At the end of the annual pilgrimage, Muslims observe a second holiday known as Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice. It is during this time that Muslims honor the strong faith of the Prophet Abraham, considered by many to be the father of the monotheistic faiths. Of the two major Islamic holidays, this is perceived to be the more important one and is thus sometimes called Eid al-Kabeer (the Big Festival).
The Qur'an tells the story of the Prophet Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son upon God's order. According to the Qur'an, God substituted an animal in the place of Abraham's son, and accepted Abraham's willing surrender as a “vision already fulfilled” (Qu'ran 37:105).
All Muslims, both those who attend the pilgrimage and those in the rest of the world, acknowledge the holiday by slaughtering an animal for meat. The meat is then shared with family and friends, and a large portion (at least a third of the meat) is given away to the poor and less fortunate.
In every other way, holiday celebrations are similar to Eid al-Fitr. Special prayers are said, family and friends visit each other, and gifts are given to the children. When the pilgrims return from their journey, there is much celebration to welcome them home. The pilgrims come back from Hajj spiritually refreshed, forgiven of their sins, and ready to start life anew, with a clean slate.
The Qur'an makes it very clear that the sacrifice of animals on this day is a symbolic act, in remembrance of the Prophet Abraham. “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him” (Qur'an 22:37). Most of the meat is given away, which helps strengthen community bonds and feed those in need.