One of the obligatory acts of Hajj is the act of slaughtering (an animal, mainly sheep) in the area of Mina on the Eid of Sacrifice. The slaughtering of an animal by a Muslim pilgrim rejuvenates the memory of the actions of two monotheist and humble servants of Allah (SWT), Prophet Ibrahim and Ismaeel (PBUT). The scene in which an old father stands in this same location, he has a sharp knife in his hand, and prepares to cut the throat of his son. But Allah descends a sheep to be slaughtered in place of Ibrahim’s son. Question remains however, what is the essence of this holy act? What message does it entail? One must see what the scholars of religion have said.
It has been narrated that a man visited Imam Sajjad (PBUH) after performing the Hajj ritual. The Imam asked him a few questions regarding the goals and secrets of Hajj, some of which are presented below:
“While slaughtering the animal, did you make the intention to cut the throat of greed by adherence to the truth of piety and fear of Allah (SWT).
Did you pay attention to the fact that with this act you are following the tradition of Ibrahim (PBUH) who took his beloved son to the slaughterhouse (to gain proximity to the Lord)?”1
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) has said in this regard, “During the slaughter of an animal, cut the throat of desire and greed.”2
Narrations as such portray that the essence of the act of slaughtering an animal is the cleansing of the soul and the purifying of the heart from moral vices; such that, men of Allah after a lifetime of fighting and resistance to the temptations of Satan and seditious desires of the self, are successful to overcome the extreme desires of the self; otherwise the killing of an innocent sheep while keeping the vicious wolf of one’s desire alive, only completes a required act, and such a person has not benefited completely from the spiritual aspect of this act. A person who sacrifices his desire, has freed himself both from the evils of the self and saves others from the dangers of his lustfulness. Imam Ali (PBUH) has a saying describing those who were educated in the school of religion:
“(A God-fearing and generous man, as a result of resisting and enduring hardship on self, has become a person whose) desire (to sin) has died and whose anger has diminished; as people continuously have their hopes in his good, and are safe from his agony and evil.”3
In spirit, the Eid of Sacrifice is the day of human integrity; for it is in this day that the human can achieve the utmost understanding of his position in the world of being and in the ray of the light of knowledge, where he/she is able to sacrifice the world for the Lord, and exchange the small goods the world with the everlasting blessing of the hereafter.4 It is therefore suitable for people to celebrate this day, which resembles the ultimate level of the spirit and mind, as conducted by Prophet Ibrahim and Ismaeel (PBUT).
(Selection taken from the book of Hajj, the Program of Completion by Ayatollah Zia-Abadi, with minor changes)
The Roshd Website congratulates all Muslims and Monotheists,
especially you dear friend,
upon Eid al-Ad’ha,
the day of hoisting the flag of obedience on the base of humanity.
1. Mustadrak Wasael. Vol. 10, p. 171, book 17, hadith 5.
2. Ibid. Vol. 10, p. 173, book 17, hadith 6.
3. Nahjul Balaghah. Sermon 184.
4. A reference to two verses from the Holy Quran; 4:77; 9:21.