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Eid-ul-Adha

To find out what happens during the festival of Eid-ul-Adha.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To find out what happens during the festival of Eid-ul-Adha.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Eid-ul-Adha is a major festival for Muslims, and was begun by the prophet Muhammad. This festival is the greater one of two Eids; the other, Eid-ul-Fitr, celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Eid-ul-Adha means festival of sacrifice.

    The festival remembers the prophet that the Christians and Jews call Abraham, but the Muslims call Ibrahim. The festival celebrates Ibrahim’s life, and in particular the sacrifice he was prepared to make. Ibrahim took his only son Ismail out into the desert, because he believed that God (whom Muslims call Allah) had asked him to sacrifice the boy. Ibrahim tied the boy up and was about to kill him when Allah intervened and provided a ram to be the sacrifice instead.
  2. Later on, Ibrahim took his wife Hajar out into the desert with their son Ismail, and left them there. According to the Christian version of the story, this was because his other wife, Sarah, was jealous of Hajar having a son when she did not, and bullied Ibrahim into literally deserting them. Allah caused a spring of water to appear at their feet, so they survived; later a caravan of traders came across them and took them to the settlement that became modern-day Makkah. Ibrahim visited them from time to time, and when Ismail was 13 they built a Katbah, a space for worship together. Many years later, Makkah became the focus of the Muslim faith.
  3. By taking part in Eid-ul-Adha, Muslims are showing that they are ready to give up their lives for God. The word ‘Islam’ means submission, and this festival highlights the everyday submission that they show to Allah by following their religion, and also the submission shown by Ibrahim to Allah. The word ‘sacrifice’ can also mean the act of killing something or someone, and making them an offering to God. Eid-ul-Adha covers both of these aspects.
  4. The word ‘Eid’ means festivity. Eid-ul-Adha comes at the time of the Hajj, which is the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah).

    It is such an important festival that in a Muslim country it will be a public holiday – a bit like bank holidays in the UK, except that as it is a religious festival, Muslims will take the day off in order to celebrate and to observe the important religious aspects of the festival.
  5. Eid consists of a celebration lasting between one and three days. Muslims will go to the mosque for prayers, dressed in their best clothes. In doing so they join with the Muslim community in their own region, in their country, and with the Ummah, the entire Muslim community across the world. They also use this time to thank Allah for all the blessings they have received.
  6. Let us, however, return to the main point of the festival of Eid, the idea of sacrifice. As a reflection of Ibrahim’s actions, Muslims all over the world who have the means to do so will sacrifice a sheep, or another animal such as a goat or a cow.

    In the UK the slaughtering of the animal has to be done in a slaughterhouse or abattoir; however, Muslims see this as a symbolic action. It is a reminder of Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah – that he was willing to sacrifice his child. Muslims should echo that same kind of obedience to Allah in their own lives.
  7. The meat of the animal is not wasted. It is shared among friends and family, and also given to Muslims who are less well off, so that they too can take part in the festival. This idea of stretching out to the poorer members of the community is also shown by the giving of money to people so that they can buy better clothes and partake of the festivities in that way too.
  8. Eid-ul-Adha is seen as a time where the whole Muslim community is brought together to remember the importance of sacrifice, and that their lives are also, in the way they perform and live out their religion, a sacrifice and a submission to Allah.

Time for reflection

Think about what is important for you; maybe your friends or your family.

Would you be prepared to give these up if you felt God was asking you to do so?

Fortunately, you are unlikely to be put in this position. Eid is a chance to celebrate all that friends and family mean to each one of us.

Think about those people whom you love now, and be thankful.

Hymn

‘One more step’ (Come and Praise, 47)

Publication date: November 2009   (Vol.11 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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