, Prophet Abraham (A.S). He was the only Prophet that Allah (SWT) asked Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to emulate his exemplary lifestyle.
Moreover, the desert Abraham (A.S) abandoned his beloved wife and son became the city in which the last and final messenger, Muhammad (SAW), was born. The Masjid built by Abraham (A.S) and his son, Ishmael continues to be the direction millions of Muslims face to perform their prayers. The well of Zam-Zam dug for his abandoned family still pumps water which is being drunk by millions of people. The seven times movement between the mountains of Safa and Marwa, which was done by Hagar, forms part of Hajj activities. Additionally, the three different places he relocated while trying to slaughter his only son then, Ismael became a place of Ibada known as Jamrats where every Pilgrim goes there and stones the devil seven times as Prophet Abraham (A.S) did thousands of years ago.
Indeed, Prophet Abraham (A.S) was a true leader whom despite the tests, challenges and calamities befell on him, never turned away from his Lord but rather became more committed and dedicated to his religion so as to lead by example for us to follow.
Bilyaminu Gambo Kong-kol,
Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano