It is that time of the year again when Muslims across the world celebrate the holiest festival in their calendar, known as Eid-el-Kabir. The festival honours the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Isma’il as an act of submission to God’s command, before God stopped him in his tracks, informing him that his sacrifice had already been accepted.
The meat from the sacrificed animal is usually divided into three parts. The family retains one-third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends, and neighbours; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy. This is, therefore, a season of love towards humanity.
However, the state of the economy is taking its toll on the celebrations as economic hardship, dwindling disposable income and abrupt hike days leading to the festival in commodity goods, especially rams, will make this year’s celebration a low-key affair.
The significance of the Sallah rams to Muslims cannot be over-emphasised. It remains a core tenet of the Islamic faith. So important is the slaughtering of ram at Sallah, that it permeates the rich and the poor.
But going by the prevailing economic crunch in the country, many Muslim faithful might not be able to afford rams this year. Although there was a similar development last year, this year seems to have been further deepened, especially with the galloping and unpredictable exchange rate that has persisted throughout the year.
Most traders across the country at a ram market have blamed this development on a further decline in the economy, devaluation of the naira, poor circulation of money in the country, terrorism in the northern part of the country from where rams are brought, among others.
But it should not be a season of lamentation. It is a season of reflection on great lessons from ‘Prophet Ibrahim who believed God and took control of his life and granted his heart desires. Same way if we can trust him, He is going to take care of us. This is one lesson of this season.
Another lesson is that Nigerians should learn the habit of doing good at all times since anyone can leave this world at any time.
There are other lessons, which include: first, there are bound to be trials (call it tension, if you like), which are part of life, and individuals need the patience to overcome them. See Q2 vs. 155 and Q29 vs.1-2). We need to be patient with the promises from authorities, as they look for a solution to the current economic downturn and security challenges. Prophet Ibrahim had patience and trust when he was praying for a child.
Besides, we need high trust, faith and total obedience to Allah, as demonstrated by Ibrahim (AS). This endears one to Allah and qualifies one for His blessings. We should ask ourselves whether we are truly doing all these.
Again, loyalty and cooperation help to overcome tension. Ibrahim and his son agreed in all sincerity that God’s will be done. Though hard to do, but their tension turned to a big relief in the end. Nigerians should agree to live together in peace and sincerely join hands together to develop the nation. Eid-al-Adha celebrations encourage us to forgive and give, to share and care. This lesson should be reflected in our daily living.
As God makes the sacrificial animal to submit to us, we should also submit our ego to the Creator. One big problem we have is a class distinction. Once we see everybody as an important stakeholder in the Nigeria Project, then our challenges will become history.
Meanwhile, mercy is what all Muslims are expected to demonstrate at this time. We need to forgive one another in this time of love. We also need to believe in Almighty Allah and ourselves. The Prophet was a trustworthy and faithful person to Allah. He believed so much that whatever happened to him, God was capable of taking care of them. His only joy, (son) gotten at old age, and without minding the cost, he sacrificed him, in obedience to the Creator. What a great lesson we need to learn from him! He made a promise, which he fulfilled. And that is also telling the government there is a need to fulfill promises made to Nigerians all times. They promised heaven and earth before we voted them into power but where are those promises today?
In fulfilling that promise, the Prophet gained mercy, which is another lesson. Whatever promise you made, according to the Holy Qur’an, God will surely ask you. That is one thing our leaders should learn from the Prophet who exemplified it. We enjoin all my Muslim brothers and sisters and indeed Nigerians to learn from that. We should believe in ourselves and in God.
Another lesson is that people should believe that God gave them whatever they have today for a purpose, which is to assist others that do not have. If we don’t emulate from these teachings, definitely we are not doing Sallah the way it should be done.
Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said: ‘‘If you kill a ram, take what you and your family can eat, that the rest should be shared with others to ensure that you make everyone happy and comfortable. That is the main essence of the festival. It’s not everybody that can afford to kill ram at this time of recession. But those who can afford to kill rams should ensure they give to the less privileged around them. When you kill the ram, it is not for you and your family alone. You are encouraged to share it to neighbours around.
If you can afford it, then please give other condiments, aside from the meat. Everything will be rewarded.’’ This is actually the definition of love that we seem to have lost. This is, therefore, a season of reflection on how to regain our humanity that we appear to have lost to corruption and bad governance in our country.