Eid – What is it?

October 30, 2013 4:35 pm

Every year when the festival of Eid comes around, I am constantly asked what is Eid? To which I reply it’s the Islamic Christmas. Well to be honest it’s not but it’s an easy way to explain to my non-Muslim friends, who are curious to find out about this “Eid” they keep hearing about.

So, is the Islamic Eid equivalent to Christmas?

Well Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, as for Eid this has nothing to do with the birth of any prophet. It is mainly to celebrate the completion of an act of worship or event in Islam.

How many Eid’s are there?

There are in total five Eid’s in Islam, but only two are celebrated by the two main sects of Islam, the Shiites and the Sunni’s, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al Adha. These days are public holidays in all Muslim countries.

Eid al-Fitr: Celebration for the completion of fasting of the Holy Month of Ramadan. This is a month when all Muslims throughout the world fast (abstain from consuming any food or liquids) between sunrise and sun set for 30 days continuously.

New and expensive (sometimes extravagant) costumes are worn by men, women and children. Large feasts are cooked and served out in most Muslim homes and shared with friends and family, just like a Christmas dinner and mainly children are showered with gifts or money.

Eid al Adha, (Festival of Sacrifice) is the celebration of the completion of the Hajj rituals.  It marks the end of the annual holy Pilgrimage to Makka, undertaken by about 2 million Muslims.

It also commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God.

Story goes…

Juan de Valdés Leal - The Sacrifice of IsaacProphet Ibrahim often received God’s commands in his dreams and one day he dreamt that he was sacrificing his son Ismail, but because he was being asked to actually kill his son, he wondered whether it was real.

However, the next day he saw the same dream and was now sure that it was a true command. So, prophet Ibrahim told his son what he was commanded to do by god. Ismail at such a young age accepted what his father was asked to do and agreed to be sacrificed.

On the day Prophet Ibrahim took his son, laid him on the ground, took out the knife but hesitated. Ismail saw how distressed his father was at having to kill him, so he said, “Oh, my father! Tie my hands and legs so that I do not struggle. Put a blindfold over your eyes so that you do not have to see me die.”

Prophet Ibrahim did as his son requested, and then began to carry out the sacrifice of his son. When he had finished, he removed the blindfold and was surprised to see that he, in fact, had slaughtered a male sheep instead and was relieved to see his son standing beside him, safe and unharmed.

The story is designed to demonstrate how Ibrahim’s devotion passed even the sternest test.

From that day on Allah made the actions of slaughtering an animal a must for all Muslims, and is now known as Eid al Adha (Festival of Sacrifice).

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