Standing against Human Sacrifice: A Reading for Eid Al-Adha

As Muslim families around the world gather to celebrate the end of the Hajj and Eid Al-Adha, it is a time to reflect on the holiday’s important message and the challenges before us. This reading is designed to be read at family holiday meals and in Muslim community festival gatherings.

Across America and around the world, millions of Muslims are celebrating one of the most important holidays in the Islamic calendar: Eid Al-Adha, or the “Feast of the Sacrifice.” Many Americans have never heard of the holiday, yet this celebration marking the Muslim new-year contains a timely life-affirming message that should be appreciated by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Coming at the end of the Hajj, Eid Al-Adha commemorates Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Ismael. Bound to the altar, Ismael is spared at the last second, as Abraham’s knife falls on a lamb rather than his beloved son.

Eid Al-Adha offers an unequivocal denunciation of human sacrifice, no matter how divinely-approved. Even when God himself orders the sacrifice of a human being, it is ultimately stopped. As we gather to enjoy the traditional holiday lamb meal, we are celebrating the rescue of Ismael and the sanctity of human life.

The recent week’s headlines, however, reveal that some continue to ignore the holiday’s central message. We have witnessed terrible bombings across the Muslim world and even a father in Canada strangling his own teenage daughter to death over a religious dispute.

As we mourn the victims of these attacks – almost all of them Muslim – we cannot stay numb to this violence and human sacrifice. We must passionately re-affirm Eid Al-Adha’s unequivocal celebration of human life. We also need to remind our non-Muslim neighbors that the extremists who promote human sacrifice do not act in our name. Murderers cannot be martyrs.

As we look back at a year filled with bloodshed and forward to the uncertain year ahead, we rededicate ourselves to protecting and celebrating life. The power is in our hands to promote a positive, life-affirming alternative.

As we celebrate the new year, let us celebrate life. Eid Mubarak!


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