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What is Eid al-Adha?

June 27, 2023

You might be familiar with Eid al-Fitr, a special day when Muslims get together to celebrate their fasting during Ramadan. You might not know that Muslims have a second Eid that they look forward to each year: Eid al-Adha. 

What does “Eid” mean?

Eid in Arabic means celebration, festival, or holiday, so Eid al-Adha would then be translated to the Festival of Sacrifice. It is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu-al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic Calendar. The first ten days of Dhu-al-Hijjah are considered sacred by Muslims in which they strive to perform good actions and shy away from all bad deeds. The ninth day of this month is the day of Arafat when, if sought after, millions of sins are forgiven by Allah (God in Arabic). It is encouraged to fast and dedicate the day to worship, thank Allah, and ask for His forgiveness.

The story of Eid al-Adha

The origins of Eid al-Adha date back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (or Abraham) in Mecca when Allah commanded him to sacrifice his son Ismael (or Ishmael). This command was a beautiful way to test Prophet Ibrahim’s faithfulness and Allah’s provision. Ismael and Ibrahim were more than willing to obey God despite how strongly Ibrahim was attached to his, at the time, only son. Both father and son accepted their faith in obedience and, at the very point of sacrifice, as Ibrahim held up the blade to his son’s neck, Allah sent down a ram to be slaughtered instead of Ismael. The devotion and commitment of both Prophets set an example to be followed by all Muslims.

How Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha

Each year, Muslims commemorate this event by sacrificing a ram or any other livestock as a “Qurban” (Islamic Ritual Sacrifice) and distributing it amongst the community. This act is a requirement for those who have the means to do so and is discouraged for those incapable of performing it, for example, due to financial difficulties. Many Muslims opt to pay for the sacrifice to be performed on their behalf in war-torn countries so that the meat can be distributed to those who need it the most. 

Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha by praying the Eid prayer in the mosque. The community gathers to bring food, exchange gifts, and give children money or “Eidya”. Following the prayer, those who have purchased a ram prepare to slaughter it in a specific matter that inflicts the minimum amount of pain to the ram. The meat is then divided in the following manner: ⅓ to the neighbours, ⅓ to those in need,  and ⅓ to the household itself. In the afternoon, families get together and enjoy a nice meal or feast. Eid al-Adha lasts for four days, and Muslims are encouraged to wear nice clothes in celebration, and it is forbidden for them to fast the first day of Eid.

If you have any Muslim friends or know anyone who is Muslim, be sure to wish them a happy Eid and maybe even join them in celebrating this beautiful occasion! 

Eid Mubarak!