Everything about him and his story is amazing. To begin with, it begins with a ‘scandal’. The man in question had smashed all the stone carvings of his sculptor father. This earned him the wrath of not just his father but also of his community. Those chiseled stones were figurines of Gods and Goddesses they worshipped! Moreover he had the gall to feign ignorance and retorted,
“Why don’t you ask your Gods? Who did it?”
That man really had a nerve! He wanted to teach them unity of God, he later explained.
The outcome, as expected was a brutal penalty. He was put into fire but it didn’t burn him! Then years later, as he was nearing hundred, a son was born to him! Obviously he loved the child a lot. But he was asked to send him away to a desert land which he did without questioning the Lord he worshipped. When the child grew up to be a teenager, the One God he adored and advocated to all , asked him to give up claim on his only son!
This was hard on him. A back-breaker.
But he didn’t think twice to say yes, to his Master whom he had revered while discarding off, stars moons and suns as his gods. God Almighty had made him a Khaleel , a friend ; and a tribute to his strivings in the way of his God, whom he thought to be one and without any partners. This was an honor, unparalleled. Thus the decision to slaughter his only son didn’t take time. The resolution was made quick; after a little conference with his son.
Like son, like father. The young man, his only son, asked his father to go ahead.
The father did so.
But the greatest friend, of this old and tired man, his God knew his true spirit of sacrifice ,his intention already. Hence the sharpened knife he put on the throat of his only child, was redirected to a lamb. His only son was safe. God had tested this man with the greatest test any man could face and found him steadfast in his conviction.
As you have rightly guessed, he was Prophet Abraham[Ibraheem] asw. The great father of all the prophets, the one who made the first home of God at Makkah. Abraham the prophet pbuh didn’t say no to his God , when a sacrifice of this magnitude was demanded of him. His most precious thing, his only son, was to die. But he agreed without any hesitation.
Observance of Rituals
This slaughtering ritual is symbolic in nature, meat or blood of the animal doesn’t reach God, like in other pagan religions. The real thing that is being demanded by our Creator is to make a thorough checkup of our souls, and ask if we too are ready to make a sacrifice just as this man did? Are we ready to let go? A thing most precious to us… can it be given away to the needy, the poor? May be we don’t that much need the new Samsung notebook or that luxury car but someone else maybe in dire need of money to fund his/her education or an inevitable medical condition. Thousands of years later, this Abrahamic tradition of slaughtering an animal is preserved by the Muslims all over the world, but what has remained is just the ritual; that exceptional Abrahamic spirit of sacrifice has vanished, almost totally. Our habits have degenerated over the years. Eating meat till it comes out of the ears, taking the eid to be an occasion for filling up our stomachs to the brim [ or more!] sleeping[what else after overeating?] stuffing our refrigerators with mutton and beef for the coming months or even year , is the stuff of the legend now. A supreme example of obedience to God has got reduced to a mere ritual or even less than that.
Such selfish spirit , such greed really gets my goat!
Criticism of Animal Slaughter
Some quarters of the society , some Moderate Muslims ,criticize this tradition of animal slaughtering, terming it a waste of wealth as the same could be used for better purposes. But they forget to comprehend that this meat business too is a meaty business .It sets the ball rolling in the economy, taking the benefit down the ladder to farmers, and shepherds, to people who are at the lowest strata of our economy and even to the leather merchants, all of them from a myriad religious backgrounds. People crying hoarse of animal rights, surprise me no end. Do not they eat meat, the year round? Shouldn’t they stop savoring mutton chops, seekh kebabas and biryanis , if they so love the sheep and the goats? I wonder! And it gets my goat again! Asma Khan Pathan is one such character. She is BJP councilor from Nadiad, Gujarat and goes to the extent of quoting a verse, she thinks is from Quran to support the ban on animal slaughter. The only problem with it is that the verse doesn’t exist! This way the Fakers follow their Feku leaders!
Back To History
Coming back to our Old Man, Prophet Abraham asw is called as the Father of all the Prophets. Bene Israel or Yakub asw (Judaism) and Prophet Muhammad saws,(Islam), were descendants of his two sons, respectively Issac asw and Ismael asw. Ismael asw , was the fortunate one to be chosen for the supreme sacrifice by his Creator, as stated earlier. Prophet Abraham’s story is familiar to all the major religions, a beautiful fusion it brings about of Judaism, Islam and Christianity (even Hinduism if we take into account a few scholars who believe that Hindus are followers of Prophet Noah asw) .
Prophet Abraham asw is a beautiful blend of our ethical beliefs, an amalgamation of our accepted wisdom. Our meeting point. What more beautiful way to ,’come together’ than to pursue his story? What better thought than paying heed to his message of sacrifice, to be ready to sacrifice our egos, our prejudices about fellow human beings, to slaughter our hatreds and our shallow and selfish presumptions about each other and try reaching perfect peace. A peace where due consideration for the concerns of each and every being of the cosmic humanity, is conferred. After all we all are sons and daughters of Adam and our prophetic father was the same, this old man called Abraham.
Before letting out a smile and disparage this naïve hope, this idealism can be translated into reality, if we embark on a journey to believe in its possibility.