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Thoughts about Adha

Thoughts about Adha

* Find my original Facebook post here
** Illustration by Sara El-Yafi 

So about all this rejoicing in Adha. Let me just share a couple of ideas here that might lead to nowhere.

Preamble: Eid al-Adha (Adha i.e. sacrifice) is a religious Muslim holiday, also sanctioned by the Druze, that is universally celebrated by Druze, Sunnis and Shiites (and employees of Muslims) worldwide to honor the willingness of the prophet Abraham to sacrifice his young firstborn son Ismail as an act of submission to God (and his son’s acceptance of the sacrifice btw) before God intervened to provide Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead.

Now, let’s just assume for the sake of ease that we all believe that the above-mentioned story did actually occur. Let’s just say that it was 2018 BCE, and back then, people did not have Gangnam Sty and Justin Bieber, so they just listened to God talk to them instead, because let’s face it God was pretty talkative back then, I mean every second guy has a story of God speaking to him at random moments. (One day we’ll find out why God suddenly went radio silent on all of us, but for now, let’s not raise that small issue.)

So here we are, 3,812 years later, still fashioning our holiday calendars, our family meetings and our message-sending around the celebration of Abraham not killing his son, but opting for a ram instead. So we celebrate around a sheep-holocaust, and we get a few days off of work and we don’t think anymore. But here is my issue (yes let’s assume that everything I have said so far is NOT an issue):

1. You can choose to be literal about Abraham dodging his son’s sacrifice for a ram, you’re free to do so, but I hardly think that God (assuming we choose to perceive God as loving, compassionate and merciful) did not actually want the message of this Abrahamic episode to be “KILL SHEEP”. Because here we are, going nuts about murdering those sheep in millions, a yearly holocaust I tell you, in order to “celebrate” the living of Abraham’s son who lived and died 3,800+ years ago. If I were to vouch for God here, and again he doesn’t speak to me, but I’ll just be crazy and assume things, and say that maybe, maybe, MAYBE, what he was trying to say is: “Sometimes, you need to let go of the lesser important things in order to honor the more important things in your life.” Like priorities… Show people you love them by letting go of other things you may love… family over work, or friends over strangers, or sometimes you may need to go to the theater with your girlfriend instead of a football game because it means a lot to her, I don’t know. Sacrifice important things to honor even more important things… Call me crazy, but that sounds a lot more humane and divine than going around murdering sheep by the billion.

2. Now, let’s talk about sacrifice. And let’s just say that we reject that first point because maybe God was not being philosophical & metaphorical, maybe God was being literal. Alright, so let’s be literal. Let’s talk about killing then shall we? And in this episode, I am especially addressing my fellow Muslim brethren, from the Jihadist who manually chops off “infidels'” heads to people like my grandmother who are so angelic they deserve to have their own squad of angels under their feet: Adha celebrates the human life, albeit at the expense of the sheep’s life, but that is what it is about: celebrating and honoring human life, not just Abraham’s boy, but all of Abraham’s children, meaning all of us, because Abraham is the father of all human race, that’s what the text says (and that includes Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Scientologists and Atheists because those people didn’t come out of no volcano nor were they spat out of some intergalactic hemorrhoidal asteroid, they came from the same gene pool as Muslims too). So in short, the Feast of Adha is the celebration of “human” life… And we do it every year, religiously. But how would our precious God and Abraham feel about our track record of how we have honored human life in the past few years…. And I don’t wanna go back centuries, I just mean those literal few years that you and I can remember without looking it up in history books (let’s say since Google’s birth). There is -nothing- honorable that the Muslim community has done to honor human life anywhere on God’s green Earth, and there is nothing to celebrate as a Muslim community anywhere in this world. In fact, we have probably acted as one of the most repulsive, dishonorable, degrading human species that exist today. No, we surely are not exclusive in that category, but we certainly place in the top three. We have killed human beings by the hundred thousands with no respite, no remorse, no consciousness and the war is ongoing… in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Lebanon, in the USA, in Jordan, in Iraq, in Egypt, in Libya, in France, in Germany, in the Netherlands, in England, in Palestine, in Iran, in Pakistan, in India, in Saudi Arabia, in Bangladesh, in Tunisia, in Algeria, in Sudan, in Mauritania, in goddammit every damn country with a wide Muslim presence. The reason I say WE is because with identity comes responsibility; even if the crimes were not perpetrated by your family, they were perpetrated in the name of your family. And by celebrating today, we are accepting that fate. And I personally don’t accept it. And no matter how much we’re gonna holler “This is not real Islam! These are just Muslims gone “rogue!”, well by finger pointing, what have we done to show whatever is called “real Islam”? Where is that track record? I mean, I could start by videotaping my grandma and giving her a blog cuz she’s a really cute and loving Muslim who has zero racism and zero intolerance to an alarming degree, but then what? I mean that’s a pretty awful big number of Muslims gone rogue and isn’t it time that everybody seriously started keeping these people in check? You know, our argument “Islam is a religion of peace” is starting to wear off quite a bit because of us, the real peaceful people… What are we doing to punish all those people gone rogue? We’re killing sheep. Awesome. That’s one dinner. Then what? In most Islamic countries, the crime of blasphemy (speaking up against the Koran and God’s words) is punishable by death… Well, I am sorry to say that every Muslim today is punishable by death, because our routine lifestyle is only blasphemy, after blasphemy, after blasphemy against every God and everything every God has created everywhere, starting with ourselves.

There is nothing to be honored today if you cannot honor life in its entirety; and there is nothing to be proud of today if you are not proud of life in its entirety.

Instead of sacrificing those sheep by the millions, we should maybe be sacrificing our hatred, our unbelievably antagonistic ideas and our surrealistically blasphemous behavior; and let the poor sheep and everybody else live happily and peacefully. That’s just my two cents for the day.

Happy Adha to everyone. May sanity and compassion rule once and for all over all of us someday on this God-forsaken planet, consistently and invariably. Maybe then, God will start speaking to us again.

Written by Sara El-Yafi

29 Comments

  1. Konstantinos P · October 26, 2012

    Great read! My two cents, which many will predicatbly disagree with (i could go on and on but i will keep it short)…God does not exist and this planet is an insignificant microscopic dot in an infinite universe…Sanity and compassion will only rule when mankind finally lets go of its irrational belief in all religious fairytales…i am not holding my breath though – A happy/enlightened atheist

    • Sara El-Yafi · October 27, 2012

      Kosta: You make a valid point. And as much as I believe that religion has made a mess of this world, I think placing the blame on religion is dodging the real problem. If you eradicate religion, you will not eradicate the problem at the root. Religion is not the problem, it is merely one of the many ugly offsets of the real problem. Our society is the problem: our lack of confidence and trust in one another, our lack of compassion, our lack of humanness, the overarching, guilt-ridden creations of our minds stuffed with scar tissues resulting from complexes of inadequacies impregnated in our brains since childhood. The human brain and our interpretation of the world is the problem. Once we start helping each other, we may fix our societies and start imbuing each other with a lot of love and compassion, and at that point, you will notice that religion alone will wither away, and will give place to right-brain stimulation instead of left-brain stimulation. And I truly believe that human beings are capable of creating such a society because you and I and them share all but 0.01% (1/100th of 1%) of identical genetic sequences. So biologically, as a species, you and I are virtually identical to one another at the level of our genes (literally, 99.99%). Looking around at the diversity within our human race, obviously this 0.01% accounts for a significant difference in how we look, think and behave, but I cannot believe that 0.01% can win over 99.99% every goddamn minute of every goddamn day of human history by setting us apart in hatred and competition to this extent. We may be able to reach that level of compassion if we move away from our left brain which maps out words, languages, differences and divisions and stop looking for answers in books, be it religious (i.e. Koran, Bible, or Dianetics etc), economic (From Adam Smith, Keynes to Lenin), socio-political (From Socrates, Karl Marx, to Leo Strauss to Hitler)… but start literally looking in ourselves.

  2. Nasri Atallah · October 26, 2012

    You’re awesome.

  3. Vassilis Wise Loutzakis · October 26, 2012

    Beautiful said Sara 🙂

  4. Dania Mneimneh Beyrouti · October 26, 2012

    Did u write that? Very well said!

  5. Sumer Daou · October 26, 2012

    Cheers! Have a drink or two, (maybe a full bottle). Sit back and watch the ongoing “Arab spring revolution”, either we change our dogmas, or we keep killing each other (with international funding, armament and encouragement) till we change our dogmas.

  6. Ali Baydoun · October 26, 2012

    Awesome read !! Best thing I read in a while 🙂

  7. Rudolph Elias · October 26, 2012

    That’s an awfully cute photo you picked to illustrate your scream 🙂

    Although mostly optimistic, I have a lot of admiration for people like you or Konstantinos who keep on trying.
    Yet as part of us is still realistic, let me ask you this: don’t you think your scream will get an acknowledgment echo in most of your facebook friends list?
    I believe it does (because most of them are educated and “open”). But a good part of them, would prefer to keep themselves in their comfort zone. They don’t want to be the “black sheep”. They live in a family/community/culture going one way. Hard not to go with the flow. Although some are aware there might be a better road.
    And the rest of your friends (who won’t agree with you) are just a tiny example of the huuuge amount of people around the world that have been brainwashed ever since they were breast-fed (if they were) with the believes indoctrinated since thousands of years, adapted sometimes.
    Not just Muslims! Although Agnostic, I was born in a Christian family, thus I can assure u it is the same with Christians. As much as it is with Druze, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.
    Don’t forget that we (as “humans”… with “intelligence”…) are the most (and only) barbaric creatures on earth by far! Religions were created and developed by men to try and put rules where no rules could exist.
    An easy, extremely powerful and highly effective mass education tool!!!
    People need a “strong” figure to get answers for the subjects they don’t know and cannot understand, to obey and feel secure under its “protection”. God filled wonderfully this image.
    Religions, just like philosophies, have ALL participated in making the world a better place using that.

    But like other tools, they can often be misused if put in the wrong hands.
    Wrong hands meaning of either people “who don’t know” or people with “evil” intentions.

    A knife is made to cut food, but a child can cut his own finger misusing it, or hurt a friend he loves without intending to do so, because he doesn’t know how to use it.

    A hungry man can use it as a weapon to threat and steal.
    A “crazy” man can hurt other unintentionally.
    A clever (crazy or not) man can use both the hungry and the crazy and even the child, to other objectives.

    Many of the world’s “leaders” throughout history, no need to name them as they all fit the description, where these clever yet mad minds.
    Nowadays these leaders are not always the public figures, but often the masterminds in backstage. And am not talking about plots and co. Just true people and corporations that are playing to what they think is their advantage.

    Your Grandma is that wonderful because she lived in other times.
    Times were no TV would air news and subjective information to grow fear and hatred in peoples hearts and minds.
    Getting you addicted to what is said to you, and follow the decisions made by the same “Mad minds” discussed earlier.

    You described (as part of the “muslim family”) muslims as only creating negative things since google era. I don’t agree with that. All participated in this jolly effort. Naming a non-exhaustive list of recent non muslim countries with brave and honorable barbaric acts in recent history: WW1 and WW2 South Africa (apartheid and post), Spain (Franco) Rwanda, Liberia, Yugoslavia…
    Post google? Ok: USA (domestic and exported), China (now exporting to Sudan and elswhere in africa), Russia (not just Osethia and Tchetchniya), Congo, Israel, Sudan, Mexico (drug wars)… And if we take other aspects of barbarism, (finanicial scandals, human rights) very few countries would escape the listing .
    All because the barbarity is exclusive to men’s nature. Ever since he existed.
    But nature always finds equilibrium after a trauma.

    If you just cannot take peace accepting things you cannot change, and you really want to make the effort, think that, for positive contamination to be effective, it needs to be strong enough.
    You don’t fight a virus with just one pill intake. And a drop of water is much stronger in a wave.

    Ps: are you eating vegy today? 🙂

  8. Talal Hakim · October 26, 2012

    (and employees of Muslims)

  9. Johara Bouchama · October 26, 2012

    Very well said!! We all lost the point of our religion and just fixate on the traditional rituals such a sheep killing! I want to be optimistic but don’t know if there is a point in it! Happy eid Sara! Hope to see you some day in Paris!!

  10. Bernard El-Hage · October 26, 2012

    woowww ! True!

  11. Ludi Mahadi · October 26, 2012

    Nice piece, need to hear more of these

  12. Dennis Haraszko · October 26, 2012

    Some nice thoughts about today’s Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha from my former classmate

  13. Sara El-Yafi · October 27, 2012

    Nasri : You know how I feel about you.
    Vassilis: Thank you my dear ! xo
    Dania: Yes I did. Thanks a lot for the appreciation.
    Sumer : You’re completely right. I wrote about it above in my message to Kosta. Don’t know if you agree. Obviously, I’d love to hear your opinion.
    Ali: Best comment ever. Hugs and kisses !
    Rudolph Elias: Ја ћу тада дисати напишем одговор на српском!!!!!!

  14. Sara El-Yafi · October 27, 2012

    Talal: (:
    Johara: Thank you Jojo, would love to see you and Nejma again! And I insist on saying that it is not a choice between optimism and pessimism (or realism as some like to falsely call it), it is a choice between freedom and submission. There is only a point to freedom, otherwise there is no point to life, love and facebook.
    Bernard: Great to see your name here! Hope all is well with you xo
    Ludi: Thank you, hope to keep you close then.

  15. Antoun Halabi · October 27, 2012

    Awesome picture basbas as usual … 😉 I also agree we shouldn’t kill sheep, I love sheep, they’re harmless, grass fed and should be free range… as for humanity and religion, and the 0.01% argument, it’s unfortunate but a simple law of nature that a rotten apple turns all the good ones into bad ones, and it’s much easier to destroy than build… On another hand and taken from a macro level, despite it all, we’re at a historical low in terms of relative human killings, but why is God not talking to us anymore? Maybe he never has in the first place given that any indication he might have in the past, is based on the often surreal and fabled content of historical scriptures… Amen

    • Sara El-Yafi · October 27, 2012

      Ahlan ahlan bi Antoun Halabi. I was wondering when you were going to join the conversation. To be fully honest, discussing God and events that may or may not have happened 3,000 years ago is as useful as me wondering what my neighbor is thinking right now. The wonder may fill up dinner talk if we’re really out of subjects… but why would I wanna do that? By wondering, debating with a million variations of words, analyses and emotions, I will simply never know what my neighbor is thinking, and in a more important sense, I also don’t really care. But what I do care about is the HERE and NOW, the literal here and now. With the information that is available to me right here and right now, what do I know and what can I make of it? … For one, I know that we are not apples. We do not have the same genetic sequence as apples, and therefore what applies to apples doesn’t necessarily apply to us, which is why I disagree with your apple figure of speech. Human beings are the most adaptive earthly species that exist on this planet; no other species is like us in terms of adaptation. Our adaptation on Earth however, due to many factors, has been so far predominantly synonymous with greed, envy, jealousy and competition. But with the recent scientific evidence of how the human brain functions, it is now known that we are almost certainly capable of channeling an unbelievable current of one-ness if we desire… With our adaptative strengths, we can default to compassion and have right-brain synapses be the main interactions between us and other species… How do we do that? I believe that it will happen once we shelf the texts once and for all, cancel the words, drop the debates, drop the adjectives and finally embrace life, love and marshmallows with full presence, never reverting to an exhaustingly nonexistent past, nor looking towards an impossibly absent future. Be here, right now, and rejoice in your splendidness, because you are indeed all splendid. Thank you party people, you’ve been wonderful, goodnight.

      • Antoun Halabi · October 27, 2012

        Personally if we’re talking about here and now, my only concern now is to save that sheep… Thank you once more for raising awareness on sheep slaughtering…

  16. Nasri Atallah · October 27, 2012

    Maybe people had easier access to acid 3000 years ago, hence all the apparitions.

    • Sara El-Yafi · October 27, 2012

      Wait a minute. THAT is why all the Virgin Mary apparitions are happening down in Mexico… Cartels and Virgin Mary are very positively correlated. Hmm.

  17. Basim Dawood · November 6, 2012

    hahahahahahaahahha i love it, it just cracked me up

  18. Karam Toubba · November 15, 2012

    Thank you so much for this writing. I would love to read anything you talk about.

    • Sara El-Yafi · November 16, 2012

      Karam, you do me great honor. And I would love to have you as my reader. Your comments will always be welcome and appreciated.

  19. Linda Halabi · November 16, 2012

    This baby sheep is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen ♥

  20. Sonia Kolahi Amirian · November 21, 2012

    I always feel bad for the cute little sheepies. Everytime it’s like the traumatism of Bambi’s mother death. Poor thing !

    On a more serious note (not that Bambi’s mother death wasn’t serious, don’t get me wrong), I have to agree with your post in here. I was quite happy to see someone from my community (happy muslim yaaay !) to make a point about how hypocritical we all can be when it comes to religion. I am oh so very sad to see how in all countries with major muslim presence we can see all these signs of hatred and violence. In each and every holy book he gave us (when he still felt like talking), God gave us a message of love and showed us in many ways and exemples how to love our own kind and care for our beloved ones. Now I feel like for most people (not only muslims) religion has just become some cultural habit or worse an excuse to hate others. I also think we all are responsable for not trying to change minds going this way, because we, the educated muslims have a card to play in here.

    Conclusion of the story being : Do not kill the mother (or father) of the sheep version of Bambi !

    PS : Grandma’s ♥

  21. Hussam Fatahalla · November 30, 2012

    Interesting take…can’t agree much with your point 1, categorically and unequivocally agree on point 2…a few years ago I would have bothered myself with debating what we can do, but I don’t bother myself anymore…my only input is, lets individually do what we believe is right, and what we believe god is saying, not what eVeryone eLse says he s saying…and I m not even joking, do blog ur granny…not only s it something positive u can do, but it’s also a way to capture that grace..u will need it Ina few years…I wish I had the option to do that when mine were alive…sometimes just one look at Thierry gracefull faces would be enough to get me through a rough day, but I don’t have that luxury anymore…

  22. Nür Atheri · November 30, 2012

    Allah allowed us to kill sheep and eat them.. After all, Allah created everything on earth for us humans for survival, to appreciate and count his blessings and know through his creation the meanings of his 99 names. And also, to help us worship him so that we eventually go back to heaven ( our original home)
    The sheep we slaughter in Adha, mostly goes to the poor and less fortunate who don’t get a chance to have tasty protein regularly 🙂
    Also, slaughtering the sheep in Islam has an etiquette, so Allah does have mercy on the sheep just like He had mercy on Abraham (pbuh) when He tested his loyalty and strong faith to Allah, thus he sent him the sheep 🙂

    If Muslims truly understood and comprehended the words of Allah and started fixing their own bad traits and principles. There will be peace, but unfortunately nowadays Muslims don’t represent Islam and we are all responsible for that and the problem starts with our ego ( the devil in each one of us).

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