Have you ever thought about sacrificing what you love most? How would you feel then? What if you lose that to gain a better thing; something that would make you a better person, more worthwhile? If you can sacrifice what you love most, to give it away or leave it behind, and if you do that to get near to your merciful sustainer, Allah, then you can feel the spirit of eid al-Adha with all your heart. In what follows, we will delve more into one of the most significant occasions in the Islamic calendar, eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Adha or eid al-Qurban is the second greatest feast among Muslims which is celebrated on the tenth of Dhu al-Hijjah every year around the world. This day, also marks a part of Hajj rituals at a place called Mina near Mecca, where the pilgrims are supposed to offer a sacrifice to commemorate Prophet Abraham’s (PBUH&HP) act in submitting to Allah’s will and sacrificing his son, Ishmael (PBUH), for His sake . We will recount Abraham’s (PBUH) moving challenge in the following paragraphs.
Doing Ghusl on the day of Eid al-Adha is highly recommended (mustahab).
This prayer is precisely the same as the Eid al-Fitr prayer [i].
It is compulsory upon those participating in Hajj whether Hajj al-tammattu or Umrah. This act is also recommended for the Muslims who haven’t been attended the Hajj rituals. It is also recommended to share the sacrificial meat with other people, especially those in need so that everyone would have a part in the joy of this day.
Those who are present in the desert of Mina on this day must recite these Takbirs after daily prayers, starting from the noon prayer on the day of Eid and ending in dawn prayer of the 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah. However, those who are not present in the desert of Mina on Eid's day should recite the Takbirs after ten daily prayers, starting from noon prayer of Eid's day, to the dawn prayer of the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah. These Takbirs are as follows:
اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ، لا اِلـهَ اِلاَّ اللهُ وَ اللهُ اَكْبَر اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ، و للهِ الْحَمْدُ اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ عَلی ما هَدانا ااَللهُ اَكْبَرُ عَلی ما رَزَقَنا مِنْ بَهیمَةِ الانعامِ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی ما أبْلانا
"Allah is great, Allah is great, there's no god but Allah and Allah is great, To Allah be the praise, Allah is great for He has guided us, Allah is great for he has given us sustenance from cattle, Praise be to Allah for He has tested us." 
Some of the supplications recommended for this day include Du'a al-Nudba, 48th supplication of al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which starts with: “O God, this is a blessed and fortunate day …”, and the 46th supplication of this book as well.
Note that fasting (Sawm) on this day is forbidden (Haram), just like Eid al-Fitr.
The Arabic word “eid” literally means, “to go back” and generally is a name given to special Islamic celebrations, such as eid al-Fitr, eid al-Mab’ath, eid al-Ghadir, etc. In other words, the Islamic celebrations are in essence a reminder for Muslims to stop and look back at their actions so far, repent from their sins and promise to follow Allah’s lead which has been brought to them by Prophet Muhammad and his progeny (PBUTh).
Al-Adha roots back to the word “Dhuha” in Arabic meaning “the time when the sun is rising before noon.” This word refers to the time when the pilgrims are supposed to offer their sacrifices, which is at the sunrise. Al-Qurban, however, which means “sacrificing,” refers to the act of offering a sacrifice done by pilgrims on this day.
At his old age, Prophet Abraham (PBUH&HP) saw in a dream that he had been sacrificing his beloved son, Ishmael (PBUH), his first child, after many years of being deprived of one, for whose birth he married Hagar and dearly prayed to Allah. He knew that this dream was a message from Allah, and there was no way for him to disobey his Lord. He retold the dream to Ishmael, and he, despite his youth, surrendered to Allah’s will and said, “Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient” (37:102).
It wasn’t a simple task for a father, for sure. But Abraham’s (PBUH) unbending faith in Allah gave him the strength to pull himself together and follow the command. He took Ishmael to an altar and was about to cut his throat when the glad tidings came from Allah that, “You have indeed fulfilled your vision! Thus indeed do We reward the virtuous! This was indeed a manifest test.”(37:105-106). Abraham’s (PBUH) submission, patience, and trust in Allah were, thus, rewarded and a heavenly ram was sent to him to sacrifice instead.
Therefore, every year, Muslims celebrate prophet Abraham’s (PBUH) success in sacrificing what he held dearest for the sake of his dear Lord, leaving no doubt in his sincere love and submission to Him.
Abraham (PBUH) made a sacrifice to remove any barrier between himself and Allah and get as close to Him as possible. Thus, Eid al-Adha is the day to sacrifice anything, which has separated us from Allah and has deprived us of feeling His presence in our lives. The reason behind the commemoration of this day and the significance of Abraham’s story is to remind us that one should ignore his/her whims, sacrifice his/her inclinations and attachments to this world, the dearest of which children and the loved ones, for the sake of Allah and His Will.
In other words, Abraham’s adherence in following Allah’s command, despite the pain he felt and all the fluctuations he might have faced on his way to perform this duty, shows us that for a person who desires to be among the chosen creatures in Allah’s regard, nothing gets in the way between him/her and his/her Lord’s decrees. Nothing is dearer for this person, not even his/her family and children than his/her beloved Creator, Allah. Thus, His will, no matter how hard and painful it may be, goes beyond the love for family and children. On the other hand, when Allah saw Abraham's (PBUH) utter submission to His will even at the expense of sacrificing his son, He considered the test done and granted them a high status in this world and the hereafter. That is the case with every other person who demonstrates the same attitude toward Allah.
In fact, we do not sacrifice for Allah, since He is self-sufficient and not in need of our sacrifices. About sacrificing an animal the Quran says: “It is not their flesh or blood that reaches Allah; rather, it is your piety that reaches Him. Thus has He disposed them for your benefit so that you may magnify Allah for His guiding you. And give good news to the virtuous.” (22:37)
We sacrifice for ourselves, to be a better version of ourselves, to reach perfection. On the path toward perfection, one is always faced with tests and hardships. Trials are signs for us to realize that Allah has seen us worthy of becoming one of His desired creatures. And in every trial, one is required to make a sacrifice; this can be sacrificing your wealth, your life, your selfishness, your grudges, anger, etc. .
[i] Eid prayer consists of two rak'as. After Sura al-Fatiha in each rak'a another sura from the Qur'an is recited; however, it is better to read Sura al-Shams in the former and Sura al-Ghashiya in the latter or Sura al-A'la and Surat al-Shams respectively. After reciting sura in the first rak'a, there are five takbirs followed by five qunuts and in the second rak'a, four takbirs with four qunuts. Any supplications or prayers will suffice in the qunuts, like the other prayer, but it is better to read a special supplication .
The month of Ramadan is one of the essential occasions in the Islamic calendar. It’s the month in which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), it’s the month in which the most important nights of the Islamic year, the Qadr nights, or the nights of ordainment, are. It’s the month in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) used to pray a lot. It’s the month in which practicing Muslims fast, keeping themselves from sins, evil acts, and their worldly desires. But why this month has a significant role in the Islamic calendar, and how does it play a role in the life of Muslims? Here, we are going to discuss this matter.
Fasting is not a thing just belonging to Islam. It’s been in the former religions, and it’s been referred to in other holy books. The Quran refers to the time when Allah ordered Mary not to speak to anyone, as a form of fast:
Eat, drink, and be comforted. Then if you see any human, say, ‘‘Indeed I have vowed a fast to the All-beneficent, so I will not speak to any human today. (19:26)
“Muslims are asked to be fasting in the month of Ramadan: O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be God-wary.” (2:183)
Also, Allah promises a great reward for both men and women who fast:
“Indeed, the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the faithful men and the faithful women… the men who fast and the women who fast, the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, the men who remember Allah greatly and the women who remember [Allah greatly]—Allah holds in store for them forgiveness and a great reward.”(33:35)
As a result, the month of Ramadan is when Muslims begin to have a close relation with Allah and practice preserving themselves from evil acts, temptations, human passions, etc. In response, Allah promises to reward those who do so, with the best rewards.
As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said, “The Month of Ramadan starts with mercy, goes on with forgiveness and ends with redemption.”  Therefore, this month is a chance for Muslims to ponder on their deeds, find where they have gone wrong, and ask Allah’s help and forgiveness to fix those mistakes and become a better version of themselves. Allah’s mercy includes everyone, at any time and anywhere. Yet, the month of Ramadan is when He pours down His blessings upon His creatures more than ever and is an excellent opportunity for the ones who are willing to benefit from it.
Qadr Night or the Night of Ordainment is highly sacred in Islam. On 19th, 21st, 23rd or 27th of Ramadan, Allah inspired the holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and it refers to this fact:
Indeed We sent it down on the Night of Ordainment. And what will show you what is the Night of Ordainment? The Night of Ordainment is better than a thousand months. In it, the angels and the Spirit descend, by the leave of their Lord, with every command. It is peaceful until the rising of the dawn. (97:1-5)
So, one of the significances of this night is the inspiration of the Holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
The other significance of this night, according to the Imams (AS), is being known as the night of destiny. Imam Sadiq (AS) calls it the heart of Ramadan . He also says that in the night of ordainment, everything, from death to life, is predestined. So Muslims usually stay awake during that night, praying to Allah to excuse their sins, and they pray for their earthly and unearthly wishes. That is the night in which Allah has said He does listen to the prayers of His servants. That is the night when one can change his/her fate for better, praying and asking Allah to do so.
The month of Ramadan is a chance for anyone who wants to be closer to Allah, a better person, and a guided human being. There are many divine purposes for this holy month, and especially the ritual of fasting, which will be discussed in another article.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, p.342.
- Bihar al Anvaar, vol 58, p 376.
Throughout the history of humankind, there are not many figures who stood up for all the people whose voice have not been heard, whose rights have been taken away and lives stolen. And there are not many men or women whose apparent defeat turn out to be their ultimate success, immortalizing their message and their actions. Imam Hussain (AS) was one of these rare kinds whose voice is still heard from beneath the ashes of history. A figure whose sacrifices have kindled a light for anyone willing to follow his lead and make this world a better place to live. In what follows, we will have a glance at the life of this eminent Islamic personality.
Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib known as Abu 'Abd Allah and Sayyid al-Shuhada' (Lord of martyrs), the third leader (Imam) of Shias, was born on January the 8th on 626 A.D ( 3rd of Shaban, 4th Lunar year (Hijri Ghamari))  in Medina as the second grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) . His father was Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), the first chosen leader by Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his cousin, and his mother was Lady Fatima (AS), the beloved daughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) . He was only seven years old when the dear Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) passed away .
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) loved him dearly, and there has remained many accounts in which Prophet(PBUH&HP) directly admits his love and affection for his grandson, Hussain (AS). For instance, he said: “Hussain is of me, and I am of Hussain, God loves those who love him” . It is also narrated that "When the Prophet (PBUH&HP) was asked whom he loved more among his family, he replied, 'Hasan and Hussain.'"  He also used to put him on his lap, kiss him and said, “You are noble, son of a noble person and [will be] the father of noble ones; you are a leader (Imam) and son of a leader (Imam) and the father of leaders” .
There is disagreement about the number of Imam Hussain’s (AS) children. Some believe he had six children, four boys, and two girls . While others believe it to be nine, six boys, and three girls . Some of the most notable ones who were present in the event of Karbala include Ali ibn al-Hussain (Imam Sajjad (AS)) who becomes the leader after his father’s martyrdom, Ali al-Akbar, the six-month-old Ali al-Asghar, and his daughters Sukayna, Fatima and Ruqayya [i].
Imam Hussain (AS), like his father and grandfather, Imam Ali (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), was never ignorant toward the ones in need and those who struggled for their livelihood. Aside from helping them financially wherever and whenever he could, he always treated them with respect and equal to other people. Once he was passing somewhere when he saw a group of impoverished people who were sitting on their cloaks and eating some dry bread crumbs. They invited him to join them. He kindly accepted and sat down with them, eating whatever they ate. Then he invited them to his house and offered them whatever he had of food .
Even while praying, he couldn’t turn a blind eye to the request of a needy person. He tried to recite the remainder of his prayer faster so that he could help that person and fulfill his need . He would also pay the debts of those who were struggling with financial problems. For instance, he paid the debt of a dying man to relieve him of the burden of owing another person before his death . After his martyrdom, some old scratches were found on his back, which turned out to be the marks of the heavy bags containing food. He used to carry them on his back every night to give them to the poor without being noticed .
Imam Hussain (AS) is widely known for his patience in the real sense of the word. First of all, he would not get angry quickly. Even when a Syrian man insulted him and his father, Imam Hussain (AS) didn’t lose his temper. Instead, he forgave him and treated him kindly and with generosity .
Furthermore, considering the event of Karbala and the many unbearable hardships he and his family went through, such as seeing his children suffering from thirst, martyrdom of his brother, sons and his dear companions and the thought of his family to be taken as a captive, we never see him complaining to Allah or surrendering to this deep pain. This patience, for sure, was the result of his deep faith in Allah and having no doubt in whatever He chooses for him.
Imam Hussain (AS), saw the injustice that was imposed upon the society of his time and realized how what the rulers called Islam was far from the true teachings of Islam. Oppression, tyranny, unjust use of public property, etc. made life miserable for people. Therefore, he stood up against what was wrong. But he never gave up his human virtues for the sake of furthering his purpose. He was courageous for the right cause. Neither was he after usurping the throne, nor manipulating people for his own sake. In that case, He would have been selfish rather than courageous.
Imam Hussain (AS) was known among the people of his time for his sincere and constant prayers and devotions to Allah. He traveled the distance between Medina to Mecca to participate in Hajj rituals twenty-five times in his lifetime on foot. He had a deep affection for the prayer (Salat). It has been narrated that on the night before the battle of Karbala, Imam Hussain (AS) told his brother, Abbas ibn Ali (AS): “Ask the enemy to let us spend this night praying and supplicating to Allah and reciting the Quran. My Merciful Lord knows how much I love praying, reciting the Quran, supplicating and repenting”. Also, in the midst of battle, while the enemy was attacking him and his companions on every side, he stood to perform the midday prayer (Salat al-Dhuhr) in the congregation .
Imam Hussain (AS) was the inheritor of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) vast knowledge and foresight. Everyone, whether friends or enemies, admitted this characteristic in him and found no one to be even close to him on this matter. He would answer people’s questions on different issues so wisely and with such command that impressed every person who had heard of it. There remain many sayings and quotes from him, each containing a moral teaching and a lesson that would help us lead a better and more productive life .
After the death of Muawiah, the caliph of Muslims at the time of Imam Hassan (AS), his son, Yazid usurped the throne. He was the first caliph who was chosen monarchically after Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) death, and he was far from a suitable choice for the leadership of Muslims. He was an indecent tyrant who did not even follow an Islamic lifestyle in appearance. For instance, he would drink alcohol manifestly; which is a strictly forbidden act in Islam. Thus, Imam Hussain (AS) who lived in Medina at that time refused to accept Yazid’s oath of allegiance, despite Yazid’s threat to behead anyone who refuses to do so . When the governor of Medina came to Imam Hussain (AS) to take his oath of allegiance, he asked for a few days to think and decide. Afterward, he left Medina to Mecca, where still remained some people who did not bend down under Yazid’s forceful allegiance .
In Mecca, many people were attracted to the intellectual, spiritual, and religious characteristics of Imam Hussain (AS). Also, the notable people in Iraq and especially Kufa who had received the news of Muawiah’s death wrote many letters to Imam Hussain (AS). They asked Imam Hussain (AS) to come to Kufa and accept their political leadership along with their intellectual and religious guidance . Imam Hussain (AS) did not care much about these letters, at first. But when he saw the increasing number of letters sent from Kufa to him, he decided to send one of his relatives, called Muslim ibn Aqil, as a representative, with a letter to the heads of Kufa tribes to validate their invitation.
Over ten thousands of people of Kufa took the oath of allegiance with Muslim as Imam Hussain’s (AS) representative. So, Muslim wrote a letter to Imam Hussain (AS) and ensured him that Kufa was the right place for Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions to move to . Thus, Imam Hussain (AS) along with his family and some of his companions left Mecca to Kufa. Also, he sent another representative, called Gheis, to Kufa, to inform them of his journey. However, people of Kufa were soon terrified and scattered from Muslim’s side. They even threw Muslim out of the resting place that they had given him before. The new governor captured Muslim and beheaded him . Gheis (the second representative of Imam Hussain (AS)) also reached Kufa and declared Imam Hussain (AS)’s message to people of Kufa. However, the forces captured him and dropped him down from the top of a castle in Kufa .
Before his martyrdom, Muslim covertly sent one of his companions to Imam Hussain (AS), to inform him of people’s disloyalty and dishonesty and to stop him from coming to Kufa. But his message and the news of Kufa people’s infidelity, reached Imam Hussain (AS) when he had already left Mecca behind and was on his way to Iraq, near Kufa and Muslim had already been martyred. Imam Hussain (AS) decided to continue his journey toward Iraq and Kufa.
On the 7th of Muharram (10th of October 680 AD), Ibn Ziyad’s army blocked Imam Hussain (AS)’s and his followers’ access to the Euphrates (Furat river). About five hundred soldiers were ordered not to let Imam Hussain’s (AS) followers reach the river. On this night, a number of Imam Hussain’s (AS) companions managed to take some water from the river, and it was the last time they could do so .
On the 9th of Muharram, called Tasu’a, yet another ruthless and cruel commander, named Shimr, came to help Umar ibn Sa’ad’s army. Umar ibn Sa’ad’s army made many attempts to entice Imam Hussain’s (AS) followers and dissuade them from accompanying Imam Hussain (AS). But they did not succeed. On this day, Imam Hussain (AS) and his followers were besieged completely, and their access to water was entirely blocked. They had no water supply anymore. According to some accounts, except for the women and children, those who could fight along with Imam Hussain (AS), were about 72 people.
Imam Hussain (AS) was the last warrior in the battle of Karbala. His companions were all martyred, and he was now alone. It has been said, that for some time the soldiers from Kufa, did not come to fight with Imam Hussain (AS). Perhaps the people of Kufa were ashamed of themselves. Since they were the ones who invited Imam Hussain (AS) and now they were fighting against him. Despite his exhaustion and his wounded body, Imam Hussain (AS) fought against his enemies courageously and powerfully.
Imam Hussain (AS) was losing his strength. A person threw a stone toward Imam Hussain’s (AS) forehead, which made it full of blood. When he wanted to wipe it with his clothes, another soldier shot a poisoned arrow toward Imam Hussain’s (AS) chest. Another strike caused Imam Hussain (AS) to lose his remaining strength and fall on the ground. Shimr ordered his soldiers to give Imam Hussain (AS) the last strike and kill him, but no one dared to do so. Shimr himself came and beheaded Imam Hussain (AS) .
Imam Hussain’s (AS) revolution and the incident of Karbala carried a message for all humankind, of any religion, belief or nationality. His movement not only gives us the lesson of peacefulness but also teaches us to never be silent in the face of oppression and injustice and stand against it despite any difficulty. Thus, despite the passing of so many centuries, he is still held as a hero who can be the perfect role model for those seeking justice and humanity. Every year, on the tenth of Muharram, called Ashura, the day on which Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred, many people from all over the world gather and commemorate his personality and his exemplary movement. Also, millions of people attend the annual gathering of Arbaeen Walk which is a three-day journey on foot, walking the distance between Najaf to Karbala located in Iraq to honor and revive his lasting message of peace and truthfulness.
[i] There are some disagreements about the presence of a girl called Ruqayya as the daughter of Imam Hussain (AS). Some sources, including Lubab al-ansab, a sixth/twelfth-century source, and Kamil-i Baha'i, from the seventh/thirteenth century, report that he had a four-year-old daughter, who passed away in Damascus.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 555.
- Imam Hussain
- Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 10, p. 369.
- Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 142.
- Tirmizī, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 323.
- Mawsu'at kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Baqir al-'Ulum Research Institute, p.91.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 135.
- Ṭabarī, Dalāʾil al-imāma, vol. 1, p. 74.
- Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Damascus, vol. 14, p. 181.
- Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Damascus, vol. 14, p. 185.
- Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Shahrashub, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, vol.4, p.66.
- Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Damascus, vol. 43, p. 224.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 417 & 441.
- Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi, Nafasul Mahmum, Relating to the heart rending tragedy of Karbala, p.21.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 338.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 34, 36-37.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 347 & 395.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 53-63.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 405.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 86.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 453.