Eid al-Adha is the Muslim holy day that honors the sacrifice Ibrahim (Abraham) was willing to make in obedience to God’s command: the life of his beloved son Isaac. But when Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, God —impressed with Ibrahim’s faith — provided a sacrificial ram in the boy’s place. Muslims now celebrate this event by sharing a slaughtered animal in three parts: one part for themselves, one for their family and the third part is given to the needy. We can all join in this spirit of sharing on this special day. The holiday begins on the evening of August 11 this year and runs through August 15.
Eid al-Adha timeline
- c. 2000 BC
Throwing stones at Satan is part of Eid al-Adha
In the Qu'ran, Shaitan (or Satan) tempts Ibrahim (Abraham) not to carry out God's command. Ibrahim then drives the demon away by throwing pebbles at him, which is commemorated during the Hajj as the "Stoning of the Devil."
- 700 BC
Pilgrims attend the first Hajj as part of the Five Pillars of Islam every Muslim must practice
The Hajj pilgrimage occurs when pilgrims voyage to the Holy City of Mecca as part of the Five Pillars of Islam, central to every Muslim's religious obligations. Pilgrims walk seven times in a counter clockwise direction around the Ka'bah, a shrine revered as a holy place for prayer and said to be originally constructed by Adam and later rebuilt by the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son.
- 570 AD
The Prophet, Muhammad, was born in Mecca
Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was a man born in Mecca. God sent Muhammad as man's final prophet according to the holiest book in Islam, the Qu'ran.
How to Observe Eid al-Adha
Dress your best
On Eid al-Adha Muslims may gift their children with new clothes while adults choose their own finery to wear on this special day. Wearing your nicest clothes during Eid prayers at the mosque symbolizes respect for the day's rituals. All over the world, Muslims honor the sacrifices, both large or small, that have been made for their happiness and wellbeing.
Set aside a few moments of contemplation
Eid al-Adha should be a day of contemplation. Set aside some time, even just a few minutes, to simply sit quietly. Whether you think of this as prayer, meditation or centering, this can become a daily practice that will enrich your life.
Eat something festive
In addition to the distribution of meat, Muslims prepare a variety of celebratory foods for their families and friends on Eid al-Adha. There are richly-spiced stews and vegetable dishes as well as traditional breads. Or try maamoul, a popular shortbread cookie filled with pistachios or dates. Lokum, another tasty holiday treat, is commonly known as Turkish Delight
5 Things About Islam That Non-believers Should Know
Muslims revere three female prophets
Most Muslim scholars agree that three women are considered prophets in Islam including Eve, Adam's wife; Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Asiyah, the wife of the Pharoah. Unlike in the Bible, it was Asiyah, and not Pharoah's daughter, who rescued the baby Moses from the water and adopted him as her son.
Muslims have six main beliefs
According to the American-based, non-profit, the Islamic Networks Group (ING), Muslims have six core beliefs. They include a belief in God, angels, and God's prophets and messengers. Muslims also believe in God's revelations through holy scriptures, the Qu'ran, and both Muslims and Christians share a belief in an afterlife and a trust in God's divine will.
The Qu'ran and the Bible share the same stories
In both Christianity and Islam, there are characters common to both — like the prophet Abraham and his wife, Sarah; the story of Noah and the ark; as well as references to Jesus.
Muslims and modesty
Because of Islam's physical prayer routines of kneeling and being prostrate on the ground as a sign of respect, it is seen as immodest for women to be in a prostrate position in front of men.
Muslims and Jesus
Although Muslims honor Jesus as the son of the Virgin Mary, conceived by God, most Muslims believe that as special as he was, Jesus was a still a human being.
Why Eid al-Adha is Important
It honors faith and sacrifice
Eid al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, commemorates Ibrahim's unwavering faith, even when God commanded him to sacrifice the the thing he cherished most in life — his son. This is a good time for us to think about what we are willing to do for the people we love. Most importantly, we remember that little acts of kindness can make a monumental impact in someone else's life.
It's an opportunity to share our abundance
This Muslim tradition, practiced on Eid al-Adha, symbolically illustrates the power of sharing by dividing meat into three portions to be eaten by family, friends and those in need. Being conscious of extending what we have beyond our own doors is a wonderful way for anyone to take part in celebrating this holiday
It's a lesson in gratitude
For Muslims, it's crucial to speak the name of Allah before killing an animal to be shared on Eid al-Adha. In this way, you honor the life of the animal sacrificing itself to feed the people. For all of us who eat meat, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, this is a good day to be grateful to all the animals.