Short Answer: I think I need to clarify that offering a sacrifice marks the completion of Hajj (pilgrimage). It is simply to celebrate the completion of the devotional course of Hajj. It is also to feed the poor so that they may feel the universal joy of the Eid (holiday). Pilgrims are not the only ones who undertake this duty, but all Muslims, in every corner of the globe, simultaneously practice it. By offering the sacrifice, Richard, the Muslim society collects the due contributions to our religious brotherhood and fulfills our social responsibility.
Salam Dear Brother,
Thank you for your question. It is really interesting and peculiar.
I think I need to clarify that offering a sacrifice marks the completion of Hajj (pilgrimage). It is simply to celebrate the completion of the devotional course of Hajj.
It is also to feed the poor so that they may feel the universal joy of the Eid (holiday).
Pilgrims are not the only ones who undertake this duty, but all Muslims, in every corner of the globe, simultaneously practice it.
The Purpose of The Ritual
Well, the question of sacrifice and what it actually symbolizes is the idea behind my answer to you. By offering the sacrifice, Richard, the Muslim society collects the due contributions to our religious brotherhood and fulfills our social responsibility.
Contributions are paid in the form of mutual love, sympathy, and concern through remembering the needy and extending a hand of help.
During the Eid day, every member of the Muslim society ought to be gaining some merits or collecting some revenue in one-way or another.
It is the point in time when God gives infinitely, especially to those who are sincerely concerned with the general welfare of their fellow believers.
Those beneficiaries who cannot give are ought to receive, along with God’s enormous grants, the contributions of their fellow benefactors.
The haves and have-nots are all supposed to enjoy the providence of God in a most plural fashion. Thus, the Eid day should indeed be a good harvest day.
God is Not Blood-Thirsty
It is not meat or blood then that pleases God.
In addition to the points mentioned above, sacrifice is considered an expression of thankfulness to God, in relation to the historic event when Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was ordered to offer his son in sacrifice.
It was a divine order, which both–the father and son–were ready to obey unquestioningly. However, the son’s life was spared and ransomed by a ram.
The story of sacrifice is recorded in the Quran in the following manner:
Then when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “Oh my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said: “Oh my father! Do As thou art commanded: Thou wilt find me, if Allah so wills one practicing patience and constancy!” So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him, “Oh Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial and We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. (Quran 37:102-107)
Thus, the offering of the sacrifice has become an annual celebration to commemorate the occasion and thank God for His favors. In this, is a clear and direct admission of the link between Islam and the Father of all prophets, Prophet Abraham.
Was it Isaac or Ishmael?
There have been two versions of which one of Abraham’s sons was to have been sacrificed, Isaac or Ishmael. Some say it was Isaac, but others confirm it was Ishmael.
Muslims believe that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was to be sacrificed in response to God’s command. There are at least twenty arguments in support of this belief.
However, none of these is meant to belittle the historical role of the descendants of Israel. In addition, none is meant to demean the light and wisdom delivered to them by Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), as the Quran points out in numerous statements.
So, the idea is much simpler than you thought. In fact, it is actually more logical and fits in with Islamic ethics, which call for social unity and spreading peace and happiness to all mankind.
My only puzzle, when I read your question, was that I asked myself: “Why didn’t anyone ever regard Thanksgiving’s turkey as being a turkey massacre?”
All peoples around the world do eat something in their feasts. Meat is usually listed on the menu and I presume you have no problem with any other nation?
Also, you will find that the Quran makes it clear why God has prescribed the sacrifices of the pilgrimage:
The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the symbols from God: in them is [much] good for you: then pronounce the name of God over them as they line up [for sacrifice]: when they are down on their sides [after slaughter], eat ye thereof, and feed such as [beg not but] live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have We made animals subject to you, that ye may be grateful. It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches God: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify God for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right. (Quran 22:36-37)
Anyways, thanks, dear friend, for your question. I hope I was able to clarify the matter for you. Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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