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Eid-Al-Adha is one of the major holidays of Islam. According to Muslim tradition, it celebrates the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make of his own son Ishmael when he was commanded to show his commitment to Allah. At Allah's direction, the angel Gabriel substituted a lamb for Ishmael, after Allah was convinced that Abraham would indeed sacrifice Ishmael to prove his faith.
On this day, Muslims celebrate in several ways. A large feast is the high point of the day. The name of the holiday, Eid Al-Adha, means "The Feast of the Sacrifice." An animal is sacrificed, in much the same way that Abraham sacrificed a lamb. One-third of the meat is given to the poor, and the rest goes to the holiday feast. Children get gifts to commemorate the holiday, and special prayers are said throughout the day.
Eid Al-Adha takes place on the 10th and last day of the Hajj, the celebration of holy pilgrimage to Mecca, in the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
Ibrahim, messenger of Allah, had a son called Ismael which he had got after a lot of devotion and prayer to Allah. Once, Allah decided to test the faith and love of Ibrahim towards him. He showed him a dream of his son being slaughtered by him in service of Allah. Ibrahim had these recurring dreams and realized that Allah wanted him to sacrifice his son Ishmael.
He shared his dream with his son Ismael. Despite being a 13-year-old kid, Ishmael willingly agreed to become a part of the sacrifice as he believed in Allah.
Just when he was about to sacrifice his son, Allah called out to them and prevented Ibrahim from sacrificing as he had selflessly agreed to sacrifice his most prized possession for Allah. Instead, He asked to sacrifice a ram or sheep in place of his son to keep the sanctity of the word.
Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid Al Adha with immense enthusiasm and joy. Those who can afford a healthy animal like ram, sheep, cow or goat can also perform the sacrifice and donate meat, other people. Many families also give money to charities that work for poor.
They dress in new clothes, go to the mosque and exchange gifts. They also visit homes of their friends and relatives on this occasion. The whole day is filled with festive celebrations and merry-making among friends and family members.
Notably, Ibrahim had traveled to the holy city of Mecca with his family to sacrifice Ismael for Allah. He apparently took his son to Mount Arafat for the sacrifice where Allah had prevented him from doing so. Hajj takes place in the last month (Dhu al-Hijjah) of Islamic Calendar and commemorates that journey. At the end of Hajj, Eid Al Adha is celebrated.
The annual pilgrimage of Muslims, Hajj is the journey of Muslims all over the world to the holy city of Mecca. It is one of the five pillars of Islam with other four being Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm.
Every year around 3 million Muslims visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Hajj. Hajj means “to intend a journey” and denotes the physical as well as the mental willingness of people to visit Mecca.
It is said that every Muslim must go on Hajj once in a lifetime to offer his prayers to Allah and ask for His forgiveness for committed sins. They say a person is then born fresh without carrying over the sins of his past in new life.
Muslims celebrate their most important festivals twice a year. First is the Eid-Al-Fitr which is the end of fasting period of Ramadan. Eid-Al-Fitr roughly falls two months before the Eid Al Adha or Bakr-Id.
However, Eid Al Fitr just celebrates the ending of a month-long fasting period and the main Eid celebrated by Muslims is Eid Al Adha.
That is why Eid Al Adha is also called as Greater Eid. Due to the reason behind the celebration of Eid Al Adha (story of Ibrahim), people also call it as Festival of Sacrifice which denotes their selfless devotion to Allah.
Some non-Muslims often see the act of sacrificing an innocent animal a cruel act and against the philosophy of God loving every living being equally.
However, according to Islam, this act of sacrifice does not mean that God wants any ill of people or animals. Neither Islam suggests the idea of sacrificing the life of a person like Ibrahim considered to sacrifice his son Ishmael.
The sacrifice denotes that you have to be willing to let go of even your most prized possessions in service of the Almighty. Although the practice of slaughtering is still carried on a massive scale the deeper meaning is the sacrifice of attachment to material desires, possessions, and other things for greater devotion to the God.
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