In some traditionally Muslim countries, families or groups of families may purchase an animal known as udhiya, usually a goat or sheep, to sacrifice, but this is not common or legal in many parts of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States or many other countries. In these countries, groups of people may purchase a whole carcass from a butcher or slaughterhouse and divide it amongst themselves or just buy generous portions of meat for a communal meal on Eid al-Adha. People also give money to enable poorer members of their local community around the world to eat a meat-based meal.
In the period around Eid al-Adha, many Muslims travel to Mecca and the surrounding areas in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. Package holidays are organized from many countries. Muslims may plan and save for many years to enable them to take part in this event, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
In the religion of Islam, Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) is a major festival that takes place at the end of the Hajj. Eid al-Adha marks the completion of the Hajj (pilgrimage) rites at Mina, Saudi Arabia, but is also observed by Muslims throughout the world to commemorate the faith of Ibrahim (Abraham). Eid al-Adha begins on the 10th of Dhul-Hajja, the last month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts for four days. It begins the day after Muslims on the Hajj descend from Mount Arafat.
Eid al-Adha is the second of the two major Muslim holy days. The other is Eid ul-Fitr which follows Ramadan -- a lunar month of partial fasting.
Islamic months begin at sunset on the day when the lunar crescent appears after the new moon, and can be sighted by the unaided eye. Visibility depends on a large number of factors including weather condition, the altitude of the moon at sunset, the closeness of the moon to the sun at sunset, the interval between sunset and moonset, atmospheric pollution, the quality of the eyesight of the observer, use of optical aids etc. As a result, although the phases of the moon can be predicted accurately, the moon's visibility at a given place on Earth cannot be estimated in advance. Thus, the feast day has always been celebrated on different days in various areas of the world.
The philosophy behind Eid al-Adha is that it is a demonstration of submission to God, complete obedience to God's will or command and sacrificing belonging for him. Ibrahim demonstrated this spirit of submission and sacrifice in the best possible manner. When confronted with the challenge of love and allegiance, he chose to submit unconditionally to God and suppressed personal desire and love for his family and child. Qurbani calls for the slaughter of one's innate desires by placing the knife of courage and resistance on hatred, jealousy, pride, greed, animosity, love for the world and other such maladies of the heart.
However, the purpose of sacrifice in Eid al-Adha is not about shedding of blood just to satisfy Allah. It is about sacrificing something devotees love the most to advance the message of Eid al-Adha. In other words, the sacrifice can be something other than an animal such as money or time spent on community service. There are historical precedence of people sacrificing items other than meat. After all, the animal sacrifice is only a Sunnah or tradition, which is habitual rather than required. The Holy Quran said that the meat will not reach Allah, nor will the blood, but what reaches Him is the devotion of devotees.
Eid al-Adha gives a three-fold message to us: piety, charity and equality between the rich and the less fortunate. In his sermons on this occasion, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stressed on the need for equality of mankind, God-consciousness, generosity, almsgiving and peaceful co-existence of Bani Adam or the children of Adam.
Finally, sacrifice in Eid al-Adha nourishes and increases one’s divine faith and strength. It transforms man’s belief into a living reality.