Nowadays, no one knows the real purpose of Eid-ul Adha. The slaughtering of an animal during Eid-ul-Adha is an Islamic ritual intended to affirm devotees’ faith in Allah’s bounty and willingness to sacrifice something dear to them for others less fortunate.
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Literal meanings of Eid ul Adha
Eid ul Adha means the “festival of sacrifice.”
When is Eid ul Adha celebrated?
Eid Ul Adha is the Muslim festival that falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-hijah on the Islamic calendar.
Eid ul Azha 2021 in Pakistan was celebrated on July 21, 2021.
In the Gregorian calendar, Eid e Qurban (festival of sacrifice) shift back approximately 11 days every year.
Purpose of Sacrifice “Qurban” in Islam
Prophet Muhammad conveyed that the purpose of personal and animal sacrifice is the same because the word “Qurban” appears thrice in the Quran, once about animal sacrifice and twice about personal sacrifice.
These are the top reasons to sacrifice in Islam
Submission to an all-powerful God
Qurbani is to convey your complete submission to God’s will.
“My prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying belong to Allah, the lord of the worlds” (al-An ‘am 6:162)
“Allah is the greatest,” “there is no god but Allah” and “all praise is for Allah” Takbir of Eid ul Adha Quran.
Sacrifice is for humankind’s collective good
It all starts from the soul and Islam has made it clear that Sacrifice is meant to nourish that.
“Sacrifice is the nourishment without which the tiny seeds of Iman will not grow into mighty, leafy trees providing shade and fruit to the countless caravans of mankind (Ibrahim 14:24-5).
Sacrifice is about the soul
This ritual of sacrifice called Udhaiya or Azha has criteria for acceptance and it has all to do with the soul.
“And recite to them the story of two Adam’s sons (Kane and Abel) in truth; when each offered sacrifice, it was accepted from one but not from the other,” The latter said to the former, “I will surely kill you.” The former said, “Verily, Allah accepts only from the muttaqoon (those who have taqwa, meaning piety or “consciousness of God) “Quran 5:27
Fighting your inner demons
The ritual of the stoning of the Devil before Eid al Adha teaches Muslims to fight their inner demons and pursue what is right and just.
Prophet Muhammad on returning from war said, “We now return from the small struggle to big struggle” his companions asked, “what is the big struggle” to which Prophet replied, “the struggle against Nafs (self)”
Sacrifice is humility and conscientiousness
The intent of Sacrifice is not just animal slaughter.
“Their flesh shall not reach God, neither their blood, but piety from you shall reach him” (Al-Hajj 22:37)
Sacrifice brings empathy to society
The practice of giving away a third of the meat to the poor and needy brings about social cohesion and empathy in society
“Once they are offered for sacrifice, you shall eat therefrom and feed the poor and needy. This is why we subdued them for you, that you may show your appreciation” [Quran 22:36]
Sacrifice brings social cohesion
Giving away part of the meat to the family strengthens the social net, something that traditional Islamic societies are famous for.
It becomes an unwritten rule in such societies to never leave anyone behind.
Sacrifice is delayed gratification
Another key purpose of Qurban “closeness” sacrifice is to inculcate a habit of delayed gratification, a key ingredient for success in this world.
Even the act of getting out of your bed in the morning is a sacrifice and delayed gratification
“Success awaits those who steadfastly commit to any requisite sacrifices” Ken Poirot
Sacrifice promises bounty
When religious edicts god’s bounty in return for animal sacrifice, they mean it.
“You have fulfilled the vision. Indeed, we thus reward the doers of good” Quran 37:105
“For Every hair of the Qurbani, you receive a reward from Allah” Prophet Muhammad (Tirmidhi).
Islamic slaughter of animals is collateral
The way Abraham had his only precious son prostrated before God, ready to present to him their ultimate sacrifice hints at God’s bounty being collateral against loyalty and faithfulness.
“As for him who is miserly and behaves as if he is sufficient and denies the truth – for him we make the path easy toward hardship”
The eminence of father figure
The way Abraham’s son accepted his fate, gives a clear message to Muslims to respect their fathers as the head of a nuclear family, in just matters.
As stated in the Quran, “Oh son, I keep dreaming that I am slaughtering you”, to which Ishmael replied, “father, do what you are ordered to”
Qurbani is about being humane to animals
The humane way animals are slaughtered in Eid UL Azha teaches Muslims that animals need to be treated well.
“Allah has enjoined goodness to everything (animals). So, when you kill, kill in a good way, and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably”
Sacrifice builds camaraderie with other religions
Other religions like Hinduism also have animal sacrifice as a ritual, but the key difference is that they intend to appease their god Kali, Bhairav.
In Christianity and Judaism, the holy books narrate a story of Abraham and his commandment to sacrifice his son Ishmael, but the Quran does not mention the boy’s name.
Islamic countries like Pakistan that have somewhat of a tradition of freedom of expression and thought need to emphasize the social, human, and personal strengthening aspect of this ritual of sacrifice.
So, for everyone in the world Eid al Adha Mubarak!