By- N. Mangi Devi
ID-UL-AZHA, or the Feast of sacrifice is called also yaum-un-Nahr, Qurban-i-Id, Qurban Bayram Baqr-i-Id (the Cow Festival) and the Great Feast, and is held on the tenth day of the mouth Zul-Hijja. This festival has become part of the Meccan pilgrimage, of which it is the concluding scene. This feast, however, is the great Muhammadan festival, which is observed, wherever Islam exists.
There is a very remarkable Hadis, related by Ayesha, who states that Muhammad said “Man hath not done anything on the ‘Id-ul-Azha’ more pleasing to God than spilling blood; for verily the animal sacrificed will come, on the day of resurrection, with its horns, its hair, and its hoofs, and will make the scales of his (good) actions heavy. Verify its blood reacheth the acceptance of God, before it falleth upon the ground, therefore be joyful in it. The animal sacrificed must be without blemish and of full age; but it may be either a goat, a sheep, a cow, or a camel.
According to the commentator Jalal-ud-din Syuty, the sacrifice was instituted in commemoration of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail ! The following is the account given by Muhammadan writers:- “When Ibrahim (the peace of God be upon him) founded Mecca, the Lord desired him to a prepare a feast for him. Upon Ibrahim’s (the friend of (God) requesting to know what He would have on the occasion, the Lord replied, Offer up the son Ismail.’ Agreeably to God’s command he took Ismail to the K’aba to sacrifice him, and having laid him down, he made several ineffectual strokes on his throat with a knife or which Ismail observed, ‘your eyes being uncovered, it is through pity and compassion for me you allow the knife to miss : it would be better if you blindfolded yourself with the end of your turban and then sacrificed me.’ Ibrahim acted upon his son’s suggestion and having repeated the words Bismillahi Allah Hoo Akhar (i.e. ‘in the name of the great God’) he drew the knife across his son’s neck. In the meanwhile, however, Gabriel had substituted a broad-tailed sheep for the youth Ismail and Ibrahim unfolding his eyes observed to his surprise the sheep slain and his son standing behind him. The sacrifice, as it is now performed on the ‘Id-ul-Azha’, is as follows:- The people assemble for prayer at the “Idgah as on the ‘Id-ul-Fitr’; after prayers the people return’ to their houses. The head of the family then takes a sheep (or a cow or camel) to the entrance of his house and sacrifices it, by repeating the words, “In the name of the great God.” and cutting its throat. The flesh of the animal is then divided, two-thirds being kept by the family, and one-third being given to the poor in the name of God.
‘ID-UL-FITF (lit, “the feast of breaking the fast”), is called also the feast of Ramazan, the Feast of Alms) and the Minor Festival. It is held on the first day of the month of Shawwal, which is the day after the close of the Ramazan fast. On this day, before going to the place of prayer, the Sadaqa or propitiatory offerings, are made to the poor in the name of God. The offerings having been made, the people assemble either in the Jama-i-Masjid (i.e., the principle mosque) or proceed to the ‘Idgah which is a special place of worship on festivals. The worship commences with two rake at prayers, after which the Imam takes his place on the second step of the mimbar (pulpit) and recites the Khuthah, concluding with a prayer for the king. After this is ended, he offers up a munajat or supplication for the people for the remission of sins, the recovery of the sick, increase of rain, abundance of corn, preservation from misfortune and freedom from debt. He then descends to the ground and makes further supplication for the people, the congregation saying Amirz at the end of each supplication. At the close of the service the members of the congregation salute and embrace each other and offer mutual congratulations and then return to their homes and spend the rest of the day in feasting and merriment.