KABUL -- Eid ul Adha and the recently announced ceasefire between parties to the conflict in Afghanistan offer an unprecedented opportunity that should not be missed to create long-lasting peace in the country, religious scholars, officials and citizens say.
The parties Tuesday (July 28) agreed to ceasefire that would start when the holiday begins on Friday (July 31) and ends Sunday (August 2) with hopes that the long-awaited intra-Afghan talks would commence next week.
"Eid ul Adha has a special place in Islamic culture," said Mohammad Salem Hasani, a religious scholar in Kabul. "Complying with God's order, the Prophet Abraham agreed to sacrifice his son Ishmael to please the Lord. According to the sayings of the [Prophet Muhammad], for anyone who sacrifices [an animal] with the right intention, their sins are forgiven."
"Islam invites Muslims to peace, brotherhood and reconciliation and prohibits them from enmity, violence, malice and hostility," he said. "Allah says in the Koran that there is good in peace, which implies that peace is better than violence, enmity and hostility."
Another part of the Koran says all Muslims are brothers and sisters to each other and encourages the faithful "to try to always make peace among their brothers", Hasani said.
"Allah will reward those in the hereafter who make peace between individuals and groups and extinguish their hostility towards each other," he said.
"Both parties to the conflict are obliged to obey orders and instructions from God, make peace and reconcile in observance of Eid ul Adha," Hasani said.
He called on the parties to the conflict to "stop the war and bloodshed between Afghans and Muslims in addition to ... making sacrifices to please Allah".
"Eid ul Adha is an opportunity for renewing and strengthening friendship," said Abdul Zahir Tamim, a member of the Ghor Provincial Council.
"As a display of Afghan and Islamic culture, our people visit each other's homes [during Eid] and disregard their past hostilities, and this is how they renew their friendship."
"Eid ul Adha ... provides a great opportunity to stop malice and enmity with each other," said Tamim.
"Holding Eid ul Adha in our country in a peaceful environment depends on the parties to the conflict," he said. "We call on them to quit their hostility and enmity during the days of Eid ul Adha, and [we hope they] use this Eid as an opportunity to end the war and ensure peace and stability in the country."
"After fighting for 20 years, no party to the conflict was able to achieve its goals," said Tamim. "They won't be able to defeat each other or achieve their goals even if they fight for another 20 years."
"Therefore, Eid ul Adha is a great opportunity for [ending] this meaningless war."
Demands of Afghans
"I have heard explosions and suicide bombings since I was born," said 20-year-old Kabul resident Zahra Mirzayee. "I have seen innocent women and children lose their lives."
"Every Afghan, including me, calls on the parties to the conflict to put an end to malice, hostility, enmity, violence and bloodshed for the sake of Eid ul Adha and to join the peace process that can bring peace, security and prosperity to our country."
"This will enable young people like us to get an education and help our country and people to grow and prosper," she said. "[I hope] our country will become developed."
She attended school for 12 years in "an environment of insecurity, war and fear of explosions", she said.
"I hate war," she said. "I call on all parties to the conflict to put an end to the war and join the peace process for the sake of Eid ul Adha, which is a symbol of solidarity among Muslims. This will provide young people like me an opportunity to educate ourselves in a peaceful and nonviolent environment."
"Afghans have suffered from war for years, and they are thirsty for peace," said Sardar Muhammad, 38, who runs a shoe store in the Kote Sangi area of Kabul.
"Peace is every Afghan's hope, and my biggest demand is that parties to the conflict give up fighting, hostility and hatred and join the peace process," he said.
"The war hasn't benefited any of the parties; rather, it has caused destruction, misery, poverty and unemployment."
"Both parties to the conflict are Muslims and Afghans, and they have released each other's prisoners to pave the way for peace," said Sakhidad Sultani, 55, a resident of Kabul.
"God has created Eid ul Adha as an opportunity for us to give up our malice and hostility, strengthen our brotherhood, and make peace and reconcile with each other," he said. "We call on the parties to the conflict to positively respond to the voices of people and God and embrace brotherhood and peace."
"Civilians have been the main victims of the 20-year-long war," said Sultani. "Eid is a good opportunity for bringing peace and putting an end to the war."
"If the parties to the conflict are real Muslims and Afghans, they should give preference to civilians' interests over theirs," he said. "They should... prove that they intend to end the war and bloodshed."
"The peace process has its ups and downs," said Arif Kayani, a political and military affairs analyst in Kabul. "Ensuring peace requires flexibility and sacrifices from the parties to the conflict."
"The ... concept of Eid ul Adha is to encourage Muslims to disregard their hostility and enmity and embrace brotherhood, solidarity and peace," he said.
"Eid ul Adha provides an opportunity for the parties to the conflict, who are Muslims and Afghans, to reconcile with each other and stop the bloodshed of their brothers."