On 21 or 22 August 2018 Muslims all around the world is celebrating Eid al-Adha, also called the Festival of Sacrifice. It is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year, the other being Eid al-Fitr. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah. Eid al-Adha also marks the end of the Hajj, or the Muslims pilgrimage to Mecca.
Eid al-Adha honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham), a prophet and messenger of God in Islam, to sacrifice his only son as an act of obedience to God’s command. Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a ram to sacrifice instead. Ibrahim had shown that his love for God superseded all others: that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dearest to him in submission to God’s command. Muslims commemorate this ultimate act of sacrifice every year during Eid al-Adha.
Like Eid al-Fitr, in the morning of Eid al-Adha Muslims will perform the Eid prayers. The Eid prayer must be performed in congregations, therefore it is usually held in mosques or open fields. Muslims often wear their new or best clothes when going to the Eid prayer. After the Eid prayer, a sermon will be conducted, followed by a supplication asking for Allah’s forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world. Afterwards Muslims will get together with families or friends, or attend large communal celebration held in homes, community centers or rented halls.
On Eid al-Adha, affluent Muslims who can afford it sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep, or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals, called aḍḥiya or qurbāni, have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. The meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one-third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends, and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.
Eid al-Adha teaches us about the willingness to sacrifice our dearest possession for what we belief, or for the greater good. So even if you do not celebrate Eid al-Adha, you could still share the spirit by “sacrificing” your possessions or belongings for your belief. Donate money or goods to local charities. Or better yet, join one of those charities as a volunteer!
How about you? Tell us your favorite Eid al-Adha activity, or share your most memorable Eid al-Adha celebration!