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Eid al-Adha

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The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Eid al-Adha

    Eid al-Adha—the Feast of the Sacrifice—is Islam's most important annual festival. It commemorates the critical test of Abraham's faith. According to the Qur'an, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son (identified as Ismail in Islamic tradition and as Isaac in Judaism) as an offering. When God saw that Abraham was prepared to obey the command, He intervened and substituted a ram. The celebration of this event begins on the tenth day of the twelfth month (Dhu al-Hijjah) when Muslims offer an animal sacrifice. Eid al-Adha is one of the ceremonies that pilgrims observe on the hajj, but Muslims worldwide also enjoy this holiday.

    Islamic law outlines the procedures that Muslims must follow during the feast. The animal to be sacrificed—a sheep, camel, goat, or cow—must be unblemished. Only an adult man, who can afford to pay for such an animal, can perform the ritual. The person slaughtering the animal must ensure that it is facing Mecca and then quickly cut its throat. Islamic law suggests that he should keep only one third of the meat for his own family and share the rest with the poor and other families.

    Although the Feast of the Sacrifice commemorates a solemn occasion, the mood during Eid al-Adha (also called Eid al-Qurban) is cheerful and social. Muslims say special prayers during Eid al-Adha, and many families visit the graves of loved ones during the celebration. Families also visit friends and other relatives. Gifts and sweets are an important part of the celebration. Non-Muslim neighbors are often invited to join the activities surrounding the festival. See also Abraham; Dietary Rules; Fasting; Food and Feasts; Ismail.

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