What Is Eid Al-Adha Festival, Meaning Behind It And It's Difference To Eid Al-Fitr
July. 31, 2020
Eid al-Adha falls later in the year than Eid al-Fitr, which commemorates the lifting of the fasting month of Ramadan The coronavirus outbreak meant that this year’s Ramadan was an unusual affair, and the Eid al-Fitr celebrations which mark the holy month’s end were similarly restrained. While Muslims may have been limited in their options for that festival, the gradual easing of lockdown rules around public gatherings and communal worship means things will be slightly different when Eid al-Adha arrives. The two Eid festivals are among the holiest events in the Muslim calendar – here’s everything you need to know about Eid al-Adha this year, and how it’s different to the Eid al-Fitr celebrations in May.
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What is Eid al-Adha and why is it celebrated?
Otherwise known as the “Festival of the Sacrifice”, Eid al-Adha is considered the holier of the two Islamic Eid festivals. It honours the famous story of the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (known in the Christian Old Testament as Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. However, before Ibrahim carried out the heartbreaking request, God, known as Allah in Islam, produced a lamb for him to sacrifice instead. To commemorate this, an animal is traditionally sacrificed and divided into three parts in an act known as Qurbani. One part of the sheep is given to the poor, one to the immediate family at home and one is reserved for relatives. Some Muslims may give money to charity to give poorer families the chance to have a proper Eid feast. Mosques and community groups will often arrange communal meals.
When does Eid al-Adha take place?
Eid al-Adha falls on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar. Because this is based on the lunar cycle, in the more commonly used Gregorian calendar, this date shifts from year to year, moving forward around 11 days annually. The nature of the Hijri also means that it’s not possible to predict its date exactly – in 2020 it was predicted to begin on either Thursday 30 or Friday 31 July, lasting for four days. According to Saudi Arabia, whose moon sighting lead is followed by many Muslims around the world, the new moon for Dhu al-Hijjah was not seen on Monday 20 July – this meant that the date for Eid al-Adha was confirmed for Friday 31 July.
How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha?
Despite various coronavirus lockdown measures easing in recent months, given the communal nature of much of the celebration means that this year’s will still take on a different feel. In ordinary times, once the sun has risen fully in the sky devout Muslims will pray ahead of the Dhuhr prayer at noon. Similarly to Eid al-Fitr, Muslims will greet each other using the celebratory phrase “Eid Mubarak,” and traditionally exchange gifts and share food with friends and family. As detailed in the Quranic story of Ibrahim, it is still common practice for people to distribute meat during the festival, following the tradition of sacrificing their best halal animals. They also chant the Takbir, which is the Arabic phrase “Allāhu akbar”, or “God is great”, before and after Eid prayers.
What does ‘Eid Mubarak’ mean?
“Eid Mubarak” is the traditional phrase used by Muslims to greet each other during the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha celebratsions. The Arabic word “mubarak” translates as “blessed,” while “Eid” means feast, festival or celebration, so “Eid Mubarak” can literally mean “blessed celebration” or “blessed feast”, although it is widely interpreted as simply wishing somebody a “happy Eid”. In exactly the same way, Muslims will often wish their fellow observers “Ramadan Mubarak” at the start of the holy month and throughout the fasting period.
What is Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the month of Shawwal, which follows Ramadan as the 10th month of the lunar-based Islamic calendar. Its name comes from an Arabic term which translates as the “feast of breaking the fast” and, although not a public holiday in the UK, it is for many Muslim countries. In normal years, it is traditional for Muslims to gather together in a park to celebrate breaking their fast together, with large-scale events and festival food (particularly sweet treats), prayer and stalls.
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