Eid-ul-Adha, or the 'Celebration of Sacrifice', marks the international finale to the sacred Hajj ceremony. Well over two million people women and men of all ages, languages, colours and backgrounds have, in recent days, congregated in the holy city of Mecca to commemorate the sacrifices made by Abraham (may God's peace and blessing be with him). Today, we come together with those fortunate enough to have made the Pilgrimage to join with them in celebrating the life of this great Patriarch one who as a result of his spirit of sacrifice won the enduring epitaph of 'Friend of God'.
Sacrifice is one the higher ideals of humanity and is universally recognised as a virtue when it is selflessly performed for the greater good. Abraham, as the Bible and the Qur'an inform us, was commanded by God to sacrifice his beloved son. Both Abraham and his son willingly accepted this Divine decree, and as our Jewish, Christian and Muslim brethren will well know, the human offering was, at the point of sacrifice, substituted with an animal one. Abraham had beyond any doubt proved his devotion to God and his spiritual ascent was henceforth without limits.
Morally upright, our beloved Prophet Abraham displayed selflessness throughout his life standing firm in the face of tyranny, injustice and oppression. He was sincere and determined in his mission a determination that arises from a deep and unshakeable conviction in Providence. This attachment to God engendered in him a purity of spirit that made sacrifice the act of making sacred axiomatic.
We are as Muslims blessed with countless opportunities to serve our fellow inhabitants of these isles. But this involves sacrifice - sacrifice of our time, energies and resources motivated by a desire to bring people together and work with them in the pursuit of creating a society that is built on the ideals of respect, understanding and good-will. Promoting justice and peace are responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of all those who are heirs to the Abrahamic tradition and as one such community, let us, as Muslims, be foremost in this struggle.
I pray that this Eid-ul-Adha renews our determination and spirit of sacrifice, in loving memory of Abraham, to work for the greater good.
Iqbal AKM Sacranie OBE
Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain