Let me just share a couple of ideas here.
Eid al-Adha (Adha i.e. sacrifice) is a religious Muslim holiday, also sanctioned by the Druze, that is universally celebrated by Druze and all Muslims (and employees of Muslims) to honor the obedient willingness of Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his incredibly cherished 13-year old firstborn son Ismail as an act of submission to God (and his son’s mature acceptance of the sacrifice btw) until God, who merely wanted to “test his faith”, intervened and provided Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead. Abraham and Ismail’s pure faith was thus proven; Ismail went on to live a long fruitful life, and would become the forefather of the “Arabs”, or the alleged Muslims…
Now, let’s just assume for the sake of ease that we all believe that the above-mentioned story did actually occur. It was 2018 BCE, and back then God and the people were just tight like that, they talked. (One day we’ll find out why God went radio silent on the rest of us, but for now, let’s not raise that issue.)
So here we are, 3,813 years later, fashioning our holiday calendars, our family meetings, and our message-sending/social media-posting around the celebration of Abraham not killing his son, but opting for a ram instead. We celebrate around a sheep-holocaust, and we get a few days off of work and we don’t need to think about it… OK but here are my issues (yes let’s assume that everything I have said so far is NOT an issue):
1. One can choose to be literal about Abraham dodging his son’s sacrifice for a ram, one is free to do so, but I hardly think that God (assuming we choose to perceive God as loving, compassionate and merciful) wanted the message of this Abrahamic episode to be “KILL SHEEP!” But here we are, proudly slaughtering those sheep by the million, in a yearly mass slaughter, 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 or anything but I’ll just be creative and assume colorful things, like, maybe, maybe, MAYBE, what God was trying to say was: “Sometimes, you need to let go of the lesser important things in order to honor the more important things in your life.” Or sometimes you need to reshuffle your priorities and remember to honor what you love and cherish the most in this world…the earthly divine… like, family over work, health over wealth, humility over envy, love over aggression, or sometimes get your face out of your iPhone and honor the person sitting in front of you because it would mean a lot to them to earn your full presence, I don’t know. Sacrifice your allegorical sheep to honor the more important things… Call me crazy, but I believe that sounds a lot more humane and divine than going around murdering sheep by the billion.
2. Now. Let’s just say that we reject that first point because maybe God was not being philosophical or metaphorical, but God was actually being literal. Alright, so let’s be literal. Let’s talk about killing then, shall we? And in this episode, I am especially (though not uniquely) addressing the Muslims who are celebrating today: Adha celebrates human life, albeit at the expense of the sheep’s life, but that is what it is about: 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 species, and that species includes Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Scientologists etc and even Beliebers, everyone, 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… 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 for us to celebrate as a Muslim community anywhere in this world in the name of life or in the name of God for that in itself would be blasphemy due to our hypocrisy. In fact, we have probably acted as one of the most backwards and dishonorable of the human communities that exist today. No, we surely are not exclusive in that category, but we certainly place in the top five. We have killed human beings by the hundred thousands with no respite, no remorse, no consciousness and the wars are forcefully 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 every country with a wide Muslim presence we have set a miserable track record against human life and the flourishing of life. What’s to honor? By “celebrating” today, we are accepting that fate. And I personally don’t accept it… No matter how much we holler “This is not real Islam! These are just Muslims gone “rogue!”, I still think that’s an awful big number of Muslims gone rogue no? Where is the good track record? What are we doing to punish all those people gone rogue? We’re killing sheep. Awesome. That’s one dinner. Then what? Onto the next vapid ceremony. Well, I don’t subscribe to any. Instead, I prefer to be vouching for realigning our true loving values with humanity, reconnecting with ourselves and our extended human family, and truly cherishing each other every day instead of being vacuously religious in our followership of empty occasional rituals that we don’t even understand and who turn us, ironically, into a herd of sheep.
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 anyway. May sanity and compassion rule once and for all over human kind on this God-forsaken planet, consistently and invariably. Maybe then, God will start speaking to us again.