Everything you need to know about the holidays around Eid Al Adha
24 August 2017| Last updated on 29 July 2018
In Islam, there are two significant religious holidays: Eid al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. Although both are special holidays to Muslims, Eid Al Adha is seen as the holier celebration of the two.
Eid al Adha is celebrated during the month of Dhu al-Hijjah on the Islamic calendar, usually on the 10th day. There are however a number of important events that take place during this month. On the 8th day of Dhul Hijja pilgrims start their journey to Mecca’s Mount Arafat. This pilgrimage is known as Hajj. Arafat day falls on the 9th day of Dhul Hijja and Eid Al Adha is celebrated from the 10th - 12th of Dhul Hijja.
What is Hajj?
Hajj, the fifth Pillar of Islam, is the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is expected of all Muslims to visit Mecca at least once in their life if they are healthy enough and can afford it. If a person is not able to go to Mecca him- or herself, someone else can go on their behalf on the condition that they have been to Mecca before.
During Hajj pilgrims travel from Mecca to Mina, Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and then back to Mina and lastly end their pilgrimage back in Mecca.
What is Arafat Day?
This is the day on which Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon on mount Arafah before passing away. In this sermon, Prophet Mohammed said that the Islam faith is now perfected. Pilgrims partaking in Hajj spend the morning travelling from mount Harafah. The mountain is also known as the "Mountain of Mercy". From noon till sunset pilgrims offer supplications, repent and atone for their past sins, seeking mercy from God, and listen to Islamic scholars giving lectures. This is also known as wuquf - 'standing before God.' A pilgrim's Hajj is considered invalid if they do not spend the afternoon on Arafah.
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Muslims who are not partaking in Hajj are encouraged to fast on this day. It is believed that fasting on Arafat Day forgives all the minor sins of the past and coming year./
What is Eid Al Adha?
Also known as the ‘Festival of Sacrifice’, this holiday celebrates Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to offer his son Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) on God’s command. After seeing Prophet Ibrahim’s faithfulness to God, He then sent a ram to be sacrificed on Ishmael’s behalf.
Eid Al Adha is celebrated over a span of three days during which people are encouraged to spend time with their friends and family. Believers will spend time praying and sacrifice an animal to God or pay money to organisations who will sacrifice an animal on their behalf.
How can you celebrate Eid Al Adha?
Non-believers are not allowed to enter the holy city of Mecca. This means that you will not be able to partake in the pilgrimage to Mecca. You can however still embrace the celebrations by fasting, spending time with your friends and family and watching the Eid Al Adha fireworks. This is also a great time to travel as this is one of the few holidays in Saudi Arabia.