This past week marked the passing of “Eid El Adha”, a very important holiday for Muslims all around the world. Eid El Adha or Festival of Sacrifice is celebrated by Muslims in remembrance of the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God. The holiday also marks the end of the “Hajj”, the pilgrimage duty to Mecca required of believers at least once in their lifetime.
Today’s religions and beliefs are highly interlinked and this holiday is a great example of that. Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe the story of Abraham and respect him as a prophet. It is therefore refreshing to see common beliefs being practiced in an increasingly polarized world, where people only focus on differences.
In today’s Adha tradition, an animal is sacrificed and one third of the meat is given to neighbors and friends, while another one third is given to the poor. This meat is shared as a sign of friendship and solidarity. The value of solidarity is found in all major religions across the globe. It is a value that is not only based on religious obligation but a value found in the nature of the person himself.
Giving to others without receiving anything in return breaks the rules of our continuously industrialized and materialistic world. Today, some people’s mathematical brain cannot process why they should give without receiving in return. Children are growing up in a World that tells them that their interests are all that matter. People are being bred to believe that we live in a “survival of the fittest” environment, where survival only means thinking about yourself. They are not told that humans are the dominant race on earth because they help each other, because they are able to pull each other out of disaster as a group. The Dalai Lama says that we have become a global family today, that we can no longer ignore the suffering of people around us. If we stop helping each other, we cease to be humans and let the law of the jungle govern our societies, ignoring and forgetting the miracle of who we are.
I am happy to see traditions in all religions reminding us of solidarity. However, as with all traditional practices, it is important not to get too entangled with the practice itself and forget the values that the tradition represents.
Cedric Choukeir is the regional director of the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East.