Eid ul Adha is a festival celebrated among Muslims all over the world in remembrance of the sacrifice that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) made out of his strong faith in Allah. Ibrahim (AS) showed a willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS) but his son was replaced with a lamb by Allah. Allah was so pleased with Ibrahim’s submission to Him that He made this demonstration of sacrifice and faith a permanent part of a Muslim’s life. It is celebrated every year on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. Muslims all over the world slaughter a lamb, sheep, goat or a camel to honor the sacrifice of Ibrahim (AS); a sense of generosity and gratitude colors this festival.
This festival is meant to make a Muslim more virtuous in his or her deeds. It should not be meant only to offer sacrifices; rather it is meant to learn hidden lessons of freedom from selfish desires and to elevate a Muslim from anything that hinders his ability to fulfill his responsibilities as a Muslim. Allah says in the Quran:
"It is not their flesh or their blood that reaches Allah. Rather it is your piety that reaches Him. Thus has He disposed them for your benefit so that you may magnify Allah for His guiding you. And give good news to the virtuous”. (Quran 22:37)
Thereafter, given the historical importance of this festival and the part it plays in a Muslim’s life, it is very important that it should be celebrated in a way as prescribed by Allah and His Prophet (PBUH). Only by celebrating it in a proper manner, we would be able to fathom the lessons that Allah has meant for us to understand through the performance of this act.
The responsible way to celebrate Eid
The first 10 days preceding Eid-ul-Adha have great significance as they are meant to motivate and encourage Muslims for Eid. Thereafter, Allah and Prophet (PBUH) have encouraged believers to increase their Ibadah during these days. Prophet (PBUH) says:
“There are no deeds as excellent as those done in these ten days.” They (the Companions) said, “Not even Jihad?” He said, “No not even Jihad except a man who goes forth endangering his life and wealth and does not return with anything.” (Bukhari)
A Muslim must do maximum Ibadah in these days and then as an expression of reward, one celebrates Eid ul Adha.
Sunnah of Prophet (PBUH) on the day of Eid
It is necessary to celebrate Eid in the true spirit of Islam, which is only possible by following the tradition and Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) during Eid includes:
1. Taking care of personal cleanliness and clothing
2. Taking a Ghusal (bath)
3. Use perfume (only men)
4. Go to prayer ground early, sit silently and offer Salaat-al Eid
5. Use two separate routes to and from the prayer ground
Eid salah and sacrifice
Two main events of the day of Eid ul-Adha are offering the Eid prayer and the sacrifice of an animal. Narrated by Al-Bara, Prophet (PBUH) said in a sermon that:
"The first thing to be done on this day (first day of Eid ul Adha) is to pray; and after returning from the prayer we slaughter our sacrifices (in the name of Allah) and whoever does so, he acted according to our Sunnah (traditions)." (Bukhari 15: 71)
It is important to note here that sacrifice of the animal is meant to be done after the Eid prayers and not before it. According to a hadith narrated by Al-Bara bin Azib, Prophet (PBUH) said that:
“Whoever offers the prayer like us and slaughters like us then his Nusuk (sacrifice) will be accepted by Allah. And whoever slaughters his sacrifice before the Eid prayer then he has not done the sacrifice." (Bukhari 15: 75)
These are the important things to remember while celebrating Eid. One’s sacrifice and Eid prayer will not be accepted by Allah unless he or she follows the prescribed way. Prophet (PBUH) also dictated the proper way to sacrifice the animal. Narrated by Anas:
“The Prophet offered as sacrifices, two horned rams, black and white in color. He slaughtered them with his own hands and mentioned Allah's Name over them and said Takbir and put his foot on their sides.” (Bukhari, Edahi: 7)
Furthermore, this Eid is not only meant to sacrifice the animal and enjoy the festivities; rather there are other higher religious and moral obligations. Muslims are instructed to remember their poor brothers who are not capable of sacrificing in the way of Allah due to financial or other constraints. According to Sunnah, the meat is divided into three shares; one for the family, one for the relatives and the third one is reserved for the poor people of the community.
Hence it is important to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha in a responsible manner: one should fulfill all duties towards Allah Almighty and then towards His people and only then is the act accepted and appreciated by Allah Almighty. May this Eid be a joyous occasion for us all and may we fulfill our duties to everyone to the best of our abilities.