Professor Anwarul Karim,PhD :
I was then very young when I first enjoyed two Eids in village home. My father was then an Agricultural Officer under the British Government in Jhenidah subdivision, presently a district. The year as I understand was around 1943-1945. We had a very small family, me, father and mother. During Eid holidays, we used to visit our maternal uncle's house in Jessore where I was born in a small village, named Lauri under Manirampur Thana (presently Upozila). There was a Madrasa, known as Lauri Madrasa. My mother's cousin, name Maulavi Nur Mohammad founded the Madraa with public and private donation. He was then a Sub-Inspector of Schools during the British period and worked in Kolkata. He was contemporary of Ahsanullah of Satkhira. Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah was a renowned personality. He too worked in the department of Education and held senior position. He was senior to Maulavi Nur Muhammad. He was a person who pioneered the movement for establishing the Dhaka University in his time.
My father used to bring us to my maternal uncle's house because there had been religious elites from Deoband, Shahranpur who worked in the Madrasa as teachers or Mudarres. They stayed in the Madrasa for some time and used to leave for their residence once a year. They were part of our education. They used to speak in broken Bangla. In fact, their presence in the Madrasa attracted students from outside. In my maternal uncle's house, my mother had relations who were also educated in Deoband and Shahranpur.
However, in those days, there was a practice that villagers from adjoining areas used to offer Eid prayer at a Central Eidgah. This they did for large congregation, better community understanding and unity. The Central Eidgah was located in the central point that connected different villages and it was situated by the side of road as it was easy for people to join the Eid prayer coming by bus or by any other means of transport. The Eid prayer was very attractive because of the presence of foreign Ulemas.The name of the place where we enjoyed Eid was Sunderpur. Beside the Eidgah, there was a big tank and a banyan tree. People used to have waju from the tank. There were bamboo fencing around the Eidgah and it was well decorated. There was a gate to enter into Eidgah maidan. Sweets were available from a good number of impoverished shops at the entrance gate. There were other kinds of shops also outside the bamboo fencing where things were also available for home use. Children beautifully dressed used to attend the Eidgah. Boys and girls both used to attend Eidgah with their parents. And after the prayer, people used to embrace each other.
But the most interesting part of the Eid-ul-Azha was that in each village there occurred a large scale 'Qurbani' or slaughtering of the animals like oxen and buffalo and goats in an open ground under the shades of tree. It was done on a large scale as people had community feeling. In the village there were Hindus too, but they lived separately at a distance. No 'Koshai' or one, who used to slaughter animals and prepare meat for others, was not there. It was a community activity. Everybody participated in the making of 'meat' with enthusiasm and festivity. The village people used to gather and shared activities with others immediately after the Eid prayer. During the Eid prayer, a section of people used to collect money from the 'Musallis'. These collections were made for orphanage, graveyard, Lillah boarding - free food and lodging for poor resident students of the Madrasa. It was really a kind of festival that one had enjoyed. It was a collective function. Sometimes we used to parade through village streets, shouting slogans- like, 'Nara-e-Takbir' - Glorify Allah through slogans, 'Allahu Akbar' - Allah is Great. We also used to organize cultural program such as Tilawat-i-Quran or recitation from the Holy Quran, performance of Hamd and Na't and recitation from poetical works of Kazi Nazrul Islam. These included 'Qurbani', 'Sha't-il-Arab, Muharram etc.
Games and sports such as 'Kabadi or Hadudu', 'Daria-bandha' 'Cock-fight' etc were common show in the village during Eid festival. Friendly football matches were also held. People used to enjoy all these games. Boat race was also arranged in rivers.
In some villages there were public feast. In fact, in those days villages were centre of festivities as most people who worked outside used to visit village. Rich and poor all became one. Again I found, youths used to collect meat and visited houses of the poor distributing all these to them. I did not find beggars at that time.
As I grew old I used to recite the poems of Nazrul, particularly 'Qurbani'. It thrilled me. My father Late Maulavi Karim Bakhsh liked my recitation. He was a close friend of eminent singer Abbas Uddin and worked together in Kolkata during the British period and from there he came to Jhenidah, presently a district on transfer. During his stay in Kolkata, he met Kazi Nazul Islam in a number of programs with Abbas Uddin. My father-in-law Mansur Ali Milky was a close friend to Nazrul and was his roommate.
Origin of Eid-ul-Azha
Eid-ul-Azha is one of the two most important Islamic festivals. It marks the end of Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage to the holy city of Makka after one fulfills one's obligation to Allah at the Holy Ka'ba and 'Safa-Marwa' and 'Mina'. The Hajj to Makka is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation upon male and female adults whose health and means permit it, or, in the words of the Qur'an, upon "those who can make their way there." The history of Eid-ul-Azha can be traced back to the story which states that Hazrat Ibrahim (As) was instructed by Allah, to raise the foundations of Ka'ba, the most sacred shrine in Makka. Muslims believe that even after undergoing a lot of trials and tribulations on his way to Makka, Allah revealed in a dream to Ibrahim (As) to sacrifice his son Ismail (As). Ibrahim and Ismail set off to Mina for the sacrifice. As they went, the devil attempted to lead Ibrahim astray by disobeying Allah and not to sacrifice his beloved son. But Ibrahim remained unfaltered in his decision and true to Allah, and drove the devil away. As Ibrahim put his knife on the throat of Ismail to slaughter his son, the knife did not work. Ismail then asked his father to be blindfolded as his love for him might prevent from slaughtering. Ibrahim then blindfolded. He again pressed his knife. The same thing happened. Up came the order of Allah. Ibrahim and Ismail have successfully passed in the test and Allah was pleased to provide Ibrahim with a sheep/dumba for 'Qurbani'. What a lesson Ibrahim and Ismail passed through including the mother Hajera! After Nooh's Great Flood which occurred as a punishment to the non-believers from Allah for disobedience, Ibrahim was made the Prophet of Allah. He had supreme submission to Allah and established the rule of Allah on earth. Ibrahim and his son Ismail's 'Qurbani' of sheep as ordered by Allah is known as the Qurbani or the Festival of Sacrifice. It is surprising that the followers of Dawood, Musa, and Isa do not follow this 'Qurbani' when Ibrahim did it by the order of Allah.
Muslims commemorate this outstanding act of sacrifice by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, goat, cow, bull, camel, goat. When this is done, 1/3 of the meat goes to the needy people, 1/3 is given to neighbours and friends, and 1/3 stays with family. This act reminds the participant of his/her obligation whole through the ear to share worldly goods with those who are less fortunate, and serves as an offer of thanks giving to Allah. People visit each other's homes and partake in festive meals with special dishes, beverages, and desserts. Children receive gifts and sweets on this happy occasion.
The purpose of Qurbani is to bring in the 'Have-nots' or the poor close to the rich sharing their wealth. Allah has given this 'right' to the poor. The rich must help the poor to improve their position.
Eid ul-Azha occurs on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja. The date of Eid-ul-Azha depends on the visibility of the moon each year.
We quote from the Holy Quran the relevant verses :
Quran 22:27] "And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations."
[Quran 2:125] We have rendered the shrine (the Ka'ba) a focal point for the people, and a safe sanctuary. You may use Abraham's shrine as a prayer house. We commissioned Abraham and Ismail: "You shall purify My house for those who visit, those who live there, and those who bow and prostrate."
[Quran 2:158] The knolls of Safa and Marwah are among the rites decreed by Allah. Anyone who observes Hajj or 'Umrah commits no error by traversing the distance between them. If one volunteers more righteous works, then Allah is Appreciative, Omniscient.
[Quran 2:189] They ask you about the phases of the moon! Say, "They provide a timing device for the people, and determine the time of Hajj." It is not righteous to beat around the bush; righteousness is attained by upholding the Commandments and by being straightforward. You shall observe Allah that you may succeed.
[ Quran 2:196] You shall observe the complete rites of Hajj and 'Umrah for Allah. If you are prevented, you shall send an offering, and do not resume cutting your hair until your offering has reached its destination. If you are ill, or suffering a head injury (and you must cut your hair), you shall expiate by fasting, or giving to charity, or some other form of worship. During the normal Hajj, if you break the state of Ihram (sanctity) between 'Umrah and Hajj, you shall expiate by offering an animal sacrifice. If you cannot afford it, you shall fast three days during Hajj and seven when you return home - this completes ten -provided you do not live at the Sacred Masjid. You shall observe Allah, and know that Allah is strict in enforcing retribution.
[Quran 2:197] Hajj shall be observed in the specified months. Whoever sets out to observe Hajj shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct, and arguments throughout Hajj. Whatever good you do, Allah is fully aware thereof. As you prepare your provisions for the journey, the best provision is righteousness. You shall observe Me, O you who possess intelligence.
[Quran 2:198] You commit no error by seeking provisions from your Lord (through commerce). When you file from 'Arafat, you shall commemorate Allah at the Sacred Location (of Muzdalifah). You shall commemorate Him for guiding you; before this, you had gone astray. [Quran 2:199] You shall file together, with the rest of the people who file, and ask Allah for forgiveness. Allah is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[Quran 2:200-201] Once you complete your rites, you shall continue to commemorate Allah as you commemorate your own parents, or even better. Some people would say, "Our Lord, give us of this world," while having no share in the Hereafter. [Quran 2:201] Others would say, "Our Lord, grant us righteousness in this world, and righteousness in the Hereafter, and spare us the retribution of Hell."
[Quran 2:203] You shall commemorate Allah for a number of days (in Mina); whoever hastens to do this in two days commits no sin, and whoever stays longer commits no sin, so long as righteousness is maintained. You shall observe Allah, and know that before Him you will be gathered.
[Quran 3:96-97] The most important shrine established for the people is the one in Becca; a blessed beacon for all the people. In it are clear signs: the station of Abraham. Anyone who enters it shall be granted safe passage. The people owe it to Allah that they shall observe Hajj to this shrine, when they can afford it. As for those who disbelieve, Allah does not need anyone.
[Quran 5:1] O you who believe, you shall fulfill your covenants. Permitted for you to eat are the livestock, except those specifically prohibited herein. You shall not permit hunting throughout Hajj pilgrimage. Allah decrees whatever He wills.
[Quran 5:2] O you who believe, do not violate the rites instituted by Allah, nor the Sacred Months, nor the animals to be offered, nor the garlands marking them, nor the people who head for the Sacred Shrine (Ka'ba) seeking blessings from their Lord and approval. Once you complete the pilgrimage, you may hunt. Do not be provoked into aggression by your hatred of people who once prevented you from going to the Sacred Masjid. You shall cooperate in matters of righteousness and piety; do not cooperate in matters that are sinful and evil. You shall observe Allah. Allah is strict in enforcing retribution.
[Quran 5:94] O you who believe, Allah will test you with some game within reach of your hands and your arrows (during pilgrimage). Allah thus distinguishes those among you who observe Him in their privacy. Those who transgress after this have incurred a painful retribution.
[Quran 5:95] O you who believe do not kill any game during pilgrimage. Anyone who kills any game on purpose, his fine shall be a number of livestock animals that is equivalent to the game animals he killed. The judgment shall be set by two equitable people among you. They shall make sure that the offerings reach the Ka'ba. Otherwise, he may expiate by feeding poor people, or by an equivalent fast to atone for his offense. Allah has pardoned past offenses. But if anyone returns to such an offense, Allah will avenge it. Allah is Almighty, Avenger.
[Quran 5:96] All fish of the sea are made lawful for you to eat. During pilgrimage, this may provide for you during your journey. You shall not hunt throughout the pilgrimage. You shall reverence Allah, before whom you will be summoned.
[Quran 9:2] Therefore, roam the earth freely for four months, and know that you cannot escape from Allah, and that Allah humiliates the disbelievers.
[Quran 9:36] The count of months, as far as Allah is concerned, is twelve. This has been Allah's law, since the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred. This is the perfect religion; you shall not wrong your souls (by fighting) during the Sacred Months. However, you may declare all-out war against the idol worshipers (even during the Sacred Months), when they declare all-out war against you, and know that Allah is on the side of the righteous.
[Quran 9:37] Altering the Sacred Months is a sign of excessive disbelief; it augments the straying of those who have disbelieved. They alternate the Sacred Months and the regular months, while preserving the number of months consecrated by Allah. They thus violate what Allah has consecrated. Their evil works are adorned in their eyes. Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. [Quran 22:26-27] We appointed Abraham to establish the Shrine: "You shall not idolize any other Allah beside me, and purify My shrine for those who visit it, those who live near it, and those who bow and prostrate." And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations."
[Quran 22:28-29] They may seek commercial benefits, and they shall commemorate Allah's name during the specified days for providing them with livestock. "Eat there from and feed the despondent and the poor." They shall complete their obligations, fulfill their vows, and visit the ancient shrine.
[Quran 22:33] The (livestock) provide you with many benefits for a period, before being donated to the ancient shrine.
[Quran 22:36] The animal offerings are among the rites decreed by Allah for your own good. You shall mention Allah's name on them while they are standing in line. Once they are offered for sacrifice, you shall eat there from and feed the poor and the needy. This is why we subdued them for you, that you may show your appreciation.
[Quran 48:27] Allah has fulfilled His messenger's truthful vision: "You will enter the Sacred Masjid, Allah willing, perfectly secure, and you will cut your hair or shorten it (as you fulfill the pilgrimage rituals) there. You will not have any fear. Since He knew what you did not know, He has coupled this with an immediate victory." ( Sources Internet)
Hajj : Unity of the Muslims
The Ka'ba is Islam's most sacred site because it represents 'the metaphorical house' of Allah and the Oneness of Allah in Islam. Muslims around the world face toward the Ka'ba during the five daily prayers.
Ka'ba stands for the unity of Muslims. A Muslim is one who believes in Allah as the Supreme Sovereign Being without any partner and also in the Prophethood of Muhammad (Sm). Hazrat Ibrahim (As) is taken as the First Muslim after the Great Flood of Hazrat Nooh. No Prophet of Allah ever preached any religion other than Islam. Musa (As) Isa (As) all preached Islam. Those who take Hazrat Isa or Jesus Christ as the Son of Allah are not Muslims. Hazrat Isa or Jesus never preached it. Hazrat Ibrahim (As) fought against all kind of idolatry and so did Hazrat Muhammad (Sm) as the greatest and the last Prophet of Islam.
The Muslim world should get back to the Caliphhood of Islam. Ka'ba should work as the focal point to materialise of Allah's religion on earth and the unity of Muslim world. Ka'ba gives this message to the people of the world irrespective caste, creed and race.