The True Spirit of Sacrifice & its Philosophy
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Translated by Mishal Ahmad for The Review of Religions Translation Team.
Anwar al-‘Ulum, Vol. 3.
The Review of Religions takes full responsibility for any error in translation
Eid-ul-Adha is upon us and it invites every Muslim to reflect upon that true sacrifice which makes one the recipient of God Almighty’s blessings. It reminds us that those who annihilate themselves for God Almighty are the ones who attain eternal life. Therefore, four thousand years ago, when Abraham (as) was ready to sacrifice his only son for God Almighty and accepted his own permanent extinction, in turn Allah the Almighty elevated his name for all times to come. Is not the fact that people from different countries, honouring the memory of this sacrifice and keeping this example in mind, offer to sacrifice themselves proof that those who annihilate themselves in the way of God achieve eternal life? So, learning this lesson from Eid-ul-Adha, Muslims should ready themselves for true sacrifice, which in reality is sacrificing one’s self for the pleasure of God. Allah the Almighty states:
لَن يَنَالَ ٱللهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَآؤُهَا وَلَٰكِن يَنَالُهُ ٱلتَّقۡوَىٰ مِنكُمۡۚ
i.e. ‘their flesh reaches not Allah nor does their blood, but it is your righteousness that reaches Him.’1 Hence, it is vital that instead of focusing on the physical aspect of the sacrifice on Eid, Muslims ought to focus on the true spirit of the sacrifice so that it helps Islam and the Light of God Almighty spreads on the earth.
O friends! If we slaughtered all the bulls and cows of the world in a field, there would be no benefit other than the outward symbolism of the act. But if even one person amongst us, on this day of Eid, is ready to truly emulate the spirit of Abraham’s (as) sacrifice, then he would become the means of awakening a thousand other Muslims. Therefore, on this day of Eid, with sincerity and love, I appeal to all those who associate themselves with Islam, no matter which sect they belong to, to focus on the spirit of sacrifice instead of its mere physical act.
Sacrificing an animal is [Muslims’] right and a command of the shari‘ah [Islamic law and guidance]. It is not lawful for anyone to impose a restriction upon this practice, nor is it possible for Muslims to abandon it. However, there is one practice which, if adopted by Muslims, could bring about a resounding defeat to the enemies of Islam. And that is: this Eid, Muslims everywhere should be careful that, as far as possible, they carry out the sacrifice of the animal in a place and manner so that the sentiments of Hindus are not injured. Islam commands us to respect the sentiments of all people. So at this time, when some Hindus are using every method possible to incite Muslims, we should show that we will not fall into their trap and abandon the teachings of Islam. We shall give consideration to their sentiments despite their most despicable treatment. And we will not adopt such practices which cause them unnecessary pain. I request all Muslims, on this Eid, to act with great forbearance in accordance with Islam’s teachings, and not lead their sacrificial animals along the streets on which Hindus live. And also hide the meat from the sacrifice as much as possible so Hindus are not needlessly offended. And so that witnessing this, their hearts will feel shame that on the one hand, Muslims protect them from even the slightest injury to their sentiments, while their own fellow Hindus do not refrain from even vile and disgraceful acts in order to hurt the Muslims’ noblest feelings.
Dear friends! We cannot benefit Islam at all by leading our sacrificial animals through the bazaars and Hindu neighbourhoods with pomp and circumstance. But we can eternally strengthen Islam by dedicating our time and wealth for the propagation of Islam. By showing the highest morals, we can shame our enemies and lower them in their own eyes. So, revenge yourself on your enemies with wisdom. And capture him in a way that he cannot escape. And that way is through demonstrating excellent morals and the propagation of Islam. It is not wise to waste your strength in futile pursuits. And to waste our time on trivial matters, when great tasks await us, is foolishness. So to make this Eid a true Eid, we must uphold the example of Abraham’s (as) sacrifice, so that it kindles the grace of God Almighty and He fills our homes with blessings. And dedicate this day to rousing the Muslims. On this day, instead of wasting whatever time remains after worship by getting excited about useless matters, spend it explaining to your friends that for the betterment of the Muslims and for their own and their children’s sakes, they should pledge that, while they will demonstrate Islam’s superior teachings by honouring the legitimate sentiments of Hindus and other nations as much as possible, for the betterment of Islam they will not buy any provisions from any Hindus. They should continue this practice until the Hindus eschew the practice of untouchability and openly start eating that which a Muslim has touched. In the name of untouchability, Hindus have extracted so much money from Muslims that if today Muslims still had that money they would have houses of gold. Instead today due to this cruel arrangement, Muslims are deprived even of educating their children and are dependent even for bread. Therefore, anyone who aches for Islam should, instead of using their time needlessly flaunting the sacrifice in the bazaars, spend their time visiting their neighbourhood and town and if possible nearby towns as well and tell the Muslims that today a Muslim’s value in the eyes of a Hindu is no more than that of a bullock. Just as whatever a buffalo earns, its master keeps and only the hay is left for the bullock, in the same way, whatever Muslims earn is taken by the Hindus, on the one hand, through the practice of untouchability and on the other hand through interest. And only the hay is left for the Muslims. In fact sometimes they are not even left with the hay. So it is necessary that if Muslims truly are concerned for Islam in their hearts then they should try and safeguard their wealth with themselves. Firstly, they should vow that in those matters in which Hindus practice untouchability with them they [Muslims] too should also treat them as untouchables in the same way. Secondly, they should never take out a loan with interest from a Hindu moneylender. Those who can avoid interest should completely avoid it as commanded by God Almighty. But those who are already mired in interest should get a government bank opened in their area and take out loans with interest from it. So that in future they may hope to be liberated from the shackles of interest and become free of the harsh conditions of interest imposed by Hindu moneylenders. Thirdly, all Muslims must instil in their minds that this is a very sensitive time for Islam. All the enemies of Islam have united in their attacks against it. Therefore, it is necessary that those who call themselves Muslims, no matter the disagreements between them, should unite together to defend against such attacks. And everyone must cooperate with each other in defending Islam against those who are relentless in accusing the Holy Prophet (sa) of falsehood. Otherwise the enemy will harm each and every one. And the Muslims will become powerless. And they will lament but their lamentations will not profit them. They will weep but their weeping will not be of any use. They will call out for help but there will be nobody to hear them. So, before this day comes, they should be concerned about averting this great calamity, the likes of which have not been seen by the Muslims of the subcontinent in the last few hundred years.
Fourthly, they should instil in people’s minds that the current problems faced by Islam can only and exclusively be eliminated by preaching the message of Islam. So, every single Muslim must consider himself a missionary and they should start preaching to people of other faiths near them. Particularly those considered untouchable, for they are now waking up after suffering cruelty under the Hindus for thousands of years. And just a word of encouragement from Muslims can bring them very close to Islam. Therefore, it is necessary that every Muslim take care of those considered untouchable and wherever such people are found they should try to bring them to Islam. And if Muslims of an area cannot do this themselves then at least they should inform the department of Advancement of Islam in Qadian, Gurdaspur, so that it, as much as possible, may help the locals in the propagation of Islam.
Dear friends! If, instead of focusing on choosing the route for your sacrifices, you dedicate this day of Eid to the above-mentioned four things, you will certainly perform a great service to Islam and will deal an irreparable loss to the enemies of Islam. Therefore, like those who are wise, keep in mind your interests and those of Islam and in matters of sacrifice take care of the sentiments of Hindus as far as possible, because annoying them in this matter is not beneficial to Islam but rather harmful. By persuading the Muslims to unite in action, [practise reciprocal] untouchability, abstain from interest and preach Islam, breathe new life into them so that the enemy frets for his own home.
May Allah grant all of you the sense to understand the sensitivity of the situation and to recognise the true benefits of Islam.
وَآخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّہِ رَبِ الْعَالَمِيْنَ
[‘And the conclusion of our prayer shall be, ‘All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.’]
Your humble servant
Mirza Mahmud Ahmad
Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (Qadian, District Gurdaspur)
Note: Taking into consideration the needs of the times, I have published a pamphlet, What Can You Do for Islam and Muslims? Our fellow Muslims should read it and also encourage their friends to do so. This pamphlet will be available for free from the department of Advancement of Islam in Qadian upon sending postage of two paisas. Those persons who would like to purchase it should, beside the two paisas for the postal ticket, send two paisas per pamphlet as payment. All this money is spent for the benefit of [the office of] ‘Advancement of Islam’.
1. The Holy Qur’an, 22:38.