Eid-ul-Adha marks the coming to an end of a great form of Islamic worship, the Hajj. Dating back to Prophet Abrahamas, Hajj is a combination of manasik (rituals) that are performed around the Ka‘bah and in its vicinity.
Hajj symbolises the great sacrifice offered by Hazrat Abrahamas at the command of Allah the Almighty by leaving his wife and new-born son in the wilderness of the Arabian desert. The Ka‘bah was built by Abrahamas and the same son, Prophet Ishmaelas, about 2000 years before the advent of Jesus Christas. The pilgrimage was performed around the Ka‘bah ever since in various forms. It always remained a centre of worship, whether it was the worship of the One God or of the idols and Pagan gods.
The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, after the victory of Mecca, cleansed the Ka‘bah of all idols that had been housed there for many hundreds of years, bringing the Ka‘bah back to being the Baitullah – the House of Allah. It was from then that Allah made Hajj obligatory for every Muslim who could afford to take up the journey. It was in the same year that the manasik were set out by Allah the Almighty, and explained by the Holy Prophetsa, to be performed as what we know as the Islamic Hajj.
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa performed his first and last Hajj in the year 10 AH – the same year that he passed away. However, the Holy Prophetsa had celebrated Eid-ul-Adha on the prescribed date of the Islamic calendar to commemorate the great sacrifice offered by Hazrat Abrahamas.
Coming back to the sacrifice offered by Abrahamas, we find, among many, two great sacrifices that he offered in relation to his progeny; once when he was asked to sacrifice the life of his son Ishmaelas and another when he was commanded by Allah to leave his wife and the same son in the Arabian desert. We know from the Holy Quran that he stood steadfast on both occasions, leaving behind a great legacy of sacrifice in the way of Allah.
It is commonly thought that the Eid-ul-Adha is there to commemorate the former sacrifice, but Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra, was of the opinion that it actually commemorates the latter. He states, in Tafsir-e-Kabir, that since the incident when Abrahamas was told to sacrifice his son’s life took place in Syria, the ritual to commemorate it would have been established in the same area; whereas the rituals of Hajj that lead up to Eid-ul-Adha are carried out in and around Mecca. Since the second incident, where Abrahamas was commanded to abandon his wife and child in the Arabian desert happened in Mecca, Hajj has been made a precursor of Eid-ul-Adha with all rituals performed around and in the vicinity of the Ka‘bah.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra states that Hajj, along with Eid-ul-Adha that adjacently follows it, are reminiscent of the grand sacrifice offered by Abrahamas when, on the commandment of Allah, he happily agreed to leave his wife and son at a place where there was not even a drop of water, let alone food and other means of sustenance. This sacrifice that Allah desired of Abrahamas was to prove that those who trust in Allah are never wasted and that their sacrifices bear such fruit that no other worldly effort or means can ever bring about.