Eid al-Adha: Muslims honor Abraham’s sacrifice during ‘Greater Eid’

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24: Crowds spill out of mosques, into open fields and in parks around the world, as Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the “Greater Eid.” In commemoration of the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, for God, Eid al-Adha honors both Ibrahim’s devotion and the miracle that took place on the sacrificial altar. The annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca draws to a close, and Muslims across the globe gather with family and friends. (View photos from last year’s Eid, here.) In the morning, Eid prayers are offered in congregation.


Two religious holidays are observed by all Muslims each year: Eid al-Fitr, ending the fasting month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Adha commemorates Ibrahim’s submission to God’s command and God’s intervention.  According to Muslim tradition, when Ibrahim lowered his arm to slaughter his son, the Archangel Gabriel placed a ram on the altar in place of Ishmael. In commemoration, Muslims sacrifice an animal on Eid al-Adha, keeping one-third of the share; giving one-third to relatives and neighbors; and donating the remaining one-third to the poor.

Did you know? An animal sacrificed for Eid al-Adha must meet specific age and quality standards—or else it is considered an unacceptable sacrifice.

On the morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims dress in their finest clothing and offer prayers in congregation. Following prayers, adherents exchange joyous greetings and give gifts (Eidi) to children. Visits are made, and even non-Muslims are invited to take part in the feasts and festivities.


Last March, the New York Times reported on the decision of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to close public schools on the two major Muslim holidays: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Fitr fell during the summer—at the close of Ramadan—and students of New York will experience their first public school holiday for Eid al-Adha this year. In Saudi Arabia, the sacrifice of camels has been banned for 2015, in light of recent MERS virus scares associated with the animal. In addition, no camels are permitted into the holy sites of Mecca and Medina in the weeks surrounding Hajj 2015.