“Slaughtering sacrificial animals has several philosophies. First, by making sacrifices, we learn to sacrifice something to get something more significant. The spirit of qurban always exists in every phase of human life. Successful humans must have had episodes where they had sacrificed many things while struggling. For example, sometimes we sacrifice the pleasure of playing to have time to study,” Otong Sulaeman told IQNA in an interview, which is as follows:
IQNA: What's the philosophy of Eid al Adha from the Islamic point of view?
Sulaeman: To understand Eid al-Adha's philosophy, we must look back at the origin of the word, namely Eid, which means holiday, and adha, which means slaughtering sacrificial animals. The activity of slaughtering sacrificial animals is the hallmark of Eid al-Adha celebrations, and because of that, another name for Eid al-Adha is Eid al-Qurban. Slaughtering sacrificial animals has several philosophies. First, by making sacrifices, we learn to sacrifice something to get something more significant. The spirit of qurban always exists in every phase of human life. Successful humans must have had episodes where they had sacrificed many things while struggling. For example, sometimes we sacrifice the pleasure of playing to have time to study.
The second lesson of qurban slaughter is more spiritual, or ‘irfani’. Every human has the potential of goodness and evilness. In the context of irfan, these bad qualities are often referred to as animal traits. So, slaughtering a sacrificial animal has the meaning of slaughtering the animalistic characteristics of humans for the sake of the growth and development of their excellent qualities. The slaughter of sacrificial animals also teaches Muslims to be sensitive to the poor's plight. According to sharia law, the person who slaughters the sacrificial animal may only consume a maximum of one-third of the meat, and the rest must be distributed to others. Eid al-Adha always creates happiness for poor people who cannot buy and consume meat in their daily lives.
The third relates to trying to imitate the way of life of good people. In history, the slaughter of sacrificial animals, which is a Muslim ritual on Eid al-Adha, is an attempt to imitate what was done by Prophet Ibrahim, who was ordered by Allah to slaughter his son, Prophet Ismail. Slaughtering sacrificial animals has the spirit of imitating Prophet Ibrahim as a prophet who fought fearlessly in the face of injustice and hypocrisy.
Another lesson from Eid al-Adha relates to imitating the way of life of good people. The ritual of sacrificing is an attempt to replicate what was done by Prophet Ibrahim when he was ordered by Allah Subhanahu wa Taala to slaughter his son, Ismail. He followed the order but suddenly, Allah brought goats to replace Ismail. So Allah just gave a test for Ibrahim, and he passed the test. Allah constantly tests us with various things throughout our lives, ranging from wealth, illness, or difficulties. But we must imitate Ibrahim; that is, whatever happens, always obey Allah's commands.
IQNA: What are the differences of this year’s Eid al-Adha with previous ones, considering the coronavirus pandemic?
Sulaeman: Eid al-Adha celebrations since 2020 have been different because of the pandemic. The Indonesian government enforces specific rules regarding the implementation of Eid prayers and the ritual of slaughtering sacrificial animals. We call it "zone rule". In the "red zone", where the death cases due to coronavirus are still high, Eid prayers may only be held at homes, not in mosques or open fields. The slaughter of Qurban animals is carried out at the slaughterhouse. Meanwhile, regions where cases of spread and death from the coronavirus are not too high or zero (we call it yellow zone and green zone) are permitted to do the rituals of Eid al-Adha as usual by implementing health protocols. In essence, we do celebrate Eid al-Adha, although in a different way.
Interview by Mohsen Haddadi