Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, is one of the two holiest Islamic celebrations, observed by Muslims around the world. Its date is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, falling on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. In 2021, Eid al-Adha is celebrated on July 19 and lasts for four days.
In the United States and Canada, Eid al-Adha is not a public holiday.
The word eid can be translated to mean festival, holiday, or celebration. Adha means sacrifice (as in, animal sacrifice) or offering.
Why is Eid al-Adha celebrated?
In the Quran, it is stated that Ibrahim was having dreams about sacrificing his son Ishmael. He took these dreams to mean that God was testing his faith and devotion and told his son Ishmael about the dreams, who answered that his father should do what he was told to do. To prove his obedience to God, Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his older son and began preparing to do so. During the preparations, the Devil attempted to dissuade Ibrahim from following God's orders, but Ibrahim refused him, throwing pebbles at the Devil to send him away.
Just as Ibrahim was about to commit the sacrifice, he was stopped by an angel, Gabriel, who sent him a lamb to sacrifice instead as an acknowledgment from God that Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his son for his faith.
On Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate the significance of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son to prove his devotion to God, as well as the fact that Ishmael's life was spared.
This observance is a Holy Day in the Muslim faith, as it celebrates faith and sacrifice, and the willingness to obey God above all. It is a day of sharing with family and the community, especially those in need. And it is also a day to be grateful to the animals sacrificed in the name of God.
Eid al-Adha Traditions
Eid al-Adha is a day of sharing and community, and so, to celebrate, Muslims offer their prayers at the mosque which must be done in congregation. When the prayers end, Muslims exchange greetings of Eid Mubarak, embrace one another, and share gifts.
To offer their prayers at the mosque, Muslims wear new clothes, or their best clothes, in a show of respect for the holiness of the day.
Those who can afford to will sacrifice an animal to God, which can be a cow, sheep, goat or ram, and divide it into three equal parts - one for the family, one for relatives and friends, and the last one is given to the poor.
Across the country, thousands of Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha by attending services at the mosques and going to community gatherings with Muslims from all kinds of backgrounds, who all share traditional dishes from their countries.