Eid Mubarak! Today, July 31, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest festivals in the Islamic faith. It’s a holiday that’s all about community, whether it’s coming together for prayers or donating money to help those in need. With the current pandemic, Eid al-Adha will look a little different, as public gatherings have been prohibited or restricted in many parts of the world.
Still, many mosques are doing their best to have a semblance of normality. In Harrisburg, for instance, the Islamic Center Masjid Al-Sabereen held prayer services during the morning, but required worshipers to wear face masks and to register in advance in order to attend.
But let’s take a step back and look at what, exactly, is Eid al-Adha and what it celebrates.
What Eid al-Adha it?
Eid al-Adha is also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice.” It commemorates the story in the Quran of the Prophet Ibrahim being told by God to sacrifice his first-born son, Ismail. Ibrahim is about to follow God’s commands, when God has a sheep appear and tells Ibrahim to sacrifice that animal instead. The Torah and Old Testament feature a similar story, where Abraham (aka Ibrahim) is told to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Eid Al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. In 2020, that date falls on July 31.
How is Eid al-Adha celebrated?
Eid al-Adha begins in the morning with prayer. Later, people will get together to worship with one another. But the big part of the holiday is when an animal is sacrificed — often this is a goat, camel, sheep or cow. People will donate either the meat from the animal or money that would have been spent on the animal to the less fortunate. Al Jazeera reports that those who choose to donate money will often give to a charity that distributes meat to those in need, including refugees and the elderly.
Another key part of the holiday is making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. This year only those who live in Saudi Arabia, where Mecca sits, are allowed to complete the pilgrimage. Usually around two million will complete the pilgrimage. This year, the BBC reports that only 10,000 pilgrims are expected.
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