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EID-UL-ADHA:

THE FEAST OF SACRIFICE IN ISLAM

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Overview:

Eid-Ul-Adha (a.k.a. the Feast of Sacrifice or Day of Sacrifice) is observed after the Hajj -- the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) in Saudi Arabia.

A duty of each Muslim, as described in the Five Pillars of Islam, is to go on Hajj at least once once during their lifetime, unless they are prevented by finances or ill health. "The Hajj consists of several ceremonies, meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of prophet Abraham and his family...The pilgrimage also enables Muslims from all around the world, of different colors, languages, races, and ethnicities, to come together in a spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood to worship the One God together." 1

It is the second of the two major Muslim holy days. The other is Eid-ul-Fitr which follows Ramadan -- a lunar month of partial fasting.

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When is it celebrated?

Eid-Ul-Adha is observed after the conclusion of the Hajj. The first day of this celebration is held on the 10th day of Duhl-Hijja, which is the last month of the Muslim year. In most areas, the Feast of Sacrifice is celebrated over several days. 2

Islamic months begin at sunset on the day when the lunar crescent appears after the new moon, and can be sighted by the unaided eye . "Visibility depends on a large number of factors including weather condition, the altitude of the moon at sunset, the closeness of the moon to the sun at sunset, the interval between sunset and moonset, atmospheric pollution, the quality of the eyesight of the observer, use of optical aids etc." 3 As a result, although the phases of the moon can be predicted accurately, the moon's visibility at a given place on Earth cannot be estimated in advance. Thus, the feast day has always been celebrated on different days in various areas of the world.

Because the date of the Feast of Sacrifice is determined by a lunar calendar, it is observed about 11 days earlier each year. According to the Gregorian calendar:

Year Id al-Adha
1417 H 1997-APR-17
1418 1998-APR-07
1419 1999-MAR-28
1420 2000-MAR-16
1421 2001-MAR-05
1422 2002-FEB-22
1423 2003-FEB-11
1424 2004-FEB-01
1425 2005-JAN-21
1426 2006-JAN-10
1427 2006-DEC-31
1428 2007-DEC-20
1429 2008-DEC-08
1430 2009-NOV-28
1431 2010-NOV-17
1432 2011-NOV-07

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Its significance:

"The celebration of Eid-Ul-Adha is in commemoration of the command give by Allah to Prophet Abraham (may Allah be pleased with him) to sacrifice his first born son Ishmael to Him. The fulfilment [sic] of this noble command of Allah by Abraham signifies his faith in Allah...." 7

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Its activities:

According to the website TheEid.com:

"Eid-Ul-Adha is a day of remembrance. Even in the most joyful times, the Muslim makes a fresh start of the day by a session of congregational prayers to Allah in an open space. Muslims use the occasion to pray to Allah and to glorify His name to demonstrate the remembrance of His grace and favours. Muslims also remember the deceased by praying for their souls to rest in peace. The needy and vulnerable in society are also remembered by showing them sympathy and consolation." 4

Muslims around the world celebrate

"this feast of commitment, obedience and self-sacrifice to Allah. They wear their nicest clothing and attend Salatul-Eid (Eid Prayer) in the morning. This is followed by a short sermon, after which everyone socializes. Next, people visit each other's homes and partake in festive meals with special dishes, beverages, and desserts. Children receive gifts and sweets on this happy occasion. In addition, like the pilgrims in Makkah (Mecca), the Muslims, who can afford to do so, offer domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice." 4,5

Some of the meat is given to the poor -- often one third. The rest is shared among the family, relatives and friends.

In addition, Eid-Ul-Adha is a time when Muslims pray for forgiveness from God and strength of faith. They, in turn, forgive others, releasing any feelings of enmity or ill feeling towards others. 2 Many Muslims exchange greeting cards at this time. 6

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Misunderstanding by the media:

In 2003-FEB, a rumor spread that there would be a terrorist attack on the U.S. on Eid-Ul-Adha. Some news services garbled the story and described the Day of Sacrifice as a time when passions and the potential for violence were at their height throughout the Muslim community. In fact, it is a time when Muslims concentrate on spiritual matters and their forgiveness of those who have wronged them. To claim that many Muslims will resort to violence on this day would be analogous to claiming that many Christians will become violent at Christmas time, or Easter.

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References:

  1. "The Hajj: Information for teachers," Council on Islamic Education, at:  http://www.cie.org/
  2. Alhaji Muhammed Alidu, "The significance of Eid-Ul-Adha in Islam," AllAfrica.com at: http://allafrica.com/
  3. "Islamic Calendar based on predicted lunar visibility," at: http://www.ummah.net/ildl/
  4. "About Eid," at: http://www.theeid.com/
  5. Sarah Lane, " 'Eid-ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice," at: http://www.classbrain.com/
  6. TheEid.com has many cards available that you can send to friends. See: http://www.theeid.com
  7. Sorry, we lost track of the source of this quote.

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Site navigation: Home page > World Religions > Islam > here

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Copyright © 2003 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-FEB-14
Latest update: 2007-JAN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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