Eid al-Adha, popularly known as the ‘Feast of Sacrifice’, is celebrated by Muslims all over the world as a major holiday spread over a period of three to four days. The majority of Muslims across the globe attend the special prayers held at different major mosques and Islamic centers. They usually wear new clothes and some exchange gifts while children are entertained. Throughout the Muslim world, this holy religious festival is celebrated through public holidays. Many Muslims also do not go to work on that day. When asked about the origin of Eid al-Adha, The Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), is reported to have said, “It is a tradition that has come down to us from Abraham.” The Feast of Sacrifice dates from the historic event when Prophet Abraham (AS) was commanded by Allah Almighty, in a form of a dream vision, to sacrifice his son, Ishmail. But while he was in the act of sacrificing his son, Allah Almighty sent the Angel Gabriel with a huge ram. Gabriel informed Hazrat Abraham (AS) that his dream vision was fulfilled and instructed him to sacrifice the ram as a substitute for 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. The story is amply explained in Chapter #37 of the Holy Qur’an. Thus, Eid al-Adha enjoys special significance because the Day of Sacrifice marks the climax of Hajj or Pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. This annual pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia is mandatory only for those Muslim men and women who are physically and financially able enough to perform it once in their lifetime. 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 Muslims who fit specific criteria, one of the important Five Pillars of Islam. Depending on the country, the celebrations of Eid-ul-Adha can last anywhere between two and four days. The act of Qurbani (sacrifice) is carried out following the Eid Salaah (Eid Prayers), which are performed in the 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 camel; the sheep, lamb, or goat consist of one Qurbani share, whereas a bull, cow, or camel consists of seven shares per animal. The animal must be in good health and over a certain age in order 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 giving gifts. It is imperative to understand that merely sacrificing an animal on the day of Eid can by no means wash away our sins. It is imperative to understand that merely sacrificing an animal on the day of Eid can by no means wash away our sins. The stance of Allah is very clear in the Holy Book of the Quran, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Qur’an 22:37). This clearly depicts that Allah SWT has nothing to do with the meat and blood of animals that we sacrifice on the day of Eid. Instead, it is the piety of the Muslims offering the sacrifice that is observed by Allah. The symbolism lies in the conduct and character. Sacrifice basically infers a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the true and straight path. A true Muslim who has a firm belief in Allah strives to follow all his commands sincerely and obediently. It is the purity of faith, the strength of heart, and willing obedience that our Lord requires from us. The lessons learned from the way of Prophet Abraham (AS) when he was about to slaughter his son in utter submission, until at the last moment when Allah SWT sent a Goat instead of his son, are multiple. It is all about total surrender and complete submission to the command of Allah, out of thankfulness, slave-hood, and love. It is also about realizing one’s blessings and thanking Allah for them. Therefore, Muslims are also encouraged to wear their best clothes, distribute gifts among family and friends and celebrate Eid with family, friends, and neighbors with love. It also signifies remembering the plight of the poor and giving charity. On this Holy day, it is mostly encouraged to provide charity as it promotes brotherhood and provides an opportunity to for earning the blessings of Allah. Therefore, it is not simply an annual festival, but it reflects the spirit that must be upheld by a believer truly reflected in his deeds. Known as the ‘Eid of Sacrifice’, this day is an opportunity for the believer to rekindle his faith and deepen his resolve to lead a life of sincerity. The day of Eid Al Adha begins with two units of prayers (Salah) offered at a mosque in a congregation. The act of praying becomes a reminder of the virtues of modesty, humility, and fraternity that are essential to human existence. The prayers which mark the start of Eid are meant to be an unequivocal proclamation of the glory of the creator. It fills a believer with introspection from the start of the day. As he further dwells on these thoughts, he not only prepares himself to acknowledge the greatness of his Creator but also clears his mind of any misconceptions relating to human grandeur. Hence, sacrifice is not a simple matter; it is the adoption of a higher level of living. Sacrifice means living for ideals rather than for worldly attainments. When a person endeavors to rise above the material and mundane considerations and exercise control over his desires for the sake of a greater cause, it is an act of sacrifice. In the spiritual sense, Eid Al Adha marks a pledge in the life of a believer to lead his life for a higher purpose. Even the prayer made at the time of the act of sacrifice reiterates this. The prayer is as follows, ‘My worship, my conduct, my life, and my death are devoted to Allah.’ These words reflect the true spirit of the covenant to lead a life of higher purpose. From the above discussion, it can easily be understood that the Eid Al Adha prayer is an obligatory act in the faith of Islam and is one of the most important events in Islamic history. The sole purpose of this event is to earn countless blessings of Allah SWT by sacrificing animals in the way of Allah, completing the rituals of Hajj, and offering the Eid al Adha prayer. This Eid reminds us of the sacrifice that Prophet Abraham (AS) was willing to make for the sake of Allah SWT. This also provides us with an idea of the quality of faith that we should have in our own lives. Distributing the meat from the sacrifice helps us to realize how we can share things and possessions that are very important to us. Thus, distributing the meat from sacrifice trains us in the art of giving, promotes love and brotherhood, and allows the people to realize that they should be thankful to Allah SWT for all the bounties that have been amply bestowed upon them in multitude. Therefore, far more important than the celebration of this holy ritual is to imbibe the message conveyed in the supreme sacrifice and implement it in letter and spirit. Only by sacrificing our negative emotions, taming inflated egos, killing the greed, and slaughtering the lust for amassing money by hook or crook, we can attain the intended piety to seek divine pleasure. This religious festival comes every year to give us one more chance to reorient our lives and model them around the glorious example of the supreme sacrifice set by Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). Are we anywhere closer to the intended message of this rare act of absolute submission to Allah’s will, rooted in human history and of which we all feel proud? The writer is a civil servant by profession, a writer by choice and a motivational speaker by passion!