In the Islamic world, 2 special days are celebrated each year. Feast of Ramadan and Sacrifice. Today I will talk about the symbolic meaning of Feast of Sacrifice.
Why people celebrate it? What does it mean symbolically?
Sacrifice feast is related to being close to God. There are 2 different words in Turkish ‘yakın olmak’ and ‘yakin olmak’, just 1 letter changes all the meaning though. ‘Being close’ to God is ‘yakın olmak’ then yakin olmak, leaving yourself totally, so filling with God and moving with the divine.
Sacrifice feast is symbolizing these 2 concepts; ‘yakin olmak’ and ‘yakin olmak’.
You can not leave yourself and fill with the divine unless you sacrifice the excessive desires of Nafs, the animal inside you, the sense of self, the ego.
Here comes the story of the prophets Isaac and Abraham
Abraham saw in his dream that he was sacrificing his son Isaac, and he intended. There Isaac said to his father to cover his eyes so he could surrender fully. At this moment, God accepted his intention and asked not to sacrifice his boy and sent a sheep to them to sacrifice.
This story includes many symbols, an important one is Isaac asking for covering his eyes. Here Isaac symbolizes Nafs, ‘sense of self’ and here God says that no need to sacrifice the self, Nafs is needed, what you need to do is sacrifice the many requests of the Nafs and to do that, your Self needs to ask for it.
Ramadan and Sacrifice Feasts, both are related.
Sacrifice Feast is the last moment of the self-nurture the one that started with Ramadan Feast. Sacrificing your self. Sacrificing so much that your occurrence becomes beautiful, and from this beauty and inner peace, 3 groups will take profit: you, your loved ones that are close to you and people around, who are spiritually poor, they would see you and realize your way of being with inner peace.
In the Quran, everything has both meanings: inner meaning and outer meanings. So with sacrifice one sacrifices the sheep as well as her self. As we mentioned above, from this sacrifice of self, 3 groups would take profit, as well as from the sacrificed sheep’s meat 3 groups would take profit:
– For the person to consume later, one third
– To eat with loved ones and to celebrate all together, one third
– Giving to those who can not afford to buy meat, one third
Why is it important to sacrifice the desires of a sense of self, ego?
In Sufi tradition, it is believed that human beings are here to know, serve, and worship God. God has created all the creation because God intends to be known, and chosen human beings as a partner. To serve and worship, one needs to look for and know first. How one can know God? By knowing your self.
In the Quran in surah (shortest chapter) Al-Kawthar, sacrifice is declared to be a religious duty, meaning that necessary to do to reach inner peace and freedom, being free from the desires of sense of self and being in full surrender.
How one sacrifice the desires of the self?
To sacrifice the excessive desires of the ego, one needs to leave arrogance. Arrogance has 3 types according to Cemalnur Sargut
Idiocy: Not being able to see the sense of God. Thinking that one’s knowledge as correct always.
Smuggnes: Thinking that sense of self is me and being the prisoner of this self all the time.
Stinginess: Being unable to sacrifice the excessive desires of the sense of self.
If we can not leave these 3 types of arrogance, we can not accept ourselves as sacrificed our sense of self.
What are the rituals of the Sacrifice Feast?
It is an important day to be close to the Divine and the loved ones. People are coming together with their families as a big celebration.
Delicious foods are prepared days before, younger people are visiting older ones, offended people make peace between each other.
The day starts with morning prayer, in the mosque for man and at home for women.
Then early in the morning sacrifice ceremony starts with prayers.
The meat is separated into 3 parts, one third to the person who sacrifices, one third to eat all together with loved ones, one third to give to those who can not afford to buy meat.
All these above are outer meanings of a sacrifice feast day, the real meaning is self-evaluation of your self. One day before the sacrifice feast is the day of Arafah. It is a great day, to self-evaluate. Could I sacrificed enough my sense self, so will it be a real feast for me, were I close enough to the divine? If not, still one can have compassion with her own, every moment we born again.
Arafah day can also be a great day for setting intention and sacrifice feast day can be the first day after this intention. You can take this day, as an opportunity to know the divine, serve, and worship. A start of a new circle.
At the end of the day, we are here as a passenger. This is a long way, a journey of love, loving ourselves via loving divine, and vice versa.
Let us know in the comments if you celebrate Sacrifice Feast, what does it symbolize for you?