14th January 2005 at 00:00
January 21 Id-ul-Adha

This Muslim festival marks the end of the pilgrimage (or hajj) to Makkah.

It is celebrated by all Muslims and not just those who make the pilgrimage

It was not a nice dream: in his sleep, Ibrahim heard God asking him to kill his young son Isma'il. They lived near what is now Makkah, the Muslim holy city. This was hundreds of years before the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) whom Muslims believe was the last and greatest of many prophets God has sent to lead his people. Ibrahim was one of the first of those prophets.

When he woke, Ibrahim was still convinced God really was asking him to sacrifice the boy's life, but he waited until Isma'il was a teenager to tell him about the dream. To his surprise, the boy said he thought Ibrahim should carry out God's command. Together they went to a hill called Mina, near Makkah. On their way, they met three men. Each one tried to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God. Ibrahim knew they were not men but Iblis, the devil, and threw stones to chase the devil away.

On the hilltop, father and son lovingly said their goodbyes to each other and Ibrahim took out his sword. At that moment he heard a sheep bleating.

It was caught in a bush - and Ibrahim also heard God's voice telling him to sacrifice the sheep instead.

The stoning of the devil is remembered every year by Muslims who make their pilgrimage or hajj to Makkah; and the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son for God is remembered at the festival which marks the end of the hajj. It is sometimes known as "Big Id" because it lasts three days. It starts with dawn prayers. Family members wear new clothes, a lamb or sheep is sacrificed and the meat is shared among the family, neighbours and the poor. Cards and presents are exchanged, which makes it a popular festival among Muslim children.


The story can be found in Genesis chapter 22 of the Bible, where Ibrahim is called Abraham and Isma'il is called Isaac.

In drama, act out the story and then "hot seat" Ibrahim and Isma'il.

Encourage pupils to discuss sacrifices they have made.

The Roehampton University Centre for Research in Religious Education and Development offers further classroom ideas at

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