Eid-el-Kabir and its significance
THE Islamic calendar turns another leaf with today’s celebration of the festival of Rams, also known as Eid-el-Kabir or Eid-el-Adha. It is a bit discomforting that most Nigerians, even Muslims who should know better, tend to perceive Eid-el-kabir as an occasion mainly for merriment and feasting, more so as the rams slaughtered are to be consumed with friends and neighbours. Nothing can be farther from the truth, as a reflection of the history of the festival reveals.
Firstly, this occasion had its origin in the days of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who, as both the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible record was called upon by God to sacrifice Ishmael, his only son at the time, for the Almighty. The request came in frequent visions and dreams, and Ibrahim (may Allah’s peace be upon him), being God-fearing, decided to fulfill the demand. Surely, that decision, along with the surrounding circumstances, is anything but cheery. And the apprehension was further underlined by the fact that Ishmael knew that he was to be slaughtered as sacrifice, yet made no move to run away; thus resigning himself to the will of Almighty Allah.
While it is true that God’s act of miraculously providing a ram for Ibrahim to replace Ishmael – just before the sacrifice – is worth celebrating, the celebration should be more of glorifying God’s holy name, rather than indulging in gluttonous consumption, feasting and merriment. For, had the situation been otherwise, mankind would have been threatened if not extinct by now.
As Muslims and other Nigerians, therefore, celebrate the Eid, the values of love, faith, obedience, prayer, sacrifice and submission to the will of God should be uppermost in their mind. These are the core values embedded in the festival; and it is incumbent on all to observe them in the course of celebrating.
In particular, this year’s celebration is coming when the whole world is perilously caught between peace and war, wealth and want, health and disease; indeed life and death. Isn’t it heart-rending that hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered homeless and turned into refugees seeking succour wherever they can find it? Sadly, that situation is fast becoming a norm in many parts of Europe and Africa.
Within Nigeria, millions of ordinary peace-loving citizens have been displaced and rendered as refugees in their own country. They have been brutally attacked, killed, maimed and separated from their families and loved ones, ironically by a group of people professing to be inspired by God. That many of the victims will never reunite with their families is not prophetic, but a reality. It is worth emphasising that Boko Haram, both in its concept and operations, is entirely antithetic of Islam which, at all times, is a religion of peace and tolerance.
This is the pathetic environment in which this year’s Eid-el-Adha will be celebrated. It is hardly an appropriate environment for merriment; the circumstances demand a sober, moderate and spiritual celebration rather than one with abandon.
More than ever before, this is the time to share the meat of Eid-el-Kabir rams not just with friends and associates who may be already well-endowed; but with poor neighbours many of who cannot afford the rams. That will reflect God’s commandments regarding the eid, in addition to acknowledging the distended economy that has precluded many from performing their obligation of slaughtering rams in commemoration of the festival.
In other words, the Eid-el-Kabir is all about sharing, giving, supplications to God, respecting humanity, showing mercy and kindness to people and generally preserving mankind. These lessons should be imbibed by Muslims and all Nigerians at this time.
The Nigerian military and government deserve commendation for their efforts to stamp out the terrorism unleashed on the country by Boko Haram insurgents. Government needs to do more, in order to provide an enabling environment for all Nigerians to freely propagate their faith and contribute meaningfully to the country’s development.
This will entail the enthronement of good governance to protect the interest, and improve the lot of the masses; it will require that political leaders and public officials eschew corruption, greed and selfish interest; it will require that public resources be used judiciously in public interest; and that Nigerians who are victims of insurgency be urgently rehabilitated. All actions of government should be guided consciously by fairness and balance.
Also in the spirit of Eid-el-Kabir, the government of Muhammadu Buhari, though relatively new, should make haste to consolidate the hope and goodwill that Nigerians nurture over it. Almost four months since its inauguration, there are too many uncertainties – political, economic and social – still.
Nigerians should also strive for moderation in their consumption during the festival, bearing in mind the need to keep their health and avoid social dislocation, arising from recklessness. Similarly, prayers should be offered for all Nigerians currently on holy pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is significant that Eid-el-Kabir is observed in conjunction with the hajj, particularly as thanksgiving, when pilgrims complete their passage of Mount Arafat. This newspaper wishes all Nigerians a fulfilling Eid-el-Kabir.