Eid-ul-Zuha is seen by most of my
non-Muslim friends and even my own children to be an occasion to
slaughter animals for no fault of theirs. My children see me as a
"butcher" when I go ahead with this ritual!
Others react the same way. Tilak Rastogi, a friend, doesn't come
to my house on the day of Eid-ul-Zuha as he can't bear the blood,
gore and stench on account of the sacrifice of goats.
Although the slaughtering of innocent animals is heart-rending to
many, according to Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, the Shahi Imam of Delhi's
17th century Fatehpuri Masjid, the sacrifice of animals too is a
part of balance of nature.
If there is no sacrifice of these goats, their number would
increase manifold to the extent that humans would have no space to
The sacrifice that is usually taken to be the slaughtering of
animals is more than that, as an incident from the life of Prophet
Once he received a Christian guest from Najran in his house. There
was no food at night except some goat milk. The Prophet offered
his guest the milk although his own family went without a meal
that night like the previous night. This is the right way to
sacrifice for others.
Eid-ul-Zuha, the festival of reminding one of submission to God
and the feeling of sacrifice and obedience attached to it, is also
known as Eid-ul-Azha. In Urdu-speaking communities, it is known as
Eid-e-Qurban, or more commonly in the sub-continent as the Bakr
Eid (festival of goats).
The underlying truth is that this festival of sacrifice brings man
and God close to each other. In fact, it is not the sacrifice of a
camel, goat, sheep, ram or lamb but of one's own self, happiness,
comfort and affluence in the name of God.
It might appear quite barbaric to many as the sacrificing act
takes lives of umpteen animals. But these sacrifices also serve
the cause of conservation and keep the animal population in check.
The festival also symbolizes the test of faith and loyalty. Like
every religious festival, Eid-ul-Zuha too has a symbolic religious
incident attached to it, that of God's command to the Patriarch
Abraham, holy for the three faiths of Judaism, Christianity and
Islam, to sacrifice his son.
Besides, sacrifice is a part of every faith, no matter in what
form it comes. After Eid-ul-Zuha, three parts of the animal's
sacrificial flesh is distributed amongst the poor who can't afford
the delight of a meal like that.
Thus, Eid-ul-Zuha is also symbolic of the sacrifice of one being
for the comfort of the needy, the weak, the aged and downtrodden.
The spirit of sacrifice is to learn from parents who sacrifice for
their loved ones.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a commentator on social,
religious and educational issues. The writer can be contacted at