Please avoid silly arguments against the festival, for Eid ul-Azha is perfectly reasonable
In human life, festivals are an important societal and recreational element. People of different nations, ethnicities and religions celebrate different kinds of festivals. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that in the observance and celebration of these festivals lie numerous benefits. Festivals inculcate and strengthen the sentiments of cohesion and homogeneity in a community and also reinforce in its individuals the perception of being a unified social entity. Besides, the participants get an opportunity to take a break from the struggle and hustle of life and rejoice thereon. Moreover, when all people participate in this jauntiness and merrymaking at the same time, the joy and jubilance is doubled. The essence of this recreation and joy is unique in its nature and it is not possible to derive or obtain this essence from any other source. Further, if a festival is attached to a particular belief, that belief gets more entrenched in hearts.
However, along with these positive dimensions these festivals carry in them many negative elements of squander, obscenity and senseless wastage of valuable materials (e.g., the activity of squandering huge amount of tomatoes in the festival of La Tomatina). Inspite of all this, there is no escape from the fact that the social and civilisational benefits which a community derives from them are way more than these flaws and a well-wisher of a particular community would always advise them to continue celebrating these festivals, though he may suggest some modifications.
When we analyse the festivals specified by Islam, we get to see a unique picture. Here I will only deliberate over Eid ul-Azha. We see that neither there is any squander and wastefulness involved anywhere, nor is there any obscenity in this festival.
Instead, we spend our money for a lofty moral purpose and while doing so, our heart and mind is reverberating with the memory of the person who became willing to sacrifice his dear son for an immaterial and exalted moral purpose. What was the purpose? The purpose was only one thing and the Quranic words portray it beautifully, “Say! ‘Surely my prayer, my act of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah alone, the Lord of the whole universe” (Al-Anaam 162).
By sacrificing an animal, a person accepts that the real ownership of his wealth belongs to God alone, and thus displays his humble submission to him. On one hand the act of Qurbani is an attack on the roots of materialism and on the other the distribution of one-third of meat among neighbours and one-third among the kith and kin strengthens the bond of affection and allegiance in the Muslim community. It also inculcates the spirit of charity and generosity in them. Overall, on Eid ul-Azha, the net capital flows from the rich towards the poor and the economy is set stirring. If the creator had ever wanted to specify any kind of festival, this is exactly how it would have looked like, and so it is surely Him who has offered it to mankind!
Now, inspite of the social and moral benefits narrated above, those people who still argue that it is better to install a water cooler somewhere or to donate money to some needy, etc, than to perform a qurbani, must dissociate themselves from all kinds of festivals and celebrations. They must apply this principle to the birthday celebrations, New Year festival, and different kind of anniversaries. They must advise people to use that money for any charitable cause instead. Are they ready for it? The argument of less or more doesn’t fit here because the principle they have stipulated is applicable on all these occasions. Moreover, if we make a rough calculation of the total expenditure on the birthdays per year, it will amount to many times more than that on the Qubani. If they can’t follow this so-called principle of theirs uniformly and they still have objection to the act of qurbani, then it must be understood clearly that they lack objectivity and basic integrity.
Another thing that they should consider here is that human life has multiple dimensions and focusing only on a single dimension while neglecting other aspects is not only unnecessary but irrational and unjust. For the care of destitute and needy lot of society, God Almighty has stipulated “Zakat” on the wealth of the prosperous and has obliged its collection and distribution as one of the foremost duties on a godfearing government. In addition to that, there is a separate system of Sadaqat, Fitar, Ushur, etc. Not only that, the Quran has itself declared that the act of feeding and clothing the poor shall be a form of expiation (Kafarah) of sins and broken oaths. But being a universal and comprehensive system of life it didn’t neglect the natural need of festivals of a human society. Glory be to God!
The last thing I want people to ponder over is that Muslims perform the act of qurbani because it has been commanded by the Almighty, just like the daily prayers. Muslims regard both the commandments as supreme and eternal. Therefore, it is very silly of you to tell them to give it up, just like it would be in case of suggesting that they give up prayer.
The writer is an MBBS student at GMC Jammu. [email protected]