All praises are due to Allah, the Lord of the universe, whosoever Allah guides, no one can lead astray and whosoever Allah does not guide, no one can guide the person. May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad (saw), his family, his companions and those who follow his footstep till the day of Resurrection.
Islam is a path of struggle in which mere profession of faith in the mouth is not enough. A sincere believer needs ceaseless struggle with desires, false gods, and passion to attain a perfect life as a Muslim. It demonstrates that struggle with life and possession is an indispensable key to salvation in Islam. Sacrifice is the giving up things which are valued or desired by a person and those things may be tangible like wealth, time or even life. They may be intangible or immeasurable like feelings, attitudes, opinions or aspirations. They are given up for the sake of a higher goal. To be able to give up these treasures indicate the purpose of giving it up is more worthy or more important. There is no doubt that sacrifice also means in Islamic system the slaughtering of animal as offering in the cause of God. The animal being slaughtered as sacrifice has been purchased by our money and it requires love of God to be able to part away with such money. This is why sacrifice in Islam is also surrender to God of our possession. In Islam, sacrifice is related to Imaan or faith because it represents surrender and submission to Allaah.
Say: "Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds [Q6:162].
In Islam all acts of sacrifice or giving must be accompanied with taqwa (accepting not to do wrong) and tasdiq (accepting the truth). Allaah says:
Verily, (the ends) you strive for are diverse (the actions of the servants that they have performed are also opposites and diverse. Therefore, there are those who do good and there are those who do evil). So he who gives (in charity) and fears (Allah), and (in all sincerity) testifies to the best- (Believes in the compensation or reward for that) We will indeed make smooth for him the path to Bliss (to Goodness) . But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient, And gives the lie to the best,-(Disbelieves in the recompense in the abode of the Hereafter.) We will indeed make smooth for him the path to Misery[92:4-10]
Sacrifice or giving up is the stuff of which good and successful human lives are made and without sacrifice life is devoid of peace, harmony and cooperation. The institution of sacrifice explains to us that the absence of it our lives become full of greed, self centredness, desires and gratification. Sacrifice is the nourishment without which the seeds of Imaan (faith) will not grow into mighty. A sincere Muslim must constantly ask himself/herself why his/her faith is not growing. One of the answers to the question is that s/he lacks giving up something like desire, status, privileges, wealth, and family for God. Allaah says in the Qur’aan:
Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline: or the dwellings in which you delight - are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious[9:24].
Sacrifice opens the doors that are locked for a Muslim. One must sacrifice one thing that is covetous to him/her to get greater things from Allaah. “ Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When (will come) the help of Allah?" Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near! [Q 2:214].
Sacrifice explains to us as Muslims that Islam is not just one gift among many; it is the choices gift of Allaah to mankind (Q5:3). Islam is the gift of Allaah to make us live a life of honour as humans and not as animals in eating, drinking and procreating etc We should ask ourselves whether without struggle, it is possible to attain our wishes, aspirations, ambitions or destinations in life? Is it therefore possible to attain this everlasting bliss promised by Allaah without struggle and sacrifices with our possession, life etc? Do we ever ponder that this life is transient and we are going to leave everything behind including our wife/ husband that make us disobey Allaah? Or the spouse you want to please at the expense of Allaah? This is the explanation why Imaan and righteous deeds are linked together in Islamic discourse.
Only those are Believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the Cause of Allah: Such are the sincere ones.[Q49:15].
A true believer loves Allaah more than anything else (Q2:165) with his wealth, life and power. We must be ready to sacrifice our familial love, friendship, time, money, desires and ego for the sake of Allaah.
THE BEST DAYS IN THE YEAR
The noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) has mentioned in his golden message that , ‘The best days are the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.[Ibn Hibban]. In another narration, he said, “There are no days during which good deeds are more beloved by Allaah than these ten days”[Bukharee]. And he was asked “not even jihad in Allaah’s way? He replied not even jihad in Allaah’s way except for a person who went out for jihad with his self and wealth and came back with none”[Tirmidhii].
The month of Dhul Qaddah is about coming to an end and we are moving to these auspicious days and it is recommended on all Muslims to take advantage of the period by engaging in a lot of acts of worship to maximize the reward of the period.
Dhikr (Remembrance of Allaah), reading of the Qur’an and making voluntary prayers are examples of the noble deeds of the time we can engage in during these blessed days. In Q 22.28, Allah says, ‘…. and celebrate the name of Allah, through the Days appointed’.
In these blessed days also include the Day of ‘Arafah which is the best day of the whole year. “ There is no day on which Allaah frees people from Fire as He does on the day of Arafah. He comes close to those standing on Arafah and then revels before His angels, saying ‘ What are these people seeking?’[Muslim].
The act of worship recommended is to devote the day as a day of fasting. “Fasting the day of Arafah expiates the minor sins of two years: a past one and a coming one [Muslim]. However, fasting can commence from the first day of Dhul Hijjah and terminate on the day of Arafah. However, whoever is unable to fast from the beginning of the month should endeavour to fast on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah which is the day of Arafah.
The final of these blessed ten days is Eedul-Adhaa or the day of an-Nahr(slaughtering).The Prophet had instructed us that, “ the day of fitri, the day of an-Nahr and the day of tashreeq are Eed days for us Muslims. They are days of eating and drinking[Ahmad]. The days of tashreeq are three days that follow eedul adha. The Prophet said, “The days of tashreeq are days of eating, drinking and mentioning Allaah[Muslim]. Allah says in Q108.2 thus, “Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice”.
In the same vein the Prophet (saw) also said, “When any one of you intending sacrifice the animal and enters in the month of Dul Hijjah, he should not get his hair or nails cut[Muslim]. In explaining this noble tradition, Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, said, following his discussion of those who say it is obligatory and those who say it is Sunnah, “Each point of view has its evidence, but to be on the safe side, the one who is able to offer a sacrifice should not neglect to do so, because of what is involved in this act of reverence towards Allaah, remembering Him, and making sure that one has nothing to be blamed for.
As we celebrate enter the best days in the year let us benefit from the dua or supplication made by a bedoiun in the Prophet(saw) masjid in Madinah:
O Allaah, let my last days be the best days of my life and my last deed be the best of my deeds and the best day be the day I meet you”
May Allah accept our efforts and bless with ability to worship Him in the best form acceptable to Him during this period and in the rest of our lives.