The week of Eid-e-Qurban (Feast of the Sacrifice) in addition to its boundless joys occupies a high position in the spiritual, moral and collective life of the Islamic brotherhood. In this week, millions of flame butterflies of divine mission unite in the land of Hijaz from all corners of the Islamic world to circle the oldest and oldest place of worship and renew the Abrahamic tradition; and there are millions and billions of these Muslims who, though deprived of the chance to make Hajj, also strengthen the bonds of this universal brotherhood by sacrificing their wealth in the right way according to their ability.
But if we think deeply, the Feast of Sacrifice is a sign that invites the devotees of Allah to greater sacrifices than sheep, goats, lambs and camels; but if we give an account of ourselves today and review our national character, neither would we find that desire for sacrifice whose memory we celebrate with great preparation. Nowhere will we find that spirit of the Abrahamic tradition who told Muslims the secret of living for the truth and dying for the truth.
There was a time when we would easily sacrifice our selves, our advantages, our hobbies and comforts, our wishes and desires and the satisfactions and respects of our friends and relatives in the right way. In reality, our whole life denoted the sacrifice of gratification and without a doubt the greatest sacrifice is indeed the sacrifice of gratification, for the relationship of most of the defects of personal and social life indeed joins egoism and sensuality; and whatever person and society has sacrificed their gratification for truth’s sake, they have indeed succeeded in this world and the hereafter and they have understood the correct meaning of the Abrahamic tradition.
The sacrifice is not Kalima (verbal confession of faith), but practical. It can only be evaluated on the standard of the practice, not on the touchstone of words and even on the practice which is related to the higher values of human society. So this practice is not a singular act or an accidental event committed under some compulsive passion to illuminate the pages of history.
Sacrifice is indeed an endless series of virtuous actions, a particular way of living, a particular way of thinking and feeling which influences the whole personality, whether that personality be that of an individual or that of a nation. Today, if a father lays a knife on his son’s neck, the world will call him crazy, because his sacrifice – done with any sincerity – is not in harmony with his whole life. On the other hand, the whole life of Abraham presents a long series of sacrifices in the path of truth; the “great sacrifice” was only the last and most important link in this series. Sacrifice is not inherent in us; I do not accept this.
That our nation is incapable of collective and individual sacrifice is also false. After all, it was the same elite and the poor who did not hesitate to make the greatest sacrifices in the 1857 War of Independence and the Khilafat and Pakistan movements. Ordinary citizens of Pakistan frequently perform sacrifices according to their ability even now. The reality is that without these sacrifices, the preservation and security of the state cannot even be imagined.
But in recent years such traditions of selfishness and self-love have become established that the atmosphere of the whole country has been poisoned and the passion for sacrifice and collective welfare all but buried. These traditions will be broken and God willing, soon. The spirit of sacrifice does not die out, it must wake up, it will wake up.
The week of the Feast of Sacrifice is also the week of Islamic brotherhood and unity and peace and security. During these blessed days, the Islamic world is full of the passion of faith and the center of its heart and sight is this holy place which has the honor of being the birthplace of the Prophet. There is no better time than this to strengthen the bonds of Islamic unity, but alas, there was no such attempt in Makkah nor a practical demonstration of unity and unanimity. from the Heads of Muslim States on the occasion of this international Islamic gathering. .
During the days of Hajj, Muslims arriving from various countries and speaking different languages, undoubtedly meet in the plain of Arafat and while going around the Kaaba their bodies undoubtedly touch each other, but can we say with certainty that mental unanimity is also created in them and that the strings of their hearts also sing in harmony the songs of unity and fraternity?
Alas, the political conflicts of the Muslim states have gradually become so extreme that no possibility of their unity is seen in the near future. But we hope that the circumstances will change and that the desire for unity of the Muslim people will force the heads of Muslim states to come closer to each other; foreign powers that stir up strife and sow discord among Muslims will be defeated; and such a unity will be created among the Muslims of the world whose foundation will be built on the freedom, democracy, peace and prosperity of the Islamic countries.
In closing, with reference to the story of Abraham, I remember the poem The parable of the old man and the young by Wilfred Owen on the First World War, published posthumously in 1920 after Owen’s untimely death, so more than a century old this year; not only because of the Feast of Sacrifice which commemorates it, but also because it is still relevant to the fate of the Muslim world – settled in a gratuitous cycle of war, conflict and bloodshed – at the time of the writing. Owen was only 20 when he was killed in action just before the end of the war.
‘So Abram arose, and split the wood, and went away,
And took fire with him, and a knife.
And since they were both staying together,
Isaac the firstborn spoke and said: My Father,
Here are the preparations, fire and iron,
But where is the lamb for this burnt offering?
So Abram bound the young man with sashes and thongs,
and built parapets and trenches there,
And stretched out the knife to kill his son.
When here! an angel called him from heaven,
Saying: Do not stretch out your hand on the child,
Or do anything to him. See,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Aries of Pride in its place.
But the old man would not like this, but killed his son,
And half the seeds from Europe, one by one.
Raza Naeem is an award-winning Pakistani drama researcher, translator and reader based in Lahore, where he is also the President of the Progressive Writers Association. He can be reached at: [email protected]