What is Eid al-Adha?

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Earlier this year, practicing Muslims observed the high holiday of Eid al-Fitr. This day, which follows the major month-long holiday of Ramadan, was the first of the two major annual Eid (pronounced “EED”) holidays. Yesterday evening, the second of these holidays, Eid al-Adha, began. It will end this evening.

Although there are at least 50 majority-Muslim countries, Muslims only account for 1.1 percent of the U.S. population. Thus, many Americans might be wondering: What is Eid al-Adha? What happens during this holiday? How do Muslims observe it? Find everything you need to know below.

How Eid al-Adha starts

Eid al-Adha commences with morning prayers, for which observers often travel to mosques in their best religious clothing. In Eid al-Adha prayers, observers express gratitude to Allah for the many blessings with which he has granted them.

How Eid al-Adha continues

In some celebrations, a sheep or goat is ritually sacrificed. The animal’s meat is cooked and shared among observers. The holiday also provides a time for visiting family and friends, and it includes all people – donating money to poorer Muslims and sharing the sacrificed meat with them is among the cornerstones of Eid al-Adha.

Does Eid al-Adha follow something as Eid al-Fitr follows Ramadan?

Just as Eid al-Fitr occurs immediately upon Ramadan’s end, Eid al-Adha directly follows the last day of the Hajj. As with Ramadan, the Hajj is of paramount importance to Islam, an occasion that sees massive numbers of Muslim people travel to Makkah in Saudi Arabia. The Islam religion suggests that all Muslims capable of traveling to Makkah do so at least once in their lifetimes.

Why Muslims observe Eid al-Adha

The timing of Eid al-Adha alone does not account for its observance. The holiday remembers the Quran’s story of Ibrahim’s sacrificing his son, Isma’il, to prove his worship and obedience of Allah. Had Ibrahim not sacrificed his son, he would have been heeding the commands of the devil, who encouraged Ibrahim not to kill his son.

Should this story sound barbaric, it has a major silver lining, perhaps a twist ending. Allah did not let Ibrahim kill Isma’il – Ibrahim’s willingness to heed Allah instead of the Devil pleased Allah more than enough. Instead, Allah gave Ibrahim a lamb to sacrifice, and both Ibrahim and Isma’il emerged unscathed. A story similar to the one found in the Quran is also part of the Torah and the Old Testament.

There can be differences in when Eid al-Adha is celebrated

The Eid al-Adha observance depends on the appearance of a new moon. Because different countries sometimes see moon phases at different times of the week or month, there can be slight lapses in the holiday’s celebration.

How you should greet Muslims and offer them best wishes during Eid al-Adha

As with Eid al-Fitr, most observant Muslims will be grateful and happy to hear “Eid Mubarak” during Eid al-Adha. This phrase translates to “blessed Eid.” Another phrase Eid al-Adha observers will be happy to hear is “Eid Saeed,” which translates to “happy Eid.”

If you celebrate Eid al-Adha, what are your plans for the holiday? Leave a comment to inform everyone!

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