Eid Al-Adha, one of Islam’s two major annual holidays (the other being Eid Al-Fitr), is celebrated this year in the US on October 15. In Muslim-majority countries, this wonderful day is celebrated in a public way, which I am sure you’ll happily take your preschool children to see.
In a symbolic act, Muslims who can afford it slaughter a cow, goat, sheep or camel, keeping a portion to feed themselves and distributing the rest to friends, family and the needy.
The way this ritual is carried out is that the animal’s throat is cut (frequently on a public street or in the front yard) in a “Halal” way (that is, according to Islamic Sharia, meaning it won’t be stunned/anesthetized first). After it bleed to death, the carcass is skinned, dismembered and used as food.
But what is even more fun than the animal cruelty is remembering what all this is meant to commemorate: the “ultimate sacrifice” of Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. According to both Judeo-Christian and Islamic scriptures, Abraham was instructed by God himself to kill his beloved son as sacrifice. What Jews and Muslims can never agree on, though, is which son: according to the Torah, it was Isaac, born to Sarah, whereas according to the Koran it was Ishmael, born to Hagar, her slave. The significance of this dispute is that the one picked for the sacrifice was supposedly the one dearest to Abraham, and hence it goes back to the question of whether Judaism is God’s true religion, or Islam. (You’d think 21st century humanity would have grown past such pettiness.)
Anyway, as everyone familiar with the story knows, Abraham, who’d never dream of disobeying God (even if the latter demanded murder on a whim), sets out to fulfill his divine duty. And his hand doesn’t shake as he lifts the knife to inflict the deadly strike.
But who could have guessed. The know-it-all God was only trying to find out how strong good old Abe’s faith was! God put the child through this ordeal only to stop it at the last moment. And hence, to this day Islam celebrates Abraham’s “heroism” by a major holiday and public displays of blood and grossness.
It is helpful to bear in mind that the holy father of faith, according to all major monotheistic religions of today, was a man that nearly murdered his own child. And this is the guy that about all preachers tell us we should be inspired to follow. On which subject, a rather famous guy had this to say a few years ago. (About 4 minutes into the video-lol.)