One of the most significant festivals in Islam, Eid’l Adha, embodies the spirit of sacrifice that is rooted in the story of the Prophet Ibrahim’s complete submission to the will of God.

This Islamic festival, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, commemorates the tale of how God commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as a test of faith.

The devil had tried to convince Ibrahim to disobey the command but Ibrahim’s unfaltering belief in God prevailed.

When Ibrahim was about to do what he was told to do, God swapped his son for a ram and Ibrahim slaughtered it instead.

The significance of Eid’l Adha lies in this symbolic story of sacrifice.

It is celebrated on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar and it also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the fifth Pillar of Islam.

A major part of the celebration is the sacrificing of livestock, such as goats, sheep, cows, or camels. Animals are usually cut into three parts with one part being given to the needy, another given to the family, and another part to relatives.

In the morning, a special prayer called Salat al-Eid is recited, as well as the Dhuhr prayer at noon.

Families and friends typically get together to feast and celebrate and mosques and community groups will often arrange communal meals.

Many people dress up in their best clothes and exchange gifts.

The Islamic festival in the context of the pandemic

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 985 declaring July 31 a regular holiday in the country for the observance of the Feast after the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) recommended it.

Malacañang has reminded the Muslim community and local government units to conform with existing community quarantine and safe physical distancing measures as they observe Eid’l Adha amid the prevailing threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“The observance of Eid’l Adha shall be subject to existing community quarantine and social distancing measures,” the proclamation read.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, meanwhile, said the foundation of the Feast resembles the Covid-19 efforts, calling for sacrifice as a test of loyalty and love.

“We are daily tested to sacrifice during this pernicious period of a pandemic,” he said.

Andanar also enjoined Filipinos to honor the tradition as everyone endeavors to end the pandemic.

“The commonality of our nationhood and the beliefs from which originate our religions bring me before all of you to venerate the Feast of Sacrifice as a people united before our one almighty God,” he said. “With this in mind, we wish our Muslim brothers and sisters Divine blessings as they make their prayers and sacrifices during this festive day of Eid’l Adha.”

Republic Act 9849 states that Eid’l Adha, one of the two major Islamic feasts along with Eid’l Fitr, shall be celebrated as a regular holiday.

RA 9849 says the declaration of Eid’l Adha as regular holiday allows Muslims to “pay homage to Abraham’s supreme act of sacrifice and signifies mankind’s obedience to God.” (Filane Mikee Cervantes, PNA)