On the occassion of Eid al Adha, or Bakr-Eid, or Badi Eid, wishing you and your loved ones. The Arabic word “Adha” means “sacrifice”, having its root in the word “duha”, which also means “light” or “illumination”. This is the Badi or big Eid that is celebrated in the Islamic calendar. Tradition has it that this Eid commemorates the willingness of Hazrat Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Ismail, at the altar, on God’s command.
On the way to being a Prophet of God, Hazrat Abraham had to undergo many tests, and the foremost among them was God’s direction to Him to sacrifice His own, only son. In order to test their faith in front of the public, God commanded Hazrat Abraham, though a recurring dream, to sacrifice Ismail. This was all the more unimaginable as God had blessed Hazrat Abraham and his wife, Canaan, with a son after long years of prayers and seeking. And in this command, God was asking Hazrat Abraham to let go of the precious gift of a child which He Himself had given. Hazrat Abraham, getting this recurrent dream, and knowing that the dreams of Prophets are Divinely ordained, hesitated not a bit in His heart to the sacrifice. He though did have to ask Ismail for his readiness to be sacrificed to God, and he had to be ready to be the sacrifice to God. This was to be a test not just for the father, in His obedience to God’s will, but also for the son, in his obedience to father, Prophet, and God. But Ismail was up to the challenge, and told his father that He should do as He has been commanded, and by the Grace of God, He shall not find His son lacking in his faith in father, Prophet, and God. Hazrat Abraham, though, was surprised when, at the sacrifice, He found that He had sacrificed a lamb, and Ismail was unharmed by the Grace of God. The more esoteric, spiritual significance of the sacrifice of course is to sacrifice our desires, our nafs, our love and other emotions, at the altar to God.
It is to commemorate this that the festival of Eid al Adha is celebrated across the Muslim world, and the sacrifice is marked by the sacrifice of an animal (usually a goat or lamb, but people can sacrifice a cow, buffalo, or a camel) to commemorate the sacrifice made by Harzat Abraham. One third of the meat is kept by the family, one third is given to relatives, and one-third is distributed to the needy, in the true spirit of Islam.
The spiritual significance lies not in the ritual of sacrificing the animal in the name of god but to buy a sacrificial animal well before Eid, rear it for few days, take good care of, feed well, respect (it should not be harmed, or ridiculed in any manner) and nurtured until the time of sacrifice. The more beloved and dear the animal is to its owner, the more meaningful will be its sacrifice.
I still remember the days when i was a child, when I used to take care of the animal day and night, play with it, talk to it, almost fell in love with it in just a few days, then end up weeping the entire day once the loved animal is sacrificed and my grand parents teaching the essence of it.
In large parts of the world, Bakr-Eid, in addition to being a religious festival, is also a social occasion, and promises a feast of biryani and meat not just for the Muslims, but to their friends and neighbours, of whatever faith. Haleem is a very popular dish in South Asia, as is Nihari and Biryani, Boti Kababs, and Kormas.