There are two key Eid’s (Celebration Festivals) in Islam: Eid-ul-Fitr, which signifies the completion of the Holy Month of Ramadan; and Eid-ul-Adha, the greater Eid, which follows the completion of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, at the time of Qurbani (sacrifice). Although Eid-ul-Adha has no direct relation to the Hajj Pilgrimage, it is but a day after the completion of Hajj and therefore has significance in time.
“It is prescribed for the one who wants to offer a sacrifice, once the new moon of Dhu’l-Hijjah appears, not to remove anything from his hair, nails, or skin, until he has offered the sacrifice. This applies whether he or she is going to slaughter the sacrifice himself or he has appointed someone else to do it; but regarding those on whose behalf the sacrifice is being offered [i.e., his family etc], that is not prescribed for them, because there is no report to that effect.”
The day of Eid-ul-Adha falls on the tenth day in the final (twelfth) month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar; Dhu-al-Hijjah. The day that celebrations fall on is dependent on a legitimate sighting of the moon, following the completion of the annual Holy Pilgrimage of Hajj – which is an obligation for all Muslim’s who fit specific criteria, one of the important Five Pillars of Islam. The celebration of Eid-ul-Adha is to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah SWT and his readiness to sacrifice his son, Ismail. At the very point of sacrifice, Allah SWT replaced Ismail with a ram, which was to be slaughtered in place of his son. This command from Allah SWT was a test of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness and commitment to obey his Lord’s command, without question. Therefore, Eid-ul-Adha means the festival of sacrifice.
The Quran narrated it as follows, “Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me if Allah so wills one practicing Patience and Constancy!”. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice).” Qur’an Surah (Saffat): 37:102-103.
Depending on the country, the celebrations of Eid-ul-Adha can last anywhere between two and three days. The act of Qurbani (sacrifice) is carried out following the Eid Salaah (Eid Prayers), which are performed in congregation at the nearest Mosque on the morning of Eid. The act of Qurbani consists of slaughtering an animal as a sacrifice to mark this occasion in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice for Allah SWT. This is also known as Udhiya. The days of animal sacrifice total three days, from the 10th to the 12th of Dhu-al-Hijjah.
The sacrificial animal must be a sheep, lamb, goat, cow, bull or a camel; the sheep, lamb or goat consist of one Qurbani share, whereas a bull, cow or camel consist of seven shares per animal. The animal must be in good health and over a certain age to be slaughtered, in a “halal” friendly, Islamic way. The Qurbani meat can then be divided into three equal portions per share; one-third is for you and your family, one-third is for friends, and the final third is to be donated to those in need.
Traditionally, the day is spent celebrating with family, friends and loved ones, often wearing new or best attire and the giving of gifts.
Below I have listed a few of the etiquette of this sacrifice:
- One should internally remember the significance of this sacrifice and what it represents. Study the life of Abraham and internalize how he was able to overcome his own moral judgments when he was commanded to sacrifice his own son.
- One must use a very sharp knife. This is done so that there are no complications and delays in the process of slaughter.
- The sharpening of the knife should be done away from the field of vision of the animals.
- The animal should be given water before the sacrifice.
- The animal should be gently brought to the place where it will be slaughtered.
- The animal should be slaughtered out of the field of vision of the other animals.
- The animal should be gently placed on its left side.
- The one doing the slaughter should face the Qiblah (the direction Muslims face when praying toward the Ka’ba in Mecca.)
During the Sacrifice
- The slaughter must be as quick as possible.
- Before the slaughter one should say, “Allah is the Greatest” thrice followed by the statement, “In the name of Allah”.
- The two major arteries should be cut along with the windpipe.
- It is recommended that the first thing that one eats after the Eid prayer is meat from the sacrifice.
It is important to keep in mind that the things mentioned above are not mandatory aspects. This means that is someone was to leave out one of these things the sacrifice would still be legally valid, while at the same time lacking the level of perfection that we as Muslims should strive for.
From me to all Ghanaian Muslim, a blessed Eid Mubarak to you all.