Eid-ul-Azha, which occurs approximately seventy days after Eid-ul-Azha, commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim's (Abraham's) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) for Allah. Eid-ul-Azha celebrations continue for three days, starting on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar.
This is the day after the pilgrims in Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide, descend from Mount Arafat. Eid-ul-Azha begins with a short prayer followed by a sermon (Khutba). Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing.
Muslims, who can afford to, sacrifice their best domestic animals (usually sheep, but also camels, cows, and goats) as a symbol of Prophet Ibrahim's (Abraham's) sacrifice. This sacrificial act and the meat are called "Udhiya" or "Qurbani". A large portion of the meat is given to the poor and hungry so they can all join in the feast.
The remainder is cooked for the celebrations in which relatives and friends participate. The spirit of giving and charitable gestures in the Muslim community is heightened during Eid-ul-Adha as Muslims ensure that no impoverished person is left without sacrificial food during this period. Eid-ul-Azha is therefore a unique occasion in every way. Besides its highly spiritual and moral characteristics, it has matchless qualities.
Each Eid festival is a wholesome celebration of a remarkable achievement of the individual Muslim in the service of Allah. Unlike the Eid-ul-Fitr, which comes after one month of absolute fasting in the month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Azha marks the completion of the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca (Hajj), a course in which Muslims handsomely demonstrate their renouncement of mundane concerns and hearkens to the eternal voice of Allah.
Eid-ul-Azha is a day of remembrance. Even in the most joyful times, Muslims make a fresh start of the day by a session of congregational prayers to Allah in an open space. Muslims use the occasion to pray to Allah and glorify His name, to demonstrate the remembrance of His grace and favors. Along with that course, Muslims also remember the deceased by praying for their souls to rest in peace. The needy and vulnerable in society are also remembered by showing them sympathy and consolation.
In sum Eid-ul-Azha transcends all limits and expands over the dimensions of human life. It marks a day of victory for the Muslim. The individual Muslim who succeeds in securing his spiritual rights and growth receive the Eid with victorious spirit.
The Muslim who faithfully observes the duties which are associated with the Eid, is a triumphant one. Eid-ul-Azha is also a harvest day. All the good work done in the service of Allah is rewarded and all faithful believers reap the fruits of their good deeds as Allah grants His mercy and blessings abundantly without measure
.The day is also one of forgiveness. When Muslims assemble in the congregation of the day, they all whole-heartedly pray for forgiveness and strength of faith. And God has assured those who approach him with sincerity, of His mercy and forgiveness.
In that pure assembly and highly spiritual congregation, any true Muslim would feel ashamed of himself to hold any enmity or ill feeling if he had been exposed to any. Consequently, he would find himself moving along with others responding to the spirit of the day to purify his heart and soul. It is hoped that this year's Eid-ul-Azha will bring about peace in Ghana and the world at large.
The writer is a freelance contributor
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