For every faith adherent, there are dates and celebrations that define their faiths; celebrations that such religious faithfuls are called upon to participate in as they help, not only to cement their faith, but to also define the essence of their beliefs.
For the Muslim Ummah, one of such celebrations is the Eid al-Adha; which is a Muslim celebration marking the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorating the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim.
A festival provides opportunities for celebrating religious teachings and history. Any Muslim festivals are always mainly time for families and to spend time together and share food. And Eid al-Adha is one of such opportunities.
Eid al-Adha is the latter of the two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year. It translates as ‘The Feast of the Sacrifice” and honours the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God's command. Traditionally, the Eid al-Adha begins on the 10th day of Dhu Al Hijjah which is the last month of the Muslim calendar. However, with Islamic festivals dependent on the use of the lunar calendar, it means that several of the major Islamic festivals have moveable dates.
Although the commencements of most Muslim festivals are subject to the sighting of moons; the Eid al-Adha for 2021 is expected to be celebrated between Monday 19th July and Wednesday 21st July, 2021; making it a 3-day holiday celebration in the UAE.
Eid Al Adha, which means Festival of Sacrifice, is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. The celebration recalls the prophet Ibrahim's ability to forfeit his child when God requested him to. Though the story tells of the absolute obedience of the biblical Ibraham’s (Abraham) to God’s command to sacrifice his son on Mount Morha; the Islamic narrative however, shows that it was his son, Ismail (Ishmael) rather than the Judeo-Christian Isaac that was the intended sacrifice.
However, while the festival is clearly intended to show how God responded to the unconditional obedience of Patriarch Ibrahim by ransoming his son, Ismail, by providing him with a Ram instead as the sacrifice; it also significantly marks the end of his pilgrimage to Mount Arafat where he was expected to offer his son Ismail as sacrifice.
This pilgrimage, known as Hajj, is today incumbent on all true Muslims that are both physically and financially able to make at least once in their lifetime; be that as it may, just if their nonappearance won't put difficulties on their family. The hajj is the fifth of the principal Muslim practices and establishments known as the Five Pillars of Islam. The journey ritual starts on the seventh day of Dhū al-Ḥijjah (the most recent month of the Islamic year) and closes on the twelfth day.
Around 2,000,000 people play out the hajj every year, and the custom fills in as a bringing together power in Islam by bringing adherents of assorted foundation together in strict festival. When an believer has finished the journey, the person in question may add the title ḥājj or ḥajjī (for a male) or ḥājjah (for a female) to their name. The journey, whenever performed appropriately, is accepted to clear out past sins for the genuine believer.
Although Eid al-Adha is celebrated with a lot of communal cooking and feasting, it however, unlike the Eid al-Fitr, does not require Muslim faithfuls to fast during the period of the festival for 40 days. However, the day preceding the commencement is the Day of Arafat. Observed as the day of prayer and fasting and repentance, it is considered to be holiest day in the Islamic calendar by Muslims who cease the day as an opportunity to fast and make prayers of repentance preceding the commencement of the Eid al-Adha which then begins the day after.
Eid al-Adha is significant to Muslims today as it stands to remind them of the Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) obedience, which is expected to motivate them in turn to consider similarly seeking to possess similar level of obedience to Allah (God). By partaking in this celebration, Muslims show that they also are always ready to sacrifice their lives for God. Thus, it affords them the opportunity to ask for forgiveness for all the time that they had not been fully obedient or devoted to God and pray for strength to be better devoted in the future.
The festival also provides Muslim faithfuls the opportunity to visit with family and friends as well as offering presents.
As with the Eid al-Fitr; the Eid al-Adha festival is celebrated with communal prayers, referred to as Salat at daybreak on the first day of the festival. During this festival, the families who are able to afford animals commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim will do so. However, not all animals can be used for this sacrificial commemoration as there are ritually acceptable animals in Islam, such as sheep, goat, cow or goat.
Since the celebration commemorates an act of selfless sacrifice; families who are able to sacrifice ritually acceptable animals for the festival often share portions of the flesh of the sacrifice animals equally with those families, friends and neighbours that are unable to do so.
As a major public and national holiday, it means that it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed during this period of festivity. The festival mostly follows the following format:
As Muslim faithfuls around the world prepare for one of the most significant period of their faith; it is important to note that festivals and celebrations like Eid al-Adha are not rewards for being devout or just opportunities to feast; but rather as occasions to help them reflect on the essence of their faith and the opportunities to reinforce such beliefs of faith and rededicate themselves to the tenets that make for devoutness in worship of God.
Eid al-Adha is almost here, and though like last year’s celebration it will still be tempered by the concerns of personal and communal safety in the face of the persisting Covid-19 pandemic; it should, however, not deny them the opportunity to once again show their readiness to obey the commands of God and to sacrificially live their lives in such ways as not only to ensure the continued propagation of their faith, but also to advance the cause of humanity in the reassuring awareness of God’s readiness to reward our obedience.