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When we talk about Eid, we refer to two events during the Muslim calendar year. One is Eid-ul-Fitr, which is after the month of Ramadan, i.e., at the start of the month of Shawwal. Then, we have Eid-ul-Adha, which is in the 12th month of the Islamic calendar – Dhul Hijjah.
Eid is essentially a festival, and all nations and communities have their own celebrations. We see this all over the world regularly in non-Muslim societies. People celebrate the start of the year, birthdays, festivals such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc., with joy and happiness annually.
The two Eids are the two and only sanctioned Islamic festivals. These are the only two festivals that Allah ordained for Muslims all over the world. All other such occasions for celebrations related to Islam are actually innovations and were not initially a part of Islam.
The Prophet (PBUH) said that every nation has festivals to celebrate. Eids are the festivals for Muslims. The Muslims of Madinah also once stated that they used to have carnivals before the days of Islam (Sunan Abi Dawud). The Prophet (PBUH) replied that Allah gave the Muslims the two Eids instead.
Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan. They often go and visit relatives and friends to celebrate the occasion. On the other hand, Eid-ul-Fitr is sometimes called the bigger Eid. This is because it involves the Udhiyah, the animal sacrifice.
Eid-ul-Adha also has a close connection with the yearly Hajj. There is also an essential lesson behind this festival, which stems from its origins, i.e., the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.).
What is the reason for the celebration of Eid-ul-Adha?
Allah outlined the story of Ibrahim in relation to Eid in the Quran. He mentioned the story in Surah as-Saffat. Ibrahim (a.s.) asked Allah to bless him with a righteous son. Allah eventually answered his prayer, and a child was born. Ibrahim (a.s.) named the boy Ismail. This young child would himself go on to become a prophet of Allah.
The event took place when Ibrahim (a.s.) was getting old. He still had only one son, the righteous Ismail (a.s.). One night, Ibrahim (a.s.) saw a dream in which Allah commanded him to sacrifice Ismail (a.s.). Being a prophet and knowing the virtues of dreams, Ibrahim (a.s.) wasted no time obeying Allah.
Ismail (a.s.) was willing, knowing it’s all part of Allah’s plans. Ibrahim (a.s.) meanwhile terribly loved his only son. Yet, he put Allah’s will above all else. Hence, he prepared to do the deed.
As Ibrahim (a.s.) prepared to do the act and carry out Allah’s command, Allah called out to him and said that he had fulfilled the vision. This was a trial for the prophet. Allah says in the Quran that He rewards the people who do good. As a result of Ibrahim (a.s.)’s willingness for sacrifice, Allah replaced his son with a ram.
Allah also granted Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) with more offspring later in the form of Ishaq, another future prophet. The Most Merciful elevated the status of Ibrahim (a.s.) among humanity. Today, he is known as the father of the monotheistic faiths all over the world. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—all monotheistic faiths before the latter two were corrupted—are called the “Abrahamic” religions.
When is Eid-ul-Adha commemorated? How many days is Eid-ul-Adha?
This joyous occasion for Muslims takes place every year after Hajj. It is, therefore, celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah. Since the days of sacrifice are four, the festival is from 10–13 Dhul Hijjah. In the year 2020, this means Eid-ul-Adha is toward the end of the month of July.
Sunnahs and etiquette we should observe
The first thing that Muslims should do on the day of Eid-ul-Adha is ghusl. This sunnah action is mentioned in various Hadith, and it is highly recommended.
For Eid-ul-Fitr, Muslims should eat something like a date after this and before the prayer. However, on the day of Eid-ul-Adha, it is preferable to abstain from eating at this time. This is so that the Muslims can eat from the food of the sacrifice. Of course, this only applies to those who are capable and willing to perform a sacrifice.
Next is to adorn oneself with the best clothes that a person owns. Various Hadith document that Prophet Muhammad (S) and his companions would wear their best clothes and look their best for this special occasion. This is also natural human nature.
As Muslims then leave their home to head for the prayer, they should recite takbeer and greet each other. The peace greeting of the Muslims accompanied by Eid Mubarak, etc., are all acceptable forms of greetings.
Next, the Muslims head for the masjid or the location of the Eid prayer. This is usually held in a large open area, early in the morning. The prayer consists of two rakat and a khutbah (sermon). We should also make dua during this time. After the conclusion of the prayer, it is a well-known Sunnah for Muslims to return via a different route than the one they used for coming to the place of the Eid prayer.
After this, there are various activities that Muslims can partake in, such as visiting family, friends, neighbors, etc. They can enjoy good and halal food and drink, and take part is permissible activities for enjoyment.
Etiquette for a person who wishes to offer sacrifice
There are some restrictions for people who aim to offer sacrifice for Eid-ul-Adha. During the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, they should not remove any of their hair, nails, or skin. If a person does any of these things, he should seek Allah’s forgiveness. However, if anyone has a medical condition or a serious reason to do any of the actions mentioned earlier, it is permissible.
This is the crucial part of the day of Eid-ul-Adha. It is one of the significant rituals in Islam, and it results in much good for society. It has many virtues and benefits both from a religious and worldly point of view, which we will look at later.
We can perform the sacrifice at any time after the Eid prayer on the day of Eid-ul-Adha. The 10th of Dhul Hijjah and the next three days are all valid days for the sacrifice.
Muslims can sacrifice any of the specified animals for this sacrifice. They are camels, cattle, sheep, and goats. Allah tells the believers in Surah al-Kawthat to turn toward him in prayer and sacrifice for His sake alone.
The sacrifice is a confirmed Sunnah in Islam. All people who can easily afford it should take part in it. One person has to offer one sacrifice for himself and his family. There is a common misconception that sacrifice can only be on one person’s behalf. Hence, people often perform multiple sacrifices for family members. This is permissible, but it is not a requirement.
Of the permissible animals for sacrifice, cows and camels can be divided into seven portions apiece, whereas the smaller animals suffice for one person’s sacrifice.
There are two scholarly opinions about the rulings on sacrifice. The majority opinion held by the scholars is that it is Sunnah Muakkadah. This means that it’s a confirmed Sunnah that people should adhere to if they can do so. It is disliked to avoid it without any justifiable reason.
Some of the scholars believe that this sacrifice is obligatory upon all the Muslims who can perform it. However, this is not a widely accepted ruling.
Conditions of the sacrifice
- The animal must be from among the following: camels, cattle, sheep, goats.
- It must have reached the age at which it is a mature animal.
- It should not have any faults, such as defective eyes, sickness, lameness, or malnutrition.
- The person offering the sacrifice must be the legal owner of the animal.
- No one else should have any right to the animal.
- We should perform the slaughter at the correct time. The time for sacrifice starts from after the Eid prayer on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah to sunset on the last day, i.e., the 13th of Dhul Hijjah.
Contemporary problems with sacrifice during Eid-ul-Adha
The world has changed a lot in the 14 or so centuries since the days of the Prophet (PBUH). The religion of Islam now has billions of adherents all over the world. Hence, as with everything else, the sacrifice of Eid-ul-Adha is committed on a massive scale.
One of the disliked things that happen with Eid-ul-Adha is the way traders treat animals. Desperate to make maximum profit and wanting to take advantage of the festival, some go to extreme lengths. As a result, they may neglect the animal’s well-being, while some may even go as far as to try and sell animals that are not yet mature enough for the sacrifice.
The next problem is one that is related to the state of many Muslim countries. A lot of Muslim-majority countries are third world or developing countries with inadequate facilities. Hence, the preparation for Eid-ul-Adha is not good. Once people perform sacrifices, it is not uncommon to see pools of blood collecting on the streets, attracting flies and insects that spread filth. People also discard the intestines, stomachs, etc., of the animals in open areas, leading to pollution and harming the atmosphere and surroundings.
A further issue that we face is due to the sacrifice itself. With the high demand for sacrifices, some of the butchers performing them may not be very competent. As a result, they may treat the animal poorly and not perform the sacrifice correctly, causing pain and difficulty to it, which is haram. They may also perform a lot of sacrifices together, slaughtering one animal in front of many others, causing distress.
Muslims must do their best to try and avoid these situations. We must hire competent people and be wary of where we discard remains.
The virtues of Eid-ul-Adha
According to a Hadith in Sunan Abi Dawud, the Prophet (PBUH) said that the greatest day of the year in Allah’s eyes is the Day of Sacrifice, i.e., the first day of Eid-ul-Adha.
As per another Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) also said that the Day of Sacrifice is the greatest day of Hajj. This is because several important actions of the yearly pilgrimage take place on this day. Besides the sacrifice itself, people stone the Jamarat, shave or cut their hair, and offer tawaaf and saa’i.
As documented in Sunan at-Tirmidhi, the Prophet (PBUH) said that the days of Eid are the days of Muslims’ festivals, and thus they are the day of enjoying food and drink.
Eid-ul-Adha is a time for Muslims to remember the sacrifice of Ibrahim (a.s.). Giving up something as massive as one’s own child, all for the sake of Allah, is not something everyone is capable of. His actions should inspire us and always resolve to obey Allah no matter what, as he did. We have no excuse not to obey Him. Additionally, we must also remember that we do not always know what is best for us. We must trust in Allah because he is the All-Knowing.
The sacrifice of Eid-ul-Adha is not because Allah needs sacrifice. It’s because we need the reward and benefit of the sacrifice. The recommended division is 1/3rd apiece for yourself, family and friends, and the poor. The immense amount of the sacrifice that we give in charity annually strengthens the poor and needy of our community and provides them with some happiness. Additionally, it increases our share of good deeds.
Celebrating Eid-ul-Adha in 2020
On a final note, we look at the current situation the world faces and how Muslims can celebrate Eid-ul-Adha. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted people all over the world in many ways, and there is no doubt that it will change this festival as well.
The first thing to consider is that many Muslims can opt for performing sacrifice through charitable organizations. Often, many believers go and buy their preferred animals themselves and then have them sacrificed. However, that may not be easily possible in the current circumstances. Charitable organizations carry out the sacrifice on their own and take the payment for the animal and the sacrifice. They give a portion of the meat to the person, whereas the rest goes to the poor and needy.
It is vital for people to adhere to the local guidelines and to take precautions. The coronavirus pandemic has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people so far and continues to affect people unabated. Hence, if Muslims need to forego meeting with others and celebrating, then they must do so. We can only perform any activities with adequate social distancing, etc.
People living in areas where there are lockdowns should ideally perform the sacrifice through organizations completely. They must also adhere to the operating procedures and not leave their homes if that is the stipulation for their area. The sanctity of life is paramount, and we cannot take COVID-19 lightly.
Even if our celebration of Eid-ul-Adha is dampened, we should remember the spirit of the occasion. We must keep the less fortunate in our minds. We should look to give as much charity as possible in order to help out others who are affected, especially in our own communities.