During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember
Abraham's trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel,
or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith.
Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we
pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals
in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah at the time of
slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.
The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others.
One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to
friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes our
willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts,
in order to follow Allah's commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give
up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help
those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we
should open our hearts and share with others.
It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by
Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash
ourselves from sin. This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations:
﴾It is not their meat or their blood that reaches Allah; it is your
piety that reaches Him.﴿
The symbolism is in the attitude - a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives
in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving
up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or
herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow
Allah's commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity
in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us.