Eid al-Adha: Muslims recall Ibrahim’s sacrifice in communal joy

Cow in front, sheep in back, on pasture with mountains in background

In commemoration of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ishmael, Muslims slaughter a halal domestic animal for Eid al-Adha. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNSET SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4: As the Hajj continues for 3 million pilgrims in Mecca, Muslims worldwide express joyful appreciation for Ibrahim (Abraham) and his complete willingness to make a sacrifice. Today is Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice. (Dates and spellings vary.) Officially, Eid al-Adha begins after the descent of Mount Arafat by the pilgrims on Hajj in Mecca.

Sometimes called the Greater Eid (the Lesser Eid, Eid ul-Fitr, occurs at the end of Ramadan), Eid al-Adha calls able Muslims to sacrifice a halal animal. Adherents begin Eid al-Adha by dressing in their finest clothing, traveling to a mosque or field, and offering Eid prayers in congregation. (Wikipedia has details.) Following the sermon, it is Islamic custom to exchange joyful greetings, present gifts to children and visit with family and friends. The events of Eid al-Adha last between one and four days, although in some regions, festivities may carry on longer. This year, it has been announced that the United Arab Emirates financial markets will halt trading on Friday, October 3 and resume on Tuesday, October 7, in commemoration of the Eid al-Adha holidays.

The custom of slaying a halal domestic animal for Eid al-Adha is that in doing so, the meat may be divided into three parts: one-third for the family, one-third to be shared with friends and neighbors and another one-third for the poor. By sharing, it is ensured that even the most impoverished person may celebrate Eid. The animal sacrifice—which must meet specific age and quality requirements—may be performed anytime before sunset on the final day of Eid. Families that do not own an animal to slaughter contribute to a charity that will provide meat for the needy. Today, more than 100 million animals are slain during Eid al-Adha for this purpose.

Eid al-Adha activities for kids (plus a great party idea): Young children may not easily grasp the magnitude of Abraham’s sacrifice, but they can begin understanding the basic concepts of Hajj and Eid al-Adha with these recipe and craft ideas, from Pinterest. Feeling more motivated? Try this sheep-themed Eid party, posted at My Halal Kitchen.

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