Every religion holds fast to a certain ritual. In fact, such rituals are worn as finery and represent the true face of the religion. It is important to enhance the status of these rituals in order to situate oneself well in one’s religion. As a matter of fact; Islam is a religion which comprises many more rituals than other religions. However, two days in the year are ritually celebrated and hold therefore a greater religious importance than others: EID UL FITR and EID UL ADHAA. It is noteworthy that these two festivals contain each a special prayer.
In actual fact, before the arrival of the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) in Madinah, its inhabitants used to celebrate two other days in the year. When the prophet of Allah (PBUH) arrived there, he told them:”You used to have two days of amusement. However, now Allah Ta’ala has replaced them by two better days: Eid ul fitr and Eid ul Adhaa.” (NASAI)
In the time of prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Eid was synonymous with an enthusiasm and a cheerfulness that were unparalleled. In fact, the days of Eid are the only days of festival in the Islamic Calendar. As these two days contain each a special prayer, the Muslim therefore celebrates his festival with much prayer and favour while thanking his Lord for all the favours that He bestows upon him. It is therefore with an additional prayer that the Muslim expresses his joy while at the same time thanking his Creator. And, on the occasion of Eid ul Adhaa, it is with the sacrifice of an animal in the name of Allah that he thanks his Lord and at the same time shows his generosity towards the destitute.
In fact, the word ‘Qurbani’ takes its root from the words ‘Al Qurbani’, which means any deed, leads to divine proximity. That is why any religious service is called ‘Qurbah’ or a means to be in nearness with Allah Ta’ala. One comes near to Him through holy deeds and more particularly through sacrifices, the holy prophet (PBUH) has reported that our Lord has declared: “My servant comes constantly near to Me by accomplishing supplementary actions of devotion until I grant him any attention. In this way, I become his ear with which he hears, his eyes with which he sees…..and if he asks Me for anything, I grant it to him and if he seeks my protection, I protect him” (BUKHARI).
Each generation is given the watchword that one must offer sacrifices in order to attain everlasting salvation. For example, before prophet Ibrahim (AS) was crowned the godfather of men, he had to offer sacrifices at various levels : And remember, when your Lord put Ibrahim (AS) to the test by way of certain commands, and he did accomplish them, the Lord addressed him thus : ” I shall make of you an example for others to follow ” (Surah 2 verse 124).To Ibrahim (AS) is ascribed the nobility of having given us the name of Muslims’ : ” The religion of your father Ibrahim (AS) who has already designed you as ‘Muslims’ ” (Surah 22 verse 78).
The day of Eid ul Adhaa gives us the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices which Ibrahim (AS) offered to his Lord: the trials of emigration, of being thrown into the fore and of being separated from his family, and, still more, of Allah Ta’ala commanding him to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS).He did submit himself to the divine will and did place his knife in the neck of his son to slaughter him. But Allah Ta’ala did send a sheep from Paradise to be substituted for Ismail (AS) whose life was thus spared. In fact, Allah Ta’ala wanted to shower the Muslims with full blessings with respect to their Christian and Jewish counterparts, however, for that, it was necessary to offer Ismail (AS) in sacrifice, as he was the forefather in the ancestry of prophet Muhammad (PBUH).The prophet (PBUH) has stated : ” I am the son of two sacrifices ” : Ismail (AS), son of Ibrahim (AS) and father of the Arabs, and Abdullah, biological father of the Prophet (PBUH).Both of them were about to be sacrificed at the time. It is precisely to revive the memory of the spirit of sacrifice of Ibrahim (AS) that, every year; we are called upon to offer animals in sacrifice during the days of Eid ul Adhaa.
The sacrifice of animals on the occasion of 10th Zil Hijjah is an integral part of Islam. Allah Ta’ala has decreed: “We have appointed the sacrificial camels (and cows) for you as among the signs of Allah” (Surah 22 verse 36). Our mother Ayesha (RA) has told that the Prophet (PBUH) has said: “On Eid ul Adhaa day, there is no deed which pleases Allah Ta’ala the most other than the shedding of the blood (of an animal).” (TIRMIZI)
Here are some of the sunnahs of that day:-
(a) To rise early and take a bath (ghusal).
(b) To wear the best dress one has.
(c) To perfume oneself with Itar.
(d) To go towards the mosque while reciting audibly the takbir. Takbir: Allah u Akbar ! Allah u Akbar ! Laa ilaaha ill Allah u Allah u Akbar ! Allah u Akbar ! Wa lillah hil hamd.
(e) To observe a short fast up to the time of qurbani.
(f) To listen to the Khutbah in silence.
(g) To return home by a different road while reciting takbir.
(h) To break the short fast with qurbani meat.
(i) To distribute qurbani meat to the destitute.
(j) To pay a visit to near relatives.
NOTES: – A whole day’s fast is prohibited on the day of Eid ul Adhaa and the three following days.