Eid al Adha
Eid al Adha – the Festival of Sacrifice
Eid al Adha is a very important holiday for Muslims all over the world, celebrated in order to commemorate how willing Abraham, or Ibrahim, was to sacrifice his son in order to show his obedience to God, but was allowed to sacrifice a ram in his stead, as God commanded.
The concept of celebrating this holiday involves spending time with friends and family, about sacrifice, as well as about being thankful for being able to afford their housing and their food. Traditionally, during the celebration, a family sacrifices domestic animals, such as a cow, camel, sheep or a goat by way of slaughter, and this method remains popular though some contemporary Muslims choose not to sacrifice the animal in accordance with their observance. If an animal is sacrificed, the meat is divided into three parts, which would be equally distributed to others. A family eats a third, friends or neighbors would eat another third, with the poor being given the final third as a gift.
Celebrated every year on the 10th day of the Dhul Hijja month, Eid al Adha festivities last for about three days, though this may last longer depending on the country and culture. Celebrations always begin after the Hajj descend from Mount Arafat, the Hajj being the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims all over the world. The exact date is normally about 70 days once the month of Ramadan ends. During celebration, families are expected to wear only their finest clothing so that they may perform the Eid prayer within a large congregation, which is usually either a mosque or an open area.
Muslims who are capable of affording it will sacrifice their best domestic animal, which is usually a sheep, in memory of Ibrahim’s sacrifice. The animals to be sacrificed are required to meet certain standards or else it will not be seen as an acceptable sacrifice. For instance, the animals to be sacrificed are typically required to be at least a year of age.
The Muslim community practicing charity on a regular basis are further demonstrated throughout Edit al Adha by ensuring no impoverished person remains in the town without being fed sacrificial food. During this holiday, chanting Takbir before the Eid prayer and after prayer, as well as the distribution of meat amongst all people, are considered the most essential parts of the whole festival.
Families who do not own livestock may make a contribution to charity, who will provide meat to anybody who is in need.
The tale of Eid al Adha tells that Hajar asked Ibrahim who ordered him to leave them in Palestine, to which Ibrahim replied “Allah,” or God. Hajar then stated that “Allah will not forget us,” allowing him to leave. Despite the fact that Ibrahim had left behind a sufficient amount of both food and water, supplies quickly ran out, leaving Hajar and Ismael starving to death. This led Hajar to desperately run between the Safa and Marwa about seven times in an attempt to find water, after which she collapsed besides Ismael, her baby, praying to Allah for deliverance. Suddenly, Ismael struck his foot into the ground, which resulted in a spring of water beginning to flow from the earth. With this supply of water, they were able to provide for themselves as well as offer passing nomads water in exchange for food and supplies. Ibrahim returned from Palestine and was impressed to see the two running a profitable well. God then told Ibrahim to build a shrine to be dedicated to him and to build it adjacent to Hajar’s well. They did so, and it was to be a gathering place for the purposes of strengthening their faith in Allah. Over time, Ismael became blessed with Prophethood and informed the nomads of the message of surrender to Allah.
Many centuries later, Mecca thrived and became a major center for trade because of its water source. One trial Ibrahim faced was the command by Allah to devote his most important possession: his only son. When Ibrahim heard this command, he prepared himself, set to submit to the will of Allah. During his preparation, Satan tempted both Ibrahim and his family, prompting both Hajar and Ismael to drive him away by way of throwing pebbles. To commemorate this rejection of Satan, traditionally, stones are thrown during Hajj. When it was time for sacrifice, Ibrahim noticed a sheep had died instead of Ismael. He was then informed his sacrifice was complete because Ibrahim had shown his love for Allah infinitely superseded all others by showing he would sacrifice his own life or of those dear to him so that he may submit to his Lord.
Eid al Adha is a time to remember this superior sacrificial act of obedience.