Nigeria, like many countries around the globe will on Saturday 9th July celebrate Eid-El-Kabir, also called the “Sacrifice Feast “, which is the second of two Muslim festivals. It is considered the holier of the two and honours Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael – an act of obedience to God’s command. On Eid El Kabir, Muslims demonstrate their obedience to Allah by sacrificing an animal.
The holiday is inspired by a story from the Quran that is also known to Christian and Jewish faithful. Although Eid – El – Kabir traditions vary from country to country, there are some common elements. The day usually starts with a communal prayer (Eid Salaah). Muslims congregate at the local mosque after sunrise to say special Eid prayers and hear a sermon. Following the prayer, people wish one other Eid Mubarak, meaning Happy Eid or Blessed Eid. They may embrace each other and exchange small gifts.
In commemoration of the event, many millions of animals are slaughtered on this day. By some estimates, over 10 million animals are sacrificed each year in Nigeria alone. Sharing and charity play a large part on Eid, and many people give money to charitable causes on this day, in addition to sharing the meat of the slaughtered animal with people in need.
Though Eid El Kabir involves actual animal sacrifice, its underlying meaning is based on a more symbolic and selfless interpretation of the concept. Muslims are encouraged to sacrifice personal desires and share their wealth with those that are less fortunate. Simply expressed, Muslims are enjoined to give up something they hold dear, just as Prophet Ibrahim did when he showed willingness to sacrifice his own beloved son. The fundamentals of the celebration approximate love, togetherness, and harmony.
It is against this background that 2022 Eid El Kabir remains relevant to all Nigerians now more than ever. Owing to the hyper – inflation that is afflicting the country, the poor state of the national economy, ASUU unending strike, banditry and general state of insecurity, the celebration will be low-key this year. The occasion should be used to send special messages to the leaders and the led in the society.
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For the leaders, we are using the occasion to remind them that obedience, as manifested by all Nigerians in these trying times, deserves to be compensated with good governance. Government should be mindful of its contract with Nigerians as enshrined in the Constitution. Leaders must eschew the temptation to dip their hands into public treasury for self – serving needs. The spirit should be to serve the less fortunate in society. The slide into decay as manifested by wanton killings of human beings must be arrested. It is instructive that even God did not allow Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice a fellow human being.
For the led, the obedience to authorities by Nigerians is commendable because in other jurisdictions the level of inflation presently witnessed in the country is enough to topple a government, not to mention the pervading insecurity and general hardship. However, we plead with the citizens to actively cooperate with the government to secure the polity by providing information on suspects and criminals. Issues of micro-nationalism or agitations to break away from the federation, which are legitimate rights, should not be personalized to the level of pointing fingers at certain ethnic groups.
It is a national issue that can be resolved at a Conference table. In the same vein, ethnicity and religious intolerance should be discouraged and taken away as far as possible from the arena of politics because we are a federation of many groups and two major religions. Until the federation is dissolved, we must learn to stay together in harmony.
For Muslims, this celebration is a reminder of the notion of loving one’s neighbour as oneself irrespective of faith. We call on all Muslims to rekindle this assertion in their minds and extend an olive branch to all wherever they may be.
Finally, we call on leaders to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice while serving the people. The people have made a lot of sacrifice, hoping that things will ultimately be better. For adherents of other faiths, despite the notoriety of so-called Muslim terrorists’ groups, profiling all Muslims on that basis would not serve the nation well nor would it engender good neighbourliness and the love required to build a virile nation. All Nigerians must join hands to rid the nation of the menace of these pretenders. Eid Mubarak!
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