What does the “feast of sacrifice” symbolize in Muslim tradition?

What does the “feast of sacrifice” symbolize in Muslim tradition?

It is held every year the day after the great gathering of pilgrims on Mount Arafat, a granite hill located about twenty kilometers east of Mecca. From Sunday June 16, Muslims in France celebrate, for three days, the great feast ofEid-ul-Adha – also called Eid-El-Kébir –, to mark the end of “hadj”the traditional annual pilgrimage to the Saudi city.

With l'Eid-ul-Fitr celebrating the end of Ramadan,Eid-ul-Adha is considered one of the greatest holidays in Islam. Its official opening may vary slightly around the world from one country to another. In France, its date is set each year by the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), based on the lunar calendar, and it is held on the tenth day of the month of Dhou al Hijja, the last month of the Muslim calendar.

The great “feast of sacrifice”

In the Muslim tradition, theEid-ul-Adha commemorates the submission of Ibrahim – Abraham in the Bible – to God, around 2000 BC. “This rite evokes an important historical event loaded with symbolism”, recalled, in his sermon published in 2014 on the website of the Grand Mosque of Paris, the Grand Mufti Djelloul Bouzidi. “It is about the sacrifice of Ishmael by his father Ibrahim, by submission to the divine order and by absolute obedience, following the inspiration received in a dream”he continued then.

In the Koran, it is indicated that Ishmael, raised in the faith, complied without flinching to the divine exhortation: “ O my dear father, do what is commanded to you: you will find me, please Allah, among the number of the enduring” (Quran 37, 99 to 112). But just as Ibrahim is about to slaughter his son, the archangel Jibril (Gabriel), sent by Allah, replaces the child with a ram at the last moment. According to Muslim scriptures, the event took place near Mecca. In commemoration of this episode, the faithful therefore sacrifice an animal – most often a sheep, but sometimes also a goat or a cattle – during theEid-ul-Adha.

A sacrifice to the rules

This animal must not be killed – or even stunned – before bleeding, which must be done, according to tradition, with a perfectly sharp knife. According to Islamic law, it is up to the head of the family to carry out the sacrificial task, by laying the animal on its left side, with its head turned towards Mecca. It can only operate after the Eid prayer, which takes place around twenty minutes after sunrise, followed by a sermon from the imam.

The sheep must then be divided into three equal parts: one which goes to the family, another for neighbors and friends, and finally the last, made up of the best pieces, for the most needy. This event “also symbolizes the virtue of sharing and fraternity on this day”, recalled Mufti Djelloul Bouzidi. Placed under the sign of solidarity, this festival is therefore an opportunity for Muslims to strengthen community ties.

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