Eid Al Adha 2021
By: Waverly Nohr/ Arab America Contributing Writer
Identity is made up of so many factors. According to Psychology Today, “Identity encompasses the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self.” Keeping that in mind, religion is a huge determinant of one’s experiences and, therefore, their identity. While we observe the religious holiday of Eid Al Adha, we can recognize the effects that Islam has had on the world and how central it is on many Arab Americans. In fact, in America, Pew Research Center estimates that there were about 3.45 million Muslims of all ages living in the U.S. in 2017.
What is Eid Al Adha?
In English, Eid al Adha means “Festival of the Sacrifice.” According to Wikipedia, “It honours the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God’s command. Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, however, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead.”
When is Eid Al Adha?
The holiday is not always on the same day. It always takes place roughly two months after Eid al-Fitr and is based off the lunar calendar. As CBC describes it, “Eid al-Adha takes place on the tenth day of the last month of the Muslim calendar. The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar — it follows the moon.” This year, the holiday begins on the evening of July 19 and end on July 23, making it a four day event.
Why do people celebrate Eid Al Adha?
Muslims celebrate Eid Al Adha because of the sacrifice that Ibrahim made in sacrificing his son. In Islam, Muslims believe that Ibrahim is the father of Arab people as well as a messenger of Allah. Additionally, this holiday is about helping the poor and those who have less than others or who cannot sacrifice an animal on Eid Al Adha. By sharing the meat of the sacrifice, community members benefit.
What is the significance of this holiday?
According to Muslim Aid, “We use his deed to inspire devotion, obedience, and submission in our own lives.” For Muslims, the test that Ibrahim passed in being willing to sacrifice his son shows the discipline and trust that should be placed in Allah.
Qurbani is traditionally a sacrificial element of the holiday. The holiday begins with prayers at a mosque followed by a sacrifice of an animal. The sacrifice is usually a sheep, lamb, goat, cow, bull or a camel. The meat that is harvested by the animal is “Qurbani.” It is normal to split the meat up by three and keep a third for your own family, one third for your friends or neighbors and one third goes to charity. Like in the story of Ibrahim, the ram was sacrificed instead of his son and so the tradition carries on to this day.
How do people celebrate in the U.S.?
In the United States, Eid Al Adha is not celebrated by the majority of people. Muslims take the holiday off of work. According to Concordian Language Villages, “What happens after the prayer is really up to the individual or family. Sometimes, friends will visit one another. Other times, they will devote the rest of the day to calling family overseas, and leave visiting friends for the next day. Usually, people also consume a lot of sweets, whether baklava or good old American chocolate. They also try to do something special, like watch a movie or go to a nice restaurant to mark the specialness of the day.” Eid Al Adha varies in celebration based off of where you live. Muslims in the United States tend to dress up and celebrate their religion with the people they are closest to.
Knowing the history of this holiday, even if you are not Muslim, allows you to understand another huge group of people in the United States. With almost 25% of the world population following Islam, it is an important thing to understand. Tolerance and harmony of various religions and backgrounds makes the world just a whole more pleasant to live in.
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