One night Ibrahim had a bad dream. He dreamt Allah told him to sacrifice Ismail. Ibrahim thought it was shaytan (devil) playing malicious tricks on him.
The next night Ibrahim had the same unpleasant dream. Ibrahim knew that Allah would only ask him to do such a thing if he had a good reason.
Even though he loved his son dearly, he was prepared to perform this difficult thing for Allah. Ibrahim told Ismail they had to go to Mount Arafat. He took a knife and a rope with him. On the way they passed a place called Mina.
The devil came to Ibrahim and tried to talk him out of sacrificing his son. Ibrahim turned his back on him and didn’t listen. When they reached Mount Arafat, Ibrahim told Ismail what Allah wanted him to do. Ismail listened and accepted what was to happen, he was an exceptional child.
He too was a great prophet. Ismail told his father to tie his hands and legs and blindfold himself so he would not struggle and make his father even more upset than he was going to be and Ibrahim was blindfolded so he would not see his son suffer.
Ibrahim did as Ismail had said. He then took the knife and did what Allah had told him to do. When he took the blindfold from his eyes he looked down, not at his son but at a dead ram. Ismail was at his side. Ibrahim was afraid. He thought he had disobeyed God but then he heard a voice telling him not to worry.
Allah looks after his followers. Ibrahim and Ismail had passed a difficult test. “Surely Ibrahim was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. He was grateful for our bounties.
We chose him and guided him unto a right path. We gave him good in this world, and in the next he will most surely be among the righteous.” (Qur’an 16:120-121) One of Abraham’s main trials was to face the command of Allah to kill his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah’s will.
When he was all prepared to do it, Allah revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had already been fulfilled. He had shown that his love for his Lord superceded all others that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to God.
Each year, during the month of Dhul Hijjah, many Muslims, from all over the world, travel to Makkah. They want to remember what Ibrahim and Ismail did. In the month of Dhul Hijjah these pilgrims go to Makkah, Mina and Arafat. They visit places where Ibrahim and Ismail lived and preached.
They give a sacrifice just as Allah commanded Ibrahim to do. The pilgrims sacrifice animals in memory of the deed. We must obey Allah’s commands as Ibrahim and Ismail did. We obey by doing the things we know are right, praying, obeying our parents and always telling the truth.
On the first morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, and the exchange of greetings and gifts.
At some point, they also wear new clothes, visit family members and friends and may symbolically sacrifice by slaughtering animals an act known as qurbani. This represents the animal that Ibrahim sacrificed in place of his son.
In some traditional Muslim countries, families or groups of families may purchase an animal usually a goat or a sheep, to sacrifice and in some other countries, people may purchase meat from a butcher or slaughterhouse and divide it amongst themselves or just buy generous portions of meat for a communal meal on Eid-al-Adha.
People also give money to enable poorer members of their local community and around the world to eat a meat-based meal. In the period around Eid al-Adha, many Muslims travel to Mecca and the surrounding area in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.
Package holidays are organized from many countries. Muslims may plan and save for many years to enable them to take part in this event, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Islamic calendar is based on observations of the moon and the length of a particular month can vary between years.
For this reason, predicted dates of Eid al-Adha may be corrected at the start of the month of Dhul Hijja, this year’s Dhul Hija was 17th October. This is around 10 days before the start of the festival. During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham’s trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, a camel, or a goat.
This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith. Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year.
By mentioning the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred. The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and onethird is donated to the poor.
The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah’s commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those, who are in need.
We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others. It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin.
This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations: “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Qur’an 22:37) The symbolism is in the attitude - a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path.
Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us.