About Eid al-Adha
Eid al-Adha, the most important festival in the Islamic calendar. The festival celebrates a story about a prophet called Ibrahim. Ibrahim had been told by Allah that he must sacrifice his son Ishamel to prove his faith to Allah. Every year, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha to remember Ibrahim’s loyalty and obedience to Allah above all others. And because of Ibrahim’s actions, Eid al-Adha is also known as the Festival of Sacrifice. In India, the festival is known as Bakrid, as ‘Goat’ is ‘Bakr’ in Urdu.
This festival is meant to make a Muslim more virtuous in his or her deeds. It should not be meant only to offer sacrifices; rather it is meant to learn hidden lessons of freedom from selfish desires and to elevate a Muslim from anything that hinders his ability to fulfill his responsibilities as a Muslim.
When it is celebrated
Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar. The Muslim calendar follows the moon, so the months are based on the moon’s phases. This means it’s 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar (January–December).
Ibrahim, known as Abraham in the Christian and Jewish traditions, was commanded by God to sacrifice his adult son. He obeyed and took Ishmael to Mount Moriah. Just as he was to sacrifice his son, an angel stopped him and gave him a ram to sacrifice in place of his son. Some people dispute that the son of sacrifice was Isaac. Regardless, these events are remembered and celebrated at Eid al-Adha.
Feast of Sacrifice
Animals typically sacrificed are lamb, goat and cow. The animal is divided into three parts. One third is given to the poor, one is divided amongst relatives and the remaining third is cooked and eaten by the family. This is how the festival gets its alternative name “Feast of Sacrifice”.
How it is celebrated
Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation in an open waqf field called Eidgah or mosque. Affluent Muslims who can afford it sacrifice their best halal domestic animals as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals are called aḍḥiya.
In the morning, Muslims read “Salat al-Eid”, a special prayer offered to honour the festival. This is then followed by the sacrifice. Muslims spend the day visiting their loved ones, going to different family houses throughout the day or getting together in one place.
For Muslims who are performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia, when Eid al-Adha begins they throw pebbles at three pillars in the city of Mina. This is where Muslims believe Ibrahim threw pebbles at the devil to drive him away. For other Muslims not performing Hajj, they celebrate by wearing nice clothes and going to the mosque in the morning for special prayers. Later, family and friends get together for a big meal with lots of delicious food, including sweets.
During the feast of Eid Al Adha, Muslims re-enact Ibrahim’s obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family will eat about a third of the meal a third goes to friends and relatives, and the remaining third is donated to the poor and needy. The giving of charity in the form of money, food or clothes to the homeless or poor is another key tradition of Eid al Adha.
The first 10 days preceding Eid al Azha have great significance as they are meant to motivate and encourage Muslims for Eid. A Muslim must do maximum Ibadat in these days and then as an expression of reward, one celebrates Eid al Adha. This Eid is mostly celebrated the first two days and often three days in some households. People plan gatherings as a way to celebrate the occasion together with their loved ones.
In Middle Eastern cultures, one traditional dish which is eaten by many is Maqluba – meat, rice and fried vegetables are cooked together in a pot, and then flipped upside down when served.
Eid al-Adha is a public holiday in places such as the Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States.
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