All over the world, Muslims celebrate an annual holiday known as Eid-ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). This holiday follows about 10 weeks after Eid-ul-Fitr, a holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. Eid-ul-Adha carries much significance among other holidays of the year. This year, it will take place on July 31, 2020.
The holiday has origins dating back to the time of the Prophet Abraham. He had a series of dreams in which he saw himself sacrificing his eldest son, Ishmael (peace be on him). Thus, he reasoned that God was asking him to sacrifice the life of his son. As he was about to sacrifice Ishmael, God commanded him to stop, saying that Prophet Abraham had fulfilled His Command. For this act of sacrifice, God was pleased so much that He granted Prophet Abraham billions of progeny. In the Holy Quran, it states, “And when he (Ishmael) was old enough to run along with him (Abraham), he said, `O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I offer thee in sacrifice. So consider what thou thinkest of it!’ He replied, `O my father, do as thou art commanded; thou wilt find me, if God please steadfast in my faith.’ And when they both submitted to the Will of God, and Abraham had thrown him down on his forehead, We called to him `O Abraham thou hast indeed fulfilled the dream.’ Thus indeed do We reward those who do good’” (37:103–105). Thus, this shows God’s immense favor and blessings as a result of Prophet Abraham (peace be on him) following His Command. In addition, he was provided the voluminous honor of being the forefather of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
On this day, early in the morning, Muslims take a bath and put on new clothes. Then, they gather for congregational Eid Prayer, and afterwards eat special meals.
As Eid-ul-Adha marks the end of pilgrimage to Mecca, it is mandatory to mark the end of the pilgrimage with the sacrifice of an animal, and thus, after Eid Prayer, those who can afford to do so sacrifice an animal, usually a lamb or goat. The importance of the animal sacrifice is described in the Holy Quran: “Their flesh reaches not God, nor does their blood, but it is your righteousness that reaches Him” (22:38). This quote shows that it is not the physical act of sacrifice that will reach God — rather, it is one’s intention to sacrifice the animal for God that matters to Him and will ultimately be rewarded as such. This is because the act of sacrificing animals is symbolic in that the animal is inferior to man as man is inferior to God and relies on Him for help in everything. Another reason for performing the animal sacrifice is to remember Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice.
Eid-ul-Adha is certainly a significant holiday, and one that I look forward to each year. It is a day of remembrance, and reminds us of the strong unity among Muslims. Eid Mubarak!