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What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam What is This? A guide to a wide variety of general questions asked by those looking to learn more about Muslim culture and the Islamic world.

Faith >
Do Muslims have religious holidays or holy days?

Muslims celebrate two great Islamic holidays. The first is Eid al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast of Ramadan, a celebration that extends for three days. The second holiday is the greater of the two. It occurs two and a half months after the first and lasts for four days. This is the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, which marks the annual completion of the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). These holidays represent a religious obligation for Muslims as well as a social celebration.

In America, Eid prayers are observed in every community where Muslims reside, and gatherings to celebrate the holidays are common. In 2001 the U.S. Post Office issued a stamp to commemorate the Eid al-Fitr. Many Muslim children stay home from school to celebrate these festivals, and in some areas school authorities recognize the Eids as holidays for Muslim youth, as they recognize the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Traditionally both Eids are occasions for exchanging visits with relatives and friends. As at Christmas celebrations, gifts of money or new clothes are given to children, and special sweets and other foods are served to family and guests.

In many contexts other religious holidays are celebrated, such as the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad and, in Shii Islam, the birthdays of Ali and the Imams. Shii annually commemorate the “passion” of Hussein during a ten-day period of remembering, ritually reenacting, and mourning the last stand of the Imam Hussein and his followers against the army of the caliph. (See page 48, “What is the difference between Sunni and Shii Muslims?”)

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