At the end of the Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Makkah), Muslims throughout the world are preparing to celebrate yet another Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) to commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Abraham.
The Qur’an describes Abraham as follows: “Surely Abraham was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. He was grateful for Our bounties. We chose him and guided him unto a right path. We gave him good in this world, and in the next, he will most surely be among the righteous.” (Qur’an 16:120-121)
One of Abraham’s main trials was to face the command of Allah to kill his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah’s will. When he was all prepared to do it, Allah revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had already been fulfilled. He had shown that his love for his Lord superseded all others, that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to God.
Why do Muslims sacrifice an animal on this day?
During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham’s trials by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith. Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.
The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor.
The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah’s commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others.
It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin. This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him” (Qur’an 22:37).
The symbolism is in the attitude — a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us.
On the first morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, and the exchange of greetings and gifts. At some point, members of the family will visit a local farm or otherwise will make arrangements for the slaughter of an animal. The meat is distributed during the days of the holiday or shortly thereafter.
Conditions for slaughtering animal
Below are important rules and conditions for slaughtering an animal for sacrifice on Eid ul Ad’ha Minimum age for sacrificial animals: Cows (2 years), Camels (5 years), Goats (12 months) and Sheep (12 months).
Every sane adult male and female Muslim who can afford to sacrifice an animal should sacrifice one as an act of worship. The animals can be sacrificed starting from after the Eid salaah on 10th DhulHijjah until 13th DhulHijjah.
Eligible animals are: goats, sheep, cows, camels, goats and sheep must be at least 12 months old. Cows and camels also have a minimum age. A goat/sheep may be slaughtered only as a single sacrifice i.e. it forms only a single share. Up to seven people can jointly sacrifice one cow or one camel i.e. a cow/camel can have up to seven shares. A sacrificial animal should be free of any physical defect: injury, wound, deformity, etc.
The animal must be slaughtered in the Islamic manner. Place the animal on its side facing Qiblah. Slaughter it using a very sharp knife, slide the knife two and a half times across the throat slicing the jugular vein and draining all the blood. Slaughter it out of sight of other sacrificial animals. Recite ALLAAHU AKBAR at the time of slaughtering. The slaughtered animal’s meat should be shared in three lots: One third to the poor and needy. One third to friends and relatives. One third for self. The skin, intestines, head, hooves etc should not be given as payment to the slaughterer. The Muslim who intends to slaughter should not clip his/her nails or trim any hair from the time of the new crescent of Dhul Hijjah until offering the sacrifice.
Devotees offer the Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque. The Eid al-Adha prayer is performed any time after the sun completely rises up to just before the entering of Zuhr time on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah. In the event of a force majeure (e.g. natural disaster), the prayer may be delayed to the 11th of Dhu al-Hijjah and then to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah.
Eid prayers must be offered in congregation. Participation of women in the prayer congregation varies from community to community. It consists of two rakats (units) with seven takbirs in the first Raka’ah and five Takbirs in the second Raka’ah. For Shia Muslims, Salat al-Eid differs from the five daily canonical prayers in that no adhan (call to prayer) or iqama (call) is pronounced for the two Eid prayers. The salat (prayer) is then followed by the khutbah, or sermon by the Imam.
At the conclusion of the prayers and sermon, Muslims embrace and exchange greetings with one another (Eid Mubarak), give gifts and visit one another. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslim friends, neighbours, co-workers and classmates to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them about Islam and Muslim cultur
Read more about the Eidul Adha here:* https://islamqa.info/en/418992
Arafat Day Fasting
While the pilgrims spend the entire day in supplications and fulfilling the Hajj rituals, the non-pilgrims can spend this day in fasting and devotion. Regarding the importance of fasting on this day, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Fasting on the Day of Arafat expiates for the sins of the previous year and of the coming year” (Sahih Muslim).
In the light of Hadith and the teaching of Prophet, Islamic scholars highly recommend Muslims who are not performing Hajj to fast on this blessed day because it is a fantastic opportunity for the believers to get cleaned from their previous and upcoming year’s sins.
The fasting method for this day is same like as if you fast during the month of Ramadan. You wake up for the Suhoor meal, and make the intention (Niyyah) saying: “I intend to keep the fast for the day of Arafat”
The fast period starts from the Fajr Adhan and continues until the Maghrib call to prayer. Throughout the entire Arafat Day’s fast, a believer must involve himself in good deeds, perform more voluntary prayers, and engage in religious acts of worship that can bring him closer to Allah.
The Importance of Arafat Day
For the believers of Islamic faith, the Day of Arafat is significant because it commemorates the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s last sermon to his people and the completion of the message of Islam.
The importance of this day can also be understood from the fact that the rituals performed on this day are an integral part of the Hajj, without it, the annual pilgrimage can’t be complete.
Furthermore, there are several ahadith by the Prophet and several reports mentioned in the history books of Islam – all which tell us why Allah has made this day the most superior day of the year.