By Bashir Adefaka
The Nigerian – Turkish International College, NTIC, recently dazzled thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims across the country with meat and food items for the eid-l-adha celebration.
The NTIC Foundation which was established in 1998 slaughtered 1,200 cows in 47 locations in 22 states of Nigeria and distributed same to no fewer than 25,000 people in all the locations, as part of its annual efforts towards a happy eid-l-adha celebration particularly for the underprivileged.
Of the 1,200 cows, 125 were distributed to people in the South-West out of which 105 were slaughtered in Lagos alone.
The slaughtering which started immediately after eid prayers in the school’s premises, at 11.00am was supervised by the Vice President, Exams, Records and Statistics of the college, Mr. Rakhmaninov Ochilbek.
Speaking to Vanguard during the distribution, Ochilbek said the initiative which started in 2006 took a different dimension this year with several thousands of non-Muslims benefiting from the gifts.
His words: “For we, Muslims, Sallah is compulsory but this initiative will bridge the gap between different categories of people such as rich and poor; the haves and haves-not; as well as extending love to members of the Christian community who were on ground to celebrate with the Muslims at Sallah. According to him, it will also showcase the idea of tolerance, peace and tranquility which Allah enjoined all Muslims.
“We want to bridge the gap between all classes of people irrespective of faith. We give to non-Muslims, we also receive indication of interest from Churches and give to them. More importantly too, we give to Muslims who for certain reasons may be in need to make their families happy at Sallah. Here at NTIC, half of our staff are Christians and they also get from the 105 cows that are being slaughtered here today,” Ochilbek said.
The Vice Principal Academics, Mr. Aderoju Olayinka, said in line with the aim of educating and enlightening students across the country with a view to raising ‘a golden generation’ for the future of Nigeria, the distribution of meat to the needy at Sallah was one of the social responsibilities of the institution.
He stated that as a result of the need to genuinely produce well trained youths for the future, the school had over the years maintain its enviable standard with feedback and comments on its products coming from various institutions in and outside the country.
“Any score below 65 percent at NTIC is weak and we have worked round the clock to ensure that this standard is either kept or improved upon,” he stated.
As at the time of Vanguard’s presence, over 500 vehicles of different categories were sighted packed inside and outside of school premises, Isheri, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as Muslims and non-Muslims thronged the venue of sallah meat distribution to collect their shares.
One of the Christians identified at the venue, Ezekiel who spoke to Vanguard said: “This is one aspect of life that is expected of inter-religious community in Nigeria. If you see during Ramadan fast, Cardinal Onaiyekan in Abuja led other Christians to break fast with Muslims and Muslim leaders. Only this way we can live in peace and harmony.”
He continued: “If NTIC Foundation consisted mainly of foreigners have contributed this magnitude to making Nigeria peaceful, they need to be encouraged while other groups and individuals should also be encouraged to follow the good example of the NTIC Foundation,” Ezikiel said.
Muslims at the venue described the NTIC Foundation’s gesture as a way of fulfilling the injunction of Allah on charity, religious tolerance and unity.
Muslim women going to eid?
Most Imams are inundated with calls and questions on whether women are allowed to observe the eid prayers. A couple of hadiths emphasised on the issue giving the leeway to women to proceed to eid, observe the superrogatory prayers and participate in the joyous occasion of eid.
Although, eid prayers is not obligatory for women, but it is sunnah. Women should endeavour to fulfil that aspect of sunnah and proceed to eid to offer the two superrogatory prayers at the praying-ground with other Muslims. This is so, because the Prophet (s.a.w) enjoined them to do that.
It is narrated in one of the hadiths related by Umm ‘Atiyah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “We were commanded to go to the Eid prayers with girls and the women in seclusion, and he commanded the menstruating women to avoid the prayer-place of the Muslims.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1/93; Muslim, 890.
According to a report narrated by al-Tirmidhi: The Messenger of Allaah (s.a.w) used to everybody, adolescent girls, women in seclusion and menstruating women on the two Eids, but the menstruating women would watch from a close distance to the eid. One of them asked, “O Messenger of Allaah, what if she does not have a jilbaab?” He said, “Then let her sister lend her one of her jilbaabs.”
It should be noted that as they are permitted to go to eid, they are not permitted to go out unveiled or making a wanton display of themselves. The essence of this was to ensure that no one is prevented from participating in the joyous celebration of ‘Eid. The hadith urges everyone to attend Eid prayer, and to co-operate with one another in righteousness and piety. The menstruating woman should not forsake the remembrance of Allah or places of goodness such as gatherings for the purpose of glorifying and remembering Allaah.
Lessons of eid-il-Adha
EId-il-Adha, the ritual of animal sacrifice has remained a means of attaining nearness to Almighty Allah. It is a sacrifice that we offer with fervour and enthusiasm on the occasion of the Hajj, precicely 10th of Zhul-Hijjah. While its import and essence is to show taqwa, piety to the Creator, it can also be viewed in the same way with zakah since the meat of ram, goat, sheep, cow or camel are distributed for eating.
Prophet Ibrahim and his son (as) offered us great lesson and a pathway for genuine faith and submission to Allah (SWT). We do not need to go into the historical perspective of the sacrifice, you may read Q37:100-110; what is important now is imbibing the lessons of the occasion and applying it to our daily lives. And for those who have the means to offer the sacrifice, how do we go about it to make it more meaningful and affect the lives of others.
We must note that this sacrifice is merely symbolic. The blood of the animal can not extinguish our sins neither can it make make anyone more righteous. Animals and humans are not of equal value. So, almighty Allah does not need the blood, neither does He have anything to do with the meat. The flesh and blood [of your sacrificed animals] does not reach God; it is only your piety that reaches Him.
Thus has He subjected them to your service so that you may give glory to God for guiding you. [This is the way of the righteous] and [O Prophet!] give glad tidings to these righteous. Q22:37. What is absolutely necessary is the piety, and the will to always submit to His ordinances. That is why the killing of a ram is not the ultimate on this occasion but the state of your heart to Allah.
It is laughable when people who rarely pray five times daily or seldom fast regularly or not disposed to alms-giving, but in a show of wealth, bought and slaughtered the biggest ram in the market for sallah. That is not part of the intents and purposes of the feast. It is a reflection of our faith, our willingness to submit to the will of Almighty Allah, to worship Him at all times and care for others.
We should also show gratitude to Allah for preserving our lives. The ram which replaced Ibrahim’s son was an illustration of a reward for total submission to the will of Allah. It is also a symbol of Allah’s love for us and that He is capable of intervening at the critical moment and providing solutions to our problems. The absolute submission exemplified by Ibrahim and Ismaeel to the Will of Allah and the true slave-hood must be emulated.
The sacrifice that we perform on this occasion as a worship to Allah should provoke us to think about how we can continue to live in peace and harmony with non-Muslims. We should think about how we can give Islam the right image through our actions especially in a country where the religion has been misconstrued and given unpleasant meaning as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The food that we eat on this day should remind us of those who are dying of hunger in our community, the deprived, widows and less privileged. Let us begin to work for the pleasure of Allah by providing succour for the downtrodden.