October 16, 2013
Eid al-Adha, or “Festival of Sacrifice”, is celebrated by Muslims to mark the occasion when Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, to demonstrate his devotion to the Almighty.
Ignoring the advice of the Devil, who tried to tempt Ibrahim into disobeying God by saying he should spare Ishmael, Ibrahim was about to press ahead with the sacrifice when Allah stopped him and gave him a lamb to kill instead.
The story is designed to demonstrate how Ibrahim’s devotion passed even the sternest test, and is told in similar fashion in the Jewish Torah and Christian Old Testament, where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Today the story is commemorated on Eid by the sacrifice of a sheep, or sometimes a goat, although in Britain the animal must be killed at a slaughterhouse. The day is a public holiday in Muslim countries, and the festival’s Arabic title has connotations of a period of rejoicing that comes back time and again.