Eid al-Adha – Islamic holidays

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Islamic miniature painting of a white man and a boy with a sheep

Islamic image of Abraham and Ishmael

Eid al-Adha is an Islamic holiday. It falls a few months after the end of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr. These two celebrations are the two most important holidays of the year for Islam, and of the two, Eid al-Adha is the more important one. So Eid al-Adha is the most important Islamic holiday of all.

People also call Eid al-Adha the “Sacrifice Feast”, because people often sacrifice a goat or a sheep (or a lamb) for this holiday. Eid al-Adha is a celebration of the day when Allah (God) ordered Abraham to sacrifice his own son, Ishmael. (He’s Isaac in the Jewish version.) At the last minute Allah saved Ishmael and sent a sheep for Abraham to sacrifice instead. So people kill a sheep to remember Allah’s mercy and kindness.

Pilgrims set off to go to Mecca on the haj.

Pilgrims set off to go to Mecca on the haj.

Traditionally, people divide the meat from the sacrifice into three parts. One third goes to charity, one third goes to relatives and friends and neighbors, and the last third is for the family to have a feast. So the holiday is a reminder that people should also be kind and generous.

If Muslims are going to Mecca for the hajj, they often go right before Eid al-Adha, so the end of their pilgrimage to Mecca is this holiday and the sacrifice. That’s because in Islamic tradition, Ishmael and his mother Hagar were the ones who started the city of Mecca and the Kaaba.

Zamzam well in Mecca today

Zamzam well in Mecca today

Hagar’s prayers caused Allah to create the great Zamzam well, in Mecca. The Zamzam well provided water for the whole city, and made Mecca rich because travellers and traders stopped there to fill up their water bags.

Because the Islamic calendar doesn’t match up exactly with the European calendar, or with the sun’s year, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr move slowly around the calendar year, and can fall in any season. Right now, Eid al-Adha is in the early fall, but every year it will come a week and a half earlier.

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By | 2017-09-03T17:43:33+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Islam, Religion, West Asia|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Eid al-Adha – Islamic holidays. Quatr.us Study Guides, September 1, 2017. Web. November 20, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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