Falling on the 10th day of the holy month of Dhu al-Hijjah, Eid is the “Festival of Sacrifice” and coincides with the Hajj pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca. Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid-ul-Adha.
It honors Abraham’s willingness to slay his son Ishmael at Allah’s request, a supreme act of faith. The prophet, distressed by the order, asked Ishmael what he should do and they boy advised him to follow through with the commandment. Satan tried to dissuade Abraham from slitting the boy’s through, but was driven away by the prophet pelting stones, an act recreated by pilgrims on the Hajj.
When Abraham held the blade to his son’s neck on Mount Arafat, the angel Gabriel appeared to prevent him from going through with it, saying he had already demonstrated his love for the Almighty Allah.
A goat was slaughtered in the boy’s stead. Today, the same animal or a sheep, cow or camel, depending on the region is sacrificed in memory of the story. The Quran quotes the Prophet Mohammad as saying: “On the 10th of al-Hijjah, there is no better act in the view of Allah than shedding the blood. Hence you should offer it in good spirit.”
The point of the sacrifice is to kill something dear to man as an offering to the divine, as Abraham was prepared to do, serving as a reminder to followers of Islam not to become pre-occupied by their possessions or lose sight of their spiritual compass. As Allah says in the Quran: “It is no their meat, nor their blood, that reaches god. It is their piety that reaches god.” Besides, the qurban is merely a symbol that the believer has given up something for the sake of god. On the most prosaic level, the believer has given up money to purchase the animal.
They then give up a large share of the meat to feed those less fortunate than themselves. Moreover, the believer gives up time to select an animal to be slaughtered with care. The animal cannot be too young or to old. It must be in good health, and if female, cannot be pregnant. As a symbol of sacrifice, as a means of bringing people closer, the qurban must be slaughtered with great care.
No animal should be slaughtered in a place where it can smell the blood of another animal, or hear any sounds that might frighten it. When being brought to the place where it is to be slaughtered it should not be frightened nor should excessive force be used to bring it to that place.