As Eid inches closer, we should take a moment to remind ourselves what this particular Eid is all about; whether it be why we celebrate Eid al-Adha in the first place, or why the prophet Abraham (AS) is so closely associated to this holiday.
Many know prophet Abraham (AS) for the mere fact that he was willing to sacrifice his son for the sake of God. But what else do we know about him?
Abraham (AS) was born and raised into a family of idol worshippers; but just like other prophets, Abraham (AS) was enlightened:
“And We had certainly given Abraham his sound judgment before, and we were of him well-Knowing.” (Qur’an 21:51).
Abraham (AS) knew that the worship of idols was completely misguided, especially considering that these idols couldn’t do anything for them. One night the prophet Abraham (AS) was staring at the sky and decided that the stars would be his Lord and worked his way down the sun being his Lord, until he realized that instead of worshiping the creation, he should worship the Creator (Qur’an 6:75-79).
Another common aspect of the story of Abraham (AS) is the breaking of the idols. On a day of celebration for the idolaters, Abraham (AS) stayed behind and destroyed the idols of his people and left the largest of the statues alone.
When the people arrived and saw that all of their idols were destroyed, Abraham (AS) told them to question the big statue that wasn’t destroyed, but they knew that the statue was practically powerless and could not move or speak.
I think the most important thing to understand is that when we have faith in God, He will never fail us and He will always provide for us.
Upon hearing this, Abraham (AS) explained to them that if they knew their statues were powerless, why would they worship them? This angered the people of Abraham (AS) and they decided that his punishment would be to be burned in the fire.
This was indeed a test from God on Abraham (AS) and he remained patient. His faith in God did not waver and God kept him safe:
“Allah said, ‘O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham.” (Qur’an 21:69).
Abraham (AS) encountered many tests from God; and the one most known by many Muslims is the sacrifice of his son, Ismael. One night he dreamt that he was sacrificing his son;
“And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, ‘O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think’…” (Qur’an 37:102).
Upon hearing this, his son accepted his dream and that this is what God decreed;
“…He said, ‘O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.'” (Qur’an 37:102).
Just as Abraham (AS) was about to make the ultimate sacrifice, God placed a lamb in the place of his son.
So what does this have to do with Eid? We celebrate Eid al-Adha as a reminder of the obedience that Abraham (AS) had for his Lord. It is used a symbol of Abraham’s (AS) sacrifice for God.
Not only is the sacrifice an integral part of this beautiful holiday, but it provides a huge lesson for us all to take in:
God wants us to have faith in Him. When Abraham (AS) was told to sacrifice his son, he didn’t question it; he did was his Lord asked him to and had faith in Him.
From this story, I think the most important thing to understand is that when we have faith in God, He will never fail us and He will always provide for us.