This year, the greater Eid known as “Eid ul Adha” (festival of sacrifice), is to be held across the country on Wednesday, and is expected to be on a smaller scale considering the possibilities of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though the Covid-19 regulations are now relaxed to some extent by different state governments, the great gusto and the usual excitement is lacking. This is because of the common perception that Eid ul Adha is all about cattle purchase and sacrifice.
But the fact is that Islam is based on a social system that seeks to establish a humane, well-cultured and sympathetic society. Therefore, it stresses the importance of universal social values through different ways. Eid-ul- Adha is one such way to imbibe the basic social values among people in a festive spirit.
To build an ideal Muslim society, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) exhorted love, mercy, generosity, compassion, unity, brotherhood, humility, modesty, and sincerity. The observance of Eid, in its broader sense, symbolizes the very bright sides of an immune and strong society. These social virtues are reflected in the true Islamic values being displayed on the day of Eid-ul-Adha in a way that pleases others and does not cause harm to anyone.
The origin of Eid-ul-Adha marks the Prophet’s ambition of spreading social cohesiveness, cultural festivity and national unity and solidarity. According to a hadith reported by Abu Dawud, when the holy Prophet (PBUH) arrived at the city of Madinah, he strongly felt the need for a feast that could imbibe peace, unity, charity, brotherhood, equality and deep humane emotions for helping the poor. Therefore, having received divine inspiration from Allah, the holy Prophet (pbuh) announced: “Almighty Allah has granted you two blessed Eids: Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha …” (Abu Dawud, “Salat”, 245; Nisai, “Idayn”, 1).
Islam lays great emphasis on establishing universal brotherhood among the members and different classes of human society. Therefore, the Prophet pbuh, while stressing on the need of brotherhood, used the Arabic word “Ummah” that includes peoples from all religious communities, races, ethnic tribes and social ranks, each with their own cultural, national, linguistic or temperamental features. He exhorted his followers to behave towards all of them as brothers and treat them as they want themselves to be treated. Besides, he tried to inculcate a set of human values among his followers in a bid to encourage universal human brotherhood. Some of those prophetic traditions (Sunnats) are greeting people time and again, shaking hands and hugging when meeting or parting, visiting and comforting the sick, offering condolences to the bereaved, exchanging gifts with other members of the society, sharing happiness in their ceremonies such as weddings and births etc. Such acts that strengthen fraternity and brotherhood are greatly valued in Islam, and they are most particularly exhorted among Muslims on the day of Eid-ul- Adha.
Eid-ul- Adha is celebrated in Islam to spread the spirit of peace, delight, kindness, compassion, brotherhood and equality among people irrespective of cast, creed and religion. Obviously, such noble activities help us strengthen bonds of love, mutual harmony, human brotherhood, and social integrity. Giving in charity, donating means of sustenance, distributing food items and sharing joys with family, friends and especially with the destitute and hapless people are the core values of Eid-ul-Adha.
Eid-ul-Adha is not just about purchasing and sacrificing the cattle, dressing up in fancy clothes, having delicious feasts and pursuing mundane pleasures and delights. It rather calls for promoting humane and noble values in society. It signifies living with the true spirit of brotherhood and showing a great and large heart to the poor. It is actually meant to achieve the highest spiritual status through the selfless services towards the less fortunate ones.
At a time when all of mankind is living in a turbulent phase of history characterized by the pandemic of Covid-19, we should rather revive the inner spirit of Eid-ul-Adha in place of the external forms. This post-pandemic Eid-ul-Adha is an open reminder for us Muslims to incorporate the magnanimous social values of Islam in our practical life, if we really wish to survive in this world. We have to rejuvenate the essential messages of Eid: love in place of hatred, patience in place of anger, forbearance in place of warfare, inclusiveness in place of exclusiveness and humility and not arrogance and false pride.
By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi