Aidil Adha (or "Eid al-Adha" in Arabic) is a Muslim festival celebrated to mark the close of the Hajj or the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah (Mecca).
It is celebrated on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Zulhijjah, and is one of the main festivals in the Muslim calendar.
In Pahang, the festival of Aidil Adha is popularly known in Malay as "Hari Raya Haji". It is also known as "Hari Raya Korban" (Festival of Sacrifices) because following the Hajj tradition, healthy goats, sheep and cows will be slaughtered for distribution to the poor and needy.
Unlike the other east coast states of Terengganu and Kelantan, Aidil Adha in Pahang is celebrated not as gaily or merrily as the festival of Aidil Fitri, except for those who have performed the Hajj in Mecca.
But with increasing knowledge and awareness on the relevance of Aidil Adha in instilling the many virtues inherent in the practice of the Hajj, the festival in the state is gaining in importance.. and excitement!
Rites of the Hajj
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah (or Mecca) is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it.
The rites of the Hajj in Makkah are of Abrahamic origin, that is, based on the events in the life of Prophet Abraham (alaihi salam), a revered prophet and ancestor of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wassalam).
The rites of the Hajj include circling the Kaaba seven times, going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar, wife of Prophet Abraham (a.s.) during her search for water.
Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafah and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgement.
The practice of slaughter of healthy four-footed animals to be donated to the poor and needy acts as a reminder of the willingness of Prophet Ismail (alaihi salam), a son of Prophet Abraham (a.s), to be sacrificed in complete submission to the will of God.
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In Pahang, Muslims prepare for the occasion by ensuring their places of living are spruced up and cleaned. Like Aidil Fitri and other festivals in Pahang, houses of Muslims will be filled with visits by relatives, friends and neighbors.
In the weeks prior to the big Day, cakes and traditional dishes will be prepared and kept in air-tight containers, ready to be served to guests and visitors.
Some will make new clothes and traditional dresses for the occasion, although the ones made for the Aidil Fitri celebrations were still new and good enough to be worn, and they usually suffice for most.
And for those who are financially sound, this Festival of Sacrifice is the best opportunity to help the poor and needy celebrate the festival by donating the meat of cows, goats or sheep. It’s a sacrifice of their money and wealth for the common good.
So families sometimes share the expenses to buy and pay for the price of the cow or goat, and in Pahang and Malaysia, this purchase of cattle and even the subsequent process of slaughter and distribution to the poor are normally arranged by the local mosque and surau.
In the morning, before taking breakfast, normally the Muslim men and women in Pahang will go to the nearest mosque for the special prayers, which is held around 8.30 in the morning, finishing about an hour later.
After prayers, they will take their breakfast and then visit the graves of their loved ones before making arrangement for visits to the homes of relatives, neighbors and friends.
For those who had pledged donations of meat to the poor, they will go to the mosque or surau, or send a representative, to watch or even take part themselves in the slaughter of the cattle they had bought.
The cows to be slaughtered are normally tied up and kept in the compound of the mosque or surau a few days earlier and shown to the owners.
On Aidil Adha day they are slaughtered the Islamic way and the meat cut up into smaller pieces and kept in various portions in plastic bags for distribution to the poor and needy. A little meat is also given to the donor for his consumption or distribution.
On this day, the compound of mosques and suraus in Pahang will be filled with the donors and their family, curious on-lookers and others who will help in the slaughter and cutting up of the meat. There will also be many of the poor and needy who will be given the meat as apportioned accordingly.
Well, Aidil Adha is like Aidil Fitri, a day of joy, merriment, bonding and feasting.
But while we enjoy in the festivities, the traditions of Aidil Adha assure that the poor and needy are not forgotten too.
That is the Islamic way, and the way of all pure religions.
As always, from me ...