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ID AL-ADHA.(EID AL-ADHA.) The Feast of the Sacrifice is celebrated throughout the Muslim world at the end of the period of the annual pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca. One of the two most important annual festivals (the other is `Id al-Fitr), `Id al-Adha is also known as the Major Festival (`Id al-Kabir) and the Greater Bayram. It is celebrated according the lunar Islamic calendar, beginning on the tenth day of the twelfth month (Dhu al-Hijjah). On this day Muslims at Mina (near Mecca) and around the world sacrifice unblemished animals in commemoration of the ram substituted by God when Ibrahim (Abraham) was commanded to sacrifice his son Isma’il (Ishmael) as a test of faith (Qur’an 37.99-113; this account differs from that of Genesis, in which it is Isaac who was to be sacrificed). The day of the sacrifice is the first of three days of festive celebration known as ayydm al-tashriq, after which most pilgrims take their leave of Mecca.

A hadith attributed to the prophet Muhammad by a companion says, “I heard the Prophet delivering a sermon, saying `the first thing we begin with on this day of ours (the Feast) is to pray. Then we return to perform the sacrifice. Whoever does this has acted correctly according to our Sunna (practice).’ ” Hadiths also indicate that it was the sunnah of the Prophet and his closest companions to deliver a sermon (khutbah) following the special Feast prayer, which customarily takes place in the early morning following the sunrise prayer.

In addition to the prescribed prayer and the blood sacrifice, the manuals of Islamic law (fiqh) recommend the following practices. Only males having reached the age of maturity, of sound mind, and able to afford an unblemished animal may perform the sacrifice; it is sufficient (kifdyah) for their families and the community as a whole that such qualified males make offering. The victim must be an unblemished animal, usually a sheep, but camels, goats, cows, and other animals considered clean according to Islamic law may be offered. For Muslims on the pilgrimage to Mecca the site of slaughter is at Mina, a few miles east of Mecca and one of the important stations of visitation during the hajj. The victim, no matter where the Feast is being celebrated, is faced in the direction (qiblah) of Mecca, and its throat (windpipe and jugular vein) is cut quickly. The act is accompanied by religious formulas, such as the tasmiyah or basmalah (bi-ism Allah, “in the name of God”; see Qur’an 6.121) and the takbir (Allahu akbar, “God is greatest”). Islamic law further recommends that only a portion, usually a third, of the slaughtered meat be cooked and eaten by the family of the one offering the sacrifice; the rest is to be given away to the poor and to other families.


Although the Feast of the Sacrifice commemorates the solemn occasion of God testing Ibrahim’s faith, the annual celebration is festive and social. Aside from the morning visit to the mosque by males with their sons, families visit the graves of relatives to offer additional prayers. Receiving and visiting the extended family and friends of the family marks this three-day celebration. Frequently non-Muslim neighbors and friends offer their greetings and are invited to partake in the food and festivities. In current practice, following tradition, children are very much the focus of the Feast; gifts and sweets abound, and people wear their best clothing.

[See also Hajj; Sacrifice.]


Denny, Frederick Mathewson. An Introduction to Islam. New York and London, 1985. Contains a useful discussion of Islamic festivals in the context of religious duties, including notes (see pp. 105124).

Fakhouri, Hani. Kafr el-Elow: An Egyptian Village in Transition. New York, 1972. Describes contemporary local observance of the feast days (see pp. 84-85).

Mittwoch, Eugen. “Id al-Adha.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., vOl. 3, pp. 1007-1008. Leiden, 1960-.

Schimmel, Annemarie. “Islamic Religious Year.” In The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Mircea Eliade, vol. 7, pp. 454-457. New York, 1987.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/id-al-adha/

  • writerPosted On: April 15, 2014
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