EID AL-ADHA: The origin of Islam’s holiest day.

Celebrated 70 days after Eid al-Fitr (Festival of breaking the fast), Eid al-Adha also known as the “Festival of the Sacrifice”, is not only the greatest of two holy days on the Islamic calendar, but also a landmark in the long history of the religion of Islam. Dating back to the time of the Prophet Ibrahim.

Today 1.6 billion Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, a day that traditionally involves animal sacrifice, performing special prayers, feasting, spending time with relatives, donating to the poor and needy, making pilgrimage to Mecca (optional) among other activities that are carried out to the day. But to better understand the origin of this great day, I take you over a thousand years back to the time of Islam’s 6th Prophet, Ibrahim (Alayhi Wasalam)

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An artistic expression of Ibrahim sacrificing his son

During his time as messenger of Allah (the Islamic God), Ibrahim received most of his revelations (from Allah) in the form of dreams, unlike other Prophets like Musa (Moses) and Muhammad who famously received some of Allah’s revelations though a burning bush and Angel Jibril (Gabriel) respectively.

In what was to become the greatest test of his life, and later earn him the title “Grand father of the believers”, Ibrahim had a dream of him sacrificing his son to Allah, a dream he told his son about, and whose response tested Ibrahim’s faith even more. According Surat Saaffaatt (Chapter 37) verse 102 of the Holy Quran, Ibrahim’s son willingly accepted to be sacrificed.

And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”
[QS. As-Saaffaat: Verse 102]
* Via the Beautiful Holy Qur’an: https://goo.gl/p3W2h4

Through out the process of preparing to sacrifice his son, Ibrahim was constantly tempted by Shaitan (Satan) to disobey Allah’s command by choosing not to sacrifice his beloved son. However, Ibrahim was able to chase the Shaitan away by throwing stones at it and reciting praises of Allah.

And just as Ibrahim proceeded to sacrifice his son, Allah blunted his knife, and instead ordered him to sacrifice a sheep, as he (Ibrahim) had passed this colossal test of faith. Qoran Chapter 37, Verses 103-105 narrates this in astounding detail.

And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon, We called to him, “O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice,…….

[QS. As-Saaffaat: Verses 103 – 107]

* Via the Beautiful Holy Qur’an: https://goo.gl/p3W2h4

During Idd el-Adha celebrations, Muslims commemorate Ibrahim’s sacrifice by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows, camels and other animals whose meat is divided into three portions (for family, neighbours and the needy). Ibrahim’s stoning of the Shaitan is also reenacted by pilgrims in Mecca, a ritual known as “Rami al-Jamarat” or the stoning of the pillars. 

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Pilgrims gather to stone the pillars in Mecca

Earlier in Ibrahim’s life, before the dream to sacrifice his son, Allah had ordered him to construct a house of worship and pilgrimage in Mecca. Ibrahim and his family performed annual pilgrimages to this house and performed rituals, including those that later honoured Ibrahim’s choice to sacrifice his son.

Today the house still stands, and bears its original Arabic name “Kaabah” meaning the “cube”. And Ibrahim’s pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is considered a pillar of Islamic religion, one of the rituals performed as part of Idd al-Adha celebrations.

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The Kaaba in Mecca

However, the celebration of Idd al-Adha by muslims came hundreds of years after the death of Ibrahim. And this was during the reign of the final Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH). According to www.eid.net.in/history.htm, Swahaba Anas, one of prophet Muhammad’s companions reported that:

When the Prophet Muhammad arrived at the city of Madinah, he found some people celebrating two explicit days in which people used to amuse and entertain by merriment and playing. Prophet Muhammad asked people regarding the nature of these sorts of celebrations and merriment at which people responded that these festivities were occasions of recreation and fun of days of jahilliyah. At this point, the Prophet Muhammad remarked that the Almighty God has set two days of holidays instead of these festivities for you, which is far better: Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.

Thanks a lot for reading. Happy Eid to all Muslims. More articles to come your way from Adam’s Blog. And please don’t forget to share.

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Author: Adam Walusimbi

Am a truth junkie

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