The Spirit of Sacrifice

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“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else.” 
 Mitch Albom 

Note: As it is time for the festival of sacrifice, Eid-ul-Adha, I decided to scribble down some thoughts on 'sacrifice'. This is not in any way a religious sermon; I do not consider myself knowledgeable enough to do a religious post. This is merely an attempt to understand the meaning of sacrifice, in general, and its value in our lives. 

How important is sacrifice in our lives? Why does every nation in the world glorify their martyrs? Why are mothers exemplified by their sacrificial nature? Why do millions of Muslims around the globe sacrifice livestock to symbolize and follow the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) who did not even shy away from sacrificing his most precious son in an act of subservience to Allah - such was the strength of his unwavering faith in Him! What is actually 'sacrifice'?

Often today when we use the word 'sacrifice', we attach negative connotations to it. It has come to mean something uncomfortable, something that independent, headstrong individuals shall avoid. In religious sense, though, it has a different meaning. I ran a little Google search on the word 'sacrifice' and to my utter astonishment I found that the word has its roots in Latin, Hebrew and Sanskrit. By combining the meaning in all these languages, the word simply means 'to make something set apart from ordinary reality'.

Has the thought ever crossed your mind as to why soldiers (including men and women serving in all/any forces) leave the comfort of their homes risking their own lives for others? All this for the sake of their land and others inhabiting it! Ever wondered how some people such as Abdul Sattar Edhi or Mother Teresa were born with the sole purpose to sacrifice their lives to uplift that of others? If you look at your life in entirety, you would realize how all your life you've struggled to make a better life for yourself, to fulfill your heart's desires, and to live comfortably and happily. It is quite out of ordinary to willingly sacrifice your life, so that others could keep theirs.

In all honesty, however, I think we all make sacrifices in our lives, one way or the other, for things 'we' really want and to achieve what really makes 'us' happy. I recently asked a friend how she was juggling being a mother of young triplets, with work and study. She responded by saying ' not sleeping enough'. It’s not the most ideal way to live your life, but we have to make sacrifices to be happy. 

Each and every one of us has our own set of duties and responsibilities to attend to; resultantly, we make endless compromises with other people and our circumstances throughout our lives. For instance, we sometimes have to ditch a plan with friends to fulfill a work commitment - what really makes us happy would be to be with our friends, but the former may be a more viable option, given the circumstances we are caught in. This is what makes us more human; the spirit to sacrifice our comfort and happiness for the sake of responsibilities.

My life, at the moment, is pretty swamped with things and I often find myself rushing around trying to fit in everything; it's certainly not easy to live away from home. I've days when I’m more stressed, tired and overworked than on others. There are days when I question whether what I’m doing is really worth it. But I know it is. Working hard towards our goals in life was never meant to be a piece of cake. These aspirations for the future are meant to test our patience, challenge our determination toward our goals, and help us realize how truly we wish to achieve them. I wouldn’t have grown as a person if I hadn’t made any sacrifices. If we wish to succeed and achieve what we really desire to have in life, we’ll have to make sacrifices. And when we reach the end of that mountain, we would be so glad and proud of ourselves for not letting it go and not giving up the journey to our dreams.

There are a million of things that we want at the present; things that might encourage us to procrastinate when we really should not! We might want to do something as simple as taking a trip to a hill station or something more significant as buying a new car - at the end it all boils down to one question. What means the most to us? We have to pick between our immediate desire and the need that would propel our dreams forward. When we sacrifice our immediate desires, we stash away time and energy for bigger joys. Something we truly want, not just something we want in the present moment.

Of all the relations that display instances of sacrifice, parenthood tops the list. Parenting demands a great level of sacrifice, and most goes unseen, unnoticed. Who remembers all the times their sleep-deprived parents cleaned them, changed their diapers, woke up with them in the middle of the night to feed them, comforted them, and nursed them during sickness? How many meals do mothers cook for their families throughout their lives? How many of the kind words, thoughtful conversations from loving fathers get logged permanently into a child’s memory? However, in the continuous cycle of cleaning pukes, responding to tantrums and repeated questions, wiping messes, making meals, and losing sleep, parents take hold of delight — in the affection they feel for their precious children! They make sacrifices and in return those sacrifices comfort them.

The test that Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was put through and the message that he sent to the entire humanity remains exemplary for us, even today, after over forty centuries. The momentous event of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his own son Ismail and Allah’s mercy upon him to replace his son by a sheep teaches us about the freedom from the prison of instinct and selfishness, and about the elevation of spirit, as a result of the greatest sacrifice made in the history of humanity owing to the Prophet's unswerving faith in the Divine Power !!!

Here is to the spirit of sacrifice!!! 

Eid Mubarak - Eat, Pray and Love xx 

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  1. The meaning that your article has is very deep. It's what our nation needs at present.

    A little sacrifices by everyone will make a pool of goodness for the same people to draw inspiration from for their own selves. But who wants to be the first drop of rain for this?

    Good choice of image as usual.

    Stay blessed.

    1. Yeah :) That's exactly what we need. I think we have little drops gathering somewhere to make the rain.. let's see !

      Thanks for the kind words :)