Most of the Australians, intending to go for Hajj this year have either already departed or are packing their bags to leave soon for the cities of Makkah and Madinah in order to join Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah.

The rituals of Hajj this year will be performed during the first few days of August, culminating in standing at the plains of Arafah most probably on Saturday 9 Dhul Hijjah/10 August 2019.

Those of us not performing Hajj this year, Muslims throughout the world will be celebrating  Eid-ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, timed towards the end of Hajj.

Eid-ul-Adha is the second major celebration during the year marked on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, falling most probably on Sunday 11 August 2019.

It is a celebration of the spirit of sacrifice originally attributed to Prophet Ibrahim (a).

Generally, the event is celebrated starting with mass congregational prayers and as a festival of joy with dressing up, feasting and having a good time with family and friends.

However, there are deep and most significant lessons embedded in marking this most important occasion in the Islamic calendar.

Both Hajj and its integration with Eid-ul-Adha commemorate the trials and triumphs of Prophet Ibrahim (a) together with his wife Hajrah and son Ismail (a).

Ibrahim’s (a) willingness to sacrifice his most beloved possession, his son Ismail (a) and in turn Ismail’s (a) willingness to be sacrificed are considered as ultimate acts of obedience to the commandments of Allah.

During the celebration of Eid-ul-Adha, Muslims remember Ibrahim’s (a) trials by themselves sacrificing an animal where most of the meat is given away to others including the poor, family and friends.

The act of sacrifice symbolises the willingness to give up things that are dear to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow God’s commands.

It also represents our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need.

However, sacrificing an animal is just symbolic. The real lesson from this sacrifice is indeed self-sacrifice, that of sacrificing our ego, self-interest, whims and fancies, our wrong desires, our corrupt behaviour, injustice and unfair treatment of others, friends or foes.

Muslims generally are suffering from disunity, violent conflicts, injustice, inequity leading to suffering on a grand scale throughout the Muslim world.

Character building, understanding, empathy, love and peace needs to be built from the grass root level and therefore pondering on the lessons of self-sacrifice from Eid-ul-Adha and reflections on our behaviour will certainly lead us to live Islam in our daily life.

Solution to inter-Muslim conflicts, injustice, sectarian hatreds, corruption and violence needs to be addressed both on individual level as well as collective levels.

Let’s pledge on the day of Eid-ul-Adha 2019 to inculcate good values and develop strength of character within ourselves, our young people and in our community in order to bring about peace and harmony in our society, our nation and our global village.