What is Eid Al-Adha? (Feast of Sacrifice)
There are two key Eid’s (Celebration Festivals) in Islam: Eid al-Fitr, which signifies the
completion of the Holy Month of Ramadan; and Eid al-Adha, the Greater Eid, which follows the completion of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, at the time of Qurbani (sacrifice). This year we celebrate Eid on July 20th, 2021.
Eid al-Adha is celebrated to mark the spirit of sacrifice on the 10th day of the month Dhu
al-Hijjah, which is the final month of the Islamic calendar. The occasion also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. All able-bodied Muslims must undertake Hajj at least once in their lifetime.
Eid al-Adha honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God’s command. (The Jewish and Christian religions believe that according to Genesis 22:2, Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice.) Before Ibrahim would sacrifice his son, however, Allah (Muslim name for God) provided a lamb to sacrifice instead.
In commemoration of this intervention, animals are sacrificed ritually. One-third of their meat is consumed by the family offering the sacrifice, while the rest is distributed to the poor and needy. In America, we distribute to families, friends, and neighbors. Muslims explain it as their Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one. It’s the day they make sure everyone has food on their table.
How We Celebrate
At dawn, we wake up for Fajar (Morning Prayers). After praying, we dress up with new/ best clothes, beautify ourselves and our families, and head to the Mosque or designated park. Prayers are at 8 AM.
The celebration of Eid al-Adha begins with a special prayer, ‘Salat al-Eid’, followed by a sermon called a khutbah. Traditionally, this is followed by sacrifice.
After the khutbah, we head home with our extended families and have a feast.
Usually, we would start with sweets. Popular sweets include coconut buskut (cookie), halwa, baklava, shushumow (a sugar cookie), sesame candy, peanut candy, and butter cake. Following sweets, we then eat meat (as Eid al-Adha is the festival of meat).
We then exchange gifts and enjoy the rest of the day having fun. The elders give the kids money in an envelope that says Eid Mubarak (which means blessed feast/festival). Families will also do gift exchanges with one another.
To commemorate the holiday, women will oftentimes purchase a new dress to celebrate Eid al-Adha as well as get henna on their hands. Henna application has been practiced for centuries and the intricate and beautiful designs are thought to add to the celebratory essence of Eid al-Adha.
To all who celebrate, we wish you Eid Mubarak!
Fatuma Ahmed is a blessed mother of 3 beautiful children and co-founder of Pamoja Women Organization.
Khadija Ali is a stay-at-home mother of 4 beautiful kids and co-founder of Pamoja organization.