Days with God, Day of Arafah, Animal Sacrifice
Issue 607 » November 12, 2010 - Dhul-Hijja 6, 1431
Days with God
Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage) Chapter 22: Verse 47
"They challenge you to hasten the coming upon them of God's punishment. Let them know that God never fails to fulfill His promise; but a day with your Lord is like a thousand years in your reckoning."
This verse touches on certain important facts from the perspectives of astrophysics and the sociology of history:
First of all, it draws attention to the relativity of time. A time or duration which people see as being long may be very short in the sight of God. In addition, God Almighty does not consider time as people do. He is not contained by time or space, and His Wisdom that directs things and events considers each thing and event both as an individual entity and as an indispensable part of the general fabric of creation and history. As each thing in the universe has an intrinsic relationship not only with every other thing individually, but also with the whole universe at the same time, so too, is each event in human history interrelated with every other event individually and with the whole of history. Human beings cannot grasp this relationship in its entire web; they cannot know the past perfectly, grasp the present completely, nor guess the future well. Besides, the wheel of both the universe and history does not revolve according to the desires of human beings.
Secondly, a day for humanity is the time it takes the earth to make a single rotation around itself. The earth has another day, which consists of its revolution around the sun. This day lasts 365 days according to the reckoning of a day by humanity. So too does every other planet and all systems, like the solar system, have a day that is peculiar to each. This means that the concept of a day differs according to the planets and the systems.
Thirdly, God has laid out certain laws concerning human social life. He judges a community according to the creeds, world-view, and conduct of, at least, the majority. Thus, there are eras and ages in human history and eras of foundation, rising, fall, and decline for communities and civilizations. Thus, we can consider the whole life of a state or community or civilization as a day.
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 696, 697
Day of Arafah
Jabir reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “There is no day better in the sight of Allah than the Day of Arafah. On this day Allah, the Almighty and the Exalted One, descends to the nearest heaven, and He is proud of His slaves on the earth and says to those in heaven, ‘Look at My servants. They have come from far and near, with hair dishevelled and faces covered with dust, to seek My mercy, even though they have not seen My chastisement.' Far more people are freed from the Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day.” [Ibn Hibban]
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spent the day at Arafah until almost sunset. Then he said, “O Bilal, ask the people to be quiet and listen to me.” Bilal stood up and asked the people to be quiet and listen to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). When the people were quiet, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O people, a little while ago Gabriel (peace be upon him) came to me. Gave me salutations from Allah and informed me that Allah has forgiven those who spend the Day at Arafah and those who stop at Al-Mashar Al-Haram, and that He has guaranteed them [relief from] debts.” [Ibn Al-Mubarak]
Abu Ad-Darda reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “On no other day does the Satan feel so belittled, humiliated, and angry as he does on the Day of Arafah. The reason for this is the mercy of Allah that descends (this day) and the forgiveness that He grants to people for major sins, except the day of the Battle of Badr, which witnessed a far greater mercy of Allah descending upon people, which caused great sadness to Satan." (Reported by Malik and Al-Hakim).
"Fiqh-us-Sunnah" - Sayyid Sabiq, pp. 94-95
Sacrificing certain types of animals during Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha are part of Islamic rites. Islam is not the only religion which prescribes animal sacrifice. In recent times, due to influence of the animal rights movement, the sacrifice of animals has come under attack. Below is Muslim American Michel Jansen’s experience of apprehension towards Islamic animal sacrifice during Hajj and how she reconciled herself to the rite.
Before I had embarked on the Pilgrimage, its rituals seemed to me just so many curious exercises. But as I participated in the event of the Pilgrimage, the meaning of these rites unfolded, my understanding of Islam was deepened and I learned more fully what it meant to be a Muslim. Indeed, this is why God had commanded Muhammad to issue the call for the pilgrimage: "That they (the pilgrims) may witness things that are of benefit to them..." (Quran 22:28).
(For example, towards the end of the Hajj when the time of making the [animal] Sacrifice came), I began to feel uneasy. Since I have not completely outgrown the tender-heartedness I had known as a child, I had balked at the idea of the Sacrifice long before being confronted with it and now the time had come to do it. What was I to do? As a girl I had cared for lost dogs or stray cats, adopting any fledgling that had fallen from its nest, splitting a bird’s broken leg with match stick and feeding injured butterflies on sugar syrup. But a companion had been adamant. "You must do the Sacrifice."
Back at our building in Mina I turned to the Quran. I found that the Sacrifice has many meanings: it commemorates Abraham’s (peace be upon him) offering of his son’s life and God’s rejection of this sacrifice in exchange for Abraham’s submission to God’s will; it marks the end of idolatry among Arabs; it is an offering of thanksgiving to the God of Creation Who has been so benevolent to mankind; and it teaches the well-to-do to share their blessings to "eat thereof (the Sacrifice) and feed the beggar and the suppliant" (Quran 22:36).
As I pondered what I had read, a great weight was lifted from my conscience. I suddenly saw that the Sacrifice upholds the sacredness of life, that it, in fact, constitutes a pledge by the pilgrim that he will slay for sustenance only. And where I had felt reluctance before, I now felt eagerness to fulfill all the requirements of my pilgrimage.
"ISLAM- The Natural Way", by Adbul Wahid Hamid, pP. 127-128