Eid al-Adha, Islam, and the True Road to Peace
Next week is the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which will be celebrated by millions around the world. The second of the two Eid’s, (the first is “Eid al-Fitr which is a celebration that takes place following the end of the holy month of Ramadan) this holiday commemorates Abraham’s (he was the forefather of the Jews–as well as the Muslims) submission to G-d when, according to Islamic tradition, the Patriarch is commanded to sacrifice his first-born son (Ishmael according to the Quran).
The story of Isaac/Ishmael’s sacrifice is well-known in both Jewish and Muslim tradition. According to many historians, human sacrifice was widely practiced by the Cana’anites who lived in the region and the Biblical/Quran story of G-d’s angel appearing to Abraham and telling him to sacrifice a lamb instead of his first-born son, signals a break with popular beliefs.
Both Judaism and Islam are firmly rooted on the belief that murder is an abominable crime and that significant value should be places on human life. While Islamic scholars have strayed from Islam’s basic principles over the past century or so, I firmly believed that Islam, like any other religion, was designed to provide a higher moral standard of living for its followers.
I believe that true peace between Jews and Muslims can only be reached through mutual understanding–not necessarily compromise but an understanding that both Jews and Muslims have been placed in the Land of Israel as a blessing from the Almighty; a blessing not to be taken for granted. I realize I’m making a very vague statement when I talk about “mutual understanding.” Let me try to elaborate on this.
I think that Israeli Arabs are taking positive steps in the right direction. I’ve come to know quite a few brave individuals who have gone “against the grain” and support Israel’s right to self-determination as well as the Jewish claim to the Land. This seems to be a popular trend in Israel. I’m confident that the Middle East is being transformed as we speak. More and more Arabs seem to be realizing they’re not going to benefit from terror and oppressive regimes. They want to lead better, more productive lives. They’re human beings and like all human beings, they want to lead a dignified existence.
The Arab world is aching for the West to help it rid itself of tyranny and economic distress. The Arabs have woken up to a reality in which they’re better off coexisting with Israel and America than leading a life of Jihad. And so, we need to help them. Whenever we see Arabs who are willing to take on leadership roles within their community and strengthen ties between themselves and the West, it’s our obligation as the children of Abraham to help them accomplish this.
Who are we to claim that “Arabs cannot be trusted!?” I realize that Arab terrorists have often played on our feelings of guilt and our good will, but then again, which of the world’s nations hasn’t taken advantage of us? Why should Arabs be any different? Why can we trust Germans, for example, and not Arabs? Or Russians and not Arabs? I have a hard time understanding this.
I believe that we’ll have true peace in Israel–and in the entire world–once we begin taking the time to learn from one another; once we open up and encounter our biggest fears. Because in the words of one of the world’s biggest heroes and my personal role model, Sir Winston Churchill, “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”
This all sounds nice, but how is to be done? What can we do to further the goals of a true and lasting peace? Not a peace where Israel has to give up its historical rights to Judea and Samaria, but a peace where the Arabs realize that Israel won’t be defeated and that the time has come to accept us as the rightful owners of our land? It starts with unity within the Jewish community but we also have to reach out to those Arabs willing to recognize our undisputed rights to the Land of Israel.
Happy Eid al-Adha to all my Muslim friends and may we merit a true and lasting peace through our charity and acts of kindness.