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Meaning of Eid-uz-Zuha

Prophet Mohammed has been the embodiment of sacrifice all his life.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2006 14:06 IST

What is sacrifice? Prophet Mohammed himself has been the embodiment of sacrifice all his life. The sacrifice of the animals is just a ritual whereas the essence lies far beyond. A small incident from the life of Prophet Mohammed shows what sacrifice is exactly. Once, he received a Christian guest in his house. There was no food at night except some goat's milk. The Prophet offered him the milk. The Prophet's family went without food that night although it had starved the night before as well. This is the right way to sacrifice for others. Eid-uz-Zuha or Baqr-Eid, the festival of remembering one's submission to God and the feeling of sacrifice and obedience attached to it, is also known as Eid-ul-Azha. It is also a day of good deeds, forgiving grudges and being helpful and kind.

The Islamic faith has it that Prophet Ibrahim was over 80 years old and childless. After sustained prayers, God blessed him with a child (named Ismael) at this ripe old age. Once while dreaming, the Prophet saw that God wanted sacrifice. Therefore, Ibrahim sacrificed his favourite camel. But again the dream appeared, so he sacrificed all his camels. But when the same command appeared thrice, Prophet Ibrahim understood that God demanded the sacrifice of his son Ismael. When he asked for his only son's consent, Ismael was only too happy to submit.

En route to the altar, Iblis (Satan) tried in vain to misguide father and son that God's demand was too tyrannical to follow. As the father took out his knife to slash the throat of his son, Ismael cried out, "Father, please cover your eyes with a handkerchief so that you do not waver while sacrificing me. Ibrahim agreed and covered his eyes.

But after the sacrifice, when he opened his eyes, he found Ismael alive and well, while a ram had been killed in his place. This was the reward of God, who merely wanted to test the love and loyalty of His Messenger.

First Published: Jan 11, 2006 16:26 IST