EID-UL-ADHA: THE TRADITION & MESSAGE

Posted by on Feb 19, 2010 in Community Archive | 0 comments

Dr. Abidullah Al-Ansari Ghazi
Executive Director of IQRA’ International Educational Foundation

Once again we are celebrating Eid al-Adha! Rasulullah (S) said that all people have their days of celebration, and Allah has given us two such days: Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Both of these days are unique as our celebrations, like our religion, have four major dimensions:

1. We believe in One God and glorify Him.

2. We follow the commandments of Allah and His messenger.

3. We constantly thank Allah for His infinite blessings and mercy in our life.

4. We share with others His favors to us with all others.

Eid ul-Adha is the prime example of that character of al-Islam and carries within it all the four dimensions of al-Islam as we shall see. We thank Allah that through His final messenger, He perfected His Din, which now completes all the earlier revelations and fulfills them for all times to come. After nearly twenty-two years of struggle, the Prophet Muhammad (S) purified Ka’bah, the House of Allah, of its idols and superstitious practices and re-established the faith of Ibrahim in its purest form.

All prophets passed through severe tests and offered for us true models of spirituality and patience; among them was Ibrahim (as), a prime example for us to emulate. He passed through severe tests and trials, as did the Prophet

Muhammad (S) and as a result was raised in rank:

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands which he fulfilled; He said: “I will make you an Imam to the nations.” He pleaded: “And also from my offspring!” He answered: “But my promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.” (al-Baqarah 2:24)


Ibrahim (as) is very unique person in the spiritual history of humankind. The ancient Mesopotamians, as with most of early peoples, worshipped the heavenly constellations as well as their representative forms in idols. But Ibrahim (as) was a piously pure and a gifted child, he rejected the worship of stars, the moon, the sun and other manifestations of nature and he came to the conclusion that God is not something that changes and or declines, but the Creator of all. Born in the household of a fashioner of idols, he queried the insight of his father as well as the community about their worshipping things wrought by their own hands. For this Ibrahim (as) suffered ridicule, social ostracism and was even thrown into fire, but his faith in One God remained unshaken. He was forced to leave his home and make a Hijrah to the Land of Canaan.

During a short sojourn in Egypt he found his second wife Hajar, who became mother of his eldest son Isma’il (as). Hajar was not a Semite like Ibrahim (as) but an Egyptian slave (or, according to some writers, of royal blood) and in his marriage to her, he broke barriers of race and clan and became a precursor of the message of Islam in regards to human dignity and equality. By divine command, Ibrahim (as) abandoned his wife Hajar and his son Isma’il in the deserted valley of Baka (later called Makkah), a place devoid of water or vegetation. Allah saved the mother and child by providing a well, and decreed that the unpopulated valley be the location for His Holy House (Baytullah). Henceforth, pilgrimage to that house has been an obligation for those who can afford.
In another test of faith, Ibrahim (as) offered up his only son as a sacrifice. Child sacrifice was an ancient custom and was practiced by many cultures throughout the world. Yet, Allah redeemed Isma’il and offered a ram in his place. Thus, He abolished the abominable custom of child sacrifice to the myriad of gods and goddesses and replaced it with animal sacrifice.

As Ibrahim (as) followed the commandments of Allah, he was thinking of his future offspring, and he prayed to Allah: “Our Lord! Send amongst them a messenger of their own who shall rehearse Your Signs to them and instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom and sanctify them; for you are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Al-Baqarah 2:129)

The mission of the Prophet Muhammad (S) was, in reality, the heavenly response to the prayers of Ibrahim (as). Allah honored Ibrahim (as) not only in accepting his prayers but sending His final Prophet and Messenger in his line. The Prophet Muhammad (S) revitalized the teachings of all the prophets and messengers who came before; however, he especially invigorated the traditions of Ibrahim (as). During the Hajj the pilgrims follow the path traversed by Ibrahim, Isma’il and Hajar. He re-established the Hajj and purified it from the iniquitous rituals and superstitions that had crept in over the centuries. He revived Eid ul-Adha and dedicated it to the memory of these two figures: Ibrahim and Isma’il (as).

Ibrahim (a.s) is also remembered by Jews and Christians as a patriarch, elder and prophet. Jews trace their origin to him through his younger son Ishaq (a.s), while Christians see in him the lineage of Jesus through David. The three faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, call themselves collectively “Abrahamic” and combined constitute a family which has many common beliefs and traditions. While the Prophet Muhammad (S) and the Arabs in general, regarded himself as a descendant of Ibrahim through Isma’il, Muslims look to his message of Tawhid, human dignity and his readiness to obey the will of Allah as being more important. Muslims remember and send blessings on Ibrahim (as) and his progeny as they do the family and followers of the Prophet Muhammad (S), at least five times a day. Allah has established special relationship between Muslims and the People of the Book. Those of us, who have the privilege of living in Western societies, where Christianity and Judaism are practiced, must reaffirm the message of the Qur’an, especially on the day of Eid ul-Adha:

O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah. (Al-e-Imran 3: 64) We must not, however, on this day ignore our broad human family as the Qur’an affirms: And verily this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: Therefore, Serve Me. (al-Anbiya’ 21:52)

As we celebrate this day we must remember both Ibrahim and Muhammad (S), for it is through them that we received the message of Tawhid, human brotherhood as well as a universal moral code of conduct, that even after thousands years is reenacted in various ways in many aspects of life. The Qur’an warns those who turn away from the path of Ibrahim (as):

And who turns away from the religion of Abraham but such as debase their souls with folly? Him We chose and rendered pure in this world: and he will be in the Hereafter in the ranks of the righteous. (al-Baqarah 2: 130)


THE CELEBRATION

Eid ul-Adha starts with the Glorification of Allah coinciding with the ingathering of the pilgrims at Mina, after a day long stay in Arafat and spending the night at Muzdalifa. While the fortunate pilgrims are in our du’a, we start our journey to our masjid saying Takbir aloud:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, la ilaha illa-Allah

Wa-Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar wa liAllahi al-Hamd.


We offer two rak’aat of salah for both Eid al-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha with special extra Takbirat celebrating Allah’s greatness and glory. As we complete the salah and before we return home, some of us following the sunnah of the Prophet (S) and visit the graveyards of the neighborhood where we offer Fatihah to those of our relatives, friends and the Ummah, who have left us. We remember them with full awareness that one day we shall join them and, InshaAllah, would be remembered in the same way by those who follow us.

We return home to meet and greet family and friends, exchange gifts and prepare to offer the sacrifice of animal just as the pilgrims are doing at Mina. Sacrifice a manifestation of faith and animal sacrifice is a time honored tradition of many religions. Muslims celebrate it to honor the sunnah of our spiritual father Ibrahim (a.s) and Isma’il (a.s), for their act of total submission to the to the Creator as well as His acceptance of their sincere act. Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate redeemed Isma’il (as) and instead sent a ram to be sacrificed in his place. Thus with one decisive act Allah debarred human sacrifice and offered us an alternative.

I say that the animal sacrifice is unique because, as against many religious traditions, the sacrificial meal is blessed by divine grace and is for consumption by human beings. The selection of an unblemished animal and the distribution of its meat reflect the basic spirit of Islam and our relationship with Allah and humanity. The meat must be divided in three parts, one for the person who is sacrificing, another for family and friends and the third for the needy and the poor.

As we celebrate we must affirm the commonality of our faith with other human beings, that in spite of our various differences we are all `IbadAllah, the Servants of Allah and enjoy the occasion with family and friends.

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This