Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Eid Al-Adha the Festival of Sacrifice

Eid al-Adha is an important religious holiday and festival celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. Eid al-Adha is also know as the Festival of Sacrifice or the Greater Eid.
It is celebrated annually on the 10th day of the 12th and the last Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah of the lunar Islamic calendar. Eid al-Adha celebrations start after the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide, descend from Mount Arafat.
The date falls approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan.
Ritual observance of the holiday lasts until sunset of the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah.
In 2010, Eid al-Adha will begin on November 16th, and will last for three days. The exact date falls in sync with the procession of the lunar Islamic year according to their calendar. As shown below, the dates for the next three years to 2012 are calculated in series.
This year is 1431 (Islamic Calendar): November 17 - 19 ,2010
Next year is 1432 (Islamic Calendar): November 6 - 8 , 2011
And the year 1433 (Islamic Calendar): October 26 - 28 , 2012
During the Hajj, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Abraham. During the celebration they reenact the sacrifice themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith.
One of Abraham's main trials was to face the command of Allah to kill his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah's will. When he was all prepared to do it, Allah revealed to him that his sacrifice had already been fulfilled.
Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.
The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah's commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others.
It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin.
The symbolism is in the attitude - a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah's commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us.
The three days of ritual and rites for these holy days is elaborate by Western standards.
On the first morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, and the exchange of greetings and gifts.
At some point, members of the family will visit a local farm or otherwise will make arrangements for the slaughter of an animal. The meat is distributed during the days of the holiday or shortly thereafter.
Most Western people, particularly Americans have little idea of the elaborate devotional ritual of Islam for their holy days. So for purposes of being accurate, here is a directly quoted section of the ritual obligations expected pf devotees the faith. As explained on Wikipedia in detail.
Rules Regarding the Animal to be Sacrificed
1. The animal has to be one of the cattle approved by the Sharia (Cow, Camel, Goat, Sheep etc.)
2. The animal has reached the required age. The adult age is: (a) One year for a goat, sheep, lamb (b) Two years for a cow (c) Five years for a camel.
3. The animal is free from an obvious defect like a one-eyed animal whose defect is obvious, a sick animal whose sickness is obvious, a lame animal whose limp is obvious and an emaciated animal that has no marrow in its bones
4. The animal is in full possession of the one who is offering the sacrifice; i.e. it is not stolen or taken by force, not of joint possession or held in pledge
5. The animal can not be sold or given away once selected or bought for sacrifice, unless exchanging for something better.
Rules Related to the Person offering the Sacrifice
1. Being a Muslim
2. It is necessary for the one who intends to offer the sacrifice that he does not remove any hair or nail from the sunset on last day of Zhul-Qa'dah until the sacrifice is done on the Eid day
3. Doing the slaughter with one's own hands. If one is not able to do so then he can appoint some one else to do the slaughter on his behalf. In such case one should witness his slaughter if at all possible.
4. It is a necessary condition of the sacrifice that the animal be slaughtered with the intention of offering a sacrifice (udhiyah). The intention must be in the heart, and should not be spoken out loud.
5. Taking the Name of Allah at the time of slaughter.
Then one is ready for the next step beginning on the morning of Eid al-Adha.
In keeping with the tradition of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Muslims are encouraged to prepare themselves for the occasion of Eid. The Sunnah of Eid al-Adha is this lengthy preparation for the three holy days. Below is a list of things Muslims are recommended to do in preparation for the Eid al-Adha festival.
1. Wake up early (before sunrise).
2. Make wudu (ablution) and offer Salat al-Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer).
3. Prepare for personal cleanliness - take care of details of clothing, etc.
4. Take a Ghusl (bath) after Fajr prayer.
5. Brush teeth (preferably with a miswak, or tooth-stick).
6. Dress up, putting on new or best clothes available (White, when available, is optimal.
7. Apply (alcohol free) perfume (attar) (men only).
8. It is customary to eat dates preferably or something before going to Eid prayers but you can't eat sacrificed meat as Sacrifice must be done after Eid prayers to be accepted as Sacrifice otherwise it becomes just normal meat and no reward for sacrifice.
9. Go to the prayer grounds (known as an 'Eidgah') early.
10. Offer Salat al-Eid (the congregational Eid prayer) in an open place, weather permitting, or in mosque.
11. Use two separate routes when travel ling to and from the Eid prayer location.
12. Recite the following Takbir which starts at Maghrib (sunset) on the 9th of Dhu al-hijah and last until the Asr on the 12th Dhu al-ilhijah: Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar. La ilaha illa-lah wallahu-Akbar. Allahu-Akbar wa-lillahil-hamd, which translates to: "Allah (God) is the Greatest (3 times); there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest and to Him are due all praises."
Following this series of rituals, comes the actual song an praise part of the devotional rites called the Takbir.
The Takbir is recited from the dawn of the tenth of Dhu al-Hijjah to the thirteenth. Takbīr is a phrase itself is Allahu Akbar - Meaning God is the Greatest, or God is Great. This phrase is recited by Muslims in many different situations. For example, when they are very happy, to express approval, to praise a speaker, as a battle cry, and during times of extreme stress. In this capacity is expressing thankfulness, and as is often the case is sung for the extent of three days. Long ritual praising of Allah being a norm within Islamic ritual structure.
At the conclusion of the prayers and sermon, the Muslims embrace and exchange greetings with one other (Eid Mubarak), give gifts (Eidi) to children, and visit one another. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslims friends, neighbors, co-workers and classmates to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them about Islam and Muslim culture.
This is at best a generalized version of events as they occur on Eid al-Adha, especially in the Arab holy lands themselves. Still, this article may give the Western reader a clearer perspective on what is a very important observance of God / Allah and humans relationship on the Earth together, that holy day known to Islam as the Festival of Sacrifice.
A day of honor and pilgrimage, to be respected and hopefully understood from the point of view of the world's largest religious faith of the new Millennium.  The faith of Islam, the prophet Muhammad, and his people in this century.
" One who speaks lies goes to hell, and the one who having done says, ' I don't do this.' Both of these, people have vase deeds, having passed away, become equal in the beyond..." - From the Dhammapada

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