Importance of Eid-ul-Adha


Eid-al-Adha is one of the two most important festivals on the Muslim calendar. The “Festival of Sacrifice”, as it is known, centres around prayer and animal sacrifice. It is not always easy to predict when Eid-al-Adha will take place; it follows the Islamic Hijri calendar which is based on the lunar rather than Gregorian cycle. The festival always falls on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar, which begins with the confirmed sighting of a crescent moon. Islamic scripture tells how Allah commanded Ibrahim – known as Abraham to Christians and Jews – to sacrifice his son Ishmael as a test of his devotion. Despite his love for the boy, Ibrahim duly prepared to carry out Allah’s command. However, at the last moment, Allah tells Ibrahim to spare the child and sacrifice something else instead. In remembrance of Ibrahim’s willingness to submit himself to the divine will, Muslim families traditionally sacrifice an animal during Eid al-Adha.

Non-Muslims will probably recognise the story from the Bible, where it appears in a similar form. Interestingly, Muslim scholars generally identify the son in question as Ishmael, Abraham’s son by his concubine Hagar, whereas in the Jewish and Christian tradition it is Isaac, Abraham’s son with his wife Sarah. Another difference is that, in the Islamic version of the tale, Ibrahim tells Ishmael about Allah’s command, whereas the Biblical Abraham did not reveal his intentions to Isaac. As the Holy Quran tells it, Ishmael readily accepts his fate and urges his father to comply with Allah’s will. Therefore, Eid-al-Adha is a commemoration of both father and son for their example of obedience and submission to the divine will.

In Muslim countries, Eid-al-Adha is a public holiday that involves animal sacrifice, known as Qurbani, prayers and family gatherings. The day begins with morning prayers, followed by visits to family and friends and the exchange of food and gifts. Muslims traditionally greet each other on the day by wishing one another “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid) or one of many regional variations on the blessings. Worshippers who can afford to will slaughter an animal, typically a sheep or a goat, during Greater Eid celebrations as a symbol of Ibrahim’s sacrifice to Allah.  All animals have to meet certain standards to qualify for sacrifice. They cannot be ill, blind, visibly lame and emaciated and minimum age restrictions apply. “For Muslims, Qurbani is the most important sacrifice of the whole year.” “Abattoirs and butchers must remain vigilant and responsible in ensuring all laws pertaining to Qurbani are adhered to so that this important spiritual day is not ruined by intentional or unintentional wrongdoing.” It is common for animals to be sacrificed on the streets in many Muslim countries, but in recent years, Egypt has attempted to crack down on the practice. Leaving behind the remains of the animal spreads diseases and is considered “impure” by the Holy Quran. Believers are expected to share their food with the less fortunate.

Traditionally, meat is divided into three equal parts: one for the home; one for family, friends and neighbours; and one for the poor. Muslims are also expected to make donations to charity to mark the festival.

The script was written by Adiza Bawa, a Journalist.


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