Significance of Eid'ul Adha
It is a cube shaped House. Once the focal centre of a vast desert region, now surrounded by mega structures and skyscrapers. This is the Kaaba of Mecca, Islam’s holiest sanctuary.
Every year millions of believers rain down from around the world to make their once in a lifetime pilgrimage to the Kaaba. Performing an intensive of religious rites and rituals, some stemming back to the original architects of the holy sanctuary, Abraham and his son Ishmael.
This obligation of pilgrimage coincides with Islam’s holiest days. During these days, those who are not pilgrims are encouraged to ramp up their devotional worship and acts of goodness and piety. The holy days culminate with three days of festivities and celebrations, known as Eid’ul Adha. These are also known as the days of sacrifice.
The sacrificial story leads back to Abraham and Ishmael. Abraham was instructed in a vision to sacrifice his son Ishmael for the sake of God. In consulting with a willing Ishmael, both proceeded to make the sacrifice to obey the command of their Lord. In this selfless act of devotion they gained the Mercy of God who summoned a lamb in place of Ishmael.
It is this act of devotion that takes place during Eid’ul Adha. Whilst festivities and celebrations have their place, the main emphasis of the Eid is social obligation. It is to connect the individual with their communities and their societies. Charity is emphasised. Community work is emphasised. Caring for others is emphasised.
Most importantly this social obligation is emphasised through the sacrifice. Each person who meets the financial requirements to sacrifice an animal must do so. One third must be given to the poor. One third must be given to friends and neighbours. And one third must be kept by the family. In this way individuals become accustomed with the needs of the poor. They maintain relations with their friends and neighbours. They protect the needs and relationships of their family.
Last Wednesday, August 22, Muslims in Aotearoa celebrated Eid’ul Adha. They came together in mosques and community centres around the country to pray their congregational prayers. Believers with backgrounds canvassing the globe stood together to commemorate the end of Islam’s holiest days. Much like there fellow believers on the plains of Mecca they re-enacted the tradition of their spiritual forefathers Ishmael and Abraham.
It is in these days regardless of whether you are in Aotearoa’s King Country or at the Kaaba of Mecca Islam’s unity in diversity is on display. As Malcom X famously remarked "There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colours, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist.”
This is the spirit of Eid’ul Adha.
- by Hashmat Lafraie, Nawawi Centre, Christchurch