Eid al-Adha beseeches us to live a life of sacrifice and humility

The festival of Eid al-Adha, better known as Eid-el-Kabir – that glorious holiday season that calls for re-dedication to the cause of mankind, appreciation of the gift of life and imbibing the virtues of tolerance, understanding and good neighbourliness – is here again. It is rooted in the scriptural accounts of both Islam and Christianity about how Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), in obedience to God, was to sacrifice his son before divine intervention. It is also a period that calls for sacrifice and sharing. We therefore enjoin all Muslims, and indeed all Nigerians, to live the true meaning and essence of this occasion.

Beyond the merriment and festivities, it is the spiritual dimension of the occasion that counts the most as Muslims are called upon to reflect upon their deeds. It is also an occasion that will serve all Nigerians. With millions of vulnerable groups of people all around the country today, a festival like this reminds us of their plight and to extend whatever kindness we can to alleviate their suffering.

As President Muhammadu Buhari admonished during the weekend, the greatest commitment to Islam is for adherents of the faith to imbibe its virtues and make justice and righteousness their guiding principles. “We should be the mirror through which others see the virtues of our faith. Islam is a religion of peace and we should avoid violent extremist ideas that give Islam a wrong name because our conducts will leave more lasting positive impressions than what we say by word of mouth,” the president said. Against the background that this year’s celebration, like in the past few years, is coming at a particularly difficult time for our nation, that message is not only for Muslims but indeed all Nigerians regardless of the faith they profess.

At a period the temperature is uncomfortably high, fouled by acrimonies and recriminations between and among different ethnic groups, there is an urgent need for a new culture of tolerance. If we understand the fact that we are all creations of God, the propensity for hate on the basis of some artificial differences would reduce and we would relate more with one another with love and mutual respect. Besides, perhaps no period in our history offers better opportunity to share and to make sacrifice. By paying attention to the plight of the poor, we invariably place the welfare of our neighbours as important as ours. By allowing others to partake of our wealth or material possessions, we honour the One who made the provision in the first place.

However, there should be more to sharing in this season than some portions of ram meat. There is the need to share love, between and among individuals, religions, ethnic groups and political leanings. Because there is too much hatred in our society, love across these artificial divides that our politicians have erected will foster harmony and promote peace and development in the country. It will also help the process of healing the deep wounds sparked off by politics and the manipulation of religion and ethnicity.

Against the background that there are usually challenges in the process of integrating members of any society into a cohesive social whole, what confronts us is not particularly peculiar. There is no obstacle that we cannot surmount if we all work together, using the power of our diversity. Therefore, as we celebrate this special festival, we must reflect on and imbibe the essence of sacrifice and humility for the promotion of harmonious relationship in our country. We also need to take this opportunity to reach out to everyone in encouraging peace and unity.

To our numerous Muslim readers, Eid Mubarak!