The Festival of Sacrifice

Coloured lights line the village streets. Children play all day in their best clothes, and friends exchange gifts. It’s the Festival of Sacrifice. Muslims in Egypt and other countries are celebrating.

The Festival of Sacrifice takes place at different times. But it always happens at the end of the hajj, or annual journey to Mecca. Once in their lifetime, all Muslims are required to make this journey, called a pilgrimage, if they are able.

Mecca is the holiest city of Islam, the religion of the Muslims. It lies in western Saudi Arabia. The city is the birthplace of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

During the festival, animals are also sacrificed in memory of Abraham, a prophet in the Bible.

The rites of Hajj are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth day of this month. Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and re-enacts events carried out by Prophet Abraham, his wife Hagar and their son Ishmael, and includes a mandatory visit to Arafat, where Prophet Mohammed is said to have delivered his last sermon.

Legend has it that God ordered Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son. Respecting God’s command, but unable to see himself doing as bidden, Abraham blindfolds himself and does the act; or so he thinks. For when he opens his eyes, he finds his son unharmed and a lamb sacrificed instead. Eid al-Adha is celebrated to commemorate this test of faith. God does not want the flesh of the animal but obedience that is to be displayed by following His tenets.

As we enter this wonderful phase of the year where we prepare to celebrate the sacred rituals of our particular faiths, we must never forget the stories behind them and should endeavour to abide by all that is good in our faiths. As has been said, every ritual if ‘performed with imagination and care, enables people to enter a different, timeless dimension’ — most required in these anxious times.

Picture Credit : Google