Eid-ul-Adha:  Honoring Abraham’s Devotion and Sacrifice


Eid-ul-Adha: Honoring Abraham’s Devotion and Sacrifice

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Eid al-Adha, also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice,” takes place on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This major festival commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s unwavering faith and willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God’s command. Before Abraham could complete the sacrifice, God sent a ram through the angel Gabriel as a substitute offering, sparing Ishmael.

Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his beloved son, and Ishmael’s willingness to give up his life, illustrate profound dedication and submission to God. This act symbolizes the ultimate expression of faith and love for the Creator, demonstrating that true devotion requires complete surrender to God’s will.

During their journey to Mount Moriah for the sacrifice, Abraham and Ishmael encounter Satan, who attempts to dissuade them. They repel him by throwing stones, an act commemorated by pilgrims during Hajj through the ritual known as “stoning of the devil.”

Eid al-Adha coincides with the conclusion of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage that millions of Muslims undertake to honor Abraham and Ishmael’s journeys around Makkah. Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, offers pilgrims a chance to cleanse past sins and renew their faith.

Central to Eid celebrations is the spirit of inclusiveness and generosity. Those who can afford it are obligated to sacrifice animals, typically sheep or goats, and distribute the meat among family, friends, and those in need. This act of charity ensures that everyone, especially the less fortunate, partakes in the festivities.

The Qur’an captures Abraham’s sacrifice vividly:
“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 will find me, if Allah 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.'” (37:103-106).

Eid al-Adha is known by various names worldwide, such as Eid ul Adha in the Philippines, Eid el Kabir in Nigeria and Morocco, Tabaski in Senegal and Gambia, Kurban Bayrami in Turkey, Hari Raya Haji in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, Eid-e-Qurbon in Iran, and Bakrid or Qurbani Eid in the Indian subcontinent.

This solemn day invites Muslims to embrace Eid al-Adha’s deep spiritual significance, emphasizing redemption and the sanctity of human life. The ritual slaughter of a sacrificial animal symbolizes Abraham’s willingness to obey God’s command. The meat is divided into three parts: one for the family, one for friends and relatives, and one for those in need.

The values of self-sacrifice and generosity that underpin Eid foster a sense of equality and unity, transcending material, social, and ethnic differences. The festival underscores the shared heritage of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, all of which trace their roots to Prophet Abraham.

Eid-ul-Adha is not only a time to reflect on sacrifices but also a moment to recognize the universality of the world’s religions. Abraham’s story teaches us the profound lesson of sacrificing for others, a principle that resonates with believers and nonbelievers alike, highlighting the human capacity for selflessness and devotion.