Come sunset today, Muslims all over the world will gather and celebrate Eid Al-Adha, a festival also known as the “feast of the sacrifice”. On this day, families will wear their best garments and head to the nearby mosque or place of congregation for a special morning prayer followed by an observance of the sacrifice of cows and goats, more common in the South East Asia region and even camels in the middle east and other parts of the world. To understand the sacrifice of slaughter, first, we need to dive into the history of this special occasion.
The origins of this annual holiday go way back to the time of Abraham where he was faced with a very heavy trial commanded by God. In Islam, revelations to the prophets can come in a few ways and dreams were one of them. Abraham kept on having dreams of slaughtering his beloved son Ismael and he knew that it was a trial he needed to fulfill.
But even as a prophet, he is still human and no human would have the heart to sacrifice his or her kin in such manner. He then told his son with a weeping heart about his dreams in which Ismael replied kindly that his father should do what he was ordered to do as per the revelation sent down to him. With a heavy heart, but a heart that is filled with faith and submission to God, Abraham proceeded with the sacrifice. But by the will of God, at the last second, God acknowledged both the father and son’s conviction and devotion that Ismael was switched with a ram, thus surviving the ritual.
From that day on, this historic event is known and commemorated by Muslims worldwide as Eid Al-Adha, to celebrate the devotion of Abraham to God and the survival of Ismael. There are quite a few variations to this story spanning from the Jewish books of Torah (the binding of Isaac) to Christianity in the first book of Moses in Genesis.
Amongst the lessons we can learn from this story such as devotion and faith, there are those practiced to this day that we can adopt, no matter our beliefs. And that is, the segregation of the meat slaughtered. The portions are separated into 3 parts.
First and foremost, it has to go to the poor and needy. Even in times of celebration, we need to spare a thought for those less fortunate around us. This act does not only help the ones that are in need, but it also reminds us of hardships and invokes humility within ourselves.
Next come our neighbours, friends, and relatives. For without them, life wouldn’t be as it is today. In our times of despair or even triumph, these are the people who go through our minds. Whether we are seeking advice or just finding someone to celebrate life with, they are important to us as we are to them. Only then will we receive the last portion for ourselves.
There are many lessons we can learn from cultures of different background and I found this one particularly interesting to share. With that, I would like to wish everyone Eid Mubarak, and as we say it in Singapore, Selamat Hari Raya. Take care and have a great holiday!
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