Eid-ul-Adha: The Spirit of Sacrifice

Nov 17, 2010

As a kid, my most favourite time of the year was when a couple of goats were brought home and harnessed inside the outhouse that we had in our compound. For the next couple of days I would be busy feeding, playing with and even talking to and scolding the poor goats. The memory is so fresh that even now I can almost smell the delicious odour of the ever-munching goats. But then I was not so brave as to touch them – all the bravado of chiding them would be from a safe distance of a few feet.

And then I would watch them, with my eyes half-closed, yet with all the courage I could summon, being sacrificed. My granny would pacify me saying goats are noble creatures for they know that they would be sacrificed and yet submit to God's will, and the act does not hurt them at all. And of course, she was right.

(For all those who wonder why I am speaking in past tense – we stay in a flat now, and go to our native place for the festival. I still get to watch the sacrifice from a distance, but unfortunately I don’t get the opportunity to make the goats my friends).

Sacrifice – that’s the keyword. Bakrid, or Eid-ul-Adha, is all about showing our gratitude to Allah for blessing us with health, sufficient wealth and food. Though sacrifice of the animal is obligatory on those who are eligible to pay Zakat (charity), it can be performed even by those who are not, or on behalf of even the deceased. It is not just about gratitude, but also sharing, where the meat of the animal sacrificed, may be cow, camel, goat, sheep or any quadruped that is ‘halal’ (permissible), is divided into three parts. Of the three, one each is offered to the poor and to relatives/friends and the third part is for self. For days after Bakrid, you will find nothing but meat in the freezers of Muslim households, and nothing but mutton/beef dishes on the dinner tables!

The very act of sacrifice is a testimony to a Muslim’s faith. A Muslim by definition is one who submits to the will of Allah. Prophet Abraham, whose wish for a son came true late in his life, was tested by Allah, who asked him to sacrifice his most beloved possession, which was his son (Prophet Ismail). The son readily agreed to submit to the will of God, and so did Prophet Abraham. Pleased with their piety and spirit of sacrifice, Allah replaced Prophet Ismail with a ram just before he could be sacrficed, and decreed that Muslims shall commemorate their pious act by sacrificing a halal animal.

Eid-ul-Adha falls on the 10th, 11th or 12th day of the month of Zil Hijjah (or Dhu’l Hajj) and marks the end of ‘Hajj’ or pilgrimage to Makkah. The ritual lies not in shedding the blood of an animal, but in doing so with the spirit of sacrificing for Allah and thanking Him by sharing the meat with fellow human beings. This is evident in the following lines from the Holy Quran, ‘It is not their meat, nor their blood, that reaches God, It is their piety that reaches God’ (22:37).

Moreover, it is a wrong notion that the animal suffers during the act of slaying. In fact, there is no brutality involved at all. The animal is slain at the throat and its blood let out, which causes it minimum pain. The sacrifice signifies the piety of Muslims, and the spirit of sharing. The believer is said to be rewarded even before the blood of the animal reaches the ground, and also for every strand of hair on its body. The sacrifice also symbolises that one should give up one’s unlawful desires and negative thoughts and choose the path of righteousness. It is a way of thanking God for His benevolence, for providing us food to eat and at the same time reminding us of the need to share what we have with those who are not as fortunate as us.

The festival is celebrated not just by offering sacrifices of animals, but even with prayers in congregation at the Idgah by men, and usually at home by women. As with Id-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan, women spend the eve of the festival applying mehendi and preparing sweets in the morning.

Here’s wishing a very happy, prosperous, peaceful and rewarding Bakrid to all.

By Anisa Fathima
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Comment on this article

  • aboobaker uppala, uppala/Holy Makkah

    Thu, Nov 18 2010


  • Abu Ziyad, M'lore/KSA

    Wed, Nov 17 2010

    Al Hamdulillah. Masha' Allah, sister Fathima did a good job to convey the message of Eid Al Adha . But one thing which I have to tell her that, as per our beloved Prophet's hadith, during the Eid congregational prayer it is Sunnah to every muslim (Men, women, children and infants) to join the congregational prayer particularly in the Eidga grounds to perform it, not at home, provided women are clean from natural cause. Further it is Sunnah for women to listen Qutuba on Eid days in Eidgah grounds eventhough they are in the status of natural cause.

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Wed, Nov 17 2010

    I wish Anisa and other Daijiworld readers a very happy, prosperous, peaceful and united Bakrid.

  • yousuf, ksa

    Wed, Nov 17 2010

    Nice deliver..... keep writing.

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