When you listen to your news program today, you may here something about Muslims across the globe celebrating Eid. You likely don’t know much if anything about it. I have friends who are Muslim (actually, I have friends from just about every culture and religion there is) and this is what they have told me.
Eid al-Adha is known as The Feast of Sacrifice. It commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to obey God’s command to sacrifice his son through ritual slaughter. Before you go off thinking that Muslims are horrible people, who condone human sacrifice, consider that this story has a happy ending. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son with a knife, God stopped him and told him this was only a test of faith. God told Ibrahim to sacrifice a sheep instead.
To some, this story sounds amazingly similar to a story in the Old Testament about the Jewish Patriarch Abraham. In fact Ibrahim is Abraham. The Muslim faith exalts some of the Prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament as Prophets of God.
Eid comes at the end of Haji, an annual time for the pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims traditionally slaughter sheep or cattle in commemoration and distribute the meat among the poor and needy. Prior to the slaughter, Muslims of all ages go to their mosques and engage in prayers. People actually in Saudi Arabia often pray on MountArafat and participate in a ritual “Stoning of the devil” in Mina.
In this way, the Muslim reverence to an Old Testament Prophet is linked with the annual Pilgrimage to Mecca and Muslims who cannot make it to Mecca this year (all Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime) can celebrate the pilgrimage. Eid lasts four days. Today is the first day of Eid and Friday will be the last.