Dialogue…. In our world today, dialogue is a word that is thrown around a lot and when it comes to dialogue within a religious setting, we can shy away from it and think that it means participation in exotic theological discussions beyond one’s reach. This is not the case.
Dialogue of Life is where most dialogue happens and can be equally as effective as any theological dialogue. This coming week is a great opportunity for dialogue as we lead up to the Islamic celebration of Eid-ul- Azha, (Festival of the Sacrifice), a three-day Eid from October 16th to 18th. Here in Pakistan the annual family street theatre is underway as the Muslims express their obedience to Allah in a deep cultural and full of a faith filled religious meaning. Wherever we live it can be a time to reach out to our Muslim brothers and sisters and wish them blessings.
Eid-ul-Azha is a commemoration of the command given by Allah to the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his first-born son Ismael (Isaac) to Him. When a Muslim sacrifices as the Prophet Ibrahim did, it is a sign that they obey God and do what God wants them to do. God’s reward to Ibrahim when he attempted to sacrifice his beloved son was that he was saved from the intended sacrifice. God saw Ibrahim’s heart and instead a sheep was sacrificed as a replacement for Ismael.
This week on the streets of Pakistan we find the children acting out this dramatic story by playing, having fun, walking, teasing, racing with or feeding their sacrificial animals, be it a cow, goat, camel or sheep. This sacrifice is not compulsory but recommended by those who can afford it. For those who cannot afford it, these families can share an animal. The victim must be without blemish or defect. It is even said that the animal ought to be bought a few days before Eid (Festival) so that they can care for the animal and grow to love it. This is a very obvious characteristic of this week’s street theatre where the children treat the animal like a pet right up to the day of its sacrifice. These days, families are sitting out on the streets by their animals, grooming them and protecting them and in this way, we can see how it becomes a real sacrifice to slaughter something they have grown to love. This is the very essence of sacrifice.
On Eid morning, after prayers in the mosque, the head of the family will lead the animal to the entrance of the house, place it to face Mecca and the animal will be slaughtered there. The meat of the sacrificial animal has to be shared, one third to the poor, one third for relatives and friends and one third for the family itself.
This is an opportunity to wish your Muslim neighbours: Eid Mubarak and you will be surprised by joy with the response you will find. This simple gesture can become a moment of dialogue and understanding, and can change the world.
Wishing all our Muslim Brothers and Sisters:
Our neighbours’ camel ready for sacrifice and we are invited to attend this ceremony
Looking smart and ready….and nearby the pride of the bunch
“…the animal ought to be bought a few days before Eid (Festival) so that they can care for the animal and grow to love it. “
Sister Rebecca Conlon has been on mission in Pakistan since 1989