We should all imbibe the spirit of obedience and sacrifice

The festival of Eid al-Adha, better known as Eid-el-Kabir, being celebrated today across the world originated from one of the famous stories that connect Islam and Christianity: the sacrifice of Ismail in the former and Isaac in the latter – both based entirely on the same scriptural account. Yet, to the extent that it is about how Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), in obedience to God, was ready to offer his son in sacrifice before a ram was provided instead by divine providence, the true meaning and essence of this occasion should not be lost on the adherents of both religions. This message of self-denial with a spiritual purpose chimes with the value of sacrifice that is needed now in Nigeria more than ever.

As usual, from President Bola Tinubu to governors of the 36 states, Nigerians have been enjoined to sacrifice in the spirit of the occasion. But the charity of our leaders must begin at home by imbibing the virtues they preach. The biggest challenge of the country today is how to build an inclusive society that leaves no citizen behind. It is precisely for that reason that this festival offers opportunities for reflection by those in leadership positions. Rising food prices, skyrocketing inflation, growing unemployment among the youth, perpetual violence in several theatres across the country and unprecedented hunger are sparking fear that Nigeria risks slipping into social unrest. The economic downturn in the country therefore presents another opportunity to prune the cost of running government while we enjoin authorities at all levels to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice that today’s occasion exemplifies.

 Granted that democracy is expensive everywhere, but it is scandalously more so in Nigeria due largely to the greed of the average political office holder. With unrestrained official profligacy, many states and local governments are almost bankrupt while the federal government is finding it difficult to stay afloat without heavy borrowings. It is therefore little wonder that the discussion about a new minimum wage in the country has stalled.

 Even before the policy of the current administration on fuel subsidy and Naira exchange rates, hunger was already a common staple for millions of Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the message of Eid-al-Adha is for all mankind. While today is usually a day of merriment, it is important not to lose sight of the true meaning of this special occasion and the spirit of sacrifice it represents. Indeed, the socio-economic condition of most Nigerians this year makes it compelling for adherents of Islam to look beyond themselves and their immediate environment, especially in this holy season. The festival of Eid-al-Adha teaches about sacrifice. The lessons are simple: 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. This happens to be at the heart of all religions, but a virtue that is particularly at the heart of this festival.

That the number of Nigerians who can afford to buy rams at their current prices is shrinking has become very telling. But that, according to an Islamic cleric, Tajudeen Adebayo, is no cause for despair. ”If the economic situation does not give room for slaughtering ram this year, we should not grieve. Another good time will come,” Adebayo admonished while encouraging the spirit of good neighbourliness by those with enough means. ”Let those who can afford to kill a ram extend their hands of kindness to those who cannot kill.”

 As we celebrate this special festival, we must reflect on and imbibe the essence of sacrifice and humility for the promotion of harmonious relationships in our country.

We wish our Muslim readers Eid Mubarak. 

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