Let me start by congratulating everyone of us on the occasion of Eid-il-Kabir. In a world filled with uncertainties, witnessing a festival as Eid-il-Kabir and indeed, each day of our lives calls for special thanksgiving and celebration.
As part of the celebration, we have received calls from several quarters, admonishing us to imbibe the historical lessons behind Eidil kabir, as a demonstration of our commitment to the tenets of Islam. Year-in-year-out, we listen to clerics and other religious leaders, including but not limited to political gladiators harping on the importance of the celebration. But the question I want to raise today is, have we really made the lessons of Eidil kabir part of our daily living?
At an age of 120 years, prophet Ibraheem and Zarah, his wife, aged 90, remained prayerful and believing Allah for an heir, which they pledged to offer as sacrifice for the course of Allah if their request was granted. Indeed, Allah never fails in His promise to accept the supplications of those who are steadfast and consistent in their worship and belief. Allah accepted their entreaty and gave them a son, Ismail.
Reminded of his pledge to sacrifice his son to Allah, Prophet Ibrahim told his son, Ismail, of the pledge. Ismail obediently followed his pious father. At the point of sacrifice, however, God, who saw Ibraheem’s honesty and purity of heart, replaced Ismail with a ram, thus began the celebration of Eidil Kabir. This shows that the celebration came up as a result of Ibraheem’s fulfilment of his promise to sacrifice his son and his son’s readiness to be sacrificed. We see in this story, the commitment of Ibraheem to his promise to God and we also see the obedience of his son to his father and the will of God.
The first question, therefore, is: how many people fulfil their pledges today, and how many children obey their parents? Therefore, if these two elements are missing in our celebration, then, we are mere hypocrites, because the reasons for the celebration are anchored on these two fundamental attitudes that made the Almighty Allah to accept Ibraheem and his son. So, what do we have today? People who make promises to men, thinking that since men are not God, they can be deceived and the promises made to them left unfulfilled. Obviously, this is not the expectation of God. Yet, we know that every man is created in the image of God and a representation of God. Again, we pretend, thinking that we are only deceiving man and not God. We know God judges man, but also judges intention, yet we intentionally do evil and blame the devil for it.
We are hypocrites, all of us; if we refuse to follow the footsteps of Ibraheem and his son. An hypocrite, the dictionary says, is one who practises double standard; a pretender; an insincere person, who is duplicitous. He is a man with two faces who cannot be trusted, because he is unreliable. Little wonder we make many religious statements, but little spiritual movements in the nation. Little wonder those who speak religion with one mouth and celebrate Eidil kabir still go ahead with the other side of their mouth to reel out hate speeches against their fellow beings. How do we reconcile the two? Hypocrisy.
Are we obedient to the injunctions of the almighty about the sacredness of human life when we issue out hate speeches that could end in the destruction of our fellow being, just because they do not belong to the same ethnic group or share similar religious belief with us? Yet, on Sallah day we dress out gaily head to the Eidil prayer ground to offer our supplications to Allah; pretending as if the Almighty is not aware of our intentions. Hypocrisy.
How is it that children would not listen to their parents and yet claim to be pious? Who are they modelling their own lives after? Definitely, not the son of Ibraheem, who even while in the know that his father was set to use him as sacrifice still agreed to that painful possible ending of his life. Today, our youths are no longer listening to their fathers; instead they are big-headed and would do only what they please.
What has really gone wrong with this community? Could it be that as parents, we have strayed from our parental responsibilities? Has the community jettisoned its collective responsibility of children up bringing? Could this be a result of cultural imperialism? What has really gone wrong with today’s youth? Those who incite one person against another are hypocrites.
But do we not have freedom of speech as reasonable members of our society? Yes, we do; but do we bother about others in the exercise of this right? No doubt, such a freedom must be separated from the divisive and hate-filled statements that have been flowing from the lips of many of our political and ethnic leaders. We must draw the line properly because you cannot claim to be following the religion of Allah and still be preaching hate. That does not depict the reason for Eidil Kabir and if there would be a change of behaviour, the change must begin with you.