Observed in Countries with Muslim populations
Observed on Tenth through 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar
Observed by Muslims

Eid al-Adha is the most important festival celebrated by Muslims and one of two Eid festivals in their calendar. Eid al-Adha is celebrated for three days while Eid al-Fitr lasts only one day. Eid al-Adha commemorates the Muslim belief that Abraham’s (Ibrahim’s) faith was so great that he was willing to sacrifice his young son Ishmael because God had commanded him to do so. (Ishmael was born of Hagar [Hajira]. In contrast to Muslims, Jews and Christians believe that it was Isaac, Ibrahim’s son from his wife Sarah, who was chosen for the sacrifice.) The festival of Eid al-Adha reminds Muslims of their morals, ethics, and the lofty ideals of peace and harmony. It is observed on the 10th day of Dhu alHijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
During this month devout Muslims, who are physically and financially able, must undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime (required by the Fifth Pillar of Islam). Every year several million Muslims make the trip to Mecca and observe Eid al-Adha at the end of the pilgrimage.
On Eid al-Adha Muslims sacrifice animals that are considered halaal (pure, fit for sacrifice, and acceptable to God). Muslims consume one-third of the sacred meat themselves, distribute another third to their relatives and neighbors, and give the last third to the poor, doing their best to ensure that no one goes without sacrificial food on this occasion.
History and Origin The history of Eid al-Adha begins with Ibrahim, who was commanded by God to set up the foundations of Kaaba, the holiest Muslim shrine in the world, located in Mecca (Saudi Arabia). Muslims turn their faces toward the Kaaba during their salat (“prayers”). Responding to Allah’s call, Ibrahim at once set off for Mecca, a deserted and unproductive desert, with his family. Ibrahim encountered numerous adversities, but he obeyed all of Allah’s commands.
Much later in a dream Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Ibrahim and his son left for the village of Mina, where the sacrifice was to take place. Along the way, the Devil tried to convince Ibrahim to disobey Allah and refuse to sacrifice his beloved son. The Devil failed, but, just as Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, a divine voice ordered him to stop. When Ibrahim (who had covered his eyes so as not to waver while performing the act) removed his blindfold, he found a ram, not his son, on the sacrificial altar.
Ibrahim’s acceptance of Allah’s will is celebrated annually by Muslims. On this occasion a Muslim reminds himself of his own spirit of submission and readiness to commit any sacrifice for Allah. To honor this unprecedented act of qurbani (“sacrifice”) by Ibrahim, Muslims everywhere sacrifice a goat, ram, lamb, or any animal on Eid alAdha and share the sacrificial meat with their family and friends as well as with the poor. This observance is also known the Day of Sacrifice or the Feast of Sacrifice.
The highlight of the worldwide observations of Eid al-Adha takes place in the tiny village of Mina, only a few miles from Mecca. Here stand three pillars symbolizing the Devil that are ritually stoned by Muslims during the Hajj. According to Muslim belief, the Devil tried unsuccessfully to persuade Ibrahim not to sacrifice Ishmael. Mina is also a site where scores of butchers arrange the halaal slaughter of the animals for the pilgrims.
Eid al-Adha is known by different names in various parts of the world. For example, the observance is called Hari Raya Aidiladha in Southeast Asia; in Singapore the name for the festival is Hari Raya Haji. In Malaysia, where it is a national holiday, it is known as Id al-Adha. People in India call it Id al-Adha or Idu’z Zuha. Eid al-Adha is celebrated as Tabaski in Senegal, Gambia, and Mali, all located in Africa. In Bangladesh, the festival is known as Id al-Adha or Eid-ul-Azha. In Ethiopia, the festival is called Arafat or Eid ul-Adhia. In European Turkey, Eid al-Adha is known as Kurban Bayrami. Muslims in central Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan have similar ways of celebrating the feast day. The variance in its name notwithstanding, the festive spirit of Eid al-Adha prevails in all countries of the world.