In 2014, in the evening of Saturday, October 4 at sunset through October 5 at sunset (depending on the sighting of the moon) marks the beginning of the three days of the Moslem holiday of Eid al-Adha or the Festival of the Sacrifice. Students, staff and faculty should be accommodated for observance of the holiday. Some debate exists as to whether the holiday should be marked by when it occurs over Mecca or when it occurs in the location in question (for instance, North America). For some, therefore, the holiday may begin on Friday, October 3 at sunset. I take no stance on this.
Dating the Holiday
Dating the Holiday
The holiday actually begins every year on the 10 Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar. However, since the Gregorian calendar (the one used in the secular
) is a solar calendar and the Islamic calendar is a lunar one, the date of Eid al-Adha (as with all Moslem holidays) appears to travel within the Gregorian calendar. United States
About Eid al-Adha
Eid al-Adha is Arabic for the Festival of Sacrifice, and is named in remembrance of the readiness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son. In the Koran (37:99–111), the son whom Ibrahim is willing to sacrifice is not named; however, in Islamic tradition, the son is believed to be Ismail (Ishmael), not (Ishaq) Isaac as in the Jewish and Christian versions of the story. In Islam, both sons are considered prophets.
Another name for the holiday is Eid al-Kabir or the Greater Eid (in contrast to the earlier Eid al-Fitr, the Lesser Eid that marks the end of Ramadan). Eid al-Kabir is the name more commonly used in
North Africa, Yemen and . Because of this, in French, the name of the holiday is Aid el-Kebir. In Turkish, the holiday is called Kurban Bayrami and as a result, the holiday is called by some variant of Kurban in many of the languages of those nations formally under the rule of the Ottoman Empire including Kurdish, Albanian, Serbo-Croatian and Azeri as well as borrowed from the Turkish in many other languages including Russian, Pashto, Sindhi, Kazakh, Farsi, Pashto and Tatar. Syria
Association with the Hajj
Eid al-Adha also marks the end of the Hajj to
(Makkah). The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca , is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, required of every Moslem once in his or her lifetime. For this reason, the holiday is sometimes called the Festival of the Hajj (Hari Raya Haji in Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Mecca ). Malaysia
This year, 2014, is estimated to be among the smallest pilgrimages in years. This follows the first substantial decrease in numbers in 2013 when pilgrims stayed away due to worldwide fears of the deadly MERS outbreak on the Arabian Peninsula. This year, fears over MERS continued while Saudi governmental concerns regarding the Ebola outbreak added an additional element to the mix. For this year, the Saudi government banned pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, effectively preventing 7400 Muslims scheduled to come from those nations.
To put this in perspective, the estimate for 2014 is 1.4 million pilgrims.
Just two years earlier over twice that many people made the Hajj. In 2012, according the official Saudi Ministry of Hajj, 3.2 million people participated in the pilgrimage, a record. For each year, the number of visitors had marginally though steadily grown (for instance, 2.8 million in 2010; 2.9 million in 2011). Indeed the discussion in 2012 had been the shift to larger number of locals at the Hajj. In 2012, 1.4 million came from within Saudi Arabia compared to 2011’s 800,000 locals. In both years, roughly 1.8 million foreign pilgrims came to the Hajj (from 189 nations in 2012).
In 2013, by contrast, the numbers dropped off substantially to just only 1.98 million (with 1.38 million from outside Saudi Arabia). In 2014, as mentioned, that number may have dropped to a mere 1.4 million.
(For more on this, please see http://www.ummah.com/forum/showthread.php?379857-Hajj-2013-Statistics http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article529551.ece and http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/11/05/saudi-arabia-hosts-nearly-3-million-hajj-pilgrims/ ). For more on the 2014 hajj including Ebola concerns, please see:
The Hajj itself runs for five days, starting on the 8th of Dhu al-Hijjah (that is, beginning two days before Eid al-Adha begins) and continues through the end of the Eid on 12 Dhu al-Hijjah. The Hajj involves many rituals and special prayers, and this overview makes no effort to fully describe them. Among the most notable of these is the Tawaf. The Tawaf is the counterclockwise circling seven times of Islam’s holiest site, the Qaabah (or Kaabah). The Qaabah is a large granite, cube-shaped structure which Moslems believe that Ibraham and Ismail built together after Ismail moved to
. The Qaabah is covered with black silk and gold. Inside the Qaabah is the Black Stone (al-Hajr al-Aswad) which is the focal point of the Tawaf. Many Moslems believe that the Black Stone was given to Adam and Eve to tell them where to build an altar. The Black Stone was then placed in the Qaabah by Abraham and Ismail. The Black Stone was already an object of worship when the Prophet Mohammed first visited it and kissed it. Following the Prophet’s example, pilgrims traditionally kissed the Black Stone on each of the seven circuits around the Qaabah. As the throngs of pilgrims grew, this has largely become impossible so today the pilgrims point toward the stone with their hand as they near it. The movement of the pilgrims during the Tawaf is felt to symbolize the unity of ummah (the community of all believers) as they worship the unity of Allah. Mecca
Another important ritual is the Ramy al-Jamarat or Stoning of the Devil. Islam views the sacrifice as a test of Ibrahim and Ismail. During this test, Moslems believe that both Ibrahim and Ismail were tempted by Shaytaan (Satan). Ibrahim and Ismail threw stones at Shaytaan, and this is re-enacted by pilgrims at the Hajj in the ceremony of the stoning of the jamarat. Pilgrims throw pebbles at three pillars in Mina, each of differing size and symbolically representing Shaytaan’s temptation of Ibrahim, Hagar (Ismail’s mother) and Ismail to stop the sacrifice.
While the pilgrims on the Hajj are at the center of the most significant observance on the Eid al-Adha, it is by no means limited to them alone. Indeed, Moslems the world over celebrate Eid al-Adha. On the Eid, Moslems bathe in the morning and then traditionally dress in their best clothing before going to the mosque for special prayers. The services usually conclude with a khutba (or speech) with a spiritual message usually encouraging those listening to give up any grudges or ill will. After this, it is customary for worshippers to hug one another and to wish one another a Happy Eid.
Eid al-Adha Traditions and Food
In most traditions, believers, if (they can afford to do so) sacrifice an animal (usually a goat or sheep, although traditions vary) in commemoration of the animal God provided to Ibrahim for sacrifice in place of his son. Indeed, in
West Africa the holiday is called Tabaski after this sacrifice. (For a video of Eid sacrifices on Tabaski, please see http://jangawolof.wordpress.com/2007/12/19/happy-tabaski/ ). Where animals are sacrificed, the meat is shared with others, particularly those who are less fortunate. Many Moslems also donate food of all sorts – not just the sacrificed animal -- to the poor on the holiday.
Traditions vary somewhat around the world for Eid al-Adha. In
Pakistan and after special morning Eid prayers, Moslems traditionally eat a dish called sheer korma. India
Sheer korma is a mix of sweet milk, dates and vermicelli. Later in the day, South Asian Moslems also often eat dishes made from the sacrificed animal, with mutton biryani (sheep with saffron rice), mutton korma (sheep stew) and kofta (meatballs in special gravy).
, the post-prayer breakfast is customarily herbel (wheat porridge with sugar, milk, honey and orange-flower water). The main meal of the day usually includes lamb, especially boulfaf (grilled lamb liver kababs). Morocco
, people traditionally follow morning services with a large lunch of Bosnian lonac (vegetable and meat stew made in a clay pot), dolmas (stuffed onions with paprika) and sarmas (stuffed cabbage). This is usually followed by sweet desserts such as baklava. Bosnia and Herzegovina
In the United States, traditions greatly vary with people often dressing in clothes and eating foods from their ethnic origin. Eid al-Adha, as with other Islamic holidays, has received greater public attention in recent years. In 2001, the US Postal Service began releasing Eid stamps (covering both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha).
In 2003, George W. Bush was the first President to publicly wish Happy Eid from the White House. This tradition has continued under President Barack Obama.
For more detail on all aspects of the Hajj, look at the Saudi government website from the Ministry of the Hajj :
As always, I welcome your corrections (or praise) and any other input. In closing, let me wish you all a nEid Mubarek and a Blessed Eid!