Prof Rafiullah Shehab Eid-ul-Azha is the second great festival of Islam, the first being Eid-ul-Fitr. Animal sacrifice on this day is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). When asked about the significance of this Sunnah, the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said that actually it was the Sunnah of your father Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). He in a vision saw himself offering the sacrifice of his son and to fulfil it, he prepared his son for this sacrifice. Almighty Allah was pleased with this action and asked him to offer the sacrifice of an animal, instead of his son (Surah Al-Saffat-102). The majority of the present day ulema, referring to these verses of the Holy Quran try to convince the believers that animal sacrifice is a compulsory worship for each of them, while the Prophet (PBUH) had himself declared it as his Sunnah and not an obligatory worship. Keeping in view the various Ahaadith available on this issue, the great Muslim jurists had issued a unanimous verdict that animal sacrifice on this day is the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Those who would offer it might be rewarded by Almighty Allah, but if any believer did not offer it, he would not be taken to task on this account (Al-Fiqah Ala Mazahib al-Urba). There are a number of Ahaadith consisting of details about the offering of animal sacrifice by the Prophet (PBUH) on Eid-ul-Azha. The most authentic of all these is the one reported by Hazrat Ali bin Hussain, popularly known as Zainul Abideen Shaukani: It has been reported by Hazrat Rafey that when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) decided to offer sacrifice of rams on Eid, he purchased two robust and healthy rams for this purpose. He, on the Day of Eid-ul-Azha first offered Eid prayers and then addressed the believers. He slaughtered these rams in the Eidgah. After offering the sacrifice of the first ram, he said that it was on behalf of my whole Ummah. The second ram was slaughtered on his own behalf and on behalf of his family (tribe of Bani Hashim). Hazrat Hussain, after narrating this Hadith, added that the whole of the Bani Hashim tribe, the tribe of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), treated this sacrifice sufficient for themselves and none of them ever offered any separate sacrifice for many years (Nailul Autar by Allama Shaukani). The great companions of the Prophet (PBUH) had adopted similar attitude toward this Sunnah of the Prophet. Some of them purposely never offered the sacrifice of animal on this occasion, lest the believers considered it an obligatory worship. Imam Shafie has claimed that Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) and Hazrat Umar (RA) were among these companions (Kitabul Umm). It was such an authentic report that no one could refute it. Our ulema never reported the last portion of the above mentioned Hadith reported by Hazrat Zainul Abideen. As regard the practical examples of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) and Hazrat Umar (RA), who did not offer animal sacrifice during whole of their lives, these ulema try to explain it away that these great companions did not offer sacrifice due to their poverty. But no one could substantiate their explanation with any authority. No doubt, these companions lived a simple life, but had this sacrifice been an obligatory worship, poverty would not have deprived them of the reward of this various deed. Everybody knows that non-performance of the obligatory worships such as offering of five daily prayers is treated as a great sin and those who do not offer it will be taken to task on the Day of Judgement. While in case of animal sacrifice, it has been made clear by the great jurists that it is not an obligatory worship, but Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). According to their definition of Sunnah those believers who will offer this sacrifice, may be rewarded by Almighty Allah, but any one who does not offer it, will not be punished on the Day of Judgement.