Eid al-Adha: “The Feast of Sacrifice”
Eid al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice is celebrated by Muslims all over the world as a major holiday for a period of three to four days. The majority of Muslims will attend the special prayers held at different major mosques and Islamic centres in the United States and all over the world.
Muslims usually wear new clothes and some exchange gifts while children are entertained and take a day off from school, including college students. Many Muslims also do not go to work on that day.
When asked about the origin of Eid al-Adha, The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, is reported to have said, “It is a tradition that has come down to us from Prophet Ibrahim (AS).”
The Feast of Sacrifice dates from the historic event when Prophet Abraham was commanded by God, in the form of a dream vision, to sacrifice his beloved first son, Ismail. But while he was in the act of sacrificing his son, God sent the Angel Gabriel with a huge ram. Gabriel informed Abraham that his dream vision was fulfilled and instructed him to sacrifice the ram as a ransom for his son. The story is mentioned in Chapter #37 of the Holy Qur’an.
Eid ul-Adha enjoys special significance because the Day of Sacrifice marks the climax of Hajj or Pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. This annual pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia is an obligation only for those men and women who are physically and financially able to perform it at least once in their lifetime.
The story of Prophet Ibrahim or Abraham
Eid-ul-Adha’s origin begins with the story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) or Abraham. Prophet Ibrahim was commanded by God to sacrifice the thing that was dearest to him: his son. Prophet Ibrahim didn’t hesitate at this command and set out to obey it. When he told his son, his son also agreed with him and told his father to do as God had commanded him.
He got ready to sacrifice his son, but God replaced the boy with a ram. It had been a test. To this day, Muslims around the world sacrifice cows, goats, lambs, sheep, and camels, all in the name of God, as they honour Prophet Ibrahim’s tradition.
It is a Sunnah (teaching of Muhammad / religious tradition) to divide the meat from the sacrificial animal into three parts. One is to be shared with family, friends, and neighbours. Another is to be distributed among the poor and needy. And one part is for yourself and your immediate family. Many people’s Eid menus include a dish made with the sacrificial meat, as it is recommended to eat it.
The link to Hajj
Female Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia (Picture: Getty)
Hajj or the pilgrimage to Makkah, one of the five pillars of Islam, is performed in the days before EudulAdha and its history also goes back to Prophet Ibrahim. When his son was a baby, Prophet Ibrahim was instructed by God to leave his wife Hajrah and his son Ismail in the dessert of Saudi Arabia. He left them with a good supply of both food and water, but it was finished quickly. Hajrah ran up and down the two hills Safa and Marwa seven times, trying to look for water, all the time she was supplicating to God for some ease. At that moment, water gushed forth from where baby Ismail’s feet were and a well sprung there known as Zamzam, and they had enough to last them a lifetime. The water from the well continues to gush forth to this day. Both the journey between the two hills and the partaking of the water continue to be traditions that are part of Hajj today.