And for all religion We have appointed a rite (of sacrifice) that they may mention the name of Allah over what He has provided for them of (sacrificial) animals. For your god is one God, so to Him submit. And, give good tidings to the humble (before their Lord),
Who, when (the name of) Allah is mentioned, their hearts are fearful, and (to) the patient over what has afflicted them, and the establishers of prayer and those who spend from what We have provided them.
And the camels and cattle We have appointed for you as among the symbols of Allah; for you therein is good. So mention the name of Allah upon them when lined up (for sacrifice); and when they are (lifeless) on their sides, then eat from them and feed the needy and the beggar. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may be grateful.
Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good. (22: 35-38)
The great advices mentioned in these verses apply to every aspect of human life. First they teach us the meaning of sacrifice. And they teach us that we are dependent on these animals (cattle) because we get all kinds of supplies from them. And there are other benefits that are related to these quadrupeds to facilitate your life. Certainly, it is on these types of animals also that you travel.
First, the word “Anam” applies to camels. And among all quadrupeds, man gets more advantages in camels than in any other quadrupeds (in particular, cattle). So the word “Anam” applies perfectly and first to camels.
Certainly when you travel too, you make use of these animals to carry your luggage, and when you find yourself in the desert and you’re thirsty and you have nothing to drink, then it is the camels that are at that moment very useful for you because you can extract water from them when you slaughter them. This water is connected with their stomach, and thereby, camels are your last life support in critical times.
So the word “Anam” applies mainly to camels. And because of this, these Quranic verses summarize such sacrifices, making us reflect on the usefulness of animals in our lives, for our survival, and now it is the same animal (cattle) that you sacrifice pursuant to the will of God. So it’s like this that you sacrifice your whole life for Allah, but this in no case means that you have superiority over the cattle, as Allah is your Lord and their Lord too.
So, say the name of Allah and sacrifice these animals for the cause of Allah. It’s like you are slaughtering all provisions in your life. And this is certainly the last and highest meaning of sacrifice that these Quranic verses teach us. That is to say, by sacrificing these animals for the cause of Allah, you are doing such sacrifices upon which your life depends on it, because verily, you depend on these animals for a living. And when you sacrifice them for the cause of Allah, this is not to present their meat before Allah, because on the contrary the meat will become useful for yourself, it will come to you! But the spirit behind this sacrifice (quadrupeds/ cattle) is that you want to say to Allah: “Verily Oh Lord, we are ready to sacrifice everything for You.”
Then Allah tells us to submit ourselves to Him, the Unique God who made the sacrificial animal helpless before you. Therefore, when you immolate animals, this should make you think about the sacrifices of your own being. You should know that the animal which was always there at your disposal, at your service, for your survival is now seen as a sign of your own sacrifice.
By sacrificing it, then the objective of this sacrifice is that you should always be ready to sacrifice yourself for the cause of Allah just like this animal that presents itself powerless before you, so that if ever a time comes when you must sacrifice yourself for the cause of Allah, then you should also exert patience and you will even have more patience than demonstrated by these animals that are helpless before you.
Then Allah says to announce the good news to those who are humble. In other words, you need to draw lessons in humility from these helpless animals and you have to show more humility than them. You must present all (everything that you have and your own self) before Allah and you should not in any way demonstrate arrogance. Instead, you must submit with all humility and certainly it is in this demonstration of humility that there is the pleasure of Allah.
Now analyze how Allah (in these verses) changed the subject of animal sacrifice and brought (our) attention to human’s (Insan) sacrifices. Allah says that it is indeed the true believers who make sacrifices for the cause of Allah, and when they hear the name of Allah, their hearts tremble and are filled with fear and they endure everything that happens to them (every fall/difficulty/trial) in the way of Allah with patience.
Verily it is these types of people (believers) who have already figured out the philosophy of animal sacrifice. They realize that the creatures that are inferior to us are ever ready to sacrifice for us, and it is indeed Allah Who created these animals for us and gave us the right to sacrifice them by pronouncing the name of Allah (before the sacrifice). This animal sacrifice (more specifically, of cattle) is certainly possible with the permission of Allah. So how ungrateful and shameful will it be on our part if we do not respond positively to the call of Allah whenever He calls upon us to make sacrifices in His path!
So Allah makes us understand that this call will come soon, and He instructs that this good news be given to the believers, to those who are humble. Those who become so humble that when they hear the name of Allah being mentioned their hearts tremble with fear and they demonstrate exemplary patience they endure everything for the cause of Allah. Then Allah says that they are the people who establish the prayer (Salat), and other acts of Ibadat (worship) and spend out of what Allah has given them for the cause of Allah.
So this is a topic that is closely with the Hajj. When Abraham (as) placed his knife at the throat of his beloved son Ismail (as), he verily demonstrated such an excellent example that taught us the philosophy of the sacrifices that animals do for us.
And there is also mention of a time which will come when you (the human race, the true believers) will have to present yourselves as well as your beloved children for the cause of Allah, just like you put yourselves forward, ready to sacrifice these animals. But in the kind of sacrifice that God wants from you (like for Abraham), it is your spirit of sacrifice that He accepts and He has no need of the sacrifice of your physical body.
So, from these verses of the Quran, God wants to inform you that people immolate/slaughter animals that were once at their own service and gave them (that is, you) lots of things. But in another verse Allah says that with the sacrifice, neither their blood nor their meat reach Allah. It is only your Taqwa that reaches up to Allah. What is this Taqwa? It is the fear of Allah.
So, in the first verse, Allah mentions that the true believers are those who, when they hear mention the name of Allah their heart tremble with fear. He wants to inform people that it is through the sacrifices that they make that they shall enable an increase in their Taqwa. And it is their Taqwa that is worthy to be accepted by Allah because they are people who sacrificed everything for the cause of Allah and they are always ready to sacrifice even more and even their own beings so as to reap the pleasure of Allah.
This subject of intense sacrifice has reached its completion in the time of Abraham (as), as the intense emotion was certainly indescribable when he advanced with his knife to cut the throat of his son, Ismail. The state of the heart of the father, and the state of the heart of that boy are certainly difficult to describe, because such a similar act of sacrifice has never happened before in the history (of mankind). The father said: “O my son! Allah gave me the instruction to sacrifice you.” The son replied: “O my beloved father, just do what Allah has commanded you, and God-willing, you will find me among those who endure.”
So when Allah speaks of “those who are patient over what has afflicted them” it certainly refers to the same patience that the son of Abraham (as) had shown at the time of sacrifice. It is not in vain that Ismail had pronounced the words: “If Allah wills, you will find me among the steadfast.” So the subject of sacrifice in the path of Allah has such a deep connection with patience that if there is no patience, so the sacrifice shall be in vain. Had Ismail (as) not say with complete sincerity and faithfulness “God willing, you will find me among those who endure,” then on that day itself, the meaning of sacrifice would have lost its splendour; this sacrifice would have been in vain.
And thus the world would have been deprived of the (beautiful) reality of sacrifice (for the cause of Allah). It is this patience that has shined forth and endured so brightly at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in such a unique way; unheard of in the eras of past prophets, and that kind of brilliance of patience (and sacrifice) shall not be the same in the future. The difference is only that when Allah inspected the heart of Abraham (as) and testified of his sacrifice, He then exonerated him from the (blood) sacrifice of his son.
I hope all of us will reflect on this great sacrifice and especially the spirit of sacrifice that Abraham (as) and his son Ismail (as) demonstrated and that each of us draws a lesson from it. Let us pray that if ever we also have to present ourselves for sacrifice, then we do so voluntarily, and we present these sacrifices with a happy heart. Insha-Allah. Ameen. Eid-ul-Adha Mubarak!
- Eid-ul-Adha sermon delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius on September 24, 2015 (10 Dhul-Hijjah 1436 Hijri).