Eid al-Adha occurs on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijja, the twelfth and final month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is one of the two main religious festivals that Muslims worldwide celebrate every year and commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of submission to God’s command.
Muslims believe that God revealed in a dream to Prophet Ibrahim and ordered him to sacrifice his son Ismail. Despite attempts by the devil to dissuade Ibrahim from obeying god’s command and slaughtering his only son, Ibrahim stayed true to God, and drove the devil away. As Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his son, God stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead.
Eid al-Adha celebrations begin after pilgrims attending the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca descend from Mount Arafat, a hill to the east of Mecca as part of their pilgrimage. The Eid al-Adha prayer is performed in the morning after the sun completely rises on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah and celebrations of the festival lasts over four days. Chanting the Takbir out loud before the Eid prayers on the first day and after prayers throughout the four days of Eid, are considered essential parts of this important Islamic festival.
On Eid day, men women and children dress in their finest clothing, offer prayers and exchange greetings of “Eid Mubarak” with one another. Those who can afford it prepare to sacrifice a domestic animal — depending on the region, the sacrificial animal could a camel, cow, sheep or goat — as a symbol of Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice. The meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.
The regular charitable practices of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid al-Adha by concerted efforts to see that no impoverished person is left without an opportunity to partake in the sacrificial meal during these days. In some countries, families that do not own livestock can make a contribution to a charity that will provide meat to those who are in need during Eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Adha is a day of remembrance. Even in the most joyful times, Muslims make a fresh start of the day by a session of congregational prayers to Allah in a mosque or an open space.
Muslims use the occasion to pray to Allah and glorify His name, to demonstrate the remembrance of His grace and favors. Along with that course, Muslims also remember the deceased by praying for their souls to rest in peace. The needy and vulnerable in society are also remembered by showing them sympathy and consolation.
Eid al-Adha transcends all limits and expands over the dimensions of human life. It marks a day of victory for the Muslim. The individual Muslim who succeeds in securing his spiritual rights and growth receive the Eid with victorious spirit.
He proves that he holds a strong command over his desires, exercises a sound self-control, and enjoys the test of a disciplinary life. And once a person acquires these qualities he has achieved his greatest victory, because the person who knows how to control himself and disciplines his passion is free from sin wrong doing, fear and cowardice, vice and indecency, jealousy, greed, humiliation and all other causes of enslavement.
Eid al-Adha is also a day when all the good work done in the service of Allah is rewarded and all faithful believers reap the fruits of their good deeds as Allah grants His mercy and blessings abundantly without measure. The day is also one of forgiveness. When Muslims assemble in the congregation of the day, they all whole-heartedly pray for forgiveness and strength of faith. And God has assured those who approach him with sincerity, of His mercy and forgiveness.