The story of Ibrahim (or Abraham according to Christianity) is a well-known one by the young and old alike. Ibrahim was a faithful servant of Allah (God) and he was blessed with a son when he was very old. One day Allah commanded Ibrahim to give his son Ishmael as a sacrifice. Despite being asked one of the most hard things, Ibrahim showed the willingness to sacrifice Ishmael. But God intervened and provided Ibrahim with a sheep to sacrifice.
It is this willingness of Ibrahim that is honoured and commemorated in one of the most important festivals in the Muslim Calendar- Eid Al Adha. This festival is considered as the holier of the two Eid festivals celebrated, the other being Eid Al Fitr. The other names Eid Al Adha is known in is the Feast of the Sacrifice or the Festival of the Sacrifice.
The festival also commemorates Ibrahim throwing stones at the Shaitan (Satan) to drive it away when it tried to dissuade Ibrahim from following Allah’s commandment. During the period of this festival, many people travel to the holy city of Mecca. There they take part in throwing stones at “symbolic pillars during the Stoning of the Devil during Hajj rite.”
When does the Eid Al Adha Fall?
The greater Eid, Eid Al Adha, is celebrated by the Muslim Community on the 10th day of Zul Hijjah, or Dhu al-Hijjah, which is the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. When it comes to the international calendar of the Gregorian calendar, the date would vary each year. This festival is celebrated by millions of Muslims all over the world.
The celebration of Eid Al Adha depends on the sighting of the moon. This is one of the major reasons why the festival is celebrated on different dates in different parts of the world. The process of sighting the moon starts on the 29th day of Dul Qaadah. If it was possible to sight the moon on the 29th itself, the next day would be declared as the first day of Zul Hijjah. The Eid Al Adha is celebrated on the 10th of Zul Hijjah month.
What People do on Eid Al Adha?
The Eid Al Adha is one of the most important festivals for the Muslim community and they take due care that they have prepared themselves mentally to celebrate the holy festival. During Eid Al Adha, the day begins with the regular morning prayer, followed by an Eid prayer. All the men and women are obliged to perform the Eid prayer in congregation. The Eid prayer is held in mosques and in large grounds which are known as Eidgah. It is customary to exchange Eid greetings with one’s friends and family. But what if he happens to see a stranger? Well, greet him too is what Eid teaches. Eid Al Adha celebrations can last for up to three days.
During Eid Al Adha, the main thing that all Muslims would make sure is that they pray to Allah and thank him for the blessings he has showered upon them. Along with that, they also find time to listen to wonderful sermons at mosques and learn more about the ways of Allah and how he provides for those who put their trust in Allah.
Another thing that the people would do during the festival of Eid Al Adha is that they buy and wear new clothes and visit their family members and dear friends. To commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son and sacrificing a sheep that Allah provided, the people would symbolically sacrifice an animal. This act is known as qurbani. The sacrificed animal represents the animal that was sacrificed by Ibrahim in the place of Ishmael, his only son.
The people in Muslim countries follow the practice of purchasing an animal for performing the sacrifice. The animal might be a goat, or a sheep and it is known as udhiya. This practice is not legal in all countries and so cannot be followed everywhere. In such places the practice is to buy a large chunk of meat that would suffice for a communal meal during the festival of Eid Al Adha. Another good practice followed by the people is giving money to the poor people of their community so that they would also be able to enjoy a meat-based meals during the festival.
As mentioned earlier, another practice by the Muslims is travelling to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and visiting the surrounding places, during the Eid Al Adha. This is called the Haj pilgrimage. As it is believed to be the one thing that all Muslims should do at least once in their life, most people would be planning this for years and saving money for the pilgrimage.
These are some of the facts about Eid Al Adha, the holy festival for the Muslim community. With this year’s Eid Al Adha calculated to be falling on 11 August or days around this, it is time to prepare yourself and get ready for the occasion, along with your family. Wishing you all a blessed and prosperous Eid.