Author: Ms. Seen Noon
There are two religious celebrations rewarded to all the Muslims by Allah, the most Supreme;
- Eid ul Fitr – celebrating the end of Ramadan fasts, and
- Eid ul Adha – celebrating the completion of Hajj; pilgrimage to Mecca.
We need to connect with the origin of these festivities, in order to understand the deeper meanings of the Almighty’s commands.
Importance of Eid ul Adha for Muslims
Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid ul Adha, the Festival/Feast of Sacrifice, marking the end of Hajj; a holy pilgrimage to Mecca. Hajj, being one of the five pillars of Islam, is deemed mandatory once in a lifetime, for all Muslims who can afford the pilgrimage financially and physically.
Allah says in the Quran: “those who can make their way there.”
Hazrat Ibrahim’s ﷺ Sacrifice
Eid ul Adha marks the end of Hajj, celebrating the sacrifice of Allah’s beloved Prophet Ibrahim ﷺ for the sake of Allah. Ibrahim ﷺ kept seeing dreams about him sacrificing his only son (at that time), Hazrat Ismail ﷺ.
As told in the Holy Quran in Surah As-Saffat, Verse 102
‘And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”’ (37:102)
Think about it, as a parent, can you take your son, your only child to a deserted place and sacrifice him for the sake of Allah, that too with your own hands? A very tough trial for a beloved messenger of Allah, but he stayed firm and steadfast in his belief, sacrificing his most loved possession in the path of Allah. The devil took a chance and tried to divert Ibrahim ﷺ from the path he chose to obey Allah, but even the devil was not able to corrupt Ibrahim’s ﷺ faith, and got defeated in his evil plans of moving the father-son pair away from the path of Allah. Hazrat Ibrahim ﷺ threw stones at satan, and thus this ritual of throwing stones at satan was included in the basic components of Hajj, marking the historic moment when satan was unable to shake the faith of a firm believer.
Even Hazrat Ismail ﷺ fulfilled his duty as a son and as a pious believer, telling his father to do as Allah had commanded, agreeing to be sacrificed, in order to obey and please Allah. Subhan Allah, what concrete faith and the level of love for the creator of this universe, that the only thing Ibrahim ﷺ and Ismail ﷺ were worried about was to satisfy Allah and his orders. Hazrat Ismail ﷺ asked his father to tie his hands and feet, and for Hazrat Ibrahim ﷺ to blindfold himself so none of them can have a change of heart. Just as the father was about to cut the son’s throat with his knife, Allah, the most merciful, placed a ram instead, to teach the next generations of Muslims to come, the purity of loving our Lord blindly and selflessly.
In commemoration of this historic event, an animal, usually a sheep, lamb, goat, cow, or a camel, is sacrificed on Eid ul Adha, the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, ending on the 13th. The meat is divided into three shares, one share is given to the poor and needy, another is kept for home, and the third is given to relatives.
Hazrat Ibrahim ﷺ a.k.a. Khalilullah (friend of Allah)
Allah says in the Quran in Surah An-Nisa, Verse 125
‘And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah while being a doer of good and follows the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth? And Allah took Abraham as an intimate friend.’ (4:125)
Throughout his life, Hazrat Ibrahim ﷺ faced trials and hardships, enduring the obstacles and difficulties with a pious and dedicated belief in Allah’s commands. He was a man of great character, exemplary in attitude, and thus Allah made him a role model for his time and the next. The above verse confirms for us the concreteness of Ibrahim’s ﷺ faith, and his sincere obedience, ultimately receiving the title of ‘Friend of Allah’.
Hazrat Ibrahim ﷺ and Hazrat Ismail ﷺ were also blessed to be chosen by Allah to raise the foundations of Kaaba, the holy place for the pilgrimage to Mecca, also, he was blessed with another son, Hazrat Ishaq ﷺ, indeed a great blessing from the Almighty on his beloved Prophet.
The Core Essence of Eid ul Adha
One might hear negative comments about killing an animal, shedding blood, or butchering a helpless creature for our feasts. But we need to understand ourselves first and then to preach it to others, the true meaning behind this event. We are commanded to offer the best form of sacrifice, an animal which is healthy, beautiful, and the best we can afford to lay down for pleasing Allah, and should be free of any show-off in front of friends and family.
The sacrifice was indeed a test from Almighty of his beloved, to test his faith and devotion, in the path of Allah. It is all about showing righteousness, a strong belief, selflessness, and utmost love and devotion for our Supreme King. The main spirit is of sacrificing something that you dearly love and cherish, on the command of Allah, the Almighty, to honor His wish. Only by doing so you can show to your Lord that nothing is more valued to us than the pleasure of Allah.
Also, we are required to share the sacrificial meat with our family, relatives, the poor and the needy, to celebrate the spirit of Eid. This way we can include the less privileged ones and bring joy in their lives at the time when the entire Muslim ummah is celebrating with new wardrobes, feasts, and festivities. This act of kindness, generosity and equality is sign of blessing for all. Allah says that neither the meat nor the blood reaches Allah but rather the piety, devotion and selfless love reaches Him.
The Eid Prayers
The Muslims offer Eid prayers after sunrise, in congregations in the mosques, as a form of gratitude to Allah, thanking Him for blessing us with the bounties of Eid. It is only after the Eid Prayer that we are eligible for sacrificing our sacrificial animals.
Muslim families celebrate the holy occasion by dressing up, arranging feasts for their family and friends, visiting relatives, in order to multiply the happiness and joy, filling our hearts with kindness, humility, gratitude and selfless love for our brothers and sisters.
May Allah guide us for making the most of this life by applying the learnings taught in the Quran and Sunnah, enriching our lives with a firm and illuminous faith, reviving the traits of the holy messengers of Allah.