We Muslims in Pakistan zealously engage in sacrificing animals on the eve of eidul azha and look down upon the people who do not practice it. What is the religious dimension of this ritual? Is it obligatory for every Muslim or just an option? As for I do know the muslims in other countries are not so strict in this regard.
Sacrificing an animal on Eid al-Adha, even though it is not obligatory, is highly recommended. This sacrifice is a remembrance of the very spirit of Islam – submission to the will of God – as epitomized by Abraham (pbuh) and his son Ishmael (pbuh). If a Muslim has the resources for it, it would only be befitting that he commemorates the great sacrifice of Abraham (pbuh) by this small sacrifice on behalf of himself and/or his family.
Thus, it is to signify this particular aspect of the desirability of the sacrifice that the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said that if a person, who has the resources to offer this sacrifice and thereby commemorate Abraham’s great act of submission, refrains from doing so, he may then not even come to the place of prayer and congregation of the Muslims.
However, it is not befitting for any Muslim to look down upon another Muslim for not having offered a sacrifice. All such acts are a personal matter between an individual and his Lord. No one else has a right to be judgmental about such issues. We should try to restrict ourselves to informing others of what we understand is the correct opinion on a particular matter and then allow the person to make his decision, according to his own judgment and understanding.
I hope this helps.
March 16, 2004