Soon there will be much bloodshed all around the globe. Rivers of blood will flow as millions of animals are sacrificed on the occasion of Eidul Adha, in commemoration of the great sacrifice of Sayyiduna Ebrahim (alaihis salaam). Upon receiving the command to slaughter his beloved son, he unhesitatingly set out to fulfil the Divine order. When he proved his total submission and placed the knife on the throat of the little child, Allah Ta’ala saved the child and sent a sheep from Jannah to be slaughtered in its place. The slaughter of millions of animals on the occasion of Eidul Adha is a remembrance of the total submission of Sayyiduna Ebrahim (alaihi salaam) and is a means of rekindling the spark of sacrifice within us.
While the sacrifice of animals on this auspicious occasion earns tremendous rewards, the lessons to be learnt from the ibadah of Qurbani must not be lost in the midst of all the activity on this day. Among the profound lessons is that together with slaughtering the animal that one has subdued on the ground, there is another wild animal that must be slaughtered within one. This is the animal of the nafs (inner-self) – the root of the evil qualities (such as pride, arrogance, malice, love of the world, ego. etc.) and the base of corrupt actions in human beings. If the nafs is not subdued and slaughtered, the mayhem and havoc that will be unleashed will surpass the destruction that entire packs of wild animals can inflict on other creatures.
It is the wild animal of the nafs that incites outbursts of anger. It harbours malice … and cunningly seeks revenge. This wild animal has a wicked temper and a foul mouth. The nafs is ruthless in business and merciless with those who cross its path. Amusement and entertainment is the “drug” which keeps the nafs on a “high”. Hence if hurting someone and making him cry will be a source of fun for the nafs, it will mock, hurt, maul and maim whoever it can. The nafs dulls a person’s intelligence and common sense and makes him a slave of lust and sensual pleasures. It makes one shameless and bold in committing sins. The popular “zikr” of the nafs is: “Do you know who I am?”, “don’t fool with me” and “I will fix you”. Greed for wealth, power, name and fame is its staple diet, which makes it fatter than the biggest wild buffalo…
The occasion of Qurbani is an occasion to rein in this ferocious animal and subdue it. When it is subdued, the beautiful sheep of humility, compassion, kindness, generosity, forgiveness and sweet words will emerge. The “zikr” of the nafs will be replaced by the zikr of the soul, which will exclaim: “Allahu Akbar – Allah Ta’ala is the greatest. I am nobody and nothing.” Greed for wealth will be replaced with the “crave” to earn the rewards of the Hereafter. The desire for amusement at the expense of others will be transformed into the zeal to bring happiness to others, even if one has to undertake difficulty on oneself. One will be released from the shackles of lusts and submit to the slavery of Allah Ta’ala. The desire to stamp down others will be substituted with the enthusiasm to help everyone to prosper and progress in Deen and dunya.
PEACE AND HAPPINESS
One of the main requirements for peace and happiness — between spouses, parents and children, in-laws, extended family and communities — is to subdue the nafs. When the nafs is subdued, it becomes very easy to act on the following hadith which is the prescription for peace and happiness: “Join ties of relationship with the one who severs ties with you, forgive the one who oppresses you and give good treatment to the one who ill treats you.”
Islaah (rectification) of the nafs and reining it in is gradually attained by constantly opposing it in all its impermissible desires and moderating even its permissible demands.
Hazrath Hakimul Ummah Moulana Asrhraf Ali Thanwi (R.A.) explained the crux of islahun nafs (inner-self rectification) very simply: To compel the nafs and fulfil whatever has to be done (such as performing all salaah with jama’ah in the Musjid) and to pressurize it and suppress its demand to commit sin. The pious predecessors would even “punish” the nafs if they erred. It is related of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (R.A.) that if he ever missed performing his Esha Salaah with jama’ah, he would then spend the entire night in ibadah. Abdullah bin Aun’s (R.A.) mother once called for him. He answered with a raised voice. Hence he immediately freed two slaves in compensation for having raised his voice over the voice of his mother. Thus by constantly applying pressure on the nafs in this manner, it is eventually reined in and brought under control. When this has been achieved, islaah has been acquired. An easy approach to attain this is to submit oneself to one’s seniors from whom one takes Deeni guidance. Through this process one learns how to submit entirely to the commands of Allah Ta’ala and the beautiful Sunnah – the way of life of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “There is no action performed on the Day of Sacrifice which is more beloved to Allah Ta’ala than shedding the blood of the sacrificial animals.” (Tirmizi #1493) Together with sacrificing the animal on the ground, let us also shed the blood of the nafs within us. This will make the world a happier place for us and, most importantly, will earn the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.