Today, Tuesday July 20, 2021 equivalent to 10th Dhul-Hijjah 1442 After Hijrah is Eid-el-Kabir (or Big Sallah) in Nigeria and other parts of the Muslim world. Muslims observe this annual event to commemorate the initial sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim (Alayhi s-Salaam), who saw a vision in which he was divinely commanded by Allah to offer his only son, then, as sacrifice. The son, Ismail, consented to the wish of his father as well as to Allah’s command. When Prophet Ibrahim laid his son prostate on his forehead in readiness for the sacrifice, the son was ransomed by God with a ram. This is the height of patience and submission in which both Ibrahim and his son cheerfully offered to suffer self-sacrifice in order to obey Allah’s command. Since then, it became a rite for Muslims who possess the means to offer animal sacrifices, annually, on the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah.
Genuine sacrifice as demonstrated by Ismail begins with obedience to divine laws and to the commands of those charged with authority in the community. Therefore, obedience to God, parents and constituted authorities is an expression of sincere sacrifices. This is why we urge Muslims, in the spirit of this season, not to denigrate their leaders but pray to Allah to give them the wisdom and the capacity needed to overcome the country’s challenges, especially insecurity. However, government needs to be more proactive in tackling banditry, kidnapping and insurgency. The armed forces should be equipped enough to confront the usually heavily armed bandits, insurgents and ‘unknown’ gunmen in order to bring the perpetual agony and trauma experienced by Nigerians to a speedy end.
As encouraged by the teachings of Islam, Muslims who are able to make animal sacrifices today are encouraged to extend their generous hands of alms to their neighbours and other members of their immediate community especially the less-privileged. The activities that usually becloud this festive period including feasts and exchange of visits should be explored to further unite us together as well as inspire us to forgive one another of past mistakes.
Unlike the previous year when worshipers in all states of the federation were told to observe the Eid prayer in their respective homes or Juma’at mosques, instead of the usual Eid praying grounds because of the health emergency occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic, there are no such restrictions this year. However, in view of the 3rd wave of the pandemic, worshippers are yet advised to be mindful of all COVID-19 protocols before, during and after Sallah celebrations.
While thanking Allah for His mercies including keeping Nigeria together as one indivisible country, we remind all citizens that service to humanity does not begin or end with submission to the will and command of God. It also entails any sacrifice a man could offer for the development of the society. Contributing through selfless service for the benefit of one’s people, community and country is a part of genuine sacrifice.
Leaders should further spare some attention to address the challenges of poverty and unemployment; and work hard to reduce the hardship faced by majority of Nigerians. Leaders are expected to be constantly in tune with the people and remain sensitive to the genuine feelings of those they lead. We ask Muslims to use this period of spiritual sacrifices to pray for the success of Nigerian leaders at all levels. When leaders succeed in their mandates, all Nigerians are beneficiaries.
We wish all Nigerians a happy, peaceful and safe Sallah celebration.