In this era when we have so many distractions, I think it is important for Muslims to keep reminding ourselves about the implicit and inherent simplicity of the Islamic faith.
Eid al-Adha is just around the corner, we are not even a week away, I think it is imperative for Muslims to remind ourselves of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.
How did our beloved Prophet Muhammad celebrate this day? Through the following paragraphs I shall attempt to explore through relevant Hadith narrations concerning the Prophet Muhammad’s practices on this day.
A Day for Celebration
A quick look at the books of Hadith indicates that Eid al-Adha is as simple as the other aspects of our faith. It is an opportunity to worship Allah and to offer him a sacrifice. It is also an opportunity to emulate the actions of the common father of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths: Prophet Abraham.
There are many lessons to be learned from his story, here we shall highlight three.
Lesson 1: When Prophet Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, it was a test of his faith. As believers we face many temptations and tests in this materialistic world. We must be ready and prepared for them.
Lesson 2: When Prophet Abraham took his son to the sacrificial altar to sacrifice him, he showed us the strength of his faith and belief in his Creator.
Lesson 3: God Almighty replaced the young son with a ram. We must therefore remember God is Merciful and God always rewards the patience and faith of the sincere believer. And He makes this life’s journey easy for all who trust in Him.
Humankind’s purpose in life is to worship Allah. This may sometimes present a test, but it is faith, and faith alone that will see the true worshipper through life’s travails.
It is this strength of a human being’s faith that we commemorate during our celebrations on Eid al-Adha. Millions of our brothers and sisters are on this very day completing the fifth pillar of their faith: the hajj.
Perhaps we have family or friends who are travelling to Makkah as I write this, or maybe we know people who will be there on the day of the hajj. And we are joyous at their accomplishments.
We may have many reasons for our celebrations, but it should suffice for us, that it is a day which Allah in His wisdom, commanded us to celebrate. It is a day that our Prophet Muhammad taught us to celebrate by his example.
Though the sacrifice of an animal is a central aspect of Eid al-Adha, one must remember that there is much more to be achieved from this day: togetherness, spiritual upliftment, charity, and complete submission to the will of the Creator.
The purpose of sacrifice is not fulfilled only by shedding the blood of an animal; it is really fulfilled when people submit themselves completely to the will and command of Allah.
It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify Allah for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right](Al-Hajj 22:37).
The Prophet Muhammad once said, “I have been commanded to celebrate Eid on the day of sacrifice, which Allah, Most High, has appointed for this community.”
A man said: “If I do not find except a she-goat or a she-camel borrowed for milk or other benefits, should I sacrifice it?”
The Prophet said: “No, but you should clip your hair, and nails, trim your moustaches, and shave your pubes. This is all your sacrifice in the eyes of Allah, Most High.” (Abu-Dawud)
Sharing in Prayers
Our Prophet ensured that everybody should witness the Eid Prayer. This was a chance to worship Allah as a community and to gain some more knowledge. Women and children were encouraged to go to the outskirts of Madinah and witness the Prayer that was held there.
This was a day of blessings which the whole community had a share in. Everybody was encouraged to participate in the Prayer and listen to the sermon.
The Prophet Muhammad began his celebrations with two units (rakahs) of ritual Prayer followed by a sermon after which the congregation was asked to contribute to charity. After this, the Prophet always returned home from a different route from the one he used in the morning (Al-Bukhari).
The sacrifice is always to be done after the sermon. It is important to choose an animal that is healthy and without any deformations. The intention should be pure: the sacrifice is to please our Creator, He alone we worship.
And the sacrificial animal should therefore be free from blemish and disease, and should be treated well. Our intention is to worship Allah.
Once religious obligations are done, it is time for merriment and joy. Time spent with family and with friends. The Prophet did so, and so must we. Young girls sang in his home with joy and the environment was one of happiness.
On one occasion, the Companion Abu Bakr came to the Prophet’s home while two young girls were beating the tambourine and the Prophet was lying covered with his clothes.
Abu Bakr scolded them but the Prophet uncovered his face and said to Abu Bakr, “Leave them, for these days are the days of Eid and the days of Mina” (Al-Bukhari).
It is therefore important to remember that Eid is a day for family and for fun. It is an occasion of tremendous blessing, but it is important to remember, the little ones, the children. Make Eid memorable for them too; make it an occasion to teach a little more about their awe-inspiring faith.
In this article, through authentic Hadith narrations, I have tried to establish the simplicity of the Prophet’s practices and specifically his celebrations on Eid.
To end this article, I shall use words borrowed from the Prophet himself, when he prayed to Allah just before making his sacrifice on the day of Eid al-Adha.
This supplication is the best illustration of the depth of meaning that this sacrifice holds for believers. It traces the history and lineage of the Muslim community and its commemoration of the Prophet Abraham. It indicates the power of the thought that should precede our actions: I have turned my face towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, following Abraham’s religion, the true in faith, and I am not one of the polytheists. My prayer, and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the Universe, Who has no partner. That is what I was commanded to do, and I am one of the Muslims. O Allah, it comes from Thee and is given to Thee from Muhammad and his people. In the name of Allah, and Allah is Most Great. (Abu Dawud)