One of the things Islam and Christianity share is the story of a father sacrificing his son to God. The Quran names the father as Ibrahim and his son as Ishmael. The Bible identifies the father as Abraham and the son as Isaac.
The common thread of both stories is poignant and strong: It is the remembrance of a father’s sacrifice of his beloved son to God, and of God’s mercy. This is a story of obedience to the will of the Almighty and how that obedience is rewarded, even as the sacrifice is well-appreciated.
In the Bible, Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham never told his son about the sacrifice, and God's command was only revealed to the boy later on. (Genesis 22:7-8)
In the Quran, Ibrahim is asked by Allah through a vision or dream to sacrifice a son named Ishmael. (Surah As-Saffat [37:101-110]).
Among Muslims, this sacrifice is commemorated and remembered during Eid’l Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.
When Ibrahim told his son about his dream, he asked his son how he felt about being a sacrifice. Ishmael’s response was at once child-like and brave: “my dear Father! Do as you are commanded! Insha'Allah (If Allah wills it), you will find me calm and steadfast.”
Both Ibrahim and Ishmael submitted themselves to Allah’s will and, in so doing, fulfilled Allah’s will.
This act of willing sacrifice is we Muslims and our communities commemorate each year during Eid'l Adha.
For us Moros, Eid’l Adha is about family. It is a homecoming where we share in communal festivities—from shared prayers to the preparation of meals and sadaqa, gift-giving.
This is a time when we celebrate both the child-like innocence of Ishmael and his courage in submission to Allah’s will. We celebrate the love of Ibrahim for his son, as well as his obedience to Allah. We celebrate the mercy and love of Allah for us, which is the strongest message of all in the story of Ibrahim and Ishmael’s sacrifice.
I remember the Eid’l Adha celebrations of my childhood: I would wake up early to prepare for the morning prayers. I rejoiced in the sense of belonging and community these prayers gave us all—and I would find myself eagerly awaiting the family who would come home from their jobs away from us to be part of the celebration.
Now that I am older and am part of the workforce, I find myself eager to return home for Eid. I am excited to be with my family and my community and I leave work with this sense of anticipation that I will always feel for the Eid’l Adha.
Eid'l Adha also teaches us that the Christian and Muslim faiths share some elements and narratives—and these offer us a common ground where peace resides. We share a story where the greatest possible sacrifice is given back to us with mercy and love.
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