Eid Al Adha
February 11, 2003
Copyright (C) 2003 Jordan White
As Eid Al Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice approaches, I have been musing about the profound thoughts behind the celebration of this most sacred of themes.
I believe that if we are being truly honest with ourselves, we will shudder at the implications behind this word.
One pictures innocent lambs and calves, still yearning for the warmth and milk of their mothers, taken away to be slaughtered as symbols of atonement.
One thinks of a widowed mother, going without food and warm clothes, to make sure her children are properly clothed and fed to attend school and make something of their lives.
We think of soldiers, who, with only precarious thoughts of their own safety, bravely go forth into battle to save their homelands from invasion or imperialistic onslaught. And of other soldiers, too, who throw themselves atop explosive devices to save their own battalions from destruction.
Those of us who are devoted to the cause of Palestine also think, unfortunately, of beautiful lives lost to so-called "suicide bomb" incidents. It is, of course, the situation that puts Palestinian youth in such dire circumstances that makes the ultimate sacrifice seem rightful, that is to blame. My heart goes out to those families who now have only pictures and memories to cherish of beautiful souls lost forever.
But let's return to the specific "sacrifice" that Eid Al Adha celebrates.
Muslims say it commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrfice his son, Ismail ( Ishmael), who was delivered when a voice from heaven advised Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice a ram instead. Accordingly, upon this feast day, Muslims themselves sacrifice an animal of their own, giving a third of the meat to charity.
Some Christians take umbrage with this, since the Christian and Jewish scriptures say that it was not Ishmael but Isaac, Abraham's younger son, who was on that altar. They accuse the Muslims of trying to manipulate the Scriptures to make them work for their own advantage. They malign the Quran as coming from the Devil, and anything that is found in it must, by all accounts, be evil.
But let's put aside these notions, for one minute. (That's not so hard, now is it? I'm only asking for a very small amount of your time.)
Does it really matter if it was Ishmael or Isaac Abraham was being called upon to sacrifice? In fact, it is a very precious thought that it could be either (or both) of these boys whom God, Allah, put to the test. It is certainly true that Abraham loved both of his boys and certainly didn't want either to be sacrificed.
The point is that Abraham was willing to obey God even to the point of sacrificing his own son. It doesn't matter which son! It was the attitude of the heart that God was intent upon proving. Abraham passed the test.
What about us who are witnesses to this event? Are we willing to put aside our knee-jerk reactions and be willing to sacrifice our long-held prejudices in order to obey God?
"What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,
how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"
Romans 8: 31-32