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The Meaning Behind the Eid ul Adha Sacrifice

by Ustaz Vincent Souleymane

Every year, on the 10th of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, on the occasion of the feast of Eid ul Adha, the Muslims immolate an animal commemorating the immense ordeal inflicted on our father Prophet Ibrahim. 

When he was old and desperate for an offspring, Allah, exalted be He, gave him a son, Prophet Ismail (AS). A few years after his birth, at the age when a child becomes active and the father begins to experience things in common with his son, the ultimate challenge arises. Allah asks him to slit his child’s throat.

The Almighty asked him to choose between his love for Him, which must be translated into obedience, and the love for his son. 

True to himself, and devoted to Allah, he gave priority to his Creator.

Ibrahim then exposed the situation to Ismail, who also showed faith and patience in front of the divine decree that only the prophets can reach.

Allah says in the Quran,

فَبَشَّرْنَـٰهُ بِغُلَـٰمٍ حَلِيمٍ
فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ ٱلسَّعْىَ قَالَ يَـٰبُنَىَّ إِنِّىٓ أَرَىٰ فِى ٱلْمَنَامِ أَنِّىٓ أَذْبَحُكَ فَٱنظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَىٰ ۚ قَالَ يَـٰٓأَبَتِ ٱفْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ ۖ سَتَجِدُنِىٓ إِن شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ

So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy.
And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”

[Surah As-Saffât 37:101-102]

As he was about to carry out the divine command, the All-Merciful dispensed this difficult act and replaced it with the sacrifice of a ram. 

Prophet Ibrahim (AS), had then passed the test by not associating anything with the love for his Lord. Even the love he had for his son could not have rivalled it.

This is how the believer must love Allah, Exalted be He. It is natural to love other than Allah. Parents, husband, wife, children, friends, etc. But this love should not be equal to the love of the Almighty. To love a creature as one loves the Creator is a form of association.

وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ يَرَى ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوٓا۟ إِذْ يَرَوْنَ ٱلْعَذَابَ أَنَّ ٱلْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعَذَابِ

Still there are some who take others as Allah’s equal—they love them as they should love Allah—but the ˹true˺ believers love Allah even more. If only the wrongdoers could see the ˹horrible˺ punishment ˹awaiting them˺, they would certainly realize that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is indeed severe in punishment.

[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:165]

qurban, eid ul adha, festival, sacrifice

The animal slaughtered on the day of Eid symbolizes all the passions that could divert us from our path to the satisfaction of Allah.

Slaughtering everything that our heart is attached to, to the point where it could override our love for Allah, like slaughtering the animal.

For it is the attachment of our heart to a thing that will cause us to commit the forbidden. At that point, when the believer gives in to his evil inclinations and commits the forbidden, he has put his love for a creature before his love for Allah, Exalted be He.

That is why the Prophet ﷺ said,

“أَلَا وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُله أَلا وَهِي الْقلب”

“It is in the body a piece of flesh, if it is pure then the whole body is pure, if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Certainly, it is the heart.”

[Mishkat al-Masabih 2762]

Vincent Souleymane

Vincent Souleymane, a French imam and shariah advisor at Muslim Pro, has devoted his time to study and enrich others with the knowledge of Islamic sciences ever since he converted to the religion in 1999. During his studies at the Oussoul Eddine Institute in Saint-Denis, he became aware of the importance of devotion to Allah and decided to continue his religious studies at the daroul ouloum achrafiya of the Island La Réunion and at the IESH of Château Chinon. 

Since then, Vincent Souleymane devotes himself to the Almighty by teaching Islam at the Oussoul Eddine Institute, as well as being an imam at the Fontenay sous Bois Mosque.

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