`Eid Al-Adha is preceded by the glorious day of `Arafah and is one of the important days of Hajj. Among the main themes and messages of Hajj is submission and obedience to Allah. When we read about the remarkable stories of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Isma`il, and Hajar, we witness extraordinary examples of obedience and submission to Allah, which is the core meaning of Islam. Actually, submission is the very meaning of the word "Islam". So the meaning and essence of Islam are manifested in Hajj, which reminds us of our mission and purpose in life.
`Eid Al-Adha is a symbol of obedience. It signifies submission to Allah. On this day, we commemorate together the acts of obedience and submission performed by Prophet Ibrahim and his family when he was commanded to take Hajar and their son Isma`il to an uninhabited, barren, distant land and leave them there alone. He submitted and obeyed. When Hajar realized what was happening, she cried out, "Ibrahim! Are you going to leave us in this valley where no people live?" She repeated the question yet she received no answer, so she asked him, "Did Allah order you to do this?" He replied, "Yes." So she said, "Then Allah will not let us perish." Thus she submitted.
Furthermore, when his son Isma`il became older, Ibrahim received a command from his Lord to sacrifice him. He submitted and so did his son. The family of Ibrahim was a family of obedience and submission. They were tested and tried again and again, but the result was always submission and obedience.
Both `Eid Al-Adha and `Eid Al-Fitr come after performing a pillar of Islam and an act of obedience. Hence `Eid Al-Adha and `Eid Al-Fitr are annual reminders that this life is a test and we must be obedient if we wish to be successful. Once a year, Muslims of every ethnic group, social status, and culture are reminded and given the message: Surrender to Allah, submit to Allah. Are we hearing this message?
Just as Prophet Ibrahim was tested throughout his life to see if he would submit or not, so will we be tested to see whether we submit to Allah's commands or refuse! Know that toils, struggles, and hardships will accompany our quest to obedience. But if we obey, we will be in the company of the likes of Prophet Ibrahim and his family in Paradise, as Allah says:
[All who obey Allah and the messenger shall dwell in the company of those whom Allah has favored with His Grace: the prophets, the sincere lovers of Truth, the martyrs, and the Righteous who do good. Ah! What a beautiful companionship!] (An-Nisaa' 4:69)
`Eid contains many wonderful messages among which is that `Eid is an external expression of the testimony of faith "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah," which means to follow Muhammad in his commandments, abstain from all that he has forbidden, believe in all that he has informed us of, and worship Allah with only that which he has prescribed. Allah says:
[Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger's duty is only to convey (the message) in a clear way.] (An-Nur 24:54)
Consequently if you truly desire Paradise, all that is required of you is obedience, since the Prophet has guaranteed Paradise for whoever follows him: "All of my nation will enter Paradise except those who refuse." His Companions said, "Who would refuse?" He answered, "Whoever obeys me enters Paradise and whoever disobeys me has refused." (Al-Bukhari).
Likewise, Allah warns us throughout the Qur'an of the consequences of choosing to disobey Him. For example Allah says:[And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.] (An-Nisaa' 4:14)
And among the messages of `Eid is that all Muslims are one people and one brotherhood; we gather together for the prayer and share in the blessings of the `Eid. During these days we must try extra hard to strengthen our brotherhood and mend our differences upon the truth.
Muslim youth, take the opportunity of `Eid to be kind to your parents, and know that obedience to your parents is obedience to Allah provided that it is free of disobedience to Allah. Stay away from alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, for they destroy the heart, the intellect, and the society.
Women, witness the `Eid Prayer without displaying and flaunting your beauty or wearing perfumes. Fear Allah in regards to your dress code and know that the dress code of the Muslim woman is an honor, not an oppression. The dress code is that your clothing should cover your entire body apart from the hands and face; it should not be adorned and attractive in and of itself; it should be loose and opaque. This dress code is be observed in the masjids as well as in all public gathering places.
We Muslims should take action now toward improving our obedience and submission to Allah, for time is limited. Remember the ones who prayed with us in the last `Eid Prayer and who have now become the residents of the graveyard. We will certainly join them one day. Do not therefore be tricked by the life of this world in which happiness does not last. Death spoils the people's pleasure. So look for pleasure in which there is no death. Therefore, consider this world a place of work toward the hereafter. As Allah says concerning the pursuit of Paradise:
[And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it as he ought to strive and he is a believer; (as for) these, their striving shall surely be accepted.] (Al-Israa' 17:19)
And Allah says:
[And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty.] (Al-Hijr 15:99)
Allah is stating that our obedience and submission must be constant and continuous. So hasten to do good deeds before you regret your negligence and failure to act. No one has an agreement with the Angel of Death to delay their death until the time they choose to submit and obey Allah. Ibrahim submitted, Isma`il submitted, Hajar submitted, and now you must submit. What are you waiting for? This is the message of Hajj; this is the message of `Eid. You have heard the message. It's time to submit.