November 6th is a special day for Muslims all around the world. Eid ul-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice is one of the major Muslim holidays. It comes right after the fifth pillar of Islam called the Hajj or pilgrimage. The Hajj commemorates the life and trials of Prophet Abraham’s family, upon them peace and blessings. Once in a lifetime, every adult Muslim who has the physical and financial ability is required to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, home of the Ka’bah, which Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael, upon them be peace.
The Hajj pilgrimage is an extremely communal event as over two million Muslims, men and women of varied ethnicities and nationalities, dressed in simple white clothing symbolizing the equality of all people, perform identical rituals.
Eid ul-Adha celebrations are similar to Eid ul-Fitr with the addition of sacrificing a lamb, goat or cow to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, who Muslims believe was miraculously replaced by a lamb, similar to the Biblical story.
Jeewan Chanicka explained Abraham's sacrifice in his Hajj reminders with the following words:
But it wasn't his son that was slaughtered. It was his attachment. It was his attachment to anything that could compete with his love for God. And the beauty of such a sacrifice is this: Once you let go of your attachment, what you love is given back to you-- in a purer, better form. So let us ask ourselves during these beautiful days of sacrifice, which attachments do we need to slaughter?
People share the meat of the animal with the poor and needy, relatives and friends.
The day begins with a special congregational prayer followed by a short sermon. People are dressed in their best clothing, and children traditionally receive new clothing as well as other gifts. Food, holiday congratulations, and festivities such as rides, balloons, and other fun activities for children follow the prayers. The holiday lasts for four days during which people usually visit or invite each other.
In conclusion, I want to share Rumi's Eid al-Adha Poem. I was reminded by the poem by Irving Karchmar on Facebook.
BISMILLAH! (In the name of God!)
It’s a habit of yours to walk slowly.
You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?
Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now you’re equal portions clay
and water, thick mud.
Abraham learned how the sun and moon and the stars all set.
He said, No longer will I try to assign partners for God.
You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
You’re trying to live your life in open scaffolding.
Say Bismillah, In the name God,
As the priest does with knife when he offers an animal.
Bismillah your old self
to find your real name.
- Jalaluddin Rumi
I wish everyone in all places at all times a blessed Eid Mubarak. May God accept your good deeds and all your efforts during the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah (the name of the month in the Muslim lunar calendar).