Eid al Adha, 9/11, and God’s Sacrifice on Mount Moriah

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NY Times Photo for Sep. 10, 2016 -More than 3,000 Muslims gathered for prayer at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, Me., at the start of Eid al-Adha in 2015. Credit Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald, via Getty Images.

Eid al Adha is a Muslim celebration that is translated as the “Festival of Sacrifice” or “Bakr Eid” (Bakr means Lamb or Goat in Arabic). It falls on different days due to the Lunar Calendar. Once the new moon is sighted, the Festival is celebrated 10 days later. According to Al Jazeera, the  Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia stated that the New Moon did not fall until September 2, so they have declared Eid al Adha to be on September 12, 2016. However, if you look at the reports for the new moon (here,  here and here), all show it to fall on September 1, 2016, making Eid al Adha today, September 11, 2016. Personally, I believe it was a political decision to move it to September 12.

Regardless of the day Eid al Adha falls upon, countries do celebrate it on different days. In my post titled “The Sacrifice of the Lamb,”  I wrote about the significance of the sacrificial lamb and how Christ was described as the “lamb who was slain” (John 1:29 and Rev 5:6).  Muslims celebrate Eid al Adha during the season of Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and almost two million people are expected to journey this year to Saudi Arabia to perform one of the 5 pillars of faith in Islam. For most Muslims, Eid al Adha is marked with a sacrifice of a lamb or goat, which they eat, share and give to charity as a part of alms (another pillar of faith in Islam) and go to each others’ homes for parties and celebrations. For me, as a child, it meant dressing up in Eid clothes, getting Eidee (Eid money) and gifts from loved ones – it was kind of like Christmas, just without Christ or the tree or Santa.

I was reminded today by the date that it was the 15th anniversary of one of the most horrific days in the United States. September 11, 2001 is still etched in the minds of many Americans. In fact, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the horrible news come through my car radio. I was in my minivan, driving to the shopping center on the corner of 2nd and Bryant. I was stopped at a red light and I heard about the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center building. Parking my car as quickly as I could, I listened to the rest of the news. I headed home immediately, abandoning my plans so I could get the news on the TV. It was gut-wrenching especially as the news began to pour in about Muslims behind the multiple attacks.

That day marked a turning point in my life. I just didn’t know it at that time how much it would shape my future. After 9/11, my phone began to ring off the hook. Since I teach Human Resources and Cultural Diversity, many organizations asked me to speak to them and help them to understand what it was like growing up in Muslim countries and what it was like to be a Muslim woman. 9/11, despite the grave losses, was financially beneficial to me. I had speaking engagements lined up for the rest of the year! 9/11 also launched me on the path to the decision to become a better Muslim and also to read the Quran cover to cover. I began that journey and it took me over 3-1/2 years to read the Quran.

The Quran is what led me to Christ. When I share my testimony, many ask me “what did someone say to you to make you believe?” or “what should I say to a Muslim person who might have been like you?” My journey was different. I did not have a SINGLE AUTHENTIC WITNESS who shared the true Gospel with me – none. Instead, God in His infinite mercy led me to Christ through the Surah Maryam (Mary – mother of Jesus) in the Quran. I could not reconcile the miracles and power of Christ with the teachings of Islam and Mohammad. I also realized through the Holy Spirit that I could not work my way into Heaven and that I needed God’s help.

I owe everything to Christ’s sacrifice as the lamb who was slain. Did you know that on Mount Moriah, Abraham gave up his son so that “God Himself would provide the lamb?” (Gen 22:8). Did you know that the Solomon’s Temple was built upon that very mountain? Did you know that JESUS CHRIST was crucified on Mount Moriah, fulfilling God’s promise of salvation through the blood of the only blameless, sinless lamb of God?

Gives you goosebumps, doesn’t it?

God is all-seeing, all-knowing. He is omniscient, omnipotent and worthy to be praised! So this day, please pray for Muslims who do not know the real reason behind Abraham’s sacrifice. Please pray for Muslims who are reading the Quran, trying to get to God through their own works and through meeting a checklist of the pillars of faith for Islam. Please pray for the families of the victims of 9/11, knowing that there are many more stories of lives impacted for the Kingdom through their deaths. Please pray for our country that we wake up to the only Way, Truth, and Life through Christ Jesus. Amen.

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On Labor and Work

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Today is the day that the United States pays homage to the contribution made by workers and to the resulting productivity and commerce. For me, it’s a curious thing to not do work in order to think about and pay tribute to work. A bit of irony…

When I moved to the US and first heard the term “Labor Day, ” I thought it was a day to commemorate mothers who have had children, but then I realized that “Mother’s Day” did that already earlier in the year. There are so many holidays that made no sense to me as an immigrant. Maybe I thought too much about all of this and should have simply enjoyed another day off.

The freedictionary.com defines labor as:

la·bor

(lā′bər)

n.

1. Physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting; work. See Synonyms at work.
2. A specific task or effort, especially a painful or arduous one: “Eating the bread was a labor I put myself through toquiet my stomach” (Gail Anderson-Dargatz).
3. A particular form of work or method of working: manual labor.
4. Work for wages: businesses paying more for labor.

5.a. Workers considered as a group.

   b. The trade union movement, especially its officials.
6. Labor A political party representing workers’ interests, especially in Great Britain.
7. The process by which childbirth occurs, beginning with contractions of the uterus and ending with the expulsion of the fetus or infant and the placenta.
In essence, I was ignoring the definitions #3 – 6 and focused on 1, 2 and 7. The Bible sets the standard for both WORK and LABOR right at the beginning, in Genesis. We see God at work, creating the Heavens and the Earth because on the seventh day, He rested. Genesis 2:2-3  says “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” God also gave Adam a job to do in the garden. As I mentioned in another blog post titled “Bringing LIFE to Work,” Adam’s duties for work didn’t change after the Fall – instead, everything became more difficult, frustrating and arduous. That was the price of sin entering into a perfect world.
Labor came into play for Eve as well. In Genesis 3:16, “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” So Eve, in essence, also gets work assigned to her in a different way. While the ground will bring about thorns and thistles for Adam and cause him great frustration, Eve’s pain comes from her children… sound familiar to anyone?
In our home, we have a measure of relative peace. It is common, however, for my husband to call me with great frustrations from his work – from contracts that are not going well, customer care, to employee issues = thorns and thistles. For me, even though I work in the business world, it doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it does for him. I’m not sure why that is. However, hand me a kid-related issue and I go crazy! One of the translations (KJV) says it a bit differently ” I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” I think with teenagers, I can relate to the “sorrow” part due to the heartaches we deal with.
It is a true testimony to the love we bear one another that we even have children and families. Men and women take on a lot when they are the sole earners for their families. It’s a tough burden to bear. Many women who choose to stay at home are not dismissed from the Labor and Work category. In fact, as someone who took years off to be exclusively at home with our children, I can attest to the fact that at least at work you can get a coffee break or a bathroom break without someone barging in with a request! Marriage takes love, sacrifice and work. Children take love, sacrifice and work (and no thanks many times). Families take a lot of love, sacrifice and work, yet millions of people sign on willingly to do all of this.
In a culture that is trying to break down marriage, family and the home, it’s a good day to reflect upon the work that you do apart from work in the office also. Take into consideration what God has worked on to show you His love and sacrifice. In turn, offer that to others by sharing what the Lord has given you.
From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him. ~Proverbs 12:14
May you glorify God in all you do and may your work be blessed. Amen.