Know Your Neighbour: Eid-al-Adha

Know Your Neighbour: Eid-al-Adha

This week sees a bumper edition of our Know Your Neighbour series as three major faith festivals take place in four days. Both Eid-al-Adha and Yom Kippur are taking place on 23rd September before Sukkot starts on 27th September.

This Know Your Neighbour blog will be giving you some more insight into Eid-al-Adha.

What is Eid-al-Adha?

Eid-al-Adha is amongst the most important festivals in the Islamic calendar. It is a special commemoration of the willingness of Ibrahim to obey God, through preparing to sacrifice his son. This is a story that is shared across the three Abrahamic faith traditions; Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

When is Eid-al-Adha celebrated?

The timing of Eid-al-Adha is based on the Islamic lunar calendar which is different to the modern Gregorian calendar, hence the dates will be different each year.

This year the festival will begin on September 23rd.

Why is Eid-al-Adha celebrated?

As mentioned above, this festival recognises the moment when Ibrahim (Abraham) showed his obedience to God. According to the Islamic tradition, God ordered Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, as a test of his faith. However, just as Ibrahim was about to kill Ishmael, God instructed him to sacrifice a ram in his place. At Eid-al-Adha Muslims celebrate Ibrahim's obedience to God and vow to be like him.

Eid-al-Adha also marks the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca which begins 21 September.

How is Eid-al-Adha celebrated?

The day begins with morning prayers followed by visits to family and friends and the exchange of food and gifts. During this time Muslims will share food and money with the poor so that they can take part in the celebrations.

Worshippers will slaughter an animal, typically a sheep or a goat, during Greater Eid celebrations as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice to Allah. The animals have to meet certain standards in order to qualify for sacrifice; they cannot be ill, blind, visibly lame and emaciated and minimum age restrictions apply.

In Britain, the law requires that this be done in a slaughterhouse. It is common for Muslims to share the meat from that animal with the poor and many British Muslims will pay for the animal to be slaughtered in another country with more poverty so that the meat can be shared with the poorest there. 

Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones

Date: 18 September 2015