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Thursday 26th of May 2022
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A LIVING RELIGION NEEDS BOTH MOSQUE AND SACRIFICE

A LIVING RELIGION NEEDS BOTH MOSQUE AND SACRIFICE

The life-giving religion of Islam emphasizes both worship and sacrifice. Offering one’s life in the way of the religion can safeguard its survival. A true Muslim, while being man of prayer, is man of fighting against the enemies of God. In the same way that God has made the Kaaba a place of security, “(And when) We made the House a pilgrimage for men and a (place of) security. (The Holy Quran; 2:125),” He had made sacrifice a source of blessing for human beings, “And (as for) the camels, We have made them of the signs of the religion of Allah for you; for you therein is much good. (The Holy Quran; 22:36)” God has mentioned camels because they are the most expensive among the animals offered for sacrifice implying that we should sacrifice the dearest thing for the sake of God.

 

SACRIFICE, EXISTED AMONG FORMER NATIONS

 

The Holy Quran shows that the Kaaba was the first place of worship in the world before the advent of Islam:

 

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي ببَكَّةَ مُبارَكاً وهدىً للعالمين.

 

Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and guidance for the nations. (The Holy Quran; 3:96)”

 

Nevertheless, the question of sacrifice does not solely belong to Islam; rather former nations too were duty-bound to discharge this divine order:

 

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنْسَكاً لِيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللهِ عَلَى مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِنْ بَهِيمَةِ الأَنْعَامِ

 

And to every nation We appointed acts of devotion that they may mention the name of Allah on what He has given them of the cattle quadrupeds. (The Holy Quran; 22:34)”

 

The offering of sacrifice by sons of Adam, the first kind of itself is mentioned in the Holy Quran:

 

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانَاً فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهَمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الآخَرِ

 

And relate to them the story of the two sons of Adam with truth when they both offered an offering, but it was accepted from one of them and was not accepted from the other. (5:27)”

 

To sum it up, in the same way that Islam emphasizes the value of the congregation in Mecca and the tight ranks of Muslim worshippers in prayer, “you will see them bowing down, prostrating themselves, seeking grace from Allah and pleasure, (The Holy Quran; 48:29),” it stresses sacrifice as symbol of courage, freedom, and fighting in defence of truth. Therefore, Eid ul-Adha (feast of sacrifice) in Mina represents both the spirit of devotion and submission of the Muslim nations to God and dazzles the eyes of the atheists before faith, unity, resolution, and self-sacrifice of Muslims.

 

Since God’s commandments are poly-dimensional, in the study of the Islamic precepts certain aspects must be ignored while other aspects and advisability must be taken into consideration. For instance, the Holy Quran expressly makes ensuring the social life conditional upon execution of murderers and the carrying out of law of retribution, “And there is life for you in (the law of) retaliation, O men of understanding. (2:179),” or the Quranic ruling on an adulterer, “(As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement. (24:2),” we see that pity for a fornicator has been prohibited, for it is tantamount to disbelief in Allah and the Day of Judgment. The reason a party of believers should witness the chastisement of the committers of fornication is to set an example for others and to ensure the chastity and purity of the society. The Holy Quran regards the dignity and soundness of the society above those of individuals.

 

Challenging the Quranic Verse, “And (as for) the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands, (5:38)” a biased person asked, “How is it that a hand the worth of which (blood money) is five hundred mitigals of gold has to be cut off for a stolen object worth quarter a dinar?”A witty scholar responded, “Honesty has made those hands worthy while theft and dishonesty have made the same hands worthless.”

 

We should comprehend the philosophy of God’s commandment. In the above-mentioned ruling, too, the interests of individuals have been sacrificed for those of society so that people will live in sound society.

 

THE SPIRITUAL PHILOSOPHY OF OFFERING SACRIFICE

 

A believer who, due to staying in Arafat and al-Mash’ar, has come to the position of fully getting to know God and has undermined his carnal desires will not naturally hesitate to sacrifice whatever exists on his way in order to get close to his Beloved even if that being is his endeared son, life, and desires. Nevertheless, the Beloved, out of kindness and in consideration of His servant’s weakness, is content with the sacrifice of an animal and accepts it as symbol of self-sacrifice in His way provided that the servant, by sacrificing this animal, sacrifices his bestial inclinations such as greed, jealousy, love of position and fame, mischief, pessimism, and other vices, saying with firmness:

 

وَجَّهتُ وَجهِيَ لِلذِي فَطَرَ السّماواتِ والأرْضَ.

 

Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth. (The Holy Quran; 6:79)”

 

While doing this, he should remember the Quranic Verse:

 

لَنْ يَنَالَ اللهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَى مِنْكُمْ

 

There does not reach Allah their flesh nor their blood, but to Him is acceptable the guarding (against evil) on your part. (22:37)”

 

God truly seeks His servant’s piety and this virtue cannot be obtained save by killing carnal desires and Satanic temptations.

 

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الهَوَى فَإِنَّ الجَنَّةَ هِيَ المَأْوَى

 

And as for him who fears to stand in the presence of his Lord and forbids the soul from low desires, 41. Then surely the garden‑‑ that is the abode. (The Holy Quran; 79:40-1)”

 

وَأُزْلِفَتِ الْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

 

And the garden shall be brought near for those who guard against evil. (The Holy Quran; 26:90)”

 

Imam Sajjad (a.s) posed the following questions to a man who had just returned from Mecca on the philosophy of Hajj:

 

فعِندَما ذَبحتَ هَدْيَكَ نَوَيتَ أنكَ ذبحتَ حَنجَرَة َالطَّمعِ بما تمسّكْتَ بهِ مِن حقيقةِ الوَرَعِ وأنكَ اتّبعتَ سُنَّةَ إبراهيمَ عليهِ السّلامُ بِذَبْحِ وَلَدِهِ وثمرَةِ فُؤادِهِ وريحانِ قلبِهِ.

 

“When offering sacrifice, did you intend to sacrifice greed by restoring to piety? Did you pay attention to the fact that you were following Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) who took his endeared son to the sacrifice place for Allah’s satisfaction?”[159]

 

Describing the pious, Imam Ali (a.s) says:

 

ميِّتةً شَهوتُهُ مَكظوماً غَيظُهُ، الخَيرُ منهُ مأمولٌ والشرُّ مِنه مأمونٌ.

 

“… His desires deed and his anger suppressed. Good alone is expected from him. Evil from him in not to be feared.”[160]

 

The same people, on the Day of Judgment when only the pure heart counts, will be honored by God.

 

يَوْمَ لاَ يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَلاَ بَنُونَ, ِإلاّ مَنْ أَتَى اللهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

 

The day on which property will not avail, nor sons except him who comes to Allah with a heart free from evil. (The Holy Quran; 26:88-9)”

 

Actually, Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) was not asked to sacrifice his son, but to have a pure heart:

 

وَإِنَّ مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ لإِبْرَاهِيمَ. إِذْ جَاءَ رَبَّهُ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

 

And most surely Ibrahim followed his way when he came to his Lord with a free heart. (The Holy Quran; 37:83-4)”

 

Since sacrificing an animal indicates spiritual state and free heart, it has become an act of worship among the Hajj rites:

 

ذَلِكَ وَمَنْ يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ

 

That (shall be so); and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts.(The Holy Quran; 22:32)”

 

ECONOMIC PROFITS IN SACRIFICE

 

Everyone familiar with the Islamic precepts knows well that charity and helping the poor are indisputable duties of Muslims who have to allocate part of their wealth to special classes of people under Khums (one-fifth levy) and zakat (religious tax on such items as wheat, barley, raisin, etc.) In addition to obligatory charity in Islam, there are other recommended rules for helping the poor aimed at creating love among people form different classes. Islam’s social programs automatically bring the rich and the poor close to each other. Friday and congregational Prayers in Hajj and everyday life bring the rich and the poor together side by side and in a single rank. Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha are two occasions on which Muslims perform both congregational Prayer and pay alms. On Eid ul-Fitr, every Muslim is duty-bound to pay ‘fitriyah’ as much as three kilos of food prevailing in the city to the needy. On Eid ul-Adha, too, it is obligatory on those in Mina and recommended for those in other countries to sacrifice an animal and give its meat to the poor. The Holy Quran says:

 

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ تَزَكَّى. وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّى

 

He indeed shall be successful who purifies himself, and magnifies the name of his Lord and prays. (The Holy Quran; 87:14-5)”

 

In this Verse, purification of wealth precedes prayer, though purification also implies cleansing oneself of the filth of worldly attachments. We should note that prayer consolidates man’s relation with God and zakat creates love among individuals of society. Both are necessary for the happy life of society.

 

Offering sacrifice has a double aim—to get close to God and to receive His mercy, and secondly by distributing meat among the poor, one can win hearts of the needy and be worthy of their duaa.

 

HOW TO USE THE MEAT OF A SACRIFICED ANIMAL ACCORDING TO THE HOLY QURAN AND TRADITIONS

 

وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُمْ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللهِ، لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ، فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَافَّ، فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْقَانِعَ وَالْمُعْتَرَّ، كَذَلِكَ سَخَّرْنَاهَا لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونِ.

 

And (as for) the camels, We have made them of the signs of the religion of Allah for you; for you therein is much good; therefore mention the name of Allah on them as they stand in a row, then when they fall down eat of them and feed the poor man who is contented and the beggar; thus have We made them subservient to you, that you may be grateful. (The Holy Quran; 22:36)”

 

فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ

 

“Then eat of them and feed the distressed one, the needy.(The Holy Quran; 22:28)”

 

Abu-Sabbah Kanani says: I asked the opinion of Imam Sadiq (a.s) about the meat of sacrifice animal, he (a.s) said:

 

كانَ عَلِيُّ بنَ الحُسينِ وأبو جَعفَرٍ عليهِما السلامُ يَتَصَدَّقانِ بِثُلُثٍ عَلى جيرانِهِم وثُلُثٍ على السُّؤّالِ وثُلُثٍ يُمسِكونَهُ لأهلِ البيتِ.

 

“Imam Sajjad and Imam Baqir (a.s) used to give a third of it to neighbors, another third to beggars, and the remaining third was for the family members.”

 

It is therefore incumbent upon the heads of the Islamic nations to create well-equipped organizations for distributing the meat of sacrificed animals among the needy on an international level, by getting permission from the religious authorities in order to realize both the Quranic ruling and to display to the world people an example of the sublime Islamic teachings.

 

Mohammad ibn Muslim says: I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s) whether it is permissible to take the meat of the sacrificed animals out of Mina. He (a.s) answered:

 

كُنّا نقولُ لا يخرُجُ مِنها شيءٌ لِحاجَةِ الناسِ إليهِ، فأمّا اليومَ فَقَد كَثُرَ الناسُ فَلا بأسَ بِإخراجِهِ

 

“Formerly, people of Mecca were in need for them, but today because of too many pilgrims and sacrifices, their being taken out of Mina is no problem.”[161]

 

Under the present circumstances and due to lack of well-equipped organizations, part of the sacrificed animals is unfortunately buried. Nevertheless, this loss has to be tolerated, for the sublime goal of presenting the socio-political aspect of Hajj will be ensured. That is to say, the financial aspect of the event has to be sacrificed for its socio-political aspect.

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