Maulvi Md. Ijaj Alam says Eid sacrifice is about love, devotion, patience, faith

Story by  Rita Farhat Mukand | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 17-06-2024
Maulvi Md. Ijaj Alam at his house in Naibasti, Siliguri
Maulvi Md. Ijaj Alam at his house in Naibasti, Siliguri


Rita Farhat Mukand/Siliguri (West Bengal)

Thunder rumbled under ashen-grey skies, with muddy puddles scattered across the roads of Salbari in Siliguri's suburbs. The Panchai River began to show the first signs of swelling after several years of sparse rainfall.

This year, Eid seemed unusually quiet in this town of West Bengal until I entered the welcoming homes of Muslim families and felt the warmth of Eid preparations.  With the streets looking empty in Naya Basti, the homes inside were engaged in getting ready for the next day, the sacrifice and the feast.

Ranjana Khatun welcomed me and my companion, a lady, Neithou, into her home.  Her contractor husband was out for chores. She offered us hot milk tea and biscuits, while her two sons, studying in an English-medium school, were busy with their homework. She said that unlike Ramadan, the Bara Eid (Eid ul-Adha) or the Feast of Sacrifice is celebrated more solemnly, where not all Muslims get new clothes like in the Eid following Ramadan.

Sacrifice and feasting play a big role here where the goats and cattle that they brought up would be sacrificed on Eid.  She said while she had made most of the preparations, the feasting would be on Monday, “All of us will dressed up to be ready for the sacrifice followed by a grand feasting.  A part of sacrificed meat would be distributed among the poor, relatives and one-third kept for consumption. Ranjana also said she would reach out to her neighbours with Biryani after making it on Monday.

Ranjana Khatoon

Maulvi Md. Ijaj Alam and his wife Shah Jahan Begum live in the same neighborhood. We were welcomed with top-level hospitality to their simple house. Maulvi Sahib explained the background of the festival to bring home the deep meaning of sacrifice and love that the festival embodies.

He said Qurbani of an animal but it’s also about tasting sweetness after hardships and trials.

He explained, “When we came here and lived in our new house, we faced a lot of difficulties because the land was swampy and pot-holed, and even with a little bit of rain, our house got flooded.  We would have to get up in the morning and throw out all the water.  Those were tough times.  Nowadays, even with heavy rains, we have the blessing of not having our homes flooded.  So, we can say that we faced great difficulties, but by our Qurbani (of not giving up), now we have finally arrived at a better stage of our life and there is more ease.”

Maulvi Alam recounted that one night, Allah came in a dream to Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice the thing he loved the most. When Ibrahim woke up, he musingly said, “I love camels more than anything else,” and with that, he sacrificed 100 camels without a second thought.  The next night, the same dream came again, and with that, he again sacrificed another 100 camels, the third night, the dream returned and Allah asked him to sacrifice the thing he loved the most.  On getting up he thought, “While I love camels, what is it that I love more?”  He suddenly realized the one he loved the most was Ishmael, Ibrahim’s first-born son. 

All the messengers who came into the world faced a big test and the ones who loved Allah more got the harder tests, and the hardest one was what Ibrahim faced because he sacrificed his camels and then finally, he had to get to the place to sacrifice his son.  It was the most difficult test. 

The night skies before Eid-ul-Adah in Siliguri

When Ibrahim was about to execute his act, he told his wife he had to take Ishmael out just for a walk because if she had any inclination of what he was about to do, she would have stopped him.  The mother washed her son, and Ibrahim quietly kept the knife in his bag.  Along the way, Iblīs (Saitan) came and asked the son Ishmael where he was going.  Ishmael answered he was going for a walk with his father. 

Iblīs replied that it was not so, but his father was going to kill him.  Ishmael could not believe it because a father would never kill his son.  Iblīs replied that it was true, that it was Allah’s wish to happen. On hearing this, Ishmael said that if it was Allah’s wish, he would not resist it because he wanted His will to be done.  He even said if he had 100 lives, he would give them to Allah as a sacrifice.   

Iblīs was shocked to hear this and ran away from the spot.  At that point, Ishmael picked up seven stones and threw them at Iblīs.  After that, Iblīs ran to Ibrahim's wife and warned her that Ibrahim was going to sacrifice their son. She did not believe him and said, “No father would kill his son.” When she heard it was Allah’s will, she said, “If it is His will, I am happy for that sacrifice.”  Once again, Iblīs ran away, stunned by their love for Allah and faith.

People praying at Jama Masjid of Siliguri

At this point, Ishmael was ready and lay down to die while his father was getting a knife ready.  He even told his father to cover his eyes with a cloth so he would not be disturbed when he was killing him and spoiling the divine plan of Allah.  Ibrahim covered his eyes.  At the time when he was trying to chop his neck, it was not happening. Both looked confused and Ibrahim tried to sharpen the knife again.

He struck again, this time there was blood and when he opened his eyes, he saw instead of his son, a sheep in his place and he started to cry. He thought he failed his test also which was why his son was not cut but an animal instead. 

The angels told Ibrahim that Allah was pleased with him and he passed his test 100 percent and his son was released from death.  At that time Ibrahim got a title from Allah, Habib, a friend, and became very close to Allah. 

Eid is commemorated in remembrance of this incident.  It is not Allah’s will that humans sacrifice their children or any other people, but the concept is to get an animal such as a goat or sheep, bring it up in their homes, love it, and when you finally sacrifice it on Eid, tears will pour out of your eyes. The Hajj pilgrims also throw seven stones at Saitan, as Ishmael did, all in the symbolism of getting rid of Iblīs whispering voice in their lives

He explained that everything we do is in the strength of Allah, and five things in life are under the power of Allah:  Death, Fasting, Soul, Wealth, and Fate and none can control that. 

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The theme of love, faith, and sacrifice stood out strongly during this Eid as Maulvi Md. Ijaj Alam explained the stirring message of Eid on that quiet night before Eid ul-Adha as the animal sacrifice symbolic of Ishmael depicts love, and trust in the mercy of Allah, which was exhibited in the last hour, pouring out a message of courage, patience, faith, love and sacrifice along with sharing and caring spirit for one another as they would share their feasts with all in the neighbourhood as well.

Rita Farhat Mukand is an independent writer