Eid-ul Azha (‘Id-ul Adha) also known as Eid al-Kurban or Eid al-Nahr is one of the two main Muslim religious festivals. In Bangladesh it is popularly known as Kurbanir Eid or Bakra Eid. Eid and Azha are arabic words meaning festival and sacrifice respectively.
Eid-ul Azha commemorates the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim (A), who had been asked by Almighty Allah to sacrifice his dearest son Hazrat Ismail (A) and with the consent of his son Hazrat Ibrahim (A) arranged everything to implement Allah’s order at a place called Mina near Mokka in solar year 3800. Allah was satisfied by Hazrat Ibraim’s sincere intent and ordered him to sacrifice an animal in place of his son.
Following this event that symbolises highest loyalty and submission to Allah Muslims at Mina and all parts of the world sacrifice animals on the day of Eid-ul Azha as a symbol of sacrifice for Him. Animal sacrifice in the name of Allah is a major feature of Eid-ul Azha. From the sacrifice and through the distribution of sacrificial meat to the poor and distressed, one gets a spiritual satisfaction and pleasure, which obtains a socially festive character.
Kurbani or sacrifice of animals by following the example of sacrifice by Hazrat Ibrahim (A) at Mina is wadib or obligatory (according to many, sunna Muaqqada) for not only those Muslims who perform hajj but also for all solvent Muslims of the world.
Eid-ul Azha is observed on the 10th of Jhu-l-Hijjah and on this day, Muslims who perform the Hajj sacrifice animals on the field of Mina. Sacrifice can also be offered on the following day and according to some, on the third day, too (Ainial Tashriq). Animals offered for sacrifice must be of specific age and are required to be free from certain defects. They should not be blind, have broken legs or horns or ears separated either partially or in full. The time of sacrifice begins following the namaz of Eid-ul Azha and continues up to the sunset of the next two/three days. A camel, cow or buffalo can be sacrificed in the names of seven persons, while a lamb or a goat in the name of one person only. Usually cows, goats and buffaloes are sacrificed in Bangladesh. Some people are also seen to import camels for the purpose of sacrifice.
It is a sunnah on the part of person who to jabah (slaughter) the animal by himself. However, any Muslim can slaughter the animal on his behalf. Two ayats (verses) from the Holy quran (ayats 80 and 163 of surah An’am) are read at the time of jabah. The first of these ayats read: “here I stand with my face towards Allah, who created the Universe and the Earth and I am not one who is a disbeliever in His oneness”. The second ayat goes: sure, my salat (prayer), qurbani (sacrifice), and my life and death are all for Allah who is the protector of the whole Universe and He is the one who has no partner”. Then it is said generally: “Oh Allah, it is you who have given this animal and it is to you we are sacrificing it, and therefore, please accept the sacrifice”. Then the jabah is done by uttering ‘Bismillahi Allahu Akbar’. The Holy Quran clearly mentions (22t37): “the blood of the sacrificed animal does not reach Allah, neither its meat; what reaches Him is only your takwa“.
In the era of Jahiliya or Dark Age idols were smeared with blood of the sacrificed animals and the meat of the animal was distributed as propitiatory offering. There had been instances of human sacrifice, too. Qurbani eliminated the gruesome practice of human sacrifice forever and also rooted out the custom of smearing idols with the blood of the sacrificed animal and of distribution of the propitiatory offering. At the same time, it had clearly let everybody know that the ultimate meaning of taqwa is that if needd a faithful Muslim can sacrifice all what he possesses, even his own life to Allah. Because “Allah bought the life and possessions of all faithful Muslims in exchange of paradise” (9t100). This is why there is the instruction in the Quran that ” and from now you perform namaz and the sacrifice for the Creator, who is your constant protector” (108t2).
One-third of the meat of the sacrificed animal is kept for the owner, one third is given to his relatives and the rest is distributed among the poor. This gives an opportunity to the rich to discharge a responsibility to the poor and also helps in development of cordiality between the rich and the poor. The hide of the sacrificial animal can be used by the owner and donated to others. But it is not jaiz (allowed) to sell its hide, meat, fat or bones and to use the money for one’s own consumption (Hidiya, Alamgiri, Shami). The hide or the money received after its sale should be given to the poor or to the poor students of madrasahs and orphanages.
Like all other Muslims of the world, Muslims of Bangladesh celebrate Eid-ul Azha in an appropriate manner of religious fervour and enthusiasm. New clothes and accessories are bought on the occasion. People, dressed in new clothes, visit houses of neighbours and relatives to exchange greetings and partake of the special foods prepared on the occasion. Sometimes, people of other religions also take part in the celebrations as invited guests. A few days are declared government holidays on the occasion. Many go to their country homes and celebrate the Eid together with relatives. The Eid congregational prayer is held in large mosques and open fields. Radio and television broadcast special programmes and newspapers publish special features highlighting the significance of the occasion.
The unique sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim Khalilullah (A) and Hazrat Ismail Jabiullah (A) and their firm loyalty to Allah’s instructions had a tremendous impact on the world literature. This influence is observed on the literature of the Muslim countries such as those of the Middle-East or Spain and Turkey and also on the non-Muslim literature of Europe. This event of sacrifice had also an impact on the Great Poet Homer of the far away Greece, too. The epic Illiad describes that Agamemnon, who was confined in Aulis took the decision to sacrifice her daughter Iphigenia to please goddess Diana and later, Diana replaced Iphigenia by lamb and Diana was pleased to see the lamb sacrificed etc. only prove that Homer was greatly influenced by the event of qurbani on the field of Mina. The Bengali literature is also significantly influenced by Eid-ul Azha and the most prominent evidence is Qurbani, the classic poem of National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. [Shabbir Ahmed and Syed Ashraf Ali]