Some basic facts about Eid ul-Adha: Pronounced EED-ul-ADHA, it can be translated as the "Feast of the Sacrifice." Eid ul-Adha is tied to Hajj - the pilgrimage to the sacred city of Mecca that brings in millions of Muslims every year from all over the world.
Eid ul-Adha lasts four days. On the other hand, Eid ul-Fitr, celebrated at the conclusion of Ramadan, is a one day celebration.
During Eid ul-Adha, many Muslim families sacrifice an animal and share the meat with the poor. In accordance to the command of Allah both Muslim festivals were celebrated since the time of Prophet Muhammad. Hence they are from Allah and authentic. No human being has invented them.
What is their spirit? Our Prophet told us,
"They are days of eating, drinking, and remembrance of Allah."[Saheeh Al-Bukhari]
In other words, we can enjoy and have halal, wholesome fun without forgetting our Creator.
Before Eid ul-Adha
As stated earlier, Eid ul-Adha is tied to Hajj. Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that is performed in the 12th month of the Islamic calendar known as "Dhul-Hijjah." Eid ul-Adha is celebrated by Muslims all over the world on the 10th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah. The first ten days of this month have a special merit. In Arabic, they are known as 'al-Ayyam ul-Ashr.' The season of worship brings many benefits, such as the opportunity to correct one's faults and make up for shortcomings or anything that one might have missed.
Virtues of the 'Ten Days'
The following are five virtues of the 'al-Ayyam ul-Ashr' (the Ten Days):
1. Allah swears an oath by them in the Quran, and swearing an oath by something shows us it's paramount significance and genuine benefit. Allah says:
"By the dawn; by the ten nights" (Quran 89:1-2)
Early authorities of Quran have explained that this verse refers to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
2. To further convince us of their merit, the Prophet testified that these are the "best" days in the world. The Ten Days are better than all the other days of the year, with no exceptions, not even the last ten days of Ramadan! But the last ten nights of Ramadan are better, because they include Laylat al-Qadr ("the Night of Power").
3. There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which good deeds are more loved by Him than these ten days, so a Muslim must frequently recite "SubhanAllah", "Alhamdulillah" and "Allahu Akbar" during this time.
4. The Ten Days include the days of sacrifice and Hajj.
5. The 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah is called 'Yaum ul Arafah' (The Day of Arafah). This is the date when the pilgrims assemble on the plain of Arafah, six miles away from Mecca. The Day of Arafah itself has many virtues.
Virtues And Practices of Day of Arafah
1. Yaum al-Arafah is the day on which Allah completed the religion of Islam.
2. Yaum al-Arafah is one of the biggest gatherings of any place in the world.
3. Yaum al-Arafah is a day on which prayers are answered. One of the etiquettes of praying on this day is to raise one's hands as Allah's Messenger made du'a in Arafah, his hands raised up to his chest (Abu Daud).
4. It is recommended to fast on the day of Arafah for those who are not performing Hajj. The Prophet said,
"Fasting on the day of Arafah is an expiation for two years, the year preceding it and the year following it."[Saheeh Muslim]
"But for the pilgrims it is disliked to fast the day of Arafah in Arafah as Allah's Messenger has informed."[Abu Daud]
If you want to offer a sacrifice or have it done for you, you must stop cutting your hair, nails, and removing anything from your skin, from the beginning of the Ten Days until after you have offered your sacrifice or it has been offered on your behalf.
History & Purpose of Eid ul-Adha
The history of Eid ul-Adha goes back to the time of Prophet Abraham, a major figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Eid al-Adha commemorates the great event when Allah asked Abraham in a dream to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience.
"And, when he [his son] was old enough to walk with him, he said, 'O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you, so see what you think!' He said, 'O my father! Do that which you are commanded, if Allah wills, you shall find me patient.'" (Quran 37:102)
As Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, Allah revealed to him that his "sacrifice" had been fulfilled. He had shown that his love for his Lord superseded all others, that he would make any sacrifice in order to submit to Allah. A version of the story also appears in the Bible's Old Testament.
Some people are confused as to why Allah asked Abraham to slaughter his own son. Famous classical Islamic scholar, Ibn al-Qayyim explained, "the purpose was not for Ibrahim to kill his son; rather it was to sacrifice him in his heart so all love belonged to Allah alone."
Thus, it is a part of our tradition that during the blessed Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah and on the day of Eid ul-Adha we remember the sacrifice of Abraham. We reflect on what made him such a strong believer, a close friend of Allah, someone Allah blessed and made a leader of all the nations that were to follow.
Understanding Animal Offerings on Eid ul-Adha
Sacrificing one's son was a test of Abraham's faith. To commemorate and remember Abraham's trials, Muslims slaughter an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. The practice is often misunderstood by those outside of the faith. Therefore, several points must be understood here:
One, there are no special rituals involved, other than the animal meeting certain requirements. The animal is slaughtered in the same way it is slaughtered any other time in the year. The only difference is in the intention. For regular slaughter, the intention is the meat, but for Eid ul-Adha, it is to worship Allah by commemorating Abraham's trial.
Two, God's Name is pronounced since Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to consume their meat, but only in His Name. By saying the Name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we remind ourselves that even the life of an animal is sacred and we can only take away it's life in the Name of the One who gave it in the first place.
Three, good acts atone for one's sins. Offering udhiyyah is an act of worship that is no exception. Prophet Muhammad said that the most beloved deed on Eid ul-Adha is offering the udhiyyah and that it will come on the Day of Resurrection with its horns, cloven hoofs, and hair. Its blood is accepted by Allah before it reaches the ground. "So let your heart delight in it." (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)
Laws of Udhiyyah for Eid ul-Adha
a) Type of Animal
A single sheep can be offered as a sacrifice for a single person or a family. "At the time of the Messenger of Allah, a man would sacrifice a sheep on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and they would eat from it and give some to others."[Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi]
A camel or cow for seven people, because of the report "So a cow would be sacrificed on behalf of seven men and we would share it."[Saheeh Muslim]
b) Age of Animal
The animal should be of a certain age to be fit for udhiyyah. The minimum ages are:
a) 6 months for a lamb or sheep.
b) 1 year for a goat.
c) 2 years for a cow.
d) 5 years for a camel.
c) Characteristics of the Animal
It should be free of any faults, because the Prophet said,
"There are four that will not do for sacrifice:
a) a one-eyed animal whose defect is obvious,
b) a sick animal whose sickness is obvious,
c) a lame animal whose limp is obvious and
d) an emaciated animal that has no marrow in its bones."[Sahih al-Jami]
There are milder defects that do not disqualify an animal, but it is disliked to sacrifice such animals, like an animal with a horn or ear missing, or with slits in its ears, etc. If the animal is castrated, it is not considered a fault.
d) Time of Sacrifice
It should be sacrificed at the specified time, which is after the prayer and khutbah of Eid ul-Adha has concluded until before sunset of the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah. The Prophet said:
"Whoever sacrifices before the prayer let him repeat it."[Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim]
The meat from the sacrifice of Eid ul-Adha is eaten by family and relatives, given away to friends, and donated to the poor. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others.
Sunnahs (Recommended deeds) of Eid al-Adha
The following are recommended acts that bring additional reward on Eid ul-Adha. No need to worry if you forget some, but try to do as many as possible to maximize your reward.
1. The Prophet used to take a complete ritual bath (ghusl) on the day of Eid.
2. The Prophet used to wear his best clothes to go to the Eid prayer. Both men and women should observe the proper, modest Islamic dress when they go out for the Eid prayer.
3. The Prophet would take different routes for going and coming back from the Eid prayer.
4. Another sunnah (recommended deed) is to pronounce Allah's greatness in these words:
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, la ilaha il-lal-lah, wa-Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lil-la hil-hamd
"Allah is Most Great, Allah is most Great, there is no true deity but Allah, Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, and all praise be to Allah."
They are to be said when coming out of one's house for the prayer place and until the imam comes.
5. On Eid ul-Adha it is recommended not to eat anything until one comes back from the prayer, so he should eat from the udhiyyah if he has offered a sacrifice. If he is not going to offer a sacrifice there is nothing wrong with eating before the prayer.
Basic Format of the Eid Prayer
The Prophet did not offer any prayer immediately before or after the Eid prayer. Only if the Eid prayer is in a mosque, you pray two rakahs before sitting down.
There is no adhan or iqamah for the Eid prayer. The Prophet would do the prayer first followed by the sermon (khutbah).
Procedure for The Eid Prayer (Salat ul-Eid)
The Eid Prayer is required (wajib). It consists of two rakahs, with extra takbirs (saying 'Allahu Akbar'). The wisdom behind the Eid prayers, like the Eid days themselves, is to thank Allah for His countless blessings. The imam will pray in one of two ways. He will explain how he is praying before the beginning of the prayer:
In the first rakah of the Eid prayer, the imam will offer 3 additional takbirs after the Takbir ul-Ehraam and opening supplication but before reciting the Fatihah. Raise your hands with each takbir, as one does for Takbir ul-Ehraam. After each takbir, let the hands rest at the sides. Place hands together after the third and final takbir. After this, the rest of the rakah is the same.
In the second rakah of the Eid prayer the imam will recite the Fatihah and some portion of the Quran. He will then say 3 additional takbirs. They are like the first rakah's takbirs, except that you leave your hands to your sides after the third takbir. After these three takbirs have been called and completed, one says the takbir for going into ruku, without raising one's hands.
Like any prayer, the prayer begins with Takbir ul-Ehraam followed by the opening supplication. It is followed by 7 takbeers in the first rakah and 5 additional takbeers in the second rakah. Rest of the prayer is like any other prayer.
Greetings Exchanged On Eid ul-Adha
Not knowing the greetings flying around during Eid can be an uncomfortable experience. Not exchanging any greeting is perfectly acceptable in Islam, but socially awkward. Therefore, knowing what are the greetings and their appropriate response will help you with social acceptance.
People from India and Pakistan congratulate one another by saying "Eid Mubarak" (Blessed Eid).
Arabs tend to say "Eid Saeed" (Happy Eid) or 'kullu 'aam wa antum bi-khair' (may each year bring you good health).
The Companions of Prophet Muhammad used to say, 'taqabalallahu minna wa minkum' (May Allah accept it from us and from you).
They are all fine. Simply respond by repeating the same greeting back! If will be fine if you smile or ask for help in repeating back the words.
Advice for Eid ul-Adha
1. Take the day of Eid off from work or school. If you cannot, please make arrangements for time off for at least the Eid prayer.
2. Make arrangements for the sacrificial animal ahead of time. You can have a local muslim butcher do it all for you. You can also send money to an Islamic charity to do it on your behalf and they will distribute the meat to the poor. For millions of Muslims it is the only time in the year they get to eat meat. You can locate many charities by doing an online search for "udhiyyah or qurbani".
At least for the first few years after accepting Islam, I will recommend that you simply send the money to feed poor Muslims overseas either through your mosque or one of the online Islamic relief organizations. You can join the local Muslims to get the experience if you like. Costs of doing udhiyyah will vary on the country you want it to be performed on your behalf.
3. Call your local mosque or Islamic center a week before Eid ul-Adha to find out the time and place where Eid ul-Adha prayer will be held. After the Eid prayer, ethnic sweets and foods are usually served. Most mosques will hold Eid dinners either in the evening or within the next few days. Find out when and where they are and attend them.
4. Do not get lonely or feel isolated. Make arrangements with your Muslim friends or families ahead of time to visit them for Eid ul-Adha. Invite Muslim friends and cook for them. If you can't cook, eat out with them. Try to involve your non-Muslim family members by taking them to the Eid prayer with you or have them visit you for dinner with your Muslim friends. It will take some planning. Do it ahead of time. You have four days to celebrate!
5. Families give gifts to children on Eid. Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him said: "Exchange gifts with each other, you will love each other." (Bukhari, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad) You may like to give gifts to your non-Muslim and Muslim family members and friends.
6. Volunteer on Eid day at your local mosque. They will need volunteers for parking, food set-up, clean up, children's activities, and more.
7. Dress up for Eid. Buy some new clothes and be in the 'celebration' mode!