From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Eid al-Adha: Abraham's sacrifice and ours

(Hagar and Ishmael)
Although important parts of the story differ from religion to religion (Jews and Christians speak of the imminent sacrifice of Isaac, whereas Muslims speak of the imminent sacrifice of Ishmael), the
adherence of Abraham and his son to God's will is quite well known.

Religions may disagree about which son Abraham was to sacrifice, but they tend to agree that God's seemingly-horrific request was a test of faith.  Since faith and sacrifice are often inextricably entwined,
this request was also a test of sacrifice.  However, a God that has all and is all does not need anything from the Creation.  What then is the point of sacrifice, a practice that is prevalent within many spiritual paths?

The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, which presents Islam as a "peaceful, tolerant, rational, inspiring" faith, explains Abraham's would-be sacrifice as an example for the rest of us.  The sacrifice of an animal during Eid al-Adha is equated with the willingness "to
sacrifice our own animal desires" in order to fulfill a "higher purpose."  Because the Qur'an clearly states that "it is not the blood of the animal that reaches God, but the dutifulness on your part," this sacrifice is only spiritually acceptable if it "leads you to be more dutiful, to make sacrifice of your own self and not of just the animal."

Sacrifice is therefore for our own "moral and spiritual progress."  Abraham's example is so intense that it has
left its imprint upon the majority of humankind.  Back in Abraham's time, sons were not only valued for their
family ties, but also for their economic ones.  Abraham would not only be losing a cherished child, but also a
means of sustenance.  Nevertheless, he and his son were willing to give all they had to God.

Are we?


Copyright October 16, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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