The life of prophet Abraham (may God’s peace and blessing be upon him) embodies the perfect Muslim, as he has been declared a pure and sincere monotheist and a friend of God. A Muslim is required to keep Abraham’s life in front of him as a model and to remember him by celebrating his festival every year.
The climax of Abraham’s devotion to God was the moment in which he was ready to sacrifice his only son (the Old Testament and the Islamic scriptures differ on whether this son was Isaac or Ishmael). God was so pleased with his devotion that he saved his son and gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead.
Muslims all over the world sacrifice an animal every year as a reminder to keep the devotion of Abraham alive. Millions of Muslims sacrifice lambs, goats, cows or camels every year and that meat is distributed to feed poor, needy and homeless people around the world, including in many large U.S. cities. This tradition started in the Muslim world, since prophet Muhammad migrated to Madina. Muhammad sacrificed and encouraged Muslims to do so when they could afford it financially and otherwise. When the companions asked him what the sacrifice was about, he explained that it was the practice of their forefather Abraham.
It is at this time every year that millions of Muslims gather together for pilgrimage to Makkah. Known as Hajj, this pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam. According to the Quran, Kabah, the center of the Muslim world faced by Muslims daily during prayer, was built by Abraham. Hajj includes a number of rituals in the memory of prophet Abraham that are performed every year by about four million Muslims from every part of the world.
Islamic rituals of Hajj keep the life of the prophet Abraham alive in the heart of every Muslim. According to Muslim scriptures, when Abraham left his son and wife in the desert, where Makkah is today, his wife ran between the two hills in search of water. Millions of Muslims in Hajj run between those hills in respect and remembrance of the wife of Abraham. As Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son by God’s order, the devil tried to stop him, but Abraham removed him by throwing stones at him. Every Muslim in Hajj throws stones at that spot to follow that practice.
The Muslim community of Anniston and surrounding areas will gather the at Anniston Islamic Center Tuesday to celebrate Eidul-Adha. The day will begin with a congregational prayer and a brief sermon. Then some will go to different slaughterhouses to sacrifice an animal just as Abraham did. Many others will send money to various Muslim countries where a sacrifice will be made for them and the meat, raw or cooked, will be distributed to the needy. The rest of the day will be spent greeting and spending time with family. Kids will enjoy a day off from school and will enjoy the holiday with new dresses, gifts and toys.
At the end of the day, we will pray to God that he may unite us all on the traditions of prophet Abraham.
Muhammad N. Haq is the imam at the Anniston Islamic Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.