Why Muslims celebrate the Festival of the Sacrifice

By Rahima Abdelhafid

For more than a billion Muslims worldwide, the “Festival of the Sacrifice”, “Eid al-Adha” in Arabic, begins on Friday, July 31, 2020. It is the highest festival in Islam. Due to the Islamic lunar calendar, the date of the festival changes every year. In the sun calendar it shifts backwards by usually eleven days a year.

The Festival of the Sacrifice reminds Muslims of the trust Prophet Abraham had in God and the rescue of his son Ismail. God wanted to test Abraham and test how obedient he was. In a dream, he told Abraham to kill his son as an offering. Abraham told his son about this dream and Ismail replied that his father should do what he had to do. Abraham loved his son, but he sought to obey God. When God realized this, he sent Abraham a sheep at the last moment, which Abraham then sacrificed instead of his son.

To commemorate this story of Abraham, who had unlimited trust in God, many Muslims still slaughter an animal to celebrate the sacrifice. This festival lasts three days, but the rituals start a day before. This is called “Tag Arafat” and is named after Mount Arafat found southeast of Mecca. There, many pilgrims pray from midday to evening the day before the sacrifice festival and concentrate entirely on God. Many Muslims who do not take part in the pilgrimage fast on this day so that they will be forgiven for their sins for the past and for the current year. This is the recommendation of the Prophet Mohamed.

On the first morning of the Feast of Sacrifice, many mosques are crowded. The women are also expressly invited to the prayer on this day. After the prayer, believers exchange congratulations. Children are given gifts. Then the ritual slaughter of a sheep or another animal takes place. The sacrificial animal is slaughtered according to Islamic rules. Then the meat is divided into three parts: one part goes to the needy, one to relatives and friends and the third part is kept.

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Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL; Rahima Abdelhafid.

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