Muslims around the world are deep in preparations for Eid al-Adha, a significant Islamic holiday marking the sacrifice of Ishmael, which begins on August 21.

According to Islamic tradition, it was Ishmael and not Isaac who was taken to be sacrificed by Abraham to God, Allah, in the holy scriptures. Islamic tradition states that Ishmael went willingly and accepted his fate.

In preparation for the holiday, Muslims purchase various livestock to ensure a supply of fresh meat during the festival.

In Egypt, some Muslims use camels rather than sheep. These are commonly used by Bedouin Arabs for transportation and as a source of sustenance.

Killing animals is not a religious obligation and in some families the holiday food is composed of cakes and other forms of sweets. Holiday traditions include buying new clothes for the entire family and sharing the meat with the less fortunate.

Eid al-Adha marks the beginning of the Haj or the religious pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, which is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.

The Saudi Arabian city of Mecca is holy to Muslims due to the Kaaba, the site Muslims turn to when they recite their prayers.

Secular historians suggest the Kaaba was worshiped by early Arab people even before Islam came into being and is a continued tradition. Islamic scholars suggest it fell down from heaven and turned black because of the sins of mankind. Due to the holiness of the site the large meteor can not be tested.