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What You Should Know About Eid al-Adha, the main Muslim holiday

Eid el-Kebir is well known as being the "Feast of the Sacrifice", but it has many other meanings and traditions

Eid el-Kebir is well known as being the "Feast of the Sacrifice", but it has many other meanings and traditions

This Tuesday is the biggest celebration in the Muslim calendar : Eid al-Adha, also called Eid al-Kebir. Here are some things you should know to better understand this holiday…

Eid al-Adha or Aid el-Kebir, a same holiday

This Muslim three-day long celebration, which takes place on the tenth day of the last month in the Hegira calendar, has several names. While it is called Eid al-Kebir, or the “Great Holiday” in the Maghreb, Middle-Eastern countries prefer to call it Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of the Sacrifice”, whereas West and Central Africa is talking about Tabaski. These various denominations all evoke the same religious holiday that should not be confused with Eid al-Fitr which celebrates the end of Ramadan fast.

A commemoration of Abraham’s submission

This holiday commemorates the submission of Abraham, Ibrahim for the Muslims, to Allah. In fact, he is considered as a model that every believer should follow. Indeed, he was going to achieve the divine order against all odds and sacrifice his son Ismail, before his gesture was interrupted at the very last moment by the angel Gabriel, or Jibril according to the Koranic tradition, who replaced his child with a ram. In the memory of this episode, Muslims now sacrifice a sheep, a goat or a cattle during Eid.

An event that is celebrated at the same time as the Hajj

Every year, Eid al-Adha is celebrated together with the pilgrimage to Mecca. More precisely, this feast takes place the day after the pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat where, according to the tradition, the Prophet gave his sermon of farewell to the Muslims who accompanied him on his pilgrimage.

Differences among the countries

As for Ramadan, its date may vary from one country to another. In theory, it is set by the Saudi Supreme Court when the new crescent moon can be observed. However, this decision may not be followed by all Muslim countries for geographical or political reasons. So this year, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia have chosen the of August 22 to celebrate Eid al-Kebir, while, for once, Turkey followed the Saudi decision.

There are even other differences in the ways of celebrating. For instance, Jordan marks this date with special pastries, while in Kuwait – where the festival lasts a week – sweets are strictly forbidden. Furthermore, in Pakistan the celebrations last for nearly a month and believers fast during the first ten days.

Some universal rites

During this holiday which is celebrated under the sign of faith and mercy, it is common to go to the mosque in the first day’s morning, where a solemn prayer is organized for the occasion. The faithful then go to the slaughterhouses to make the sacrifice, for those who can afford it. It is also very common to equally divide the meat into three parts: the first one goes to the family, the second one is offered to friends, relatives or neighbors, and the last one is given to the poor as alms.