Eid-ul-Adha: A Closer Look
Eid is the time of the year when all people regardless of their age, race or gender come together to celebrate. The word ‘Eid’ translates to Festival in Arabic. There are 3 major Eids celebrated annually according to the Muslim (or Hijri) year. The Eid-e-Milad, Eid-ul-fitr, and Eid-ul-Adha. Muslims all over the world relate to this festival, imbuing it immense energy and liveliness.
Eid-ul-fitr, the biggest Muslim festival of the year, is celebrated at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when people fast for 30 days, pray on the morning of the 1st day of the new month, and give alms and spend the day with their family. Eid-e-Milad, is the birthday of the prophet, and while it doesn’t include the festivities and prayers of the other two, it is a very important time of the Muslim calendar, where the teachings of the prophet are commemorated. That brings us to Eid-ul-Adha, also known as Bakra-Eid in India. Eid-uz-Zuha, as it is also called, marks the time when Prophet Ibrahim showed the wilfulness to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, to the almighty, and god in return replaced Isaac with a sheep before the knife came down on him.
But this Eid holds more meaning to Muslims who have been on Hajj, or are currently there. The world is celebrating Eid on Tuesday, which the 10th day of the Muslim month of Dhu-al-Hijjah, 1437. Zabihat or sacrifice is one of the most important things to be done on the Day of Hajj (which is Eid) among other rituals such as the circumambulation of the Ka’bah (The Tawaf), running between the hills of Safa and Marwah (The Sa’ee), and the Stoning of the pillars of Shaitan. These rituals are all a part of this day, but sadly they can only be performed by Muslims on the pilgrimage of Hajj. The only ritual which can be performed outside the limits of the holy city of Mecca, is the Zabihat, and hence these sacrifices hold great emotions to the people hosting them. It brings them closer to the 2 million on the journey of a lifetime. A journey that every Muslim, over the world, wants to make.
The Hajj is a time of great discipline, piety and fervour for the Pilgrims. Physically it is extremely taxing and exhausting, hence the they are expected to be able bodied. Emotions and tears and uncontrollable when they enter the Haram of the Mosque in Mecca and see the Ka’bah. With the resonating sounds of ‘Labbaik Allahuma Labbaik’ (I have come, Oh Allah, at your beck and call, I have come) echoing in the mosque. Ah, the feeling is indescribable. There is not a single person complaining at this time, everybody is thankful since they are lucky enough to be there. In ancient times, Hajj was a journey that people did not return from, owing to the strenuous travel, and the fact that Mecca is in the middle of a desert. But now, with returning pilgrims, the stories of Hajj are widely told, and the magic never ceases.
All the rites of Hajj commemorate a prophet and the sacrifices they made to the religion. It is a manner of remembering the struggle Islam went through in preaching peace in desert-lands that did not understand the concept of society. The religion taught them to share and love. Taught them to be frugal, and helpful. It urged people to give away things to someone who deserves it or requires it more. It is a way of reminding yourself the rich culture and the message of peace even in these times, when the ideologies of Islam have been convulsed and misinterpreted.
Eid, gives the Muslims a reason to celebrate and to remember the roots and strength of their own faith. It gives you the confidence in an ideology that changed the Bedouin wasteland to what it is today. And thus, regardless of where it is celebrated, the ideas do remain the same. Muslims resonate with the emotions of the Hujjaj (Congregation of Pilgirms), and follow the rite of Zabihat with the same enthusiasm.
The day of Eid is declared at sunrise after the Day of Arafa (The 9th of Dhu-al-Hijjah). The Day of Arafat (or Youm-e-Arafat), is the time when Muslims climb a mountain to the east of Mecca and reflect on their lives. Forgiveness is asked with the setting sun, and marks the beginning of a new chapter of their lives. The prayer on Eid includes the delivery of a Khutbah (sermon), after which people leave the mosques and go to slaughterhouses to sacrifice a goat, cow, camel or any animal which can provide meat by halal laws. A sacrifice is completely optional and depends on the willingness and financial stability of the person hosting it. The meat obtained from the sacrifice is divided into 3 parts, one for charity, one for gifts to family and one for yourself.
Muslims being the flamboyant meat eaters that they are, use this meat to make a variety of dishes. And since Eid is celebrated all over the world, there is literally no end to the list of things that are made. In India, Biryani Haleem, Halvan and such meat preparations are popular as they serve a lot of people. It’s a time when everyone loves to eat these mouth-watering dishes and simply be happy! Malidha, a sweet made from ghee, jaggery, rava, and wheat flour is a favourite in some communities. This golden brown sweet involves an exhausting process, but the end result is worth it to the very last crumb.
Eid always asks Muslims to be kind, and generous. Giving alms, not only in the form of money, but in kind too, is appreciated. Volunteer service, working at a mosque kitchen, and other societal work helps people live up to the ideals of Islam by putting them into practice.
Joy, happiness and goodwill to you all!
-Qais Akolowala for MTTN