The ancient torch of Eid-ul-Adha

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Sabahat Ali, Missionary, Mexico

There is a fire that burns in every soul, which roars with hunger. It longs to be kindled with the coal of compassion and the oxygen of honesty. Its embers thirst for the seething cinders of sacrifice so that it may burst into a thousand jubilant flames and consume the believer entirely in its ecstasy.

It is an inferno forged between two warring forces – admirable discipline and unbridled passion. It is the fire of the love of Allah. The fact that both main festivals in Islam fall after the completion of two of the grandest expressions of Divine love and self-discipline is no coincident.

Eid-ul-Fitr follows a month-long rigorous journey of both body and soul, as we venture to empty our spiritual chalices of the toxic tars built up over the year, culminating in the Lailatul-Qadr – a night greater than a thousand months.

Strangely enough, Eid-ul-Adha, the “greater Eid” (or “barri Eid” as it is informally known) also follows the immensely meritorious month of Dhul Hijjah. While its first ten days are extremely beloved to Allah the Almighty, fasting in them is equated in blessings to having fasted the whole year. Standing for Tahajud during their nights is even equated to Lailatul-Qadr itself. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Jamey al-Tirmidhi)

Then, as the first ten days come to a close , a spiritual excitement stirs in the heavens as enormous preparations are made on Earth for the annual Hajj – and what a sensational spectacle it is.

Millions of Muslims uniformly give physical expression to their undivided love for the One God by becoming like moths lost in the intoxicating beauty and grace of a fire. They pace from Saffah to Marwah in blessed memory of the unshakable force that was Hazrat Hajira’sas motherhood guided by the mountainous trust she had in her Creator as the infant Ishmaelas cried with innocent thirst. And what a force of spiritual and human energy she was, Hazrat Hajiraas, who demonstrated to men and women for all time that the power of obedience to Allah and His messengers sends ripples through mankind and literally shapes the future of human civilisation.

We have all heard the moving accounts of Prophet Abrahamas and his son Ishmaelas – how the shining love of a father was placed upon the alter of God’s will and the love of life itself was relinquished by a dutiful son in the same way.

To an atheistic onlooker, Hazrat Hajiraas stood abandoned and alone when Prophet Abrahamas left her. To one bereft of spiritual insight, a blameless baby was left for dead. To the bystander at that time, a husband left his own wife and child in a desert. To them, this is a story of cold abandonment, bloodless betrayal and certain death.

But the quills of history had another ending in mind – and so they wrote. They wrote that Prophet Abrahamas would not have to sacrifice his son, but that his intention and unwavering willingness had reached and shaken the heavens so thunderously that he would become the progenitor of entire legions of prophets.

They wrote that the immovable conviction, volcanic courage and the magic of motherhood that exploded from Hazrat Hajiraas would crown her as the mother of the spiritual kingdoms till the end of times.

They wrote that from this infant Ishmael who was apparently cast into certain death in a desert, then told to offer his own neck years later to fulfil Divine command, would emerge the single greatest human being to ever live – Prophet Muhammadsa.

They wrote that even thousands of years later, the spiritual progeny of the Seal of Prophetssa would continue through Khilafat-e-Rashida and that in the latter days, this Khilafat would again emerge upon the precepts of prophethood.

The quills of time wrote their story and it flowed through generations of spiritual teachers, guides, mentors, saints, kings and victors.

Today, if anyone has the right and responsibility to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, it is Ahmadi Muslims, who have amongst them their noble king and beloved Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa. This man who embodies the hearts of millions of Ahmadis beating as one all over the globe, represents millennia of sacrifices. He is both the Divinely appointed tiller of this garden of Ahmadiyyat and the sweetest fruit alive of the grand examples of Abrahamas, Ishmaelas and Hajiraas.

The truth is that the word sacrifice does no justice to a believer who offers the neck of his/her baser self at the precious alter of Allah.

Sacrifice connotes that something is lost and does not guarantee that anything is gained in return. But the word qurbani in Arabic connotes that God Almighty, the greatest treasure of the heavens and the earth is gained, for it derives from the word qurb, which means closeness, proximity and intimate love between two persons.

As Prophet Muhammadsa explained, “Everything one keeps to himself stays in this world, while everything that one spends in God’s way, he will find waiting for him in the next world.” And so, the genius of the sacrifice that Eid-ul-Adha embodies is in the fact that while everything is offered in the way of Allah, nothing is ever truly lost.

So today, as we commemorate those legendary flames of Divine love which illuminated mankind’s path for aeons, we must take a moment talk to the Ishmael within each one of us.

Let us infuse the candle of God’s love with the essence of Hajira. Let us breathe the oxygen of Abraham into the matches of divine love we ourselves possess, because therein will we find an everlasting eid waiting to be discovered. The Promised Messiahas writes:

“When a person carries his love to perfection and the fire of love consumes his carnal passions, then, all at once, a flame of God’s love – which He has for his servant – falls upon his heart and cleanses him of the dirt of his mundane existence. He then acquires the complexion of holiness of God, Who is Hayyi and Qayyum, and partakes of all Divine attributes by way of reflection (zill). He then becomes a manifestation of Divine glory and all that is hidden in God’s eternal treasure is disclosed to the world through him.” (Fountain of Christianity, p. 58 [Translation of Chashma-e-Masihi])

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