27 Days To Go: Happy Eid al-Adha!

The Binding of Isaac (6th Century C.E., Beit Alpha)
The Binding of Isaac (6th Century C.E., Beit Alpha)

One of the most overlooked holidays of a season that packs in Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa is the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha, or “Festival of Sacrifice.” What is especially surprising about our ignorance of this holiday is that it celebrates a Biblical tradition that Christians and Jews believe as well: when Abraham almost kills his own son for God. What separates it from Christianity and Judaism is that it is connected with the Muslim tradition Hajj. Just like Christmas and Hanukah, though, it involves prayer, a sermon, and a feast.  

Here, then, is the passage from the Qur’an (37:98-110):

And they desired a war against him, but We brought them low.

And he said: Surely I fly to my lord; He will guide me.

My Lord! grant me of the doers of good deeds.

So We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance.
And when he attained to working with him, he said: O my son! surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see. He said: O my father! do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones.

So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead,

And We called out to him saying: O Ibrahim!

You have indeed shown the truth of the vision; surely thus do We reward the doers of good:

The Sacrifice of Isaac (1418, Donatello)
The Sacrifice of Isaac (1418, Donatello)

Most surely this is a manifest trial.

And We ransomed him with a Feat sacrifice.

And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations.

Peace be on Ibrahim.

Thus do We reward the doers of good.

And for comparison sake, the passage from the Bible (Genesis 22:1-18):

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

The Sacrifice of Abraham (1634, Rembrandt)
The Sacrifice of Abraham (1634, Rembrandt)

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

I’m out of my theological and artistic depth here. You can draw your own conclusions.