By A. Zeynep Donmez – Ozlem Ata Translated from Turkish by Yilmaz Kaso
A chapter from the book ‘Friday of the Youth” Sydney, AUSTRALIA
THE PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ) AND SACRIFICE
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
وَٱلْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُمْ مِّن شَعَائِرِ ٱللَّهِ لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ فَٱذْكُرُواْ ٱسْمَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَآفَّ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُواْ مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُواْ ٱلْقَانِعَ وَٱلْمُعْتَرَّ كَذٰلِكَ سَخَّرْنَاهَا لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ ﴿﴾ لَن يَنَالَ ٱللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلاَ دِمَآؤُهَا وَلَـٰكِن يَنَالُهُ ٱلتَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ كَذٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿﴾
“As for the physically mature sacrificial animals, We have appointed them for you among the symbols of worship to God. There is much good in them for you. so invoke God’s name over them as they are lined up for sacrifice. When they fall on their sides, eat of them and feed both those who ask and those who are too shy to ask. Thus, We have subjected these animals to you so that you may fulfill your duties. Neither their flesh nor their blood reaches God, but it is your piety that reaches Him. He has made these animals subservient to you, so that you may glorify God because He has guided you to the right path. Give glad tidings to those who do good.” (al-Hajj 22/36-37)
قَالَ أَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا هَذِهِ الأَضَاحِيُّ قَالَ ” سُنَّةُ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ”
“The Companions of the Messenger of God (PBUH) said: ‘O Messenger of God, what are these sacrifices?’ He said: ‘The Sunnah of your father Abraham.’ (Ibn Majah, Adahi, 3)
Eid al-Adha is coming soon. It is celebrated during the period of the year when Hajj -the pilgrimage to Mecca- is performed. However, the sacrifice of a specific animal is a kind of worship that every capable Muslim is responsible to fulfil whether he does the pilgrimage or not. Both Hajj and sacrifice are types of worship that are known to humans since Adam (PBUH). The first human in the world, Adam, built the first temple, and he must have performed the first pilgrimage because Abraham (PBUH) and his son Ishmael raised the Kaaba over its original foundation and prayed as such:
“Our Master! Make us both submissive to You and make a community that is submissive to You out of our descendants, too. Show us our rites (the places to perform the Pilgrimage and Umrah) and welcome us as we turn around (from our misdeeds). You are the One Who welcomes the turnarounds (from misdeeds) and You are the forgiving and the Most Beneficent.” (al-Baqarah 2:128)
God has accepted their prayer, and pilgrimage (Hajj) has become ongoing worship since then. God describes performing the worship of Hajj as His right on the people, for those who can find a course to go to Kaaba. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his family were also the descendants of Ishmael and they were living in Mecca where the worship of pilgrimage (Hajj) is performed.
Do you have further information about Ishmael (PBUH)? We already said that he is the son of Abraham (PBUH). In the Quran an incident about Abraham and his son Ishmael is narrated as follows:
“ ‘(Abraham said) O my Master, grant me a righteous son!’ We gave him the glad tidings of a gentle boy. When he reached the age when he could work with his father, Abraham said, ‘O my son, I have seen in a dream that I am sacrificing you. So, tell me what you think of it. He replied, ‘O my father, do as you are commanded; and God-willing, you will find me steadfast.’ When they both submitted themselves to God, and he laid his son down on the side of his face, We called out to him, ‘Abraham, you have fulfilled the vision.’ It is thus indeed that We reward those who do good – that surely was a manifest trial – We ransomed him with a great sacrifice and left him thus to be remembered among later generations: ‘Peace and blessings be upon Abraham!’ That is how We recompense the righteous. Truly, he was one of Our faithful servants.” (al-Saffat 37:100-111)
We know from the Quran that the sacrifice of specific animals is known as a type of worship since Adam (AS) and that his sons also practiced it. Furthermore, the people who are mentioned as, “later generations” in the verses above are the ones who follow the footprints of Abraham (PBUH) and accept him as their ancestor; in other words, we Muslims. As we mentioned in the hadith above, the sacrifice of a specific animal is the sunnah of Abraham (PBUH). When we practice this type of devotion, we remember Abraham (PBUH) and Ishmael (PBUH).
The essence of animal sacrifice is linked to refraining from associating partners with God, which is called “shirk” in the Quran. There are types of “shirk”. One of them is to associate partners with God assuming that they also have some attributes or authorities that in fact pertain to God only. Another type of shirk is to give priority to another being, philosophy, or authority before God’s orders and prohibitions. Refraining from committing “shirk” is the most important type of “taqwa”, that is, refraining from doing wrong due to fear of God. Therefore, every year on Eid al-Adha we sacrifice specific animals to show our submission to Almighty God. As it is commanded in relevant verses, we give most of the meat away to the needy and eat a small portion of it ourselves. So, we show the best example of aiding our community, while experiencing the inner peace of fulfilling the duty that God has imposed upon us. We wish you to celebrate Eid al-Adha with this awareness. Thus, we hope that we will be among the saved ones.