Eid-ul-Adha Sermon: Sacrifice for the Propagation of Islam

by Col. (Retd.) Mahmud Shaukat, Imam, A.A.I.I.L., U.K.

31 May 1993 (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore, UK)

فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَہُ السَّعۡیَ قَالَ یٰبُنَیَّ اِنِّیۡۤ اَرٰی فِی الۡمَنَامِ اَنِّیۡۤ اَذۡبَحُکَ فَانۡظُرۡ مَاذَا تَرٰی ؕ قَالَ یٰۤاَبَتِ افۡعَلۡ مَا تُؤۡمَرُ ۫ سَتَجِدُنِیۡۤ اِنۡ شَآءَ اللّٰہُ مِنَ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۲﴾ فَلَمَّاۤ اَسۡلَمَا وَ تَلَّہٗ لِلۡجَبِیۡنِ ﴿۱۰۳﴾ۚ وَ نَادَیۡنٰہُ اَنۡ یّٰۤاِبۡرٰہِیۡمُ ﴿۱۰۴﴾ۙ قَدۡ صَدَّقۡتَ الرُّءۡیَا ۚ اِنَّا کَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِی الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۵﴾

“But when he (Ishmael) became of age to work with him (Abraham), he said: ‘O my son, I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee, so consider what thou seest.’ He said: ‘O my father, do as thou art commanded, if Allah please thou wilt find me patient.’ So when they both submitted and he had thrown him down upon his forehead, and We called out to him, saying: ‘O Abraham, thou hast indeed fulfilled the vision.’ Thus do We reward the doers of good.” (The Holy Quran, 37:102–105)

I have recited these verses of the Holy Quran which relate that Abraham saw in a dream that he should sacrifice his son Ishmael. On being told, Ishmael submitted readily without hesitation, and bowed down his head before the command of Allah. This act of sacrifice and their complete submission to the will of God is highly praised and appreciated by Him. It has become a part of the hajj [pilgrimage] ritual which is performed by the pilgrims at Makka on the day of Eid-ul-Adha. On this occasion an animal is sacrificed by the pilgrims in the plain of Mina, at Makka. The day is also called Yaum an-Nahr (the day of sacrifice).

Today we are celebrating Eid-ul-Adha here. As you see, we have started the day solemnly with prayers and a sermon. We Muslims start our Eid festivals with remembrance of God and bowing before Him, and then the significance of the occasion is explained and understood by all present. This Eid-ul-Adha carries a special message for the Muslims, a matter of great importance for the survival and the success of the Muslims in the world. The message is total submission to the Will of God and readiness to sacrifice everything in His way. This is the formula for success, and the Muslims so long as they followed these were at the top.

Submission to God is the universal law governing the working of the whole universe. It was the first order given in the Quran to the whole of the human race:

یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ اعۡبُدُوۡا رَبَّکُمُ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَکُمۡ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ

“O people, serve your Lord Who created you and those before you…” (The Holy Quran, 2:21)

God desires complete submission to His laws and commandments. He has the knowledge of the future, past and present, known or unknown. Therefore, His guidance and commands are correct and true, and by serving and following Him alone can one find the real goal and purpose of life. God says:

وَ مَا خَلَقۡتُ الۡجِنَّ وَ الۡاِنۡسَ اِلَّا لِیَعۡبُدُوۡنِ ﴿۵۶﴾

“And I have not created jinn and humans except that they should serve Me.” (The Holy Quran, 51:56)

God is the Creator, the Nourisher to perfection. He made man and perfected his make. He breathed His spirit into man and elevated him from the category of all other animals. He gave him freedom of will and action, so that he can make unlimited progress in the physical, moral and spiritual fields. Other animals are bound by the dictates of their instincts. They don’t have the freedom or choice to act beyond the limits of their pre-ordained capability — a bullock will pull or carry a load only. Man, on the other hand, has the freedom of action; he can take part in multifarious activities, achieve unlimited progress. He can learn many sciences and manufacture great things. If this freedom is used unwisely, he can destroy and shed blood. He can even destroy himself by drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, having drugs or committing suicide. God knew about these human shortcomings in his nature. God didn’t force His will but guided man to the right course. Bloodletting at the proper occasion becomes the virtue of bravery. Man can achieve great progress if he is free and unfettered by instinct. God has been guiding mankind to the right course by sending His teachers and prophets all through the ages. God says:

اَفَحَسِبۡتُمۡ اَنَّمَا خَلَقۡنٰکُمۡ عَبَثًا وَّ اَنَّکُمۡ اِلَیۡنَا لَا تُرۡجَعُوۡنَ ﴿۱۱۵﴾

“Do you think that We have created you in vain and that you will not be returned to Us.” (The Holy Quran, 23:115)

and again:

اَیَحۡسَبُ الۡاِنۡسَانُ اَنۡ یُّتۡرَکَ سُدًی ﴿ؕ۳۶﴾

“Does man think that he will be left aimless?” (The Holy Quran, 75:36)

In the present day, people over here think that there is no need for religion. They say that religion is antiquated and superstitious, meant only for backward and ignorant people. They feel that because they are living in the age of science and enlightenment, and are civilized and educated people, they do not need religion. Church or religion has no control over their lives, behaviour or thinking. But what is the end result of their new way of life and thinking? They are all jammed up in a mad race for gaining more and more worldly gains and goods. The demand and pressure increases but the resources are limited. The race for wealth and goods leads to despair, crime and unhappiness. We have actually fallen down from the human to the animal stage where the only things that matter are feeding and procreation.

Religion, especially Islam, comes in to help and give the answer to these disturbing questions. It can guide humanity out of this quagmire of despair, nihilism and unhappiness, it can put mankind on the right course of life, the course which the Great Designer had planned and charted out in the Designer’s Manual. Man must obey the Divine laws and commandments and submit to the will of the Almighty. The Quran says:

فَاِمَّا یَاۡتِیَنَّکُمۡ مِّنِّیۡ ہُدًی فَمَنۡ تَبِعَ ہُدَایَ فَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَ لَا ہُمۡ یَحۡزَنُوۡنَ ﴿۳۸﴾

“Surely there will come to you guidance from Me, then whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” (The Holy Quran, 2:38)

Islam shows the way through submission to God, the way to salvation and happiness.

I came across an essay by Mr. Sherman A. Jackson, instructor in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. The quotation is very appropriate:

“Islam does not get its name from its laws, orders or prohibitions, nor from a particular ideology nor a particular person or place in history. Islam rather derives its name from Submission to God.… When one looks at one’s life and sees what remains of one’s most precious plans and dreams, one cannot escape the fact that life is affected by many things over which we have no control.… As a result of our recognition of helplessness and insecurity, submission to God becomes a new potency, a new security. It brings the ability to face life as it is, to bear and persevere. It does not, as is often thought, imply slavish passivity. On the contrary, submission to God negates all other forms of submission to all other forms of authority.”

At the end he says:

“In a word, Islam doesn’t get its strength from its rules, laws or prohibitions, but from the strength of the soul to face the times, to endure everything that an existence has to offer, from the truth of submission to God.”

On this Eid day we are also reminded of the great sacrifice of Abraham, peace be upon him. The spirit of sacrifice shown by him has received great favour and appreciation by God Almighty and He has called it in the Quran

“…a great sacrifice,”

and further on:

وَ تَرَکۡنَا عَلَیۡہِ فِی الۡاٰخِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۸﴾ۖ سَلٰمٌ عَلٰۤی اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ ﴿۱۰۹﴾

“And We granted him among the later generations the salutation ‘peace be to Abraham’.” (The Holy Quran, 37:108–109)

But the physical act of slaughtering the animal on this occasion by the Muslims is not the main purpose of the sacrifice. God says:

لَنۡ یَّنَالَ اللّٰہَ لُحُوۡمُہَا وَ لَا دِمَآؤُہَا وَ لٰکِنۡ یَّنَالُہُ التَّقۡوٰی مِنۡکُمۡ ؕ

“Not their (the animals’) flesh, nor their blood, reaches Allah, but to Him is acceptable the observance of duty on your part.” (The Holy Quran, 22:37)

These are all empty rituals unless one observes taqwa, righteousness, i.e. does one’s duty to God and guards against evil. The sacrificing of the animal is in commemoration of Abraham’s act and a symbolical expression of putting the knife to one’s animal passions and taming one’s rebellious spirit and bringing it in line and making it submissive to the laws and commandments of God.

Muslims on this day are reminded to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice and follow the Quran, to rise and shake away the inertia. They have forgotten their heritage, which was a duty to take Islam to others and to live in Islam themselves. Re-dedication and learning the lesson from the earlier Muslims who devoted and sacrificed their lives and took the light of Islam to others. We need this spirit mostly at this juncture when Muslims are facing physical extermination in some places and economic exploitation all over. They are oppressed not because they are Bosnians or Yugoslavs, Indians, Kashmiris, Burmese, Palestinians or Sri Lankans, but because they are Muslims. A new word in the dictionary has been coined, at their expense, depicting cruelty and criminal injustice in the vocabulary of human affairs — ethnic cleansing. Nobody will come to the help of Muslims; they have to unite and go back to Islam.

John Laffin writes in The Danger of Islam:

“The remedy was equally logical — reform by reversion to the original precepts, purification by eradication of corruption.”

The future of Islam lies in its propagation to the world at large. Its truths and beauties will overcome all prejudices, its teachings are the panacea for the ills of present-day society. Islam lays down the duty on all the Muslims to carry forward the teachings and the truths of its message. God says:

وَ مِمَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَاۤ اُمَّۃٌ یَّہۡدُوۡنَ بِالۡحَقِّ وَ بِہٖ یَعۡدِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۱﴾٪

“And of those whom We have created is a community who guides with truth and therewith do justice.” (The Holy Quran, 7:181)

The Holy Prophet Muhammad said about these words:

“This is my community.”

Muslims forgot the command of God, and their aim in life became gain in worldly goods, wealth and luxury, and the pursuit of the easy life. God says:

فَخَلَفَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہِمۡ خَلۡفٌ اَضَاعُوا الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اتَّبَعُوا الشَّہَوٰتِ فَسَوۡفَ یَلۡقَوۡنَ غَیًّا ﴿ۙ۵۹﴾

“But there came after them a generation who wasted prayers and followed lusts, so they will meet perdition.” (The Holy Quran, 19:59)

The Quran became a forgotten book, Islam only a lip-service. At this time a Reformer appeared, namely, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who declared that he was the Mujaddid [Reformer] of the present age. His heart was burning with the desire to spread Islam and to establish the supremacy of Islam through his writings, and to clear the objections of the enemies against Islam. For this purpose he organised a movement whose aim was to carry forward the message of Islam to the four corners of the world and to sacrifice their lives and property for this jihad. The sun of Islam will rise from the West, said the Holy Prophet, and he himself is described in the Quran as a “light-giving sun” (33:46). The rays of this light-giving sun will now shine from the West. The teachings and truths of Islam will be accepted by the people of the West. I end my address with a very appropriate excerpt from Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s book Fath Islam:

“Truth will be triumphant, and that day of freshness and brightness will dawn again for Islam as prevailed in earlier times, and the sun of Islam shall rise again in its glory as it rose before. But it is not so yet. It is essential that heaven must keep it from rising until our hearts bleed with toil and sacrifice, and we forsake all comforts for its manifestation, and accept all manner of humiliation for the honour of Islam. The revival of Islam demands of us a sacrifice. What is that? That we lay down our lives for this end. This is the death upon which depends the life of Islam and the Muslims, and the manifestation of the Living God — and this is what is known in other words as Islam. It is the revival of this Islam which God the Most High now wishes to bring about. For the implementation of this grand plan it was essential that He should create a great Movement which is effective in every way. So the Wise and Powerful God did just that by sending this humble servant for the reformation of the people.”

I now offer my Eid greetings to all of you, and may God bless you all.

Source: The Light & Islamic Review (USA), July/August 1993 Issue (Vol. 70, No. 4), pp. 8–10

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