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 will be mainly celebrated on July 20 this year.
WHEN IS EID AL-ADHA 2021?
Date July 21/2021
The festival of Eid al-Adha is observed on the 10th day of the Dhul Hijjah — the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
HISTORY OF EID AL-ADHA
The Prophet Ibrahim, known in Christianity and Judaism as Abraham, went through trials and tests throughout his life. One of these tests was when he was commanded by Allah (God) in a dream to sacrifice his son, Ismael. Both father and son agreed to obey the will of God and headed to Mount Moriah. Ismail lay with his forehead against the ground with a sharp knife placed on his neck by his father. Just when Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, God sent a large ram to be slaughtered in the place of Ismael, which Ibrahim then sacrificed to the glory of God.
This event is of great significance, as it displayed the extent to which Ibrahim was willing to obey God’s decree, in order to please him. After getting tested time and time again, Ibrahim’s faith remained staunch and he was rewarded by God. Eid al-Adha is among the biggest Islamic holidays of the year. It is popularly known as ‘Qurbani’ or the Festival of Sacrifice, reminding everyone of God’s mercy and blessings to those who relentlessly do good.
Eid al-Adha also marks the end of Hajj, the obligatory sacred pilgrimage for Muslims to the holy city of Mecca. The main ritual of this day is to slaughter a goat, sheep, or camel, followed by its distribution. One-third of the meat goes to poor people, one-third is distributed to friends and neighbors, and one-third is enjoyed by one’s family. This act emphasizes the importance of sharing with the less fortunate. The festival of Eid is a joyous one and is celebrated by dressing up, visiting friends and relatives, preparing special meat dishes and desserts, gifting children with gifts and money, and hosting barbecue parties.
EID AL-ADHA TIMELINE
Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state, state of holiness, which marks the start of the ritual of Hajj for each person. Ihram is initiated upon the arrival to the Miqat or prior to reaching it, depending on where they have come from.
When pilgrims enter into the state of Ihram, they are required to abstain from certain actions. While in the state of ihram, males are required to wear two white seamless cloths, with one wrapped around the waist reaching below the knee and the other draped over the left shoulder and tied at the right side. For females, this involves wearing an ordinary dress that fulfills the Islamic condition of public dress with hands and face uncovered
First day of Hajj: 8th Dhu al-Hijjah
The ritual of Tawaf involves walking seven times counterclockwise around the Kaaba. Upon arriving at Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām (Arabic: المَسجِد الحَرَام, The Sacred Mosque), pilgrims perform an arrival tawaf either as part of Umrah or as a welcome tawaf. During tawaf, pilgrims also include Hateem – an area at the north side of the Kaaba – inside their path. Each circuit starts with the kissing or touching of the Black Stone. Pilgrims also point to the stone and recite a prayer. (Hajar al- Aswad). If kissing or touching the stone is not possible because of crowds, pilgrims may simply point towards the stone with their hand on each circuit. Eating is not permitted but the drinking of water is permitted and encouraged, because of the risk of dehydration. Men are encouraged to perform the first three circuits at a hurried pace, known as Ramal, and the following four at a more leisurely pace
The completion of Tawaf is followed by two Rakaat prayers at the Place of Abraham (Muqam Ibrahim), a site near the Kaaba inside the mosque. However, again because of large crowds during the days of Hajj, they may instead pray anywhere in the mosque. After prayer, pilgrims also drink water from the Zamzam well, which is made available in coolers throughout the Mosque.
After the morning prayer on the 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the pilgrims proceed to Mina where they spend the whole day and offer noon (Note: On Friday, Friday Prayer is Offered, instead of Dhuhr Prayer, at Mina), afternoon, evening, and night prayers. The next morning after morning prayer, they leave Mina to go to Arafat.
Second day: 9th Dhu al-Hijjah
On 9th Dhu al-Hijjah before noon, pilgrims arrive at Arafat, a barren and plain land some 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Mecca, where they stand in contemplative vigil: they offer supplications, repent on and atone for their past sins, and seek the mercy of God, and listen to the sermon from the Islamic scholars who deliver it from near Jabal al-Rahmah (The Mount of Mercy) from where Muhammad is said to have delivered his last sermon. Lasting from noon through sunset, this is known as ‘standing before God’ (wuquf), one of the most significant rites of Hajj. At Masjid al-Namirah, pilgrims offer noon and afternoon prayers together at noontime. A pilgrim’s Hajj is considered invalid if they do not spend the afternoon on Arafat
Pilgrims must leave Arafat for Muzdalifah after sunset without performing their maghrib (sunset) prayer at Arafat. Muzdalifah is an area between Arafat and Mina. Upon reaching there, pilgrims perform Maghrib and Isha prayer jointly, spend the night praying and sleeping on the ground with open sky, and gather pebbles for the next day’s ritual of the stoning of the Devil (Shaytan).
Third day: 10th Dhu al-Hijjah
Back at Mina, the pilgrims perform symbolic stoning of the devil (Ramy al-Jamarat) by throwing seven stones from sunrise to sunset at only the largest of the three pillars, known as Jamrat al-AqabahThe remaining two pillars (jamarah) are not stoned on this day. These pillars are said to represent Satan. Pilgrims climb ramps to the multi-levelled Jamaraat Bridge, from which they can throw their pebbles at the jamarat. Because of safety reasons, in 2004 the pillars were replaced by long walls, with catch basins below to collect the pebbles
After the stoning of the Devil, animals are sacrificed to commemorate the story of Ibrahim and Ismael. Traditionally the pilgrims slaughtered the animal themselves or oversaw the slaughtering. Today many pilgrims buy a sacrifice voucher in Mecca before the greater Hajj begins, which allows an animal to be slaughtered in the name of God (Allah) on the 10th, without the pilgrim being physically present. Modern abattoirs complete the processing of the meat, which is then sent as a charity to poor people around the world.At the same time as the sacrifices occur at Mecca, Muslims worldwide perform similar sacrifices, in a three-day global festival called Eid al-Adha
After sacrificing an animal, another important rite of Hajj is the shaving or trimming of head hair (known as Halak). All male pilgrims shave their head or trim their hair on the day of Eid al Adha and female pilgrims cut the tips of their hair.
On the same or the following day, the pilgrims re-visit the Sacred Mosque in Mecca for another tawaf, known as Tawaf al-Ifadah, an essential part of Hajj. It symbolizes being in a hurry to respond to God and show love for Him, an obligatory part of the Hajj. The night of the 10th is spent back at Mina.
Fourth day: 11th Dhu al-Hijjah
Starting from noon to sunset on the 11 Dhu al-Hijjah (and again the following day), the pilgrims again throw seven pebbles at each of the three pillars in Mina. This is commonly known as the “Stoning of the Devil“.
Fifth day: 12th Dhu al-Hijjah
On 12 Dhu al-Hijjah, the same process of the stoning of the pillars as of 11 Dhu al-Hijjah takes place. Pilgrims may leave Mina for Mecca before sunset on the 12th.
Last day at Mina: 13th Dhu al-Hijjah
If unable to leave on the 12th before sunset or opt to stay longer, they must perform the stoning ritual again on the 13th before returning to Mecca
Finally, before leaving Mecca, pilgrims perform a farewell tawaf called the Tawaf al-Wadaa. ‘Wadaa’ means ‘to bid farewell’. The pilgrims circle the Kaaba seven times counter-clockwise, and if they can, attempt to touch or kiss the Kaaba.
Journey to Medina
WHY EID AL-ADHA IS IMPORTANT
It honors faith and sacrifice
It’s an opportunity to share our abundance
It’s a lesson in gratitude
HOW TO OBSERVE EID AL-ADHA
Dress your best
Set aside a few moments of contemplation
Eat something festive
EID AL-ADHA BY THE NUMBERS
3 million – the estimated number of Muslims who travel to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj.
3 – the division of the meat of the sacrificed animal.
⅓ – the portion of the meat kept for family.
⅓ – the portion of the meat given to relatives, friends, and neighbors.
⅓ – the portion of the meat given to the poor and needy.