“There are seven days left until Eid – ul Adha,” said Yusuf’s father, early Friday morning as he folded the newspaper and set it aside. “We need to decide when to buy a goat.”
“Why don’t we all go to the barn where goats are being sold?” his wife said thoughtfully, and Yusuf jumped up in excitement.
“Yes, please! Let’s all go there and choose one. I’ll name it, of course,’ he said proudly.
Two hours later, Yusuf and his parents were in the barn where farmers and other traders were selling goats. There were goats of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and they were trying to find the most suitable one for them.
“What about this one, dad?” Asked Yusuf, pointing to a white goat chomping lazily on the grass.
Yusuf’s parents looked at it and instantly smiled. “You have a good taste in animals, it seems,” said his father with a laugh and examined the goat closely.
“It does look very healthy. I think we’ll buy it. What do you think?” he asked his wife, and she nodded in agreement.
Yusuf had never been so excited. A new member in the house!
“I wonder how it’ll be like? Will it like grass, or does it have a special food? Will it like me?” Yusuf was full of questions on the way back.
“Well, it should be fine eating shrubs and grass,” replied his mother. “But actually, it’ll willingly eat anything! Goats are very curious creatures and are always ready to chew different things, though that’s not very healthy for them.”
Yusuf laughed, and went in the backyard to see how the goat was doing. ‘We must give it a name, dad. What can it be?” he asked his father, who was standing and petting the goat.
“Well… how about Lazy Bones?” his father asked him, grinning. “That does suit him, but we’ll think of something else. How about… yes! I have it. Why don’t we name him Billy Goat Gruff? And we’ll call him Billy for short.”
“Alright!” exclaimed Yusuf, laughing.
He petted Billy, saying, “How are you settling in, Billy? You’re part of our family now, you know that? You’ll live with us for some time.”
Billy ba-aaed in response, and began to slowly chomp the fresh green grass of the backyard.
In the next few days, Yusuf became passionately attached to Billy, and Billy, in turn, followed him everywhere around the house. Yusuf adored him, but his mother was constantly annoyed by the mess he created wherever he went. He was even more curious than normal goats, and would chew everything from the cookies for dessert to Yusuf’s slippers!
“Yusuf!”’ his mother would call out in annoyance for the third time that day. “Tell Billy NOT to chew the newspaper. How are we supposed to read anything if he keeps doing that?”
But Yusuf got defensive and took Billy’s side. “It’s not his fault he’s curious, Mom! He will get used to the house eventually. I know he will. He’s the cleverest goat in the world.”
Then his mother would shake her head and sigh. Yusuf’s father, however took great amusement in watching Yusuf with Billy and how he treated him like a best friend. One day, and idea occurred to him.
“Yusuf! I just thought of something. Why don’t we take Billy to your Uncle’s house? They also have a goat and i’m sure Billy will have fun with him. It would certainly make things easier for your mother.”
“Yes, of course! I would love that!”
And so it was planned out. They went to their uncle’s house and took Billy with them. He walked very slowly, however, and it took them much longer than expected.
“Oh, my!” exclaimed Yusuf’s uncle when he saw them with Billy. “Is he here to meet Wooly? If so, we will have a very entertaining time!” he said, grinning and letting them inside. “I’m afraid Wooly is very stubborn. He wouldn’t enter the house when we first bought him! He was dragging his hooves, so we had to pull him inside. He still doesn’t budge when we try to take him out for a walk.”
They went in the yard and saw a big brown goat who grunted when they came near. “I’m afraid Wooly’s got a bit of a cold today so….”
Before he could finish his sentence, Wooly sneezed very loudly and without any warning, right onto Yusuf’s face!
They were so surprised that for a minute, they just stared at Wooly, blinking, and then Yusuf’s father burst out laughing!
“He really does have a bad cold, poor thing,” he said, petting the goat. Yusuf started laughing too, and the rest of the afternoon was spent playing with Billy and his new friend, Wooly.
Days passed, and it was finally Eid ul Adha. They all got up early, took a shower, dressed in their best clothes, and went to the masjid for Eid Prayers. After they were done, they all went home, and waited for the orker to come and slaughter Billy.
“Wait, mom,” said Yusuf, the color draining from his face. “He isn’t going to slaughter Billy, is he?” he asked fearfully.
His mother nodded. “Yes, he is,” she replied.
“But I don’t want Billy to die!” cried Yusuf tearfully.
His mother smiled at him, and took him in her arms. “But do you know why we are doing this? No? Well, I’ll tell you a story. As you know, the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) was a very beloved prophet of Allah (S.W.T), and he was so obedient that whatever his lord instructed him to do, he did it. He didn’t doubt anything Allah (S.W.T) told him to do, and had complete faith in him. Allah (SWT) instructed him to do many hard tasks but he never once questioned his God, or disobeyed him.
One night, he had a dream. In that dream, he was slaughtering his son, Ismail (A.S). When he woke up, he knew what had to be done. Prophets’ dreams are always true, so that meant he had to kill his own son. But did he shy away from the task? Did he turn away from what Allah (S.W.T) told him to do? No, instead, he went to his son and told him about that dream, asking him what should be done.
Now, any ordinary boy would never tell his father to listen to that dream, but subhan Allah, Ismail (A.S) was no ordinary boy. He told his father to do what Allah had instructed him in the dream. So, with complete faith in Allah (S.W.T)’s judgements, he took his axe, and was just about to slaughter his son when he realized that the knife would not cut. In its place, a beautiful sheep appeared from Allah (S.W.T) to reward his believer for being so obedient and loyal to his God.
So, my dear son, this is why we are told to sacrifice a sheep or a goat every Eid ul Adha, to celebrate what the Prophet Ibrahim did, and to admire his noble son’s confidence in Allah’s plan.”
“Do you understand why we have to do this now?” she asked Yusuf, smiling.
He smiled back a her, and replied, “Yes, I do. I can’t wait until we give out the meat to our relatives!”
His mother laughed, leading him back inside the house as Yusuf gave Billy one last pat on the head for being a good friend.
Written by: Maryam Sohaib
Image source: man and goat