During this Eid el-kabir (or sallah) event, Muslims make sacrifices of animal offerings in commemoration of the initial offering made by Prophet Ibrahim or Abraham. Since then, it became a rite for Muslims who possess the means to offer sacrifices, annually, on the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah.
Sacrifice is a symbolic obedience to divine injunctions and, by extension, to the commands of those charged with authority and leadership in the community. Therefore, obedience to God, parents and constituted authorities is an expression of, and indeed a sure path to genuine sacrifice. However, service to humanity does not end with submission to the will and command of God; it equally entails any sacrifice that one can offer for the development of the society. Providing credible leadership through selfless service for the benefit of the people and community is in truth part of genuine sacrifice.
As required by the teachings of the religion, Muslims who are able to make animal sacrifices on the occasion of the Eid el-Kabir festival are enjoined to extend their generous hands of alms to their neighbours and other members of their immediate community, especially the less-privileged. The activities that usually exemplify this festive period, including feasts and exchange of visits, should be explored to further unite us together as well as inspire us to forgive ourselves of past mistakes.
Leadership with modesty, transparent honesty, justice, and an altruistic sense of responsibility, are fundamental virtues to any sincere sacrifice; virtues that are generally lacking among many leaders and public office holders in Nigeria today. Leaders, whether elected or appointed, temporal or spiritual, should imbibe the courteous, gracious and obliging submission to the command and direction of God to inspire those they lead to make patriotic sacrifices including paying the supreme price where appropriate, in order to bring to redirect the country out of the mess in to which a combination of factors, including bad governance, has plunged it.
In the spirit of this season, government should make concrete efforts to tackle the two great challenges of poverty and unemployment, and to reduce the economic and social hardship faced by majority of Nigerians. Leaders in whatever field, particularly the political, are expected to be constantly in tune with the people and sensitive to the genuine feelings of those they lead. Politicians and political office holders in the country must also resolve to eschew the deepening culture of impunity that is misleading young people.
Nigeria has witnessed and endured many challenges in the past few years. The government should not be in any way daunted by the challenges of insurgency, but forge on to defeat it. It should continue to employ all non-violent options including dialogue in engaging all aggrieved groups in the country. In like manner, persons and groups with grievance in the country should seek redress through non-violent means. Violence which destroys is not a way to express ill feelings.
The values that forge unity and frown on divisive messages are values to be honoured and encouraged among all Nigerians in every region.
Muslims should use this period of spiritual sacrifices to engage with and encourage Nigerian leaders to be imbued with the wisdom and the capacity needed to bring about good governance.
At this solemn of sallah, we wish all Nigerians a peaceful and memorable celebration.