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Lessons, celebration mark Muslim holy day

January 10, 2006|by HIRA ZEB

Today is Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, the most eminent holiday on the Muslim calendar. It is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dul-Hijja, 70 days after the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan.

Eid al-Adha commemorates Abraham's commitment to obey God.

The Quran tells how one of Abraham's chief trials was to face God's command to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. Abraham prepared to submit to his Lord's will. However, just before Abraham killed his son, God revealed that Abraham's sacrifice had already been fulfilled because Abraham showed that his love for God superceded all others and that he would give up his most loved one for the sake of God. Therefore, God spared Ishmael, and instead allowed Abraham to sacrifice a ram.

Directly preceeding Eid al-Adha, millions of Muslims from all around the world gather in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform the annual pilgrimage called Hajj. Hajj is mandatory at least once in the life of every Muslim who is financially and physically able to undergo the pilgrimage.

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At the end of Hajj, Eid al-Adha takes place, and all Muslim families around the world sacrifice an animal, usually a cow or lamb. The meat from this sacrifice is mostly given to others following this guideline: One-third is meant for the immediate family and relatives; one-third is given away to friends; and the last portion is donated to the poor and needy.

On Eid day, Muslims arrive at their local mosque for Salat-ul-Eid - Eid prayer - wearing their best clothes and perfumes as well as bearing gifts for friends and family. Afterwards, the imam gives a talk on the importance of patience, humility and piety to the congregation. Then, most people spend the day visiting with friends and family, and of course, eating good food.

Eid is meant to be recognition of both material and spiritual favors God has given to mankind. We have an animal sacrificed, and in this way, realize that the material aspects of our lives are indeed temporary, and the good and virtuous acts we strive to complete are what really count.

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