The festival of sacrifice
By Shakeel Ahmad

Muslims all over the world celebrate two main Eids, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. Eid-ul-Azha is celebrated on the tenth day of Hajj (the pilgrimage to the Mecca to perform one of the five obligatory pillars of Islam). It is obligatory for every muslim to perform Hajj at least once in a life time, provided they can afford it by fair means. The Hajj takes place during the first ten days of the twelth month of Muslim calender, Zil-Hajj. Hajj is performed to sacrifice time, comfort and money in the name of Almighty God. It symbolizes the equality of all believers before God. It also enhances the feeling of unity among Muslim community.

When Hajj period ends, Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid-ul-Azha (Festival of sacrifice), with special prayer (offering salah) followed by sacrificing animals and distributing the meat among needy, poor and relatives. This festival lasts for three days. Muslims celebrate Eid with great enthusiasm and wear new clothes, exchange gifts and visit relatives and friends to wish each other. The literal meaning of Eid is happiness.

Eid-ul-Azha is commemoration of momentous event in the history of mankind, when prophet Abraham (Ibraheem) saw a dream; in which he was slaughtering his own beloved son, Ismaeel (Ishmael).

Prophet Abraham believed the dream and thought that the dream was from Almighty and he wanted to testify him. So, after getting permission of his obedient son, he proceeded to sacrifice him. But Almighty God helped his steadfast obedient believer, Abraham; by sending a lamb to be sacrificed instead of his beloved son, Ismaeel.Thus God fulfilled his promise to be always with the believers.
Quran says:

When he grew enough to work with him, he said, “My son, I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you. What do you think?”
He said, “O my father, do what you are commanded to do.
You will find me, God willing, patient.” [37:102]
They both submitted, and he put his forhead down (to sacrifice him).[37:103]
We called him: “O Abraham.” [37:104]
“You have believed the dream,” We thus reward the righteous. [37:105]
“That was an exacting test indeed.” [37:106]
“We ransomed (Ismaeel) by substituting an animal to sacrifice.[37:107]
“And we preserved his history for subsequent generations.” [37:108]
“Peace be upon him.” [37:109]
“We thus reward the righteous.” [37:110]

So, to remember that great intention of sacrifice of prophet Abraham, Eid-ulAzha is celebrated by Muslims world over. Eid Mubarak!

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