Saturday is Eid al-Adha, a Muslim celebration instilling charitable giving and sacrifice

Eid-al-Adha is a celebration marked by sacrifice as a way to draw close to God. In the Islamic tradition, it is believed that God commanded Prophet Abraham in his dream to sacrifice his son. As he prepared to follow the command without questioning it, God sent archangel Gabriel to replace his son with a ram.

Muslims commemorate this test of sacrifice that the Prophet Abraham was subject to by partaking in sacrifice annually on the tenth day of the last month of the lunar calendar known as Dhul Hijjah. This year, it will be observed on Saturday, July 9.

Thasin Sardar
Thasin Sardar

The Michigan Muslim Community Council, an umbrella organization representing Muslim communities from all across Michigan, performs sacrifice on behalf of Muslims who choose to donate their entire sacrifice in the form of charity. This is then distributed to the less privileged all across Michigan, including in Greater Lansing. By sharing the sacrifice with the less fortunate, the practice instills a habit of charitable giving and serving others in the wider community.

The concept of sacrifice to God is shared across the Abrahamic traditions. In the Torah, similar to the Quran, God tests Abraham to make the ultimate sacrifice. And in the Gospels, Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God who will take away the sins we commit in this world.

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By honoring God’s command to sacrifice, Muslims express their obedience to God — reaffirming a fundamental tenet of the faith of believing in the oneness of God. A requirement of offering the sacrifice is to share it with the less fortunate. This enables those who don’t have the means to celebrate to partake in the festivities. In some parts of the world where economic hardship is pervasive, such a gift of meat to some families is perhaps the only time in the entire year they are able to consume it.

The pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, is also known as Hajj — a pillar of faith in Islam. Those who are financially capable are encouraged to make this pilgrimage in this lunar month of Dhul Hijjah. The ninth day of this month is known as the day of Arafah, and is the core of the Hajj pilgrimage.

Pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat, making supplications to God and repenting for their sins and shortcomings by expressing sincere regrets to God, seeking his forgiveness and hoping to renew their lives with a clean slate.

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Muslims who are unable to perform the Hajj pilgrimage fast and pray on the day of Arafah, symbolically joining the millions of Muslims who are assembled in the valley worshiping and supplicating under the open skies.

Increased remembrance of God, charitable acts and good deeds are encouraged in the first 10 days of this lunar month. Traditionally, Muslims gather to perform a prayer in congregation and exchange greetings and gifts with their family, friends and loved ones. This is typically followed by friends and families indulging in feasts together, sharing dishes and desserts that are popular in their cultures or ethnicities.

Thasin Sardar is chair of the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing Board of Trustees.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Eid al-Adha is the Feast of Sacrifice, a way to share with others