The three-day festival of Id-uz-Zuha — the feast of sacrifice — is celebrated to inculcate the spirit of sacrifice, charity and unity among people. It exhorts Muslims to spread the essential message of Islam — of love, compassion, harmony, almsgiving and peaceful co-existence.
At the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, millions of devout Muslim pilgrims or hajis graciously donate food to the poor.
This occasion is celebrated in remembrance of Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail, when God asked him to sacrifice his most precious posession.
Ismail was his only son — whom Allah had gifted and endeared to him after he had spent sleepless nights in constant prayers asking for a noble and pious child.
However, when Prophet Abraham was about to sacrifice Ismail, God put a sheep in his place.
Prophet Abraham’s infinite devotion and complete submission to the will of God are the core values that Muslims celebrate during Id-uz-Zuha.
Thus they remind themselves of the prophetic willingness to sacrifice anything for the sake of God.
It is enjoined upon Muslims to sacrifice halal or permissible animals in remembrance of Prophet Abraham’s devotional sacrifice to God and distribute them to the poor and the less fortunate.
However, the ritualistic animal sacrifice is not the core essence of this festival.
Muslims opt for many more ways to express devotion to the will of God during Id-uz-Zuha.
Many virtuous and harmonious acts based on the spirit of sacrifice, charity, kindness and sharing are carried out to achieve the core objectives of the festival.
Some affluent Muslims go as far as donating money and several kilos of meat to feed the poor families in their country as well as abroad.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Id-uz-Zuha is that it marks the end of Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
Commemorating the spirit of sacrifice of Prophet Abraham, Muslim pilgrims at Mecca sacrifice animals on this occasion.
Id-uz-Zuha is not just a religious festival but a three-day-long spiritual session imparting lessons of sacrifice, submission and supplication to God.
It also offers Muslims a time for reflection on the condition of the poor and the destitute and nurtures in their hearts the spirit of compassion and generosity.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org...