Every year, around this time, something extraordinary happens not often broadcast on our TV screens. On 1 September, millions of Muslims from all over the world (dates may vary according to the country) celebrate Eid ul Adha, the ‘Festival of Sacrifice’ and also the completion of the annual pilgrimage to Makkah known as Hajj. This sacred journey sees more than two million adherents of the Muslim faith perform rituals over a five-day period in Makkah, including the circumambulating of the Holy House, the Kaabah, which according to Muslims is metaphorically known as the House of God. Followers come from almost every corner of the world, representing every age group, race, gender and class, with the oldest pilgrim being 104 years old, from Indonesia. The incredibly rich are seen, treading the same path, as the one who is struggling. It is a place where one's class or status is of no significance.
The day typically starts with a collective prayer by all followers at the local Masjid, or in our case here in Grahamstown, at the prayer room on the Rhodes University campus. The rest of the day is then spent gathering with family, friends and neighbours in celebration and rejoice with the sharing of food, gifts and company. One is encouraged to wear sweet-smelling perfume and your best clothes. Greetings of 'Eid Mubarak' or variants of it, are said to all, which means ‘Blessed Celebrations’.
The term Eid is derived from the Arabic word ‘aada’, which means ‘to return’. This annual celebration returns every year in order for Muslims to reflect on their current standing with God and His creation, show gratitude for His countless blessings and mercies, as well as a time to reflect on the Covenant made to God, one of submission to His Will and Commands. But also the message of ‘love towards all and malice to none’.
It is undoubtedly one of the most important celebrations for Muslims around the world. One, which serves to remind them of the resilience and sacrifices made by those who came before them, of Prophet Abraham who was asked to sacrifice his son, in order to test his faith and his willingness to give up that which was most important to him.
However, God would instead bring forth a ram for sacrifice. Muslims sacrifice on this particular day in commemoration of this particular moment as it is ultimately considered a day of remembrance and deep reflection. It is a time for renewed strength and ultimately the renewal of faith. Usually a sheep or goat, or cattle are sacrificed with most of the meat carefully distributed. One-third of the meat is donated to the poor, another third to neighbours and friends and the rest will remain for the family. It is also greatly encouraged to give to charity during this time.
It is a time for renewed strength and ultimately the renewal of faith