Eid Al-Adha

“Mine and Thine”

The Islamic Guardian (UK), 1979 Issue (The FIRST Issue, pp. 6–9)

Note by the Editor: Eid al-Adha, the annual Islamic festival associated with the pilgrimage to Makkah, trains Muslims to sacrifice their lower desires so that they may put into practice the ideas of love for all, and equality and fraternity of all mankind.

قُوۡلُوۡۤا اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰہِ وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلَیۡنَا وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلٰۤی اِبۡرٰہٖمَ وَ اِسۡمٰعِیۡلَ وَ اِسۡحٰقَ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ وَ الۡاَسۡبَاطِ وَ مَاۤ اُوۡتِیَ مُوۡسٰی وَ عِیۡسٰی وَ مَاۤ اُوۡتِیَ النَّبِیُّوۡنَ مِنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ ۚ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَیۡنَ اَحَدٍ مِّنۡہُمۡ ۫ۖ وَ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۶﴾

“Say: We believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to us and in that which was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and his tribes, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and in that which was given to prophets from their Lord; we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him we submit” (The Holy Quran, 2:136).

Islam is the universal religion, and has come to establish real peace in the whole world. In every Islamic institution, whether it is associated with private life or public, the chief object is to bring about eternal peace between man and his Maker, or between man and man. The religious beliefs which have been expounded by our Holy Prophet [Muhammad] (may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) mean to bring the whole of humanity to a common platform of equality. In order to take a fair view of what Islam has done to achieve this, cast a cursory glance over the circumstances which have been invariably in the past, and will ever be in future, responsible for the disintegration and disunion of humanity. It will be readily admitted that “egoism” or the problem of “mine and thine” is the chief cause of all the troubles. Nations make war and cause tremendous bloodshed simply because they are led by the motives of “mine and thine.”

Division of Humanity produced by Selfish Attitudes:

The geographical boundaries, which are mere outward expressions of the same spirit, kindle the fire of egoism in the hearts of nations, and result in catastrophes like the two World Wars. If imperial nations had not been actuated by the selfish, sordid interest of expanding their empires, if they had not violated one another’s integrity, we would not have experienced all the cruelties and bloodshed which will ever remain a blot on the fair face of civilisation.

How the problem of “mine and thine” goes to divide humanity and sow the seeds of disunion and discontent can be illustrated by the different stages of the development of a child. When the child is quite unconscious of his personal things, he is ever happy; never quarrelling, and never fretting. As soon as he grows up and begins to distinguish between “mine and thine,” he begins to quarrel with his other brothers and sisters. He picks quarrels even with his parents on the pretext that they are more favourable to other children. Every family man must have experienced the house becoming an abode of constant troubles when his children reach the age of discretion. This is because they have realised the concept of “mine and thine.” The only way of establishing peace in the house and goodwill between different members of the household is to convince them of equality of status and treatment, and thus to extinguish the fire of jealousy.  

Hatred Spread by Ideas of National Superiority:

Similarly, in the case of nations the prejudices of caste and creed play an important role in the spread of disaffection and discontent. The evil at the root, however, is that one nation asserts its superiority over the other, and thus makes an invidious distinction between God’s large family. The Israelites, the so-called “chosen sons” of God, look down upon the rest of humanity as “Gentiles,” and the so-called Gentiles in their turn naturally resent this contempt. Thus, the fundamental cause of disunion in the world is the invidious distinctions which people are apt to make between man and man.

Islamic Conception of Divine Being — One God Who treats all Nations Alike:

Islam has uprooted this evil by advocating belief in one God, Who is the God of all nations, white and black. The Holy Quran opens with the words that Allah is the Supreme Being, the Cherisher and Sustainer, not of a particular nation or community, but of all humanity. The cosmopolitan conception of God as the universal Father of humanity is a potent factor to cement the brotherly relation of the different nations of the world, and thus to bring these apparently heterogeneous elements of humanity into one harmonious whole. Islam has established the truth that we are all sons of the self-same Divine Father, Who has been uniformly impartial in dispensing with both our physical and spiritual wants. We all are living on the same earth under the blue canopy of heaven, which has been furnished with the sun and the moon to give us light. Other bounties of nature are also equally distributed among us. It would have been inconsistent with Divine Wisdom and sense of fair play not to have given us equally the spiritual light. He has been quite impartial in the ministering of our spiritual, requirements. The history of different religions shows that God has been sending His messengers to different peoples at different times with His teachings. A Muslim is required to believe in all the Prophets of the world, and not to make any distinction between them. (See Quranic extract at head of article.) Thus, Islam has eradicated all prejudices of colour and creed by two fundamental principles of faith. Firstly, the Universal Fatherhood of God and the common brotherhood of man, and secondly, the catholicity of prophethood.

Muslim’s View of non-Muslims and of other Muslims:

A Muslim cannot have any hatred for a Christian for he himself believes in Jesus. Similarly, he cannot harbour any hatred for a Jew, because he also believes in Moses, and so on. He is taught by Islam to revere each and every prophet, and therefore he naturally cannot entertain any ill-will against the followers of any of them. Islam, as its very name signifies, is the religion of peace, and its chief aim is to establish peace and equality in the world. There is no aristocracy in Islam. Islam does not recognise differences of wealth and position. A Muslim, however poor, has the same rights and status in society as his wealthiest brother. In daily prayers, a peasant stands shoulder to shoulder with a prince without the least distinction of rank. The Holy Quran says:

اِنَّ اَکۡرَمَکُمۡ عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ اَتۡقٰکُمۡ ؕ

“Surely the most respectable among you in the sight of God is he who is most careful of his duty” (The Holy Quran, 49:13).

Practical Example of Wonderful Reform produced in Early Muslims:

A historical event shows how this equality was carried into practice by Muslim rulers. Hazrat Umar, the second successor to the Holy Prophet, who is perhaps the greatest ruler that Islam ever produced, was travelling to a foreign land with his attendant. He got up on the camel, but after some distance got down and asked the attendant to ride the camel. The servant hesitated, and begged that he should be allowed to walk, but Hazrat Umar said:

“No, I cannot tolerate this unjust treatment.”

The attendant then rode on the camel, and Hazrat Umar walked the same distance as the attendant had walked. Thus, the whole journey was almost completed by turns. The walls of the destination came into sight, and perchance it was the turn of the attendant to ride the camel, but it appeared unwise to him that he should enter into the city on the back of the animal while Hazrat Umar was walking. He therefore implored his master to remain on the camel, but Hazrat Umar refused, and said:

“How can you expect from me an unjust thing?”

So the couple entered the city, the servant on the camel’s back, and his master on foot. The citizens began to salute and greet the rider, thinking him to be the ruler, but he pointed to the tall man walking, and related the whole story. People were wonder-struck at this sense of justice and equality.

Universal Brotherhood and Equality seen at Annual Pilgrimage to Makkah:

Such was the spirit of the Muslim rulers, infused into them by Islam. Again, why is Eid al-Adha celebrated: simply to commemorate the great gathering representing the unique sight of the universal brotherhood at the sacred city of Makkah. True, in daily prayers prince and peasant stand shoulder to shoulder, yet the difference of costumes and dress are still apparent, but in the Hajj, or Pilgrimage, these differences of society are eliminated. The pilgrims who annually visit the Holy Shrine at Makkah belong to different climates of the world, they differ in language and colour, they differ in rank and grade, but still they are fastened in the unbreakable bond of fraternity, and saturated with true belief of the unity of God and equality of man. The display of wealth, rich costumes, and expensive clothing, may make a distinction in society, but Divine Wisdom, which wants to destroy all these conventional boundaries of differences in order to create a universal brotherhood in man, could not allow the same in the levelling atmosphere of Makkah in the days of Pilgrimage. Hence every pilgrim, no matter his rank or position, has to divest himself of his particular costume before stepping into the holy precincts of Makkah, and clothe himself with two seamless white sheets. This is called Ihram.

The Holy city of Makkah, which is the scene of this unique gathering, is known in Islamic literature as the umm al-Qura, i.e., the mother of cities. It is curious how the very name of the city suggests its chief feature. Just as a child has a yearning for its mother, and runs to her, similarly people of different cities long for a visit to this sacred city, and hundreds of thousands of Muslims from all corners of the world gather together in the holy precincts of Makkah during the days of Pilgrimage. It is simply wonderful how this vast ocean of humanity behaves; there is neither a policeman nor military guard, and yet the whole affair goes on without any accident or quarrel. As a matter of fact, the people become quite harmless and docile, they leave off for the time being their evil propensities, and the kingdom of God is actually established. The pilgrims become childlike in the loving arms of the mother of cities and so do no harm to their brothers and sisters. This is the ideal state of civic life, and “Makkah” is in reality the mother of cities, as it presents the wonderful sight of such a big, peaceful gathering. Thus, the kingdom of God, which was only a dream of Jesus Christ, is realised in the sacred precincts of that blessed city.

Selflessness of the Holy Prophet Muhammad:

One point more with regard to Makkah. The city is a living monument of the self-sacrifice and self-denial of the Holy Prophet. The origin of the Kabah, the holy building which is the object of pilgrimage, is traced back by a very ancient tradition to times even before Abraham, who, it is related, rebuilt it. The Holy Prophet could have thrown into the background the shrine associated with the name of Abraham in preference to his own shrine at Madinah, but he was far above that sort of selfishness. He enjoined his followers not to make his tomb an object of worship, but in order to commemorate the sacred memory of Abraham, he made the Pilgrimage to Makkah incumbent on all Muslims. This shows total selflessness on the part of our Prophet. Being the last of the prophets, he cherished the sweet hope of elevating all the prophets in the sight of humanity, so he took particular pains not only to clear the past prophets of the false charges levelled against them, both by friends and foes, but he also enjoined his followers to believe in and revere all the prophets and their revelations. The Holy Prophet Muhammad also cleared the position of Jesus Christ, misrepresented and misunderstood by friends and foes, and thus fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy about one who would purify him.

Summary of Islam as the only Ideology for unifying Mankind:

Islam is the universal religion because it advocates belief in one God, Who is the Lord of all the nations. It establishes the catholicity of prophethood, and the truth of all the prophets. It takes humanity as one fraternity, and aims at the universal brotherhood of man. Being disgusted with racial and religious distinctions, people have started to think of unifying the various faiths, but, in fact, Islam has achieved this feat already. If national prejudices — the seeds of hatred and bloodshed — are to be done away with, and humanity united into a harmonious and homogenous whole, then the acceptance of Islam as one’s religion and mode of thought is the only solution.