As Hajj draws to a close, Muslims the world over will be pondering over one of the most fundamental teachings of Islam: sacrifice.
Eid-ul-Adha – which literally means “the festival of sacrifice” – is a day when Muslim families gather together to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice that was displayed by Prophet Abrahamas, his wife Hajiraas (Hagar) and their son Prophet Ishmaelas.
During this celebration, animals are also sacrificed to remind Muslims of and enable them to follow this noble example in their day to day lives. Sacrifice is a theme that transcends many other characteristics that should be adopted by a true Muslim. Upon close study of the essence of sacrifice, one begins to realise that a lot more is demanded from a Muslim than to merely remember a sacrifice that was made almost 4,000 years ago, for in this sacrifice was a huge reminder for mankind.
One of the biggest hurdles that has been observed in the moral and spiritual evolution of man are the assaults of one’s ego. The sacrifice of slaughtering one’s own desires in the interest of his or her fellow beings and for the sake of Allah is what Islam demands of us.
A true Muslim is expected to make such sacrifices all throughout the year. In the Holy Quran, Allah states:
“Their flesh reaches not Allah, nor does their blood, but it is your righteousness [taqwa] that reaches Him.” (Surah al-Hajj, Ch.22: V.38)
It is not our act that reaches Him; rather, it is our spiritual states that are assessed by God and a judgment is made on that.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, in The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, made it perfectly clear that our physical deeds in this life affect the soul.
So, for example, when a person humbly and helplessly beseeches God in prayer, their soul is stimulated to follow suit. When a person prostrates before their Lord, it can only be deemed a true prostration if their soul is in perfect harmony with their physical action, that is, their soul must also have fallen in a humble prostration.
Here lies the difference between those that practice isolation or asceticism and those that follow the religion of Islam, which expects Muslims to pursue normal lives whilst practicing Islamic teachings.
Thus, a Muslim’s sacrifice in this life, which is required on a daily basis, can only be worthy in the sight of Allah if our souls are in perfect harmony with the action.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdias once said:
“Those who act only physically and do not include their soul succumb to a grave error … God Almighty has given the soul and physical body a mutual role and the body affects the soul. For example, if a person starts to cry by force, eventually they will begin to cry. Similarly, if a person wishes to force themselves to laugh, they will eventually start laughing.
“Thus, the various states of Namaz that the body encounters – for example standing and bowing – have an effect on the soul too and the humility shown physically will be reflected in the soul. Although God does not accept a mere sajdah [prostration], the sajdah has a connection with the soul.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 420)
Alluding to the ultimate sacrifice of this world, the Promised Messiahas says:
“Fear Him”, i.e. God, “to such a degree as though you have died in His way. Just as you slaughter sacrificial animals with your hands, you should ‘slaughter’ yourselves in the way of God. When [one’s level of] taqwa is less than this, then their taqwa is insufficient.” (Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, p. 99)
On this day, let us pledge to put others before us more than we have done in the past. Let us make a promise to ourselves to carry out good deeds – bearing in mind that our souls must be in perfect harmony with our actions – so that we may please our Lord and gain acceptance at His threshold.
As mentioned above, subduing one’s ego plays a heavy role in the essence of sacrifice. However, the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is not unfamiliar with the other forms of sacrifice either.
Last year, towards the end of his Eid-ul-Adha sermon, Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa urged the Jamaat to remember certain people in its prayers during this celebration of sacrifice; such people who made, and continue to make, immense sacrifices for the sake of their faith. Huzooraa said:
“On this Eid of sacrifice, remember those who laid down their lives for the sake of the Jamaat. May Allah exalt their statuses and keep their progeny attached with the community of the Promised Messiahas. May their prayers be fulfilled in their favour and in favour of their children, their future generations, the generations of shuhada [martyrs] and the shuhada themselves.
“Also, pray for the high ranks of those missionaries who travelled great distances, made huge sacrifices and conveyed the message of Islam to those nations that were shrouded in spiritual darkness. May Allah instil sincerity, devotion, pure faith and certainty in the progeny of those missionaries and keep it alive in them.
“In your prayers, you should also remember those that are currently offering sacrifices for the sake of their faith and spreading the message of Islam. May Allah enable them to spread the message of Islam whilst treading the path of taqwa; may they serve their religion unaffected by any egoistic tendencies. May Allah also accept their sacrifices.
“Pray for the asiran-e-rah-e-Maula [those imprisoned due to their belief in Ahmadiyyat]; may Allah quickly bring about their freedom. May Allah have mercy on anybody – whether in Pakistan or another country – who is suffering as a result of inhumane laws and free them from the shackles of cruelty.
“May Allah cover our flaws also; show mercy upon us; increase our levels of faith and certainty. May we witness the triumph of Ahmadiyyat – the true Islam – more than ever before so that we may partake of the true pleasures of Eid.
“Pray for all this profusely; increase in your faith and endeavour to care for the rights of your brothers. This is the lesson that the Eid of sacrifice teaches us.” (Eid-ul-Adha Sermon, 12 August 2019)