The Festival of Sacrifice This three-day Muslim festival is celebrated in the month of Dhul Hijjah to pay tribute to Prophet Ibrahim'swillingness to sacrificehis son at god's instruction. Id-ul-Zoha is one of the most important festivals of the Muslims. It is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Idin the Indian subcontinent, because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat, orbakr 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' andzuha comes from uzhaiyya which translates to 'sacrifice'. Id-ul-Zoha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice hisson 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. Sohe blind-folded himself before putting Ismail on the altar at the mount of Minanear Mecca. When he removed his bandage after performing the act, hesaw his son standing in front of him,alive. On the altar lay a slaughtered lamb. Joyous festivities and somberrituals mark this event. The main celebrations are on the first day of the three-day festival. According to therules laid down for Id by Prophet Muhammad, every Muslim is expected to take a bath, wear new clothes, applyitr or perfume, walk to the mosque before eating anything, and recite the Takbir aloud. After the prayers which are held in an open space in deference to the directive of the Quran, he is to return home.

Celebrations on the first day include Do Rakat Namaz, which can beper formed 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 otherfour-legged animal during one of the three days of the festival. This symbolises devotion to Allah and his desires. The sacrifical meat is then distributed and partaken of after the Idprayers. Prophet Muhammad had decreed that Id be celebrated for three days to facilitate participation by the entire community. Prayer meetings and Id milans arepart of the festivities. People visit friends and relatives wearing new clothes and jewellery. 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 Hajto 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 Kabahs even times and run seven times between the Safa and Marwa hills. After a night halt at Mina, they go tothe 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'srejection of Satan. After sacrificing ananimal, 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 thatall of them, whether rich or poor, lookalike. Women have no special dress. They must be covered from head totoe, 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 life time.The poor and the sick are however,pardoned. Those who cannot undertake the pilgramage are expected to celebrate Id-ul-Zoha.

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