I am dreaming of a black female goat, Meggie we owned a long, long time ago. It seems to be unhappy. It’s been tied to a spot for a long, long time. It seems to be waiting…. I wake up having been disturbed by the dream. I remember her very well as loved her dearly and took great care of her. Meggie had a son - a beautiful, brown ram.  For Qurbani one year, he was  sacrificed. His mother, Meggie was loose feeding, however at the time of the slaughter, she had wandered nearby and had witnessed the sacrifice.  Later that evening she was not to found anywhere near our home. On searching, she was discovered across the road, under a tree with tears in her eyes. It suddenly dawned on me that Meggie witnessed the earlier sacrifice of her son.

And  I felt guilty and sad and pained. I called her.“Meggie…” She looked apprehensive, ready to bolt. “It’s me. Come. I’m sorry. But it was for the pleasure of Allah. He’ll be raised before Allah, healthy and fluffy…

That incident has remained buried in me, it seems, for years. Or….is there more to it…? It is significant that on the eve of sacrifice, right after the Day of Arafah and on the plains of Muzdalifah, on the hard, sandy floor, I should be dreaming of this mother goat.

I get up and perform Tahajjud.  And I ask Allah’s forgiveness for that incident, so many, many years ago.   And I am genuinely sorry that through my carelessness, a mother animal had to witness the slaughter of her son.

But sacrifice, as practised by Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) is an essential religious rite in memory of the sacrifice performed by Prophet Abraham. God put Abraham to a most difficult trial, the details of which are described in the Quran. “O my Lord! Grant me (Abraham) a righteous (son)! So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear. Then, when the the son reached the age to work with him, he said: O my son I see in a vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now say what is your view! (The son) said: O My father! Do as you are commanded: You will find me if God so wills, one practising patience and constancy! So when they had both submitted their wills (to God), and he had made him prostrate on his face (for sacrifice), We called out to him: O Abraham! You have 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” (37:100-109).

This is the origin of the Islamic precept of sacrifice in fulfilment of God?s command provided in the Quran: “... to your Lord turn in prayer and sacrifice.” (108:2).

The aim of sacrifice is to imbibe piety. It also promotes the spirit of sacrifice for a right cause. To explain its purpose, God says in the Quran. “It is not their meat, nor their blood, that reaches God, It is their piety that reaches God” (22:37)

Prophet Muhammad (uwbp) said: “On the 10th of Zil-Hijjah, there is no better act in the view of Allah than shedding the blood (of slaughtered animals). And verily sacrifice earns the approbation of Allah even before the drop of blood (of the slaughtered animal) falls on the ground. Hence you should offer it in good spirit. For every hair of the sacrificial animal, there is a blessing.”

So in performing the sacrifice is an act of obedience to God, but in allowing Meggie to see the act performed, was not being sensitive to the parent - child relationship that exists even in the animal kingdom.  Allah please forgive my trespasses, small and big, ameen.