Eid el Adha

Last Tuesday, Filipinos had a rare double treat of a holiday. Two holidays were observed simultaneously both on the theme of “sacrifice.”

The Islamic world celebrated one of its two holiest days, Eid el Adha or Feast of Sacrifice (the other is Eid el Fiter, which marks the end of the fasting month of Holy Ramadan). By legislative fiat, both festivals are now observed as national holidays, thanks to Sen. Loren Legarda, its sponsor.

The same day also celebrated the death anniversary of former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, who courted mortality when, against the advice of friends he went home to an assassin’s bullets that felled him on the tarmac of the airport now named after him. His death electrified and galvanized a moribund, long-suppressed anger of a multitude, leading to their emancipation from martial law rule. The sacrifice of Aquino elevated him to the pantheon of heroes inscribed in school textbooks.

But the celebration unwittingly brought back grim memories of death, horror, mayhem, pillage and loss of dreams of better tomorrows for Maranaws. For the second time, they observed a supposedly joyous occasion in an unfamiliar setting, in transitional shelters and evacuation centers. They were driven away from their homes by jihadists crusading for an Islamic caliphate and evangelizing fake Islam.

In a normal setting, faithfuls wake up early to bathe, perform the dawn prayer, don their “Sunday best” clothes and troop to mosques or to public grounds like Luneta. The prayer consists of two parts: the physical process, like prostrating and the sermon of the Imam. (It was reported that there was near unanimity on the theme of the sermons in the nationwide Eid congregations — peace in our country and the immediate rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi).

From the mosque, they would visit with relatives and friends to share food and stories. But for Marawi victims, these are now memories that aggravate their miserable and forlorn condition.

The Eid marks the culmination of two-week, back-breaking religious rituals to complete the requirements for haj. This is the time pilgrims (reported to be 2 million) wearing their ikram, two-piece white clothes for men and abaya for women gather and stand in prayers in Mount Arafat (where, according to Islamic belief, Allah SWT will stand on the Day of Judgment) and listen to sermons of Imams.

More importantly, the occasion signifies the time when the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians) hurdled the supreme test of faith when Allah SWT commanded him to sacrifice his son, Ismael.

Christians could easily relate to this Islamic tale because it is narrated similarly in the Holy Bible. In fact, this is not the only similarity in the doctrines of the two major religions — Islam and Christianity. The Koran and Bible are replete with tales and tenets common to both faiths.

Last Tuesday may have been a serendipitous day for Muslims and Christians to reflect on the great chance of oneness, brotherhood and love among them. This is not difficult given that both followers believe they are children of Ibrahim and their religion is founded on a basic belief in monotheism and a reward of paradise (jinnah) for devoted believers and purgatory (naraka jahannam) to errant and sinful ones. This article of faith is so preponderant, it can outweigh any differences in their religious principles.

Except for the teaching about the Holy Trinity and confessional rite to purge sin, which Muslims disbelieve (some Christians find this disquieting also), the two religions are reconcilable.

Faithfuls need to dwell on and talk more of the similarities in their beliefs rather than differences. For this purpose, the Ulama-Bishop Conference of the Philippines composed of clerics of both religions is a good and potent agent. They could mobilize their evangelists to pound on the similarities of doctrines.

John Lennon of the Beatles had a profound message that resonates with all. He sang “Imagine… no religion too… all the people living in peace.” While that’s blasphemous and heresy, still it could mean that people should not be too absorbed and blinded by intolerant religious dogmas.

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