By Aerol B. Pateña
MANILA, Sept. 12 (PNA) — The Muslim world celebrated Monday Eid al Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice, which commemorates the sacrifice of Ibrahim (Abraham) of his son Ishmael in obedience to Allah’s command.
The festival also marks the end of Hajj, a yearly pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia which is part of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, namely Shahada (faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity), Sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
Islamic tradition states that Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice the life of his son. An angel however intervened to stop him and gave him a ram to sacrifice in place of his son. The act showed that Abraham was willing to trust God as he was ready to give up everything that was special to him, even his son, in obedience to His command.
During the Eid, families gather to pray and listen to a sermon at the mosque. They wear new clothes, visit family members and may sacrifice an animal in an act known as qurbani, which represents the animal that Abraham sacrificed in place of his son.
In most Muslim countries, families or groups may purchase an animal known as udhiya, usually a goat or sheep to sacrifice. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends, and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.
People may also give money to poorer members of their community to enable them to partake of the meal. Families who do not own livestock can make a contribution to a charity that will provide meal to those who are in need.
In the Philippines, Eid al Adha was declared as a national holiday to strengthen relations and foster goodwill between the minority Muslim Filipinos and the majority Christian Filipinos.
Eid al Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijah on the Islamic calendar and lasts for four days on the 13th day.
The feast is part of the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and a mandatory religious obligation that must be carried once in a lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable to undertake a pilgrimage.
During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka’aba (the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims), runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mt. Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars.
The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three-day global festival of Eid al Adha.
Eid al Adha is one of two Muslim holidays in which the other is Eid al Fitr , which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.