Nigerian Muslims, today, join their counterparts all over the world to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid-el-Kabir, which commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ismail, to Allah. God, however, provided a ram to replace Ismail at the point of sacrifice.
Prophet Ibrahim’s readiness to sacrifice his son, and Allah’s mercy in providing a ram as replacement for the sacrifice, is celebrated in the Muslim world with the killing of rams in remembrance of the historical event. The celebration follows the Wuquf Arafat (standing at Arafat), which is the visit of Muslims on Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, to Mount Arafat, at the climax of the pilgrimage rites.
The Eid-el-Kabir is, however, not about merrymaking alone. It is preceded by prayers in mosques and other designated prayer grounds, following which rams are slaughtered and shared to the less privileged, as the merriment begins. Beyond the eating and drinking, it is a period when true Muslims reflect on Prophet Ibrahim’s great sacrifice and Allah’s mercy, and draw closer to God to receive His favour. Eld-el-Kabir is one of the greatest festivities in the Islamic calendar.
It is marked annually with great cheer by Muslims and their well-wishers all over the world. The killing of rams is seen as part of the sacrifices a mature believer who can afford it should make to gain favour with Allah. We congratulate Nigerian Muslims on this great occasion. We wish the faithful a happy celebration. As the essence of the festivity dictates, this celebration should go beyond partying and jollification to deep reflections on their lives and the society, and how they can make Nigeria a better country.
It should be a time to adopt and demonstrate the virtues of humility, devotion and unquestioning obedience to Allah that are glaring in Prophet Ibrahim’s remarkable gesture. It is also appropriate at this time for the celebrants to pray for peace, progress and unity of the country as they draw closer to God.
They should focus less on merry-making and frivolities that sometimes accompany the august celebration but direct their attention to its spiritual significance. This year’s Eid-el-Kabir has come at a time that flooding of different parts of the country; resultant displacement of vast populations of the people; insurgency in the North and high cost of food have greatly circumscribed the ability of many Nigerians to celebrate the festivity as they would have wished.
Meeting up with responsibilities for the celebration is a challenge for many. In the midst of these problems, we urge Muslims to cheer up and renew their hope and faith in Almighty Allah who is able to fulfill all their expectations. They must strive to remain faithful to Allah’s injunctions and do all that is expected of them to obtain his mercies.
This should be a season for charity. It behoves those that have been blessed by Allah to share their blessings with the less privileged at this auspicious period. It is also good that Nigeria’s leaders learn the appropriate lessons from Prophet Ibrahim’s great sacrifice. They should demonstrate more commitment and a sacrificial attitude in their administration of the country. They should recognise that they are elected into public offices to serve the people, and not to lord it over them, and line their own pockets.
All faithful should thank God for the opportunity to witness the festivity which is recognised as one of the most remarkable in Islam and commit themselves to the service of God and humanity. All Nigerians should embrace tolerance, peaceful co-existence and love of fellow citizens. This is the only way to reduce tension along the nation’s ethnic and religious divides, and lay a solid foundation for a stable and prosperous country.
We wish all Muslims joy, peace and blessings on the occasion of this celebration. Let it be another occasion to cement the bond of unity in the country. We also wish Muslim brethren on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina safe return. May God accept and reward the prayers and other acts of worship of all Muslim faithful on this festive occasion.