Hajj and Eid Al-Adha take us back in history to the time of a 97-year-old (approximately) man being asked to take the life of a 13-year-old (approximately) boy. Who is that man? And who is that boy? And who is the one who is making this command? If we know who the three points in this equation are, we would have a better perspective on life and on what life is all about.

The man who was asked at 97 years of age to take away the life of a 13-year-old boy is none other than Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), the father of prophets and messengers. And the 13-year-old boy whose life Prophet Ibrahim was asked to take away is none other than his own son. But when the boy reached the age when he was able to run and play around his father, Ibrahim went to him and said, “My darling son, I saw in my dream that I was sacrificing you.” We all know that the dreams of prophets and messengers are forms of revelation from Allah Almighty. So it was the truth.

Now, who was the one who gave that command? It was none other than Allah. The One Who created life had asked Ibrahim to take away the life of his son. And we know that His decree was that Ismail’s life would not be taken away, but it was a lesson for humanity to understand what life is all about.

Allah wanted Ibrahim to teach humanity a lesson. Thus we have to understand this lesson and reflect upon it. There are two things that Allah Almighty made beautiful in this life. These two things are mentioned in the Qur’an more than once: “Wealth and children are the ornaments of the life of this world ….” (18:46)

That is it! Wealth and children make life beautiful. Look what happened! Allah Almighty chose one individual to sacrifice one of these two things, and He did not ask any other human being to do the same. One individual became an Ummah. Why? Because Ibrahim passed the test of a whole Ummah. He was asked to sacrifice one of the two things that are ornaments of life, and all of us have been asked to sacrifice the second. So because of that, he indeed, is an Ummah in the same way that we are an Ummah. He truly deserves that title: “Verily, Ibrahim (Abraham) was an Ummah, obedient to Allah, Hanif…” (16:120)

This is the spirit of Eid Al-Adha. We have to sacrifice, brothers and sisters, when we are called upon to sacrifice what we really like to keep: “By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety and righteousness, here it means Allah’s reward, i.e. Paradise) unless you spend (in Allah’s cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.” (3:92)

If you have a lot of money and you take a thousand dollars and give it, this would not be birr. Birr is to have two dollars and to give one of the dollars away although you need the two dollars and would like to keep them for essentials.

This is a sacrifice. Sacrifice is to do something that is difficult to do. This is sacrifice. It is not a sacrifice to do an easy thing and then to claim at the surface as if you did a lot. No, only Allah Almighty knows what sacrifice is all about.