By Samaira Ahmed

 (External Content - posted on behalf of author)

Eid-ul-Adha, also known as the ˜Feast of the Sacrifice, is the three-day Muslim festival which is held to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and honour his devotion to Allah. The festival unites Muslim families universally through celebrations of feasting, exchanging gifts and prayer and allows Muslims to acknowledge the significance of sacrifice.The celebration also marks the end of Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an obligation upon all able-bodied Muslims that they must undertake at least once in their lifetime when possible. Eid-ul-Adha is also known as the greater Eid and it is the second most important festival in Islam, which is celebrated worldwide every year to earn Allah's blessings and mercy.

The honourable story which Muslims believe started when Prophet Ibrahim and his wife Hajar had a son, Ismail, after many years of praying to be blessed with a child.To test Prophet Ibrahim, Allah asked him to sacrifice his son for the sake of Allah despite the long wait of the child's arrival. Due to his deep devotion and faith to God, he did not hesitate to take this audacious step and agreed to sacrifice his son.The compliance of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son for the sake of Allah demonstrated his strong faith in Allah, allowing Allah to spare his son's life, resulting in a lamb being sacrificed in replacement. Due to this miraculous event, Muslims are taught to have complete trust in Allah and remain resilient with whatever Allah tests them with, hence why Eid-ul-Adha is celebrated to honour this holy occasion in the history of Islam.

Eid-ul-Adha period has garnered some controversy, especially in the Western World, as the debate of halal slaughter is criticised as being inhumane

To dignify Prophet Ibrahim's devotion to Allah, on this holy day, Muslims slaughter an animal whose meat is distributed among the family, friends, and the poor and needyMuslims traditionally sacrifice a sheep, goat, cow or camel usually in designated sacrifice countries e.g. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt etc. In recent years, the sacrifice of animals during the Eid-ul-Adha period has garnered some controversy, especially in the Western World, as the debate of halal slaughter is criticised as being inhumane. However, Islamically, it is of the utmost importance that any animal that is sacrificed on any occasion feels no suffering besides the initial pain.When it comes to the Eid sacrifice, the animal is faced towards Mecca and the throat cut using a sharp knife with an instant motion during which bismillah (in God's name) is uttered. Any pain suffered is brief because the animal falls unconscious within seconds of the incision. The declaration of Allah is a reminder that the valuable life that we are taking is sacred.An essential part of this day is remembering the poor and needy through giving to charity, which not only advocates kinship, but also emphasises the importance of gratitude and grants Muslims yet another opportunity to gain the blessings of Allah.

Muslims often commence Eid-ul-Adha with a special prayer, often in a congregation, called Salat al-Eid, followed by a sermon called a khutbah. Many Muslims choose to perform this optional prayer as it's an opportunity to earn immense blessings, not only individually, but also as a community, thus promoting unity and brotherhood amongst all. Once the prayer is completed, people greet their fellow brothers and sisters of Islam with the blessings of this Holy Day with the traditional Arabic greeting, Eid Mubarak. As Eid is a time to celebrate, the rest of the day is devoted to spending time with friends and family i.e. eating together and alternating gifts.

From the sacrificial meat to the completions of Hajj rituals to the special Eid prayer to the brotherhood on this glorified day, Eid-ul-Adha marks an important occasion in Islam as not only does it promote goodness within the Muslim community, but also teaches several lessons of both sacrifice and gratitude. The holy day provides Muslims with a great opportunity to reap many blessings from Allah and gives an idea of the kind of strong faith Muslims should possess for their Lord as their Prophet Ibrahim did. The distribution of sacrificial meat alongside giving to charity encourages fellowship amongst Muslims, which advocates love and teaches Muslims gratitude, so to be thankful to Allah for all the bounties He has graciously provided.

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