Eid al-Adha: What It Is and How It’s Celebrated
The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha is known as the “Festival of Sacrifice” in English. Eid al-Adha, also written as Eid ul-Adha, celebrates the biblical story of the Prophet Ibrahim’s testing by God. The festival marks the completion of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
With some of the largest celebrations taking place in Saudi Arabia, Eid al-Adha is celebrated by Muslims all over the world. Significant celebrations take place in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and elsewhere.
When Is Eid al-Adha?
The Feast of Sacrifice is the second holy day in the Muslim year. It falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, which is the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, the festival day takes place in June, July, or August.
The festival follows the Day of Arafah, which is a day of fasting and is considered the holiest day in the Islamic year.
Why Is Eid al-Adha Celebrated?
Eid al-Adha finds its origins in holy figures recognized in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam: the prophet Abraham, or Ibrahim, and his sons.
According to the Qu’ran, Allah commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his first-born son, Ismail, or Ishmael, who was the brother of Isaac. Ibrahim consented with immense grief, but Allah intervened at the last moment to save the boy. Then, Allah required Ibrahim to sacrifice an animal to show his faith.
For this reason, Muslims commemorate the story by sacrificing goats, sheep, cows, or camels.
The Qu’ran also says that as Ibrahim struggled to carry out Allah’s orders, Satan visited him and attempted to thwart the prophet’s faith in God. Ibrahim remained faithful, however, and threw stones at Satan to drive him away.
Muslims symbolically reenact the incident during the Hajj pilgrimage when they reach the town of Mina, just outside the city of Mecca. There, they stop and throw stones at the pillars marking the spot Satan stood during his encounter with Ibrahim.