This Eid is important to me…
Ibrahim, known as Abraham in Christian and Jewish traditions, was told by God to prove his faith to him by sacrificing his own son.
He obeyed and took his son to Mount Moriah. Just as he was to sacrifice his son, an angel stopped him and replaced his son with a ram..
That’s why it is known as the festival of sacrifice. The Turkish translation is Kurban Bayramı.
My late father’s name is Ibrahim.
I remember one day when I was helping my dad in our kebab shop having a deep discussion about this very story. We were prepping the shop for opening. I was chopping the lettuce and he was making the kebabs.
To this day whenever I chop up a salad…I think of him.
When I was at university (in the beautiful city of Sheffield) I used to go back to the shop every weekend without fail to help him. There were many reasons for this but the main reason was – I just loved being around him. He had this way of making people feel better. Sometimes he’d go out of his way to do this but most of the time it was natural…him being him.
I stopped preparing the lettuce and placed the knife on the side. My father was already looking at me…I think this was because the rather loud and rapid thudding noise of the blade hitting the chopping board had ceased.
The question I asked him wasn’t me trying to gauge how much my father loved me. No need for that. That was obvious for strangers to see it was that abundant. It was pure inquisitiveness. I was genuinely intrigued to know his answer.
“Baba, you know the story of Ibrahim and how he went sacrafice his son?”
My dad simply replied…”yeeees?”…but in a kind of sing song way, you know, the same sound someone might make when they hum “uh huh” when acknowledging something. His eyes were back on the shish kebabs now. He carried on putting the lamb, onion and green peppers on the skewers.
He knew what I was going to ask.
“Would you sacrifice me if you were asked to prove your faith? I only ask because you were named after him”.
I watched him as he finished off the shish kebab he was making. He did not utter a word. He then went over to the sink and washed his hands picked up the hand-towel and walked over to me.
He stood next to me, hand on my shoulder, and he said…
“Halil, I would be the wrong Ibrahim to be asked to do that. I would fail that test. I would first hurt myself before I even thought about hurting my children. So, no I would not”.
Although I wasn’t looking for any particular answer – this was the answer I wanted, the answer I needed.
I smiled. He smiled back.
“Son, that story is about being a good person. Be kind to others. When you have, share with those that need it more. Look after your loved ones. Remember there is more to this life than what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears”.