The purpose and philosophy of sacrifice
In the light of the Quran and Sunnah
The act of sacrifice holds great significance and encompasses a noble purpose. It is an expression of utmost devotion, wherein a person remains constantly prepared to obey and follow the commandments of Allah Ta’ala, placing His instructions above all desires. It signifies a love for Allah Ta’ala that surpasses all other affections. One should not hesitate to offer everything, including their life, wealth, children, and wishes, in sacrifice for Allah. They should submit themselves entirely to Allah Ta’ala and prioritize the adherence to His laws in all aspects of life.
This is the essence and philosophy of sacrifice! Every year, the lesson of sacrifice teaches us to offer everything to please Allah Tala’a, just as Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) and Prophet Ismail (عليه السلام) exemplified in their tremendous act. The greatest lesson from their story is that when the command of Allah Ta’ala came to sacrifice their son, they did not hesitate, contemplate, or delay. As soon as the order was given, they immediately prepared to sacrifice their son, even though they had long awaited and prayed for his birth, and both parents were advanced in age. The obedient son also demonstrated complete submission to Allah’s command, without any hesitation or excuse. The Quranic narration in Surah As-Saffat uses the phrase “Falamma aslama” (So when they had both submitted) to indicate their unwavering submission to Allah’s command.
Therefore, the sublime event of sacrifice is mentioned in the Noble Quran, particularly in Surah As-Saffat, to highlight its magnificence and significance.
رَبِّ هَبْ لِیْ مِنَ الصّٰلِحِيْنَ ۞ فَبَشَّرْنٰهُ بِغُلٰمٍ حَلِيْمٍ ۞ فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْىَ قَالَ يٰبُنَىَّ اِنِّىْۤ اَرٰى فِى الْمَنَامِ اَنِّىْۤ اَذْبَحُكَ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرٰىؕ قَالَ يٰۤاَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِىْۤ اِنْ شَآءَ اللّٰهُ مِنَ الصّٰبِرِيْنَ ۞ فَلَمَّاۤ اَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهٗ لِلْجَبِيْنِۚ ۞ وَنَادَيْنٰهُ اَنْ يّٰۤاِبْرٰهِيْمُۙ ۞ قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّءْيَاۚ اِنَّا كَذٰلِكَ نَجْزِى الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ ۞ اِنَّ هٰذَا لَهُوَ الْبَلٰٓؤُا الْمُبِيْنُ ۞ وَفَدَيْنٰهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيْمٍ ۞ وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِى الْاٰخِرِيْنَۖ ۞ سَلٰمٌ عَلٰٓى اِبْرٰهِيْمَ ۞ كَذٰلِكَ نَجْزِى الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ ۞ اِنَّهٗ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ ۞
O my Lord, bless me with a righteous son.” So, We gave him the good news of a forbearing boy. Thereafter, when he (the boy) reached an age in which he could work with him, he (Ibrāhīm) said, “O my little son, I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you, so consider, what is your opinion?” He said, “O my dear father, do what you have been ordered to do. You will find me, inshā’allah , (if Allah wills) one of those who endure patiently.” So, (it was a great episode) when both of them submitted themselves (to Allah’s will), and he laid him on his forehead (to slaughter him), and then We called out to him, “O Ibrāhīm, you did make the dream come true.” This is how We reward those who are good in their deeds. This was indeed a trial that clearly demonstrated (their obedience). And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, and We left for him (a word of praise) among the later people, (that is,) “Salām be on Ibrāhīm! This is how We reward those who are good in their deeds. Surely, he is among Our believing servants. (37:100-111)
This entire situation indicates that sacrifice should not be considered merely an act, but rather it should be understood in terms of its purpose and philosophy, and lessons should be learned from it.
Do not reduce acts of worship like sacrifice to mere rituals and worldly celebrations
Sacrifice is a great act of worship, and its ultimate achievement is the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala alone! It requires that at every step of performing the act of sacrifice, one should firmly hold the belief that it is pure worship and its purpose is to attain Allah’s pleasure. Therefore, throughout all the stages, from buying the sacrificial animal, serving it, slaughtering it, distributing its meat, and sharing it among relatives and the needy, one should not allow the notion to waver in their heart and mind that this is an act of worship and it should be carried out with the intention of worship, so that it may be accepted by Allah Ta’ala.
The best outcomes of maintaining the concept of worship in sacrifice are as follows
1. When the belief of worship and religious rituals is upheld in all stages of sacrifice, the best results become apparent, such as:
Sacrifice is not performed with a sense of burden and obligation, but rather with joy and happiness, understanding it as a command of Allah Ta’ala.
2. Efforts are made to learn the religious rulings regarding all stages of buying the sacrificial animal and distributing the meat, and then step by step, the preservation of these rulings is practiced.
3. Sincerity is maintained throughout all stages, and pretentiousness and ostentation are completely avoided.
4. No acts of worship, including prayer and others like it, are neglected during the entire process of buying the sacrificial animal and distributing the meat, but rather every command is diligently fulfilled.
5. No violation of any religious injunction occurs during all stages, nor is any sin committed.
6. As a result, sacrifice remains an act of worship, and it becomes accepted by Allah Ta’ala.
The negative consequences of not maintaining the concept of worship in sacrifice are as follows
Contrary to the aforementioned details, when the belief of worship and religious rituals is not upheld in all stages of sacrifice, the following negative consequences become apparent:
1. No effort is made to learn the religious rulings regarding all stages of buying the sacrificial animal and distributing the meat, nor is there any endeavor to preserve these rulings step by step.
2. Pretentiousness and ostentation become the driving force throughout all stages, and expensive sacrificial animals are bought to display and gain fame.
3. There is no concern for offering prayers during the entire process of buying the sacrificial animal and distributing the meat, and similar acts of worship are also neglected.
4. Sins are committed during all stages, including the purchase of animals with illicit wealth and violating religious injunctions during the process.
5. As a result, the spirit of worship is not maintained in sacrifice; rather, it becomes a worldly tradition and celebration. In such a case, how can sacrifice be accepted by Allah Ta’ala?
Therefore, the situation that is being observed is highly regrettable. If we do not make an effort to rectify it and do not distance ourselves from these negative aspects, then gradually sacrifice will turn into a worldly ritual, and our future generations will be deprived of its essence. May Allah Subhanahoo Wata’ala protect us and our future generations.