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The Meaning of Eid al-Adha

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by Norhafazah Rashid

What is Eid al-Adha

As we all know, Eid happens twice a year; once at the end of Ramadhan (in the month of Shawal) known as Eid al-Fitr, and once right after the end of Hajj (the Pilgrimage), the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah which is known as Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice). It is the second celebration of the Hijri Calendar and also considered to be the holier of the two.

Abu Hurairah relates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“There are no days more loved to Allah for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year and to offer Tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power. [i.e., Lailatul Qadr].”

[This is recorded by at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and al-Baihaqi]

So, what does Eid al-Adha mean to you? Is it just a celebration, or is it more than just that? If you think Eid al-Adha is just a celebration of a holiday, you might want to learn more about it, because it comprises of something so important and meaningful. On this day, we are encouraged to remember the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Ibrahim a.s, who is famously known as “The Friend of Allah”.

It is stated in the Quran,

“Surely Ibrahim was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. He was grateful for Our bounties. We chose him and guided him unto a right path. We gave him good in this world and in the next, he will most surely be among the righteous.”

(Surah An-Nahl:120-121)

The important event of Eid al-Adha

One day, Allah commanded Prophet Ibrahim a.s to sacrifice his son. He told his son about the divine command, and the child urged his father to comply with Allah’s will. Despite his love towards his son, he prepared to carry out Allah’s command to show that his love for his Lord is greater than his love for anything else.

Nevertheless, at the very last moment, Allah revealed that his sacrifice had already been fulfilled. He had shown his love for Allah superseded everything else, that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to God. The two embraced each other, feeling more grateful to Allah.

Therefore, in remembrance of Ibrahim’s a.s willingness to submit himself to the divine will, Muslim families traditionally sacrifice an animal during Eid al-Adha.

Why do Muslims sacrifice animals on this day?

In remembrance of Prophet Ibarahim’s a.s trial and his willingness to sacrifice for the sake of Allah, Muslims will slaughter animals such as sheep, camel or goat for offerings. It is also known as an act of sacrifice, with the animals being referred as “Qurban”.  The animals are slaughtered by saying the name of Allah during the time of slaughter, to remind us that life is sacred.

The meat from the sacrifice will then be divided. One-third of it is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third will be given away to neighbours and friends, and another one-third is donated to the poor.

This symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are beloved to us, in order to follow Allah’s command. An act that is similar to Prophet Ibrahim a.s. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are dear to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands completely and obediently.

It also reminds us that by giving up some of our own possessions solely for the sake of Allah, Allah will give us more. Imagine, by giving just a little, we will get something bigger in return; strengthening our relationship among the family, a good relationship with our neighbours and friends and also the happiness we give to those who are poor and in need. By doing this, we are also reminded that all blessings come from Allah, and we should share with others. One of the beautiful teachings Islam has taught us.

How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha

The day starts with Eid prayer in the morning. The imams will deliver sermons, usually in the event of how Eid al-Adha takes place and the example of Prophet Ibrahim a.s.

“Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to God, does good and follows the way of Ibrahim a.s, the true in Faith? For God did take Ibrahim a.s for a friend.” (Surah An-Nisa:125)

After that family and friends are gathered and the exchange of food and gifts will take place. Eid is a day of strengthening relationships, sharing and caring. Those who can afford to offer sacrifice will do so, and distribute the meat in 3 portions. Muslims are taught to share food and money with the poor so they can take part in the celebrations. It is a lesson to be practiced throughout our lives. And by doing that, you will find happiness and blessings from Allah here in this Dunya and the Hereafter.

Eid Mubarak! May Allah accept all of our ibadah, strengthen our imaan, keep us on the Straight Path and grant us a happy life.  Ameen!