Eid and the lesson of the season

Like their other 1.5 billion counterparts all over the world, Muslims in Nigeria today celebrate the Eidel Adhah, the greater of the two major festivals in Islam. The traditional festival of sacrifice is celebrated with fun and fanfare worldwide, despite the hydra-headed challenges and the suffocating economic climate.

Essentially, the festival is a symbolism of the faithfulness of the father of faith, Ibrahim (PBUH), the progenitor of the adherents of the revealed religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Ibrahim was sacrifice personified and the pilgrimage rites in Mecca, which actually heralded the festival, are an attestation to the faith demonstrated by Ibrahim: what you were we are; what you did we do.

That pilgrimage itself as a quintessence of sacrifice, of money, time, comfort and other appurtenances of “good life” is well-known. It is the journey of a life time. As it is with opportunity cost, all life is about sacrifice, the virtue of giving away something of value in order to gain something else of more value or avoid a greater loss. The festival is to calibrate in us the faith of Ibrahim.

Ibrahim or Abraham was born to Usha and Azar, the latter a descendant of the Prophet Nuh, in the city of Hara, in modern-day Iraq. He was born during the reign of Namrud, a royal dictator who revelled in self-adulation and idol worship. By the time Ibrahim attained maturity, the senselessness of bowing before carved images had dawned on him and his superb logic of trying the moon and the sun as possible gods and his subsequent renunciation of both in true submission to God is portrayed in the Qur’an (2:76-79).

It wasn’t long after Ibrahim’s prophethood that his rejection of idolatry engendered a clash with his father and then absolute King, especially after he demolished the carved images they called gods. An attempt to burn him alive was futile as his God made a mockery of their inferno, a situation which made them banish him and his wife, Sarah. He had to migrate to Egypt, where he spent many years. It was when he was old that he gave birth to his son, Ismail, through Hajar, a believing lady his wife, Sarah, suggested he should marry in Egypt. As God would have it, Sarah would also be delivered of a child, Ishaq.