Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Today is Qurban Bayrami, the Festival of the Sacrifice. The holiday comes from the story of Ibrahim and Ismail as found in the Quran.
"O my Lord! grant me a righteous (son)!" So we gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou wilt find me, if God so wills one practicing Patience and Constancy!" So when they had both submitted their wills (to God), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him, "O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial - and We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice: and We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times: "Peace and salutation to Abraham!" Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For he was one of Our believing Servants. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet, - one of the Righteous. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls. Surah 37.100-113 .
In Azerbaijan, each family who is capable slaughters a sheep, divides it into seven parts and gives the meat to those less fortunate and also to their neighbors. Relatives come together and share big meals. I asked one of my students when his family would have "the" meal and he said, "what do you mean? we are eating all day!". Almost all of my students (who are college age and younger) knew the origins of the holiday and were able to tell me the story.
Not such a great time to be a sheep. But a great time for us to share what the story of Abraham and Isaac means to us. How it is a beautiful prophetic picture of the Gospel. How we were ransomed with a momentous sacrifice.