What is Eid ul Adha?
At the end of the Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca), Muslims throughout the world celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). Eid-ul-Azha is celebrated on the tenth of Dhul-Hijja through sacrifices and prayers in memory of the sacrifice of the Prophets Ibrahim Khalilullah and Ismail Zabihullah (peace be upon them).
What does Eid al-Adha commemorate?
During the Hajj, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Abraham. The Qur’an describes Abraham as follows:
“Surely Abraham was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. He was grateful for Our bounties. We chose him and guided him unto a right path. We gave him good in this world, and in the next he will most surely be among the righteous.” (Qur’an 16:120-121)
What else do Muslims do to celebrate the holiday?
On the first morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, and the exchange of greetings and gifts. At some point, members of the family will visit a local farm or otherwise will make arrangements for the slaughter of an animal. The meat is distributed during the days of the holiday or shortly thereafter.
Hundreds and thousands of sheep, cows, goats and camels are sacrificed in the name of Allah on this auspicious day. Unfortunately, however, very few of us celebrate this auspicious occasion in a befitting way, in the true spirit of Islam. Very few realise that Rabbul Alameen does not need the flesh and blood of the animals. What he asks for is the taqwa (which has been mentioned 211 times in the Holy Quran) and not lives in a physical sense. Sura al-Hajj declares very clearly: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches God: it is your piety that reaches Him. He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify God for His guidance to you. And proclaim the good news to all who do right.”
Eid-ul-Azha is the system of denying ourselves the greater part of the food derived from the sacrificed cattle for the sake of our poor brethren; our symbolic act finds practical expression in benevolence and in fraternity and fellow-feeling, in sacrifice and solicitude for the indigents and have-nots. That exactly is the sublime message conveyed by Eid-ul-Azha.
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