• The Meaning of `Eid Al Adha
Dr. Akram Bou-Ghannam

Holidays become meaningless when their original purpose and meaning are forgotten. In such instances, the holiday becomes merely an occasion for festivity and indulgence. So, why do we celebrate this holy day of `Eid Al-Adha?

The story of `Eid Al-Adha is the story of testing Prophet Ibrahim’s faith in Allah. Both the Qur'an and the Torah record the high drama narratives of the story. The Qur'an has recorded what Prophet Ibrahim said to his son,

(O my son! Surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see.) (As-Saffat 37:102)

Isma`il replied,

(He said: O my father! do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones.) (As-Saffat 37:102)

At the last split second, Allah interrupts the sacrificial process. He, the Exalted, intervenes saying,

(We called unto him: O Abraham! "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision.) (As-Saffat 37:104-105)

Ibrahim passes the test and a ram was substituted for sacrifice in place of his son. Thus, the father and the son became role models for true Muslims; those who fulfill Allah’s will before their own. Ibrahim, after waiting for so long for an heir promised by Allah, is now required to sacrifice him. Isma`il, on the other hand, was asked to make the supreme sacrifice; his own life.

So, the pressing question is: what is the moral and the significance of the story? The moral of the story is that: Allah does not demand human sacrifice, but trust and obedience as a basis for His worship.

The story was about a trial of the will and the faith of both the father and the son. Ibrahim was tested on the priorities of his faith, love, and trust. Isma`il was tested for Allah’s obedience.

Self- Sacrifice, as a significance of the story, is a meaning worthy of celebrating in `Eid Al-Adha. Isma`il promised to be patient if his self-sacrifice was really required.

What does `Eid Al Adha mean to us; Muslims? Like Ibrahim and Isma`il, we also, their descendants, are to be tested for our faith and obedience. We qualify by traveling a three-fold path to peace, faith, and unity. Our pilgrimage is strewn with temptations, obstacles, and distractions. Our free will is tested and we must sacrifice to reach our objective of getting closer to Allah.

In our lives we strive for getting closer to Allah, and achieving our goals in tawhid:

First, Muslims must avoid self-indulgence. Our achievement through our mental faculty must be tempered with piety (humility) lest our attainment make us arrogant and cause us to be cut off from the blessing of nearness to Allah.

Second, we must sacrifice worldly pleasures. We should not let worldly pleasures distract us from the deeper meanings and noble pursuits in our daily lives especially on this noble occasion.

So, `Eid Al Adha is the day of:

1. Self-judgment, whereby we reinforce our faith, and assess and judge our actions and behavior.

2. Recognition, appreciation, and remembrance.

3. Celebrating Allah’s blessings and the revelation of His instructions.

4. Reconfirming tawhid and the Oneness of Allah.

Have a happy and blessed `Eid 

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