THE EID OF SACRIFICE AND LIMITED PILGRIMS TO HAJJ
By Fatima Hassan
Eid al-Adha, also known as the festival of sacrifice, is celebrated by Muslims all over the world to mark the end of the rites of Hajj performed during the annual pilgrimage to Makkah in the last month of the Islamic calendar. During the period, Muslims remember and commemorate the attributes and triumphs of Prophet Ibrahim who is also known as Abraham.
One of the most significant attributes was his unflinching obedience to Allah. According to the Holy Qur’an, Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Isma’il. His obedience to that command secured for him the mercy of Allah who replaced Isma’il with a ram for the sacrifice from Paradise.
Indeed, Allah mentioned in the Holy Qur’an chapter 16, verses 120 and 121, that “surely Abraham was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright and he was not of the polytheists.”
Consequently, during the Eid al-Adha celebration, Muslims commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience and love for Allah by slaughtering an animal, such as a sheep, goat, cow or camel.
The meat from the sacrifice is divided into three parts. One third of the meat is eaten by the immediate family; the other is shared to friends in the neighbourhood, while the third potion is giving to the needy.
This act of sharing symbolizes the willingness to give up things that are dear to the heart of the believer in compliance with the commandment of Allah. It also strengthens ties of friendship and help to the needy. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him), was reported to have said that when slaughtering the animal, a person is slaughtering stubbornness, desires and rebellious acts for the sake of Allah.
This is the reason the celebration is not just about eating the flesh of the animal. Rather, it represents a profound spiritual significance in the lives of Muslims.
Allah says in Qur’an chapter 22, verse 37, that “it is neither their meat nor their blood but piety that reaches Him.” It is therefore important for Muslims to slaughter their animals with the pure intention of worshiping Allah and seeking His divine mercy and forgiveness as well as providing for the family, friends and the needy in the community.
For those who cannot afford to sacrifice an animal, they should bear in mind that it is not a compulsory act. Allah sees their intention and would reward everyone accordingly.
On this day, every able-bodied Muslim is expected to attend Eid prayers in their locality, except for those performing the Hajj pilgrimage. This is followed immediately with the slaughtering of the animals. The next most important duty is the visit to families and friends and the exchange of gifts.
The Saudi Arabian government’s suspension of the Hajj for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021 by Muslims outside the Kingdom has left many Muslims unable to perform the annual pilgrimage
This year’s Eid al-Adha comes with a great difference due to the global COVID-19 Pandemic still ravaging virtually most countries including Nigeria. The pandemic has had a negative impact on all facets of life, with restrictions on religious and socio-economic life of citizens.
In the spirit of the message of obedience, love, trust and sacrifice which the Eid al-Adha signifies, Nigerian Muslims are required to stay safe and follow all the safety guidelines issued by constituted authorities, for a safer nation during and after the Eid celebrations throughout the country.
In Nigeria with the third wave of the Covid-19 and the Delta strains of the virus already within, the safety protocols should be respected and adhered to during the Eid prayers and for the celebrations in mosques, parks and village squares to avoid possible spike again.