Eid-ul-Azha is again here to test our devotion to faith and to the Creator. Every observance of Eid-ul-Azha is a manifestation anew of the spirit of sacrifice we are ready for, a duty enjoined on us by the Almighty. The annual celebration of Eid-ul-Azha is, therefore a time when our thoughts are lifted from the temporal on to a higher plane of the spiritual in the sense that we are called upon to remember the roots we spring from and the destination to which we are headed even as we conduct life here on earth. Every Eid is, therefore, a rekindling of the thought that beyond this world there is a wider universe, that beyond this existence there is a Day of Judgement to which we are all subject.
It is in the ambience of such a truth that we sacrifice, in line with the tradition set by the prophets of old, animals in the name of the Creator of the Universe. The goal involved in the sacrifice is a renewed avowal of piety. And piety comes not through thoughts of feasting but through the essence of sacrifice. In the eyes of Allah, it is according to our means that we go for this sacrificial exercise --- of cows, goats, sheep, camels --- but in no way must we make it a point to engage in the exercise if our means do not permit us to. Again, sacrifice is an idea abhorrent to displays of ostentation, which is why it is not only unethical but also irreligious to indulge the urge for purchases of sacrificial animals at prices that are exorbitant and be demonstrative about such purchases.
Eid-ul-Azha is simply one more opportunity for the faithful to demonstrate humility and subservience to the will of God. That humility and that subservience are clearly marred when animals are bought with the clear intention of impressing neighbours or with thoughts of feasting centering on the availability of meat. The word of the Almighty, indeed of the religion of Islam, is simple: observe Eid with the rest of humanity, especially the poor, in mind. The poor are your neighbours and your relatives. Their share in the animals sacrificed must not be forgotten or ignored. If it is, the entire meaning of Eid-ul-Azha goes missing.
Every Eid-ul-Azha, like every Eid-ul-Fitr, is an occasion for us to redeem ourselves before the Almighty and in our own eyes. Self-esteem is always a strong foundation of existence; and nowhere is self-esteem more important for us than in possessing the quality of judging ourselves every moment of every day, and every day of the life which remains for us.
In the end, Eid is a celebration, a reason for joy, a time of happiness. All of these come enriched with remembrance of the teachings of faith, with the knowledge that these teachings acquire meaning only through constant and consistent practice.
Yet, even as we celebrate Eid, we must not forget that all of us who inhabit the earth are going through some of the most difficult times in human history. The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged our world. Tens of thousands of people have perished in the onslaught of the malady. Millions across the world remain infected, not knowing how many of them will survive and carry on with life. Cemeteries all over the globe have been finding it difficult to cope with burials of the dead. Families have wept copiously and have been shattered.
On Eid day, we must not forget that countless numbers of people have lost their jobs. Factories have closed down, economies everywhere have collapsed. Those who have their jobs are not sure that they will remain employed tomorrow. Schoolboys have taken to pulling rickshaws in our country because their parents have been retrenched at their workplaces. Hospitals are full to the brim with those infected by the disease. Doctors and nurses, those frontline fighters, struggle to help people live. In the process, many of them have died, infected by the self-same ailment.
Let Eid-ul-Azha this year be a sincere and deep remembrance of the Creator, of the truth that men and women everywhere are united not only in their diversity but also in tragedy. On Eid day, let us pray that the world returns to its old beauty, with all of us sharing in its glory.
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