PEACETALK: Notes on the Holiday, by a Girl Living in the ARMM

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COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/24 Sept) — Before anything else, I’d like to say to our Muslim brothers and sisters, “Eid Mubarak!”

It’s a non-working holiday here in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) today (September 24  because today is the actual date of Eid al-Adha, the reason why so many of us won’t have work tomorrow and have already planned long weekends following the announcement of Malacanang.

To be honest, I still can’t get over the fact that the national government chose to declare tomorrow as the holiday instead of today, but I guess that’s what you get when you live in a country where a nuanced understanding of Muslims and their traditions is hard to come by, let alone respect.

The Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, Grand Mosque or Golden Mosque in Cotabato City is the largest mosque in the entire country. Photo courtesy of Ayrie Ching
The Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, Grand Mosque or Golden Mosque in Cotabato City is the largest mosque in the entire country. Photo courtesy of Ayrie Ching

But I digress.

I just really REALLY want you to know why today is a holiday. It’s because Eid al-Adha is one of my favorite holidays, and for good reason.

Today is supposed to remind us of the importance of sacrifice and of submission to our faith — of what it means to trust God and lean not on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

It also teaches us that the Muslim and Christian faiths share certain elements and narratives, because Eid al-Adha is actually a remembrance of Abraham’s sacrifice.

Yes, Abraham who, in the Bible, was told to sacrifice Isaac. However, in the Quran, Abraham is asked to sacrifice his other son, Ishmael.

And while in the Bible, Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac without telling the boy (Gen 22:7-8), Ishmael was told of the command which Allah gave his father through a dream.

When Abraham told Ishmael about the dream and then asked Ishmael to consider being a sacrifice, Ishmael said “my dear Father! Do as you are commanded! Insha’Allah (If Allah wills it), you will find me calm and steadfast.” [Quran, sura 37 (As-Saaffat), ayat 100–102]

Which means both Abraham and Ishmael submitted themselves to the will of Allah and, in doing so, fulfilled the will of Allah. The birth of Isaac is actually one of the many gifts Allah has bestowed upon Abraham soonafter.

This act of willing sacrifice is what our Muslim brothers and sisters commemorate every year during Eid al-Adha.

Such faith and submission despite the limits of what we know of the future is all the more important, especially now at a time when we are led to believe we know everything and have no need for faith in something that is far greater than us.

This is the value of Eid al-Adha and not the long weekend that comes with a misplaced holiday, but I do hope you find solace as you enjoy a much needed rest over the weekend.

May you find something so great that you may not grasp its entirety, and yet still find it worth believing in — one that is, beyond question, finally worth shelving your pride for and completely surrendering to. (Marrian Pio Roda Ching is currently a writer in the ARMM regional government’s Bureau of Public Information).

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