Thursday, September 24, 2015


Nine families of Libyan nationals staying in Malaysia decided to make Uluhati their village or kampong to celebrate Idil Adha, the festival of sacrifice. On the eve of the festivals 11 sheep arrived in the middle of the night for the next day celebration. Tied to the pillars of the Longhouse they settled down quite nicely for the night oblivious to the honor bestowed on them the following day.

 Its quite interesting to see how different cultures practice a common ritual. The Malays, Muslims that is, would proclaim "Allahuakbar" as they slaughter the animals. The Libyans treat it more matter of factly, non of the drama that we see usually. Also when it comes to skinning the animal, they would drive in a thin long rod at the inner hind leg. The rod is then taken out and in the hole is shoved in a rubber hose. Air is then blown into the rubber hose and you would actually see the sheep expanding like a balloon. I suppose this is to loosen the skin from the flesh for easier and cleaner skinning. Whilst we Malays would begin by skinning from the legs, they would start from the testicles. By the way sacrificial animal are normally male. They seemed to have a good time with lots of Libyan delicacies floating around and children running and squealing after the animals. As usual the chickens, goats and deer became nervous wrecks by the end of the day.

The Christians would have it that it was Issac the son Abraham (Peace be Upon them) who was commanded to be sacrificed. The Quran however says that it was Ismail (Ishmael), peace be upon him, who was supposed to be sacrificed. Issac was Abraham's son with his wife Sarah, whilst Ismail was the son from his Egyptian wife, Hagar or Siti Hajar.

From the lineage of Issac rose the Jewish prophets all the way to Jesus, may peace be upon him. From the Ismail lineage rose Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him.

This and many similarities in the narration of the Bible and the Quran is quite surprising to some people leading to charges of plagiarism of the Bible by the "author" of the Quran. The answer is quite simple. Of course, there will be similarities in the stories and the message of the Bible and the Quran, because if there is only one God, He would not have given different instructions, policies to different peoples at different times. The principles would be largely the same. Any amendments or changes that come from time to time does not alter the main theme, but provide additional guidance as man progresses in his development, not to mention to correct purposeful alterations done by man to suit certain agendas. This happens even today. That is why as an article of faith Muslims are supposed to believe in the revelations given to Moses (Musa), the Torah, David (Daud), the Zabur (Psalms), Jesus (Isa), the Bible and of course, Mohammad (Quran), May the blessings of Allah be upon them all.

It is interesting to note the inter-play between the Jewish peoples and the Egyptians. Confrontation or interplay between them occurred since the time Moses, Joseph (Yusuf) until present times, if we note that Prophet Muhammad pbuh is partly Egyptian in heritage.

Anyway the word sacrifice often times evoke in our minds some tribal ritual with either a virgin tied to a stake or a lost missionary simmering in a big cauldron being offered to some blood thirsty deity to ensure that next year's harvest remain as bountiful or the gazelles are just as numerous.

The Quran is quite clear on this. "It is not the blood nor the flesh of the sacrifice which reaches God, but the piety of the person". The word sacrifice in itself means giving up something dear to oneself. Giving up something worthless is no sacrifice at all.

So what does one get by giving away this precious thing? It is the undermining or subjugation of one's self or ego or selfishness. So it is actually a ritual of self purification. The Muslims belief that everyone is apportioned four qualities. Two of which pulls him to the ground and the other two elevates him to the stratosphere. The ones that pulls him to the ground are the bestial and satanic or devilish qualities or tendencies. The ones that uplift him to the higher plane is the angelic and Godly qualities.

So the challenge for everyone is to suppress and channel the two earthly qualities to the right channels and to promote the other two higher qualities. The final objective is nearness to God or Godliness or Enlightenment as the Hindus and Buddhist would describe it. It is an exercise of the extraction of the finest human qualities to qualify oneself as a human being.

Again we note similarities with Hinduism, which is not surprising at all. When God send down Adam and Eve to earth He gave them the assurance that from time to time He will send down guidance to Adam and his progeny, who in time will multiply into various races and tribes. In fact Muslims believe that altogether over 140,000 messengers were despatched. How that number was determined is beyond me, but perhaps the numbers alone are not important. What is important is that numerous delegations of reminders and warners of the key themes were sent. And the key themes will always be the same. God being all merciful would not leave His creatures unattended and He creates nothing in vain.

So sacrifice is one of the many ways of refining one's person. In a another verse, the Quran mentions that "one does not reach the stage of righteousness until one learns to give up what is dearest to him".

However sometimes we observe people competing to sacrifice as many heads of cattle as possible for the sake of recognition. Imam Bukhari has this to say: "True worship comes not from the act but from from the heart. The act is just an escort whilst the true worshiper is the heart". So Islam is dual faceted, the exsoteric and the esoteric, the external and the internal. The external (rituals) without the internal (the worship of the heart) is worthless whilst the internal without the external, mere profession of faith without actual deeds is delusional. Just as the declaration of love without the attendant care, concern, respect and fulfillment of responsibilities, is meaningless.

So there you are. The Haj sacrifice is not about pleasing some blood thirsty deity. It is about self purification. Same as any other act of worship, it is not for God but for oneself. God being Great does not need anyone to tell Him how great He is. "If all of mankind from the time of Adam till the end of time were to worship God, He is not made any greater and if all of mankind from the time of Adam till the end of times is to deny God, He is not made any lesser".

Salam Id Adha

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