Festival Diary – Eid ul-Adha by Shameem Baig, East Sussex WIN

This blog series invites members and friends of WIN to prepare a ‘festival diary’, exploring the history and significance of specific rituals or outlining the routine of religious celebrations, as a window into the lived experience of people of different faiths. This week, East Sussex WIN Member Shameem Baig has written a reflection on the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Adha and its role in the Islamic calendar. 

Eid means festival. Muslims worldwide celebrate two Eids in a year, namely Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.

The Islamic calendar consists of 12 lunar months, which has 354 or 355 days in a year, and the crescent moon signifies the coming of the Eids.

Eid Al Fitr is celebrated at the end of the month of Ramadan the 9th month, in which Muslims fast for a month, abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk. We break fast with a date and a variety of foods. Muslims observe special prayers throughout the day and night during Ramadan apart from the five daily obligatory prayers. At the end of Ramadan, we attend prayers at the mosque, have a big feast and visit friends and relatives.

Eid Al Adha takes place on the 10th day of Dhul Hijja, the 12th month in the Islamic calendar.

Eid Al Adha honours the Prophet Ibrahim or Abraham, peace be upon him (PBUH).

According to the Quran, the Muslim holy book, Prophet Ibrahim was ordered by God to sacrifice his son Ismail (PBUH) as a test of his obedience to Him. As Prophet Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, God replaced it with a ram, thus saving his son. Therefore on this day 10th of Dhul Hijja, Muslims celebrate Eid Al Adha with the sacrifice of an animal (goats, sheep and cows) and those who can afford it perform the Hajj before the Eid Al Adha celebrations begin.

One of the five pillars of Islam is Hajj. Muslims believe that God commanded the Hajj to be performed at least once in one’s lifetime, if one can afford it. Each year millions of Muslims travel to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj which starts on the 8th day of Dhul Hijja.  The Hajj has several rituals and one of them is circumambulating the Kaaba, a square structure which Muslims believe was built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ismail for prayer and pilgrimage. On the day of the Eid Al Adha, those who can afford to sacrifice an animal, do it and share the meat with their family, the needy and their communities.

Predicting the dates of both the Eids is difficult because it depends on the sighting of the crescent moon. As for Eid Al Adha, the crescent moon is sighted 10 days before the Eid day.

My typical Eid Al Adha day starts with wearing my best dress or something new, eating something sweet and then attend morning prayers at the mosque. Upon returning home from the mosque, we greet family and friends with the “Eid Mubarak” greeting, share a big feast with them – usually biryani made from the sacrificed animal – and exchange gifts. When my parents were alive, I used to visit them to pay my respects, share food they prepared and exchange gifts.

Muslims also visit the graves of their loved ones to pay their respects as well as to pray for them.

If you would like to submit your own festival diary, please contact info@wominet.org.uk

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