It is recorded in Hadith traditions that when the Prophet of Islam was asked about the origin of Eid al-Adha, he said, “It is a tradition that has come down to us from Ibrahim.”
Eid Al Adha is the second of the two festivals that Muslims celebrate on the tenth day of ‘Dhul-Hijjah’ (the last month of the Islamic calendar). It is not simply an annual festival, but it reflects the spirit that must be upheld by a believer perennially.
Known as the ‘Eid of Sacrifice’, this day is an opportunity for the believer to rekindle his faith and deepen his resolve to lead a life of sincerity.
The day of Eid Al Adha begins with two units of prayers (Salah) offered at a mosque in a congregation. The act of praying becomes a reminder of virtues of modesty, humility, and fraternity that are essential to human existence.
Given the prevailing pandemic, those praying in the congregation must responsibly adhere to the protocol outlined by the authorities. It is our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all around us.
Glory of the creator
The prayers which mark the start of Eid are meant to be an unequivocal proclamation of the glory of the creator. It fills a believer with introspection from the start of the day. As he further dwells on these thoughts, he not only prepares himself to acknowledge the greatness of his Creator but also clear his mind of any misconceptions relating to human grandeur.
The day of Eid Al Adha is also associated with the act of sacrificing an animal. This sacrifice, albeit symbolic, is meant to develop the attitude of selflessness and is a re-enactment of Prophet Ibrahim’s dedication to the cause of God.
The full extent of Prophet Ibrahim’s dedication can be fathomed by his readiness to sacrifice even his son for the sake of God. Referring to this symbolic sacrifice on the day of Eid Al Adha, the Quran states, “Their ﬂesh and blood do not reach God; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (22: 37)
An act of sacrifice
Sacrifice is not a simple matter; it is the adoption of a higher level of living. Sacrifice means living for ideals rather than for worldly attainments. When a person endeavours to rise above the material plane and exercise control over his desires for the sake of a greater cause, it is an act of sacrifice.
In the spiritual sense, Eid Al Adha marks a pledge in the life of a believer to lead his life for a higher purpose. Even the prayer made at the time of the act of sacrifice reiterates this. The prayer is as follows, ‘My worship, my conduct, my life, and my death are devoted to God.’ These words reflect the true spirit of the covenant to lead a God-oriented life.
As per a Hadith tradition in Sahih Muslim, the wife of the Prophet of Islam, Aisha reported that “When the Messenger of Allah would finish his prayer, he would not sit long enough but to say, “O Allah, You are peace and from You is peace. Blessed are You, the Majestic and Noble.”
This prayer of the Prophet demonstrates that peace has the highest place in Islam.
Adhering to moral principles
Today our world is rife with violence, whether active or passive. The greatest sacrifice in these times would be to shun all kinds of negative emotions against others and maintain peace and harmony.
The teaching from Eid is that a believer must willingly opt to live in a constant state of positivity and manage negative thoughts with resilience while adhering to moral principles.
It is this oath of a believer that reaches God! Eid is a reminder for us to renew this pledge and lead a life of dedication and positivity while discharging our responsibility as peaceful citizens of our society and the world.
Raamish Siddiqui is a lawyer, author and Islamic thinker. Twitter: @raamishs