Out of curiosity, I decided to do a little research about the significance of the “Ileya” festival, which literally means, “Let’s go home…for Eid Al-Adha”, in the dialect of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. I grew up to know that this Islamic event, also known as Eid Al-Adha or Eid ul Kabir is usually celebrated few weeks after the end of the Muslim fast.

It is normally associated with the sacrificial slaughtering of rams and considered as the holier of the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year.

I recall the usual fun-fair that precedes the Eid-el-Kabir: when as kids we would delight ourselves in being spectators of the contests of rams in our neighbourhood. Owners of rams proud themselves in the strength of those rams who emerge winners after a tightly contested fight.

Even though ram fight has become unpopular (and forbidden in some quarters), but then it used to be very interesting for me to see the excitement in my Muslim friends and neighbors. I do hope many of them truly understands the significance of this celebrations.

From the accounts I read on the Encyclopedia, The Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى‎, translit. ʿīd al-aḍḥā, lit. ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’‎ is to honor the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael, as an act of obedience to God’s command. Before he sacrificed his son. God intervened by sending his angel Jibra’il (Gabriel), who then put a ram in his son’s place.

This is of course the account of the holy Quran. However, the son is not named in the Quran, but Muslims believe it to be Ishmael, though it is mentioned as Isaac in the Bible. What however, is striking and worthy of note here is the issue of obedience to God as demonstrated by Ibraham (or Abraham in Hebrew).

The sacrifice of his priced possession was one of the main trials of Abraham’s life. God was out to test his faith and prove his love,  and the extent of his obedience to Him. In this instance, “Abraham had shown that his love for God superseded all others: that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dearest to him in submission to God’s command.”1

Muslims commemorate this ultimate act of sacrifice every year with the believe that God ultimately prevents the sacrifice, additionally signifying that one should never sacrifice a human life, especially not in the name of God. (Quran, sura 37 (As-Saaffat), ayat 100–112[18]) (more…)