On 14th October, one of the most important religious festivals called Eid ul Adha will be celebrated by Muslims all over the world. This is the second Eid (first one is called Eid ul Fitr) and is often referred to as the Greater Eid.
Occurring at the end of the annual Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, Eid ul Adha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) submission to God’s commands and his willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God (Allah). However, having tested Ibrahim’s willingness, God asked him to sacrifice a goat instead of his son.
As a commemoration of this ultimate act of sacrifice, and a reminder that the love of God must supersede everything else, Muslims traditionally sacrificed a sheep or goat during Eid ul Adha. This practice is no longer carried out by all Muslims, especially in the western world. The spirit behind the sacrifice is also to show compassion and generosity towards the poor and disadvantaged, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. So the meat from the sacrifice is divided into three equal parts. The family keeps one third, one third is given to relatives, friends or neighbours, and the final third is given to the poor.
An interesting traditional aspect of giving meat to the poor is that the two Eids were the only times when the poor were able to eat protein rich meat because they could not afford to buy it.
While prayers and sermons are important at Eid ul Adha, so is giving gifts. Spending time with family and friends, eating all kinds of sumptuous food and desserts and giving thanks for life’s blessings are all part of the celebrations.