||Id-ul-Zuhat is one of the most important festivals
of the Muslims. It is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Id in the Indian subcontinent,
because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat, or bakr in Urdu. It is celebrated
from the10th to the 12th day in the month of Dhul Hijjah. The word id derived
from the Arabic iwd means 'festival' and zuha comes from uzhaiyya, which translates
to 'sacrifice'. Id-ul-Zuhat commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice
his son on god's orders. According to Islamic belief, to test Ibrahim, Allah commanded
him to sacrifice his son Ismail. He agreed to do it but found his paternal feelings
hard to suppress. So he blind - folded himself before putting Ismail on the altar
at the mount of Mina near Mecca. When he removed his bandage after performing
the act, he saw his son standing in front of him, alive. On the altar lay a slaughtered
|Joyous festivities and somber rituals mark this
event. The main celebrations are on the first day of the three-day festival. According
to the rules laid down for Id by Prophet Muhammad, every Muslim is expected to
take a bath, wear new clothes, apply itr or perfume, walk to the mosque before
eating anything, and recite theTakbir aloud. After the prayers, which are held
in an open space in deference to the directive of the Quran, he is tore turn home.
|Celebrations on the first day include Do Rakat
Namaz, which can be performed any time from sunrise to just after noon. The prayers
during this festival are considered more rewarding than other daily or weekly
offerings. Every Muslim owning property worth 400 grams of gold or more is expected
to sacrifice a goat, sheep or any other four-legged animal during one of the three
days of the festival. This symbolizes devotion to Allah and his desires.
The sacrifical meat is then distributed and partaken of after the Id prayers.
Prophet Muhammad had decreed that the entire community celebrate Id for three
days to facilitate participation. Prayer meetings and Id milans are part of the
festivities. People visit friends and relatives wearing new clothes and jewelry.
Children are given idi or gifts and money. In the Indian subcontinent sweets are
exchanged. Vermicelli or seviyan, a traditional sweet, is prepared specially for
this festival. Id also coincides with the anniversary of the day when the Quran
was declared complete. It is the time when many Muslims undertake Haj to Mecca.
|During Haj, pilgrims symbolically go through several
events in the life of Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ismail, while building the
Kabah. On reaching Mecca, devotees walk around the Kabah seven times and run seven
times between the Safa and Marwa hills. After a night halt at Mina, they go to
the Arafat plain, where Muhammad preached his last sermon. They pray together
till dusk, spend the night there, then return to Mina to enact the 'stoning of
the devils' ritual, in which seven stones are thrown at three stone pillars commemorating
Ibrahim's rejection of Satan. After sacrificing an animal, they have their hair
shorn off and go around the Kabah seven times, to complete the rites of the pilgrimage.
During Haj, men and women are expected to adhere to a very strict code of conduct.
Male pilgrims wear only two white sheets of cotton, so that all of them, whether
rich or poor, look alike. Women have no special dress. They must be covered from
head to toe, except that their face is unveiled. The use of cosmetics and soap
is prohibited, as is cutting hair and nails. Physical relations are also not permitted.
Every Muslim is expected to go for Haj at least once in his lifetime. The poor
and the sick are however, pardoned. Those who cannot undertake the pilgrimage
are expected to celebrate Id-ul-Zuha. The government of India makes provisions
for Muslim pilgrims to travel to Mecca. Large numbers can be seen at international
airports, waiting for their flights.