Feast of sacrifice, season of love, triumph over adversity for Muslims
Muslims in Nigeria will, on Monday, September 12, 2016, join their counterparts from all over the globe to celebrate Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) or Eid al-Kabeer (the Great Festival). Indeed, the offering of sacrificial animal is symbolic and the desire of every adult Muslim, on this occasion, is to endeavour to fulfill this obligation.
Although, it is not mandatory, slaughtering of ram or any other applicable animals such as cow, camel and goat, has invariably become the synonym of the festival. Even, non-Muslims look forward to the celebration. So far, buying and selling of rams has since become dominant discussion among Muslims as the Eid day approaches.
But the economic situation in the country will certainly frustrate intention of many Muslims to perform this sacrificial rite.
Just like all other economic activities in the country, the recession has also affected the sales of rams, especially in Lagos metropolis.
Unlike before when Muslim faithful would throng the sellers to purchase their rams, The Guardian observed that the markets were scanty as a few buyers were seen coming to purchase.
For instance, at Mile 12 market, few buyers were seen coming to buy rams and an average ram was sold as high as N75, 000 unlike N50, 000 which the ram was sold for last year.
Also, at Meiran Bus Stop on Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, it is the same story as the ram sellers had low patronage.
“The high cost of the ram is due to the economic situation of the country. If the economy gets better, the prices will be reduced. A Muslim who cannot afford ram can cook fish,” a seller at Mile 12 who pleaded anonymity said.
So, the question is how should Muslims approach the forthcoming Eid al-Adha in view of economic hardship the country is experiencing?
Prof. Ishaq Lakin Akintola of Lagos State University (LASU) says, “Muslims should accept the hard times as they are. They should celebrate the Id al-Kabeer with the little they can afford. New clothes for the festival are not mandatory. Wives and daughters of Muslims should not pressurize their bread winners for hair relaxers, new hair styles, new shoes, etc. We should eat what we can afford. There is no need to buy N20,000 bag of rice on credit just because we want to celebrate.
“Qur’an 31:17 enjoins Muslims to bear their conditions with patience. Qur’an 29:2-3 rhetorically asks Muslims if they think they will not be tried simply because they are believers. It reminds them that many had been tried before them, so why wouldn’t they be tried? Qur’an 2:155 cements this divine postulate. It affirms that fear, hunger and poverty are some of the tools Allah uses sometimes to test our will and that only the patient shall pass this test. That is the spirit with which Muslims should approach the festival. They must engage in sober reflection and eventually resolve to turn a new leaf.”
The University don insists, “the economic hardship is self-imposed. We encouraged graft. We sacrificed excellence on the altar of mediocrity. We grandstood where we should be frank and sincere. We awarded chieftaincy titles to rogues and fraudsters. We celebrated international thieves who jumped bail abroad. We certified graduates who were no better than secondary school leavers. We bastardised and incapacitated the security agencies. We took religion to the height of extremism.
“It is now payback time. Muslims should fall back on the teachings of their religion while approaching this coming festival. The Qur’an does not enforce yearly sacrifice of rams. It is for those who can afford it. There is no need to borrow. No need to steal. No need to cheat just because you need money for ram. In fact, those who do these ugly things may have themselves to blame in the Hereafter.”
In the view of Imam Abdul Rahman Bello of Alubarka Mosque in Akeredolu, Olambe, Akute, Ogun State, “Muslims should celebrate Eid al Adha with moderation, avoiding excesses, and all things that lead to sin, particularly alcohol. The haves who will kill sacrificial animal should share with the have- nots in line with Quranic injunction in chapter 22 v.36. It should be well noted that what Allah requires from us is Taqwa (piety), strong faith, total obedience and submission, sincerity and gratitude to Him.”
Imam Bello corroborates Prof. Akintola saying, “There is no need to borrow because we want to kill ram. It is not mandatory for those who cannot afford it. Eid al-Adha celebration is not only about killing and eating ram. Observing fast on the eve of Eid (Day of Arafah which falls on Sunday, September 11), going to Eid and observing all its etiquettes, doing Takbeer, Tahleel and Tahmeed on the day of Eid and the following two days ( Ayyam Tashreeq) are equally important and meritorious. Visitation to family members and relatives are also part of the celebration and all these carry reward as long as we do not engage in unlawful things.”
It is also significant to note that Eid al Adha represents a triumph over adversity of all forms as reflected in the life and times of the spiritual patriarch, Prophet Ibrahim, whose journey with God Almighty, according to Prof. Afis Oladosu, “partly made this season a reality.”
Oladosu, a Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan hammers the historical context that connects Prophet Ibrahim to the festival.
He states “Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) decided to believe in the Almighty at a time humanity had apostacized. Thus, he was tormented and punished by the idolatorous community into which he was born. But he knew that adversity is a precondition or prerequisite for prosperity. He knew he would win but he had to endure tribulation. Thus he was thrown into a burning fire. But the power to burn was taken away from the fire by He from whose power fire sources its own power. He therefore emerged from the inferno unscathed.
“By coming out of the fire unhurt, Prophet Ibrahim became an eternal model for all pretenders to faith. He became an exemplar in our on-going battle against earthly principalities. So, when someone proposes to oppress, torment and subject you to untold suffering, the Id al-Kabeer takes place every year to remind you of the emptiness of that threat once you stand for and with your Creator.”
While narrating all the vicissitudes of life that Prophet Ibrahim and his family members – two wives and two sons – encountered and their survival and eventual victory, Oladosu submits, “Id al-Kabir is around to remind us, once again, of how the Almighty usually intervene to turn a situation of hopelessness to that of hope and happiness.
“Prophet Ibrahim was told: ‘You have indeed affirmed the dream’ and consequently a beautiful ram was given to him as ransom for his son. Thus, sacrifice became not an end in itself but a means towards a nobler end: an end to the sacrifice of humans in history, an end to the ascension of pernicious authorities in humans which usually make them go against the will of the Almighty, an end to greed, self-conceitedness, and inane glorification of the ephemeral not the eternal.
“Sacrifice of animals on this day reminds the servants of the Almighty of their utter weakness in relation to every entity in the universe. Were it not for the WILL and favour of the Almighty, how could we by ourselves control and exert our authority over these sacrificial lambs?”
On Monday, the day of the festival, Oladosu counsels Muslim to uphold the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). “Take a bath before Fajr prayers and put on new clothes (or the best available). It is sunnah for men to use perfume not only on Eid days but always. Observe fasting while going to the praying ground. Set out early. Stop on the way to offer seats in your car to your brethren. Do not wait to be asked before you offer such assistance. In low voice, say the glorification of the Almighty.”
To Prof. Akintola, the fundamental lessons a country like Nigeria can derive from historical context that defined the celebration include, “childless Nigerians should have hope. Instead of being despondent, they should learn from the grace giving to Prophet Ibrahim whom Allah still smiled upon when He blessed him with a child at a very old age of 86.
“Wives should learn to obey their husbands because Hajarat did not question her husband’s wisdom when the latter told her that her only child must be sacrificed. Three, children should also be obedient. Ismail obeyed his father when he was informed that he was about to be sacrificed. He told his father, ‘Do as you have been commanded and by the Grace of Allah, you shall discover that I am one of the patient. (Qur’an 37:102).
“Four, Nigerians should learn to reject Satanic exhortations. Those who are inciting Nigerians to confront the Federal Government because of the present economic downturn can be likened to Shaytan (Satan). Remember that Shaytan tried desperately (though in vain) to influence Prophet Ibrahim, the wife (Hajarat) and even their son (Ismail) to disobey Allah’s command. Nigerians should learn from this. Prophet Ibrahim, his wife and son became icons in the annals of Islamic history and they are being celebrated today because they rejected Satanic interventions.
“They would all have been totally forgotten today if they had listened to the devil. Posterity will also celebrate us tomorrow if we reject those agents of Shaytan who are inciting us against the Federal Government.
“We should therefore patiently bear the hardship. We are laying a more solid foundation for generations to come.”
With regards to essential activities Muslims should be preoccupied with during the salah, Akintola says, “We should concentrate on the glorification of Allah, the seeking of forgiveness and sober reflections. Let me also remind Muslims to fast on Sunday, the day of Arafat and to avoid eating or drinking on the morning of Salah day until after they return from Eid ground. This is in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who lacked appetite as the time to sacrifice his child drew nearer. Or what kind of father can be happy, wining and dining, when he knows that he is about to lose his son?”
More important is the encouragement for Muslims to observe fasting on Sunday, September 11 which is the Arafah Day when all pilgrims will converge on Mountain Arafah in the outskirt of Makkah from dawn to dusk.
The significance of Arafah Day relies on the saying of the holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that “There is no day on which Allah sets free more slaves from Hell than He does on the Day of ‘Arafah.”
Scholars have also been quoted to have said: “This is the best day in the year for supplicating, thus it befits a person to fully devote his efforts in making Dhikr, Du’ā’ and reciting the Qur’ān; and he should supplicate with the different kinds of Du’ās and read the different kinds of Dhikr. He should supplicate for himself, his parents, relatives, Mashāyikh, companions, friends, loved ones and any one else who was good to him as well as all the Muslims. And let him be fully cautious from falling short in any of these as this day cannot be made up.”
Last week Thursday, High Judiciary Council of Saudi Arabia had announced that Eid al-Adhaa 1437 would be held on Monday, September 12. The announcement was sequel to the sighting of the moon of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month of Muslim calendar, which began last Saturday, September 3. Thereafter, it was announced that the Muslims performing Hajj would be in ‘Arafah on Sunday, September 11 (9th Dhul-Hijjah 1437), and Eid al Adhaa takes place the following day.
As the President – General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III who is also Sultan of Sokoto reechoed the announcement by the Saudi authorities while urging Muslims to get set for the celebration on Monday, September 12, 2016.