Arts & Culture

This is Why 1.6 Billion Muslims Celebrate Eid Al-Adha

This is Why 1.6 Billion Muslims Celebrate Eid Al-Adha

Credit: Corbis
Credit: Corbis

Eid Al-Adha is a holiday with a rich history.  It’s a three-day event celebrated by almost two billion Muslims worldwide. But many Muslims and non-Muslims alike aren’t familiar with its back-story.

 The story of Eid Al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, marks the Hajj, a sacred pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim should perform at least once in their life.

But the holiday also commemorates something equally as important. It celebrates Prophet Abraham’s will to sacrifice his only son, Ismael, to oblige with God’s commands.

Long history lesson short—  Abraham was returning from Mecca to Canaan and was given an order by God to leave his wife, Hajar, and his son, Ismael behind. “Did god order you to leave us here or are you just leaving us here to die?” Hajar asked her husband.” Unable to respond to her question and fearing that if he looked at his wife and son, he’d disobey God, Abraham gently nodded.

“You can go, Abraham. God will not waste us,” said Hajar, reassuring Abraham that she and Ismael would be fine. Though Abraham left plenty of food and water for both to survive, the supplies quickly ran out and within a few days, the mother and son were hungry and dehydrated.

Hajar frantically ran up and down two hills, Al Safa and Al Marwah, seven times, in desperate attempts to find water for herself and her son. Exhausted, Hajar fell beside Ismael and prayed for deliverance. God responded and water gushed out from the land at Ismael’s feet, now known as the Zamzam Well. With the well in place, Hajar was not only able to secure her and her son’s needs, but she was also able to trade water with passing people for food and supplies.

Many years had passed and Abraham was instructed by God to return to Mecca. This time however, God ordered Abraham to build the foundations of the Kaaba adjacent to the Zamzam Well. Eager to meet God’s commands, Abraham took Hajar and Isamel back to Mecca. Ismael, who was blessed with prophet-hood, joined his father in building the Holy Prayer site.

However, Abraham’s life of turbulence did not end here. In his dreams, Abraham heard another of God’s commands, a command which would have been proven difficult to those of a weak faith. God commanded Abaraham to sacrifice his only son, Ismael.

Abraham did not fight or question his command and decided to indeed, sacrifice Ismael in the will of God. During the preparation however, Satan was trying to trick Abraham to forgo this command and let his son live.

Abraham wouldn’t have it and started throwing pebbles and stones at the devil showing his rejection and absolute refusal to disobey God.

Before going through with this command, Abraham had to get Ismael’s approval. Needing his son’s consent, Abraham spoke to his son, told him about God’s commands in his dreams and that he wishes to fulfil these commands. Ismael, only 13 at the time, did not blink an eye and steadfastly said “Father, do what you have been commanded and you will find me to be very patient.” A response, for a boy merely 13 years of age, showing his absolute and undying faith in Islam and God, was astonishing.

Abraham, now granted with his son’s approval, was ready to sacrifice his son for God. However, when Abraham attempted to slit his son’s throat, Ismael remained unharmed and instead, a dead sheep was found slaughtered instead.

Through these tests, Abraham’s and Ismael’s faith in God was solidified. Their willingness to carry out God’s wishes regardless of how difficult they may seem showed their strength and their detachment from all that is material and worldly. Ibrahim and his son lived as two souls who knowingly put their commitment and focus on something bigger than the here and now. Something more divine.

With this story, Muslims around the world are inspired and enthusiastic to celebrate Abraham and Ismael’s actions with the ritualistic slaughter of sheep. Muslims however, are not only recognizing the strength and the commitment of the father and son, but also of the mother Hajar, whose courage and tenacity act as inspiration for all women to keep their faith high and to keep pushing forward in the face of discrimination and defeat.

7 Arabic Books to Read With Your Children
New York's Metropolitan Opera Coming to Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Subscribe to our newsletter

Arts & Culture

More in Arts & Culture

Ati Metwaly after receiving an award for her story 'Music against all odds' published in Al Ahram Weekly in November 2015. (Photo: CNN African Journalist Award's website)

Egyptian Journalist Wins CNN African Journalist Award

Aya NaderOctober 17, 2016

French-Egyptian Citizen Returns Golden Mummy Mask to Egypt

Egyptian StreetsOctober 6, 2016
mohamed khan

Art-House Theater Zawya to Honor Late Egyptian Filmmaker Mohamed Khan in Six-Day Film Screening

Egyptian StreetsOctober 3, 2016
Malawi Museum after being looted in August 2013.

Egypt’s Malawi Museum Reopened Three Years After Being Torched

Egyptian StreetsSeptember 23, 2016

Egypt Requires Approval from Antiquities, Culture Ministries for Building, Renovating Statues

Egyptian StreetsSeptember 8, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 12.59.36 PM

Google Doodle Commemorates Iconic Egyptian Actor Fouad El-Mohandes

Egyptian StreetsSeptember 6, 2016
Part of a panel from a version of the Book of the Dead. Photo: Dalya Alberge

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts Translated into English for the First Time in a Book

Egyptian StreetsAugust 25, 2016
Photos: Paul Burston

Ancient Egyptian Mummified Head ‘Brought Back to Life’ in Australia

Egyptian StreetsAugust 23, 2016
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2016 ES Media UG. All Rights Reserved.