According to historical traditions, some 4,000 years ago God examined the will and sincerity of Abraham and his son Ishmael and they succeeded with flying colours. Such remarkable was their feat that God sent a ram and a knife from the skies and made it as a precedent for His believers to follow.
Every year, more than 1.2 billion Muslims around the world sacrifice millions of animals like sheep, cow, goat, ram, lamb, bull, camel etc. that are worth billions of dollars on three designated days of Eid Al Adha. They then also spend their money on items related to the sacrifice e.g. transportation, fodder, temporary accommodation, slaughter, taxes and other heads which cost millions of dollars additionally. After the sacrifice, Muslims spend further hundreds of thousands of dollars on shipping meat to the needy people, distributing it among relatives and neighbours, cooking sumptuous meals and throwing lavish barbecue parties etc.
The festival of Eid gives satisfaction to fathers who take pride in bringing the fittest animal for the right price; sons who look after it from the time it is bought till its slaughter; mothers and daughters who cut the meat into pieces and cook delicious meals; neighbours who accept meat as a present and needy people who cannot afford the luxury of eating beef or mutton throughout the year. The economic cycle also brings joy to herders, cattle dealers, peasants, butchers, transporters, vets, clergymen and many other related people who take part in the sacrifice of animals and make considerable amount of money.
But what does ‘God’ get out of this sacrifice business?
The very God who emphasises that sacrifice of sincere people will only be accepted. The Creator who insists that He receives and cherishes only the true spirit of an individual’s sacrifice and not the meat or blood of the animals. The Lord who says that the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, in terms of good deeds, are as important as the last 10 days of Ramadan. It is that God Who desires us to slit the throat of greed before slaughtering the sacrificial animal. But after all these clear instructions and directives, how much did we manage to give God what He wanted us to offer in the first place?
Original article written by Wusat Ullah Khan in Urdu and published on BBCUrdu.com. English translation and adaptation by Moign Khawaja.