Muslims all over the world came together this past Monday, September 12, to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir. Our Christian brothers and sisters were not left out as many celebrated the festival with their Muslims friends and neighbours. The slaughtering of rams is the catchiest event on this day as it is expected that every Muslim who can afford it should kill at least a ram on this day.
Earlier in the month, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, officially declared September 12, as Eid-El-Kabir. Since then, preparations for the celebration have begun in earnest. However, in the run up to the Eid-el Kabir festival, ram sellers in particular expressed qualms about the low sale they recorded this year in comparison to previous years. From several reports, ram sellers in different selling points across the country had lamented about the high rate of their unsold rams. Stakeholders, as well as buyers and sellers of the animals used for the Eid festival, attributed the condition to the dismal state of the country’s economy, as well as other reasons, such as the high exchange rate of the naira and the high cost of transportation. With the current state of the economy and from all indications, this year’s Eid-El-Kabir was celebrated on a low key in many parts of the country.
Eid-El-Kabir also known as Eid al-Adha (i.e. Festival of the Sacrifice or the Sacrifice Feast) is the latter of the two Eid holidays. The former being Eid al-Fitr, celebrated worldwide each year, and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to God’s command, before God then intervened, through his Angel Jibril (Gabriel) to inform him that his sacrifice has already been accepted. Islamically, the meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.
In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid-El-Kabir falls on the 10th day of Dhu al Hijjah and lasts for three days. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year, drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year. Like Eid al-Fitr, Eid-El-Kabir begins with a Sunnah prayer of two rakats followed by a sermon (khutbah). Eid-El-Kabir celebrations start after the descent of the Hujjaj, the pilgrims performing the Hajj, from Mount Arafat, east of Mecca. Eid sacrifice may take place until sunset on the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The days of Eid have been singled out in the Hadith as “days of remembrance” and considered the holiest days in the Islamic Calendar.
Muslim faithful and their families customarily dress in their finest attires to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation in an open field called Eidgah or a mosque. Muslims, who can afford it, sacrifice other halal (acceptable) animals such as a cow, camel, goat, sheep, or ram, as a symbol of prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals have to meet certain age and quality standards; otherwise the animal is considered an unacceptable and impermissible sacrifice.
Eid-El-Kabir enjoys special significance because the Day of Sacrifice marks the climax of Hajj (Pilgrimage), which is the fifth pillar of Islam. In commemoration of their rejection of Satan, stones are thrown at symbolic pillars during the Stoning of the Devil during Hajj rites; this is in accordance with one of Prophet Ibrahim’s rites during his Hajj. Therefore, celebrations continue for days after the festival day, with visitations to friends, families and recreational sites and Muslims exchange pleasantries, saying “Eid Mubarak”.
To demonstrate the charitable practice among the Muslim community, concerted efforts are to be made during Eid-el-Kabir, to see that no impoverished person is denied an opportunity to partake in the sacrificial feast during the celebrations. As we celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, I enjoin every Muslim to be especially charitable during the celebrations especially to the many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) that are scattered across many IDP camps within the country.
Also, we should be more charitable to the less privileged and needy in our society. Most especially, however, as we thank and make supplications to Al mighty Allah during this EID, we should also endeavour to pray for our country, the Chibok girls and all other women and children who are still in captivity, under the clutches of the dastard insurgents. Eid Mubarak to my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.