Today, over one billion Muslims worldwide are celebrating one of their two great holidays: Eid ul-Adha, or The Feast of the Sacrifice. Today, three million Muslim pilgrims will converge on the Holy Sanctuary in Mecca to celebrate this great occasion.

The celebration commemorates the life of the Patriarch Abraham. The same Abraham who is honored in the Bible as the ancestor of oses and of Jesus. The same Abraham who is honored in the Qu’ran, as a prophet and as an ancestor of Muhammad.

Despite our common religious ancestry, conflict still remains between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Perhaps if we meditated on the legacy of Abraham, and tried to emulate him, we could learn to respect each other, and to live together in a more peaceful world.

Abraham was a model for humanity. He left all that was familiar in his hometown in Iraq to travel to the Promised Land, and to find the Way of God. He struggled all his life to reach spiritual harmony with the Higher Being – to achieve Submission.

The Feast of the Sacrifice commemorates Abraham’s greatest act of Submission to God. As it is recorded in the Bible and the Quran, Abraham saw in a vision that the Lord wanted him to sacrifice his son. Although Abraham was tenderhearted and loved his son, he knew he had to fulfill his duty to God as a prophet.

Abraham asked his son what he should do, and his son told him to submit to his Lord. Just as Abraham was going to sacrifice his son, the Lord stopped him, and had him sacrifice a ram instead.

The story may sound somewhat brutal to contemporary readers. After all, how could a merciful God ask someone to sacrifice his or her son? For me, the point is not that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. The point is that Abraham and his son were willing to give up everything for God. Even their lives. They showed absolute trust in God’s wisdom. And in the end, God did not betray their trust. He honored both Abraham, his son and their descendants as he has honored no other. Every major prophet, from Moses to Jesus to Muhammad, was a descendant of the family of Abraham.

In the Muslim tradition, Abraham is revered as the founder of the Islamic movement. For “Islam” is merely the Arabic word for Submission. To follow Islam is to follow the Way of Abraham, the Way of Submission to God, the Way followed by all the prophets.

On this momentous day, we all – Jews, Christians and uslims – should reflect on the great example of our spiritual father, Abraham. We should strive to worship God with all the passion and sincerity he showed. We should pray that God make us strong like Abraham, so that we may be willing to give up everything in search of greater spiritual truths. So that we, too, may find peace.

John Halliwell is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.