The spirit of sacrifice

The spirit of sacrifice

Muhammad Burdbar Khan

Sacrifice defines the epitome of a life well lived! Could there be a life that was honoured and eulogised, and yet was devoid of sacrifice! No great work has been achieved in a life (that was honoured) which did not bring joy to the faces of masses! Even though one cannot deny the overflowing bounties of life in the modern day; yet, by same measure, the evil is not in short supply as well. One would be oblivious enough as not to mention the curse of few benefitting at the expense of many in present world.

Human beings are social animals and as such live in societies where they can interact. Yet while living together they need to cater to the greater common good that is highly improbable were it not accompanied with the spirit of individual sacrifice for that collective good. Posterity remembers those who leave behind indelible marks for others to follow that benefit humanity at large. The annual Muslim festival of Hajj and ‘Qurbani’ (sacrifice) would lose its true significance should it not imbued with this spirit of sacrifice. Even though mandatory, it is not the sacrifice of the animals, per se, that is the true spirit of Hajj and ‘Eid e Qurban’.

The message of sacrifice is more than the food it generates; it is about the narrative around Prophet Abraham (PBUH) and his ordeal in sacrificing his son Ishmael (PBUH) for the pleasure of God. It sends the message that the path of truth and justice entails great challenges; at every step, there will be hurdles created and obstacles raised, yet, given this spirit of sacrifice, these can be overcome and removed albeit with courage. As Prophet Abraham (PBUH) was tested to the core, just short of the actual sacrifice; in life also, even though mettle and courage is tested to the limit, the big sacrifice, that glares in the face, may not actually materialise. In our daily lives, we chose to follow paths that  are less difficult or which provides us a shortcut towards achieving success and prosperity; whereas, the paths less travelled, principled and righteous as these are,  pose difficulties, trials and, above all, sacrifices.

Even, the spirit of Hajj and its rites entails the spirit of sacrifice. The Hajj demonstrates how a microcosm of humanity ought to live in this world. During Hajj, millions of Muslims assemble around Mecca from all corners of the world while spending prescribed days praying to God, and living in complete harmony with others regardless of gender, race, class, status, etc.

Hence, while displaying a spirit of mutual accommodation, toleration and camaraderie; the sacrifice is pronounced, in those few days of Hajj, not least through putting up with all and sundry with attendant tribulations.

Be that as it may, the ‘sacrifice’ is easier said than done. It is not very easy in the present introverted societies we live in; the onus of responsibility increasingly lies on the quality of leadership and the opinion leaders in societies. Starting from the basic unit of a society i.e. the family to the running of the state at the macro level; each layer contributes its share in inculcating this spirit of sacrifice, or otherwise, in its followers. Whether Muslims or not, children see in their parents the guardian as well as the guide for the whole life beckoning at them. Could it be possible, individually, for these kids to yield to others’ justified needs when the same right is denied at home by their seniors? Would it be possible, nationally, for the citizens of the state to express the spirit of sacrifice when their leaders, in different field of life, go to great lengths to loot and plunder, with facility; what to talk of displaying a modicum of sacrifice? Might it be that, internationally, the leading nations in the world, however civilised they are, will share in the production of vaccines that would benefit and cure the people of the world, and not necessarily their own (citizen) humans, first of all! The obvious answers to these queries display the general apathy to this spirit of sacrifice all around.

In the present Covid 19 days, this sacrifice warrants that we need to think of the others  in restricting ourselves from freely roaming around while looking for animals, and then restraining ourselves, during the Eid days, without throwing caution to the winds by mingling freely with the other fellow beings while putting at risk the lives of few and many. It can be hardly reiterated that we are still not out of woods as far as the threat of Covid 19 is concerned. This festival of sacrifice could result in more ‘sacrifices’ in the shape of collective lives lost than which can be saved by each and every one’s individual sacrifice (to restrain oneself) and, thus, stemming the spread of the virus. As Quran (22:37) says:

“Their flesh and their food reach not Allah, but the devotion from you reacheth Him. Thus have We made them subject unto you that ye may magnify Allah that He hath guided you. And give good tidings (O Muhammad) to the good.”

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