What is Eid al-Adha?
One of the most important religious holidays celebrated by Muslims around the world is the Eid al-Adha. In English, the term Eid al-Adha is more commonly known as ‘Festival of Sacrifice’ or ‘Greater Eid’. The religious festival is celebrated to honor or remember how willingly Abraham sacrificed his son, Ishmael to God.
The story of Eid al-Adha is about the Abraham’s act of obedience to God. However, before he was able to sacrifice his son Ishmael, God intervened and ordered him to sacrifice a ram instead. The meat was later divided into three parts and distributed to the family; another third was for the relatives, friends and neighbors. The last third part was given to poor.
Celebrated on the 10th day of the last month of the lunar Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha is the latter of the two Eid festivals of the Muslims. The celebration starts after the Haji, which is the pilgrimage in Mecca. Everyone including children is required to go out on their finest clothing for the Eid prayer.
During the celebration, Muslims are required to pray and take time to listen to a sermon at a mosque. Usually, new clothes are worn during this Festival of Sacrifice. Muslims visit their relatives and friends. Some may offer an animal for sacrifice as a symbolic act known as qurbani. It is done as representation of Abraham’s act of obedience to God.
The sacrifice of animals is usually done in some traditionally Muslims countries. However, some countries do not allow such act. In countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States of America and United Kingdom and some other countries, performing qurbani is illegal. Muslims in these countries pay money for a whole carcass from butchers.
The meat is divided and distributed to other members of their local community. Other portions of meat are cooked and shared in communal meal on the festival. Sometimes money is distributed among poor members of the Muslim community to enable them to buy meat for their meals.
Eid al-Adha is an important holiday for Muslims and many of them pay a visit to Mecca for a Haji pilgrimage. Many Muslims plan and save money for years to be able to participate in this annual event. Taking part in the Festival of Sacrifice is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Islamic countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan, Turkey and United Arab Emirates celebrate Eid al-Adha as public holiday and celebrated nationally. However, in some countries, Festival of Sacrifice is not declared as public holiday. In countries such as Australia, Canada, UK and USA, Islamic organizations or businesses may be closed. Some Islamic establishments may open but offer a reduced level of service.
Muslims do prepare for the Eid al-Adha. During the festival, they wake up before sunrise, wash themselves and offer the pre-sunrise prayer, which is the Salat al-Fajr. After the prayer, they take a bath (Ghusl). Personal hygiene is well observed during the festival. When going and leaving the Eid prayer location, one has to take two different routes. Reciting of the Takbir is also an important activity for the Eid al Adha.