What’s the Significance of Eid al-Adha?

Eid al-Adha is often mentioned in association with the practice of Hajj, as a celebration for Muslims who complete one of the pillars of faith. However, whether or not one is attending Hajj, Eid al-Adha is a significant day for Muslims. Eid al-Adha dates back to the story of Prophet Ibrahim and his beloved son Prophet Isma’il. 

Prophet Ibrahim was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his son Ismail as a testament to his faith. In the holy Quran, Allah the Most High states “ ‘And when he reached with him the age of exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.’ ” (Quran, 37:102)

Despite the immense weight of this task and Shaytan’s futile attempts to dissuade him, Prophet Ibrahim informed his son Isma’il that he must do as Allah commanded. Prophet Isma’il responded in the affirmative, equally firm in his commitment to Allah. 

As Prophet Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his beloved son, Allah’s power was made manifest. Allah, through His infinite mercy, replaced Prophet Isma’il with a lamb (or a ram according to certain narrations). Prophet Ibrahim had succeeded in proving his steadfastness toward Allah, and his son was completely unharmed. 

To commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s complete devotion to Allah, Muslims sacrifice an animal on the blessed day of Eid al-Adha. The word “Adha” in fact, arises from the meaning “sacrifice,” and this Eid is referred to as the “festival of the sacrifice.” Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah, following the blessed day of Arafat. Although this day changes each year according to the Western calendar, it remains standard on the lunar calendar. 

In the time of COVID-19, Eid has become a different experience.

For those on Hajj, Eid al-Adha is spent at the place of Mina, where pilgrims throw stones at three pillars to signify Prophet Ibrahim warding off Shaytan. Around the world, Eid al-Adha is a day of celebration, as families echo the noble rituals of Prophet Ibrahim and his sacrifice. Eid al-Adha lasts for a duration of four days, in which Muslims enjoy the immense favors of their Lord bestowed upon them. 

In the time of COVID-19, Eid has become a different experience. However, this should not decrease from the sacred nature of this event in the slightest. In fact, these unique circumstances  provide the opportunity for additional introspection,  allowing us to ponder upon the weighty significance of this event. 

The utter submission of Prophet Ibrahim is a crucial element which pertains to today’s time more than ever. In an age where so many things are out of our hands, it is crucial that we leave our affairs to our Lord and maintain faith in Him alone. May Allah instill the unwavering faith and wholehearted devotion of Prophet Ibrahim within our hearts.