Eid-ul-Adha symbolises concepts like submission and surrender to Allah and feeling gratitude and being thankful for all the blessings He has bestowed upon humanity.
In some cultures, the term Qurban for is used for Eid-ul-Adha and this term literally means “to come closer” with the association of sacrificing of an animal at this occasion.
The Holy Qur’an informs us that the first sacrificial offer was made by the sons of Adam with an intention to achieve proximity to Allah. (Qur’an, 5:27).
The term Adha or Udhiyyeh, on the other hand, refers to an act of sacrificing an animal during a certain period with the intention of worship, ibadah.
The sacrifice is done according to certain principles of religion which we learn from the noble messenger of Allah.
The act of sacrificing an animal for Allah during Eid-ul-Adha is confirmed by the Qur’an, Sunnah and ijma.
Majority of Muslim scholars agree that the verse “Fesalli li Rabbike wanhar” refers to this sacrificial act.
A hadith that appears in Ibn Majah and Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal reports that the Prophet (s) reads “Those who have the means and do not sacrifice an animal during Eid-ul-Adha should stay away from my Masjid.” It is because of this hadith and other reports that the Hanafi jurists agreed that sacrificing an animal during Eid-ul-Adha is wajib, necessary.
Although the other three Sunni schools of thought consider it as Sunnah, they also indicated that it is a Sunnah Muakkadah, because the Prophet (s) never neglected this duty.
When we analyse reports in various hadith collections, we see that the noble messenger of Allah sacrificed an animal each year, after sacrifice made lawful in the second year of Hijrah, until he passed away (Tirmidhi).
rIt is reported that one day, Hanash (r) saw Ali (r) sacrificing two rams and asked why he was doing so. Ali replied, “the Messenger of Allah gave me wakalat, nominated me, so I am sacrificing on his behalf” (Abu Dawud, Musnad).
The sacrificing an animal during Eid-ul-Adha is also commonly related to the story of Ibrahim (a) which teaches us many important lessons.
According to reports he had vowed to offer something he loved the most as a sacrifice if Allah blessed him with a son.
He was 86 when his son Ismail was born and later he was instructed in a dream to offer his most beloved as the sacrifice. As he decided to fulfill his promise, the All-Merciful sent him a ram to sacrifice in place of Ismail.
This is a most significant event as Allah guides human beings through His prophets.
Historical records suggest that during the time of Ibrahim there was a ghastly custom amongst the polytheists. Each year at a certain time they would offer a human sacrifice to their idols. The sacrifice would usually be a child.
To eradicate this horrific custom, Allah the All-Merciful used the example of Ibrahim and his son where Ismail was replaced by a ram so that these nations abandon their barbaric customs to offer an animal as a sacrifice instead of a human beings.
The tradition of sacrificing an animal as a form of worship continues today as the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (s). May Allah accept the sacrifices of Muslims and grant all a blessed Eid-ul-Adha.