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Eid Al-Adha Message, November, 2009

On this occasion of Eid Al-Adha, marking the competition of the rites and rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage, we would like to wish all people and especially our supporters a blessed and happy time. This is an enlightening holiday, Hajj teaches us of the meanings of simplicity, endurance, sacrifice, and humility – among the great tests that God puts us all through.  As we reflect on the trials of the prophet Abraham, his son Ismail and Ismail’s mother, Hagar, so too we should be mindful of the tribulations of people throughout the world today who are also suffering with a sense of abandonment, despair and uncertainty.

It was a supreme test of faith for Abraham when his own God asked him to abandon a mother and child in the middle of a barren desert with nothing but faith that they will be looked after. And so they were.  And again, God asked for a sacrifice of a son from Abraham. Certainly a good reason to doubt a loving God, but Abraham did not waver.  And so, God, at the last moment made it clear He had no need of human sacrifice. As recognition of that faith, Abraham and his offspring became the forbearers of the largest monotheistic tradition in the world.  But such lofty honor came only after tests of great magnitude.

So, on this occasion, as we celebrate the Blessings that God showered on humanity through Abraham, we also look at our own situation and extract lessons from Abraham’s trials and hope that we are in some small way worthy of being relieved from the hardships and sorrow we face.  We think of our sister Aafia, who was snatched away by strangers almost seven years ago, abandoned even by her family … left for dead.  Yet she turned out to be alive. And even though she is now trapped in a system that assures us that she will spend the rest of her life in a living coffin, the truth is that her destiny is in God’s hands.  It has always been.  We, her own family, could do nothing for her as she lost her children, endured dark captivity and took bullets that should have killed her. But against all odds, she survived and now has a whole nation seeking her freedom. God took a “nobody” and transformed her into the symbolic daughter of a nation of 180 million people.

Yet, with all this, we remain weak and full of anxiety because we are not in Abraham’s league.  We are far from it. While Abraham had the faith of absolute conviction, often we are barely able to summon our faith as a last resort. But we have found a little thread of conviction that allows us to hope that, with God’s mercy, Aafia may soon be freed. We even dare to be greedy and pray that her two missing children will also be recovered and reunited as a family.

We also think of the tens of thousands, if not more of other disappeared people around the world who are nameless and faceless but whose trials are no less severe and whose silent suffering is no less painful.  As a public symbol for their hidden suffering, Aafia is now bear the burden of representation that she did not seek and we feel unworthy of carrying.

So, at this time of celebration of God’s mercy, we ask our friends and supporters to take the time to hold on to your loved ones and make sure they know how much they mean to you. Eid is a joyous occasion and Aafia would want joy for you as we, her family, do. And so on this Holy day, please remember Aafia and her children in your prayers and ask for God to relieve the pain of all who are suffering in captivity and abandonment. And for those of us living in freedom, may we gain the strength to go beyond professing faith to actually exercising it.

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