A year ago, this was a salutation I exchanged with many other Muslims at my local mosque. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, this year, I may be exchanging this salutation more so with my own family members and loved ones over the phone.
Eid Mubarak means “Blessed Eid.” Muslims say this to cheer one another on the arrival of the festival. However, those who are not familiar with Islamic religious observances may be asking, what exactly is Eid al-Adha?
What is Eid al-Adha?
Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on Friday 31 July 2020. The festival falls on the tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle and thus the date varies each year.
It is important to note that Muslims celebrate two different Eids — Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is intended to strengthen spirituality. During this month, Muslims fast from dawn till dusk, give extra attention towards their prayers, study the Qur’an, give charity, and serve humanity. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of this month.
This current Eid, Eid al-Adha draws attention to sacrifice. It is celebrated ten weeks after Eid al-Fitr upon the conclusion of Hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid-ul-Adha honors the sacrifice of prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his son prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him). Both father and son submitted themselves to the Will of God after seeing a dream in which Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was ordered to sacrifice his son. When he was about to sacrifice his son, God commanded him to stop.
It is this spirit of sacrifice which is celebrated on Eid al-Adha. God was testing Prophet Abraham's (peace be upon him) faith. Sacrificing anything requires a certain amount of strength in one's faith. Eid al-Adha celebrates this spirit of sacrifice, which entails volunteering time to the service to others and giving charity. In celebration, Muslims commonly sacrifice goat meat and make other donations to the less fortunate. The meat is symbolic of Abraham's willingness to make a major sacrifice.
God decided to spare prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him) and told prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) to sacrifice a ram in substitution for his son.
To commemorate this event, Muslims sacrifice an animal annually and reflect upon the sacrifice of both father and son. Most Muslim families will sacrifice a lamb or goat in honor of Abraham. That animal is offered as a sacrifice and is shared. Muslims observing the holiday only keep one-third of the meat for themselves. Another third must go to poor families, and the remainder is shared among family and friends.
How might the celebration be different this year?
Eid al-Adha will look different this year, as most of the world remains under some form of restrictions because of COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, Eid is associated with communal gatherings at the mosque for prayers and meetings with family and friends. While the social aspect of Eid may not be as prevalent this year, the true essence of sacrifice can still be practiced.
Therefore, just like any other, this will certainly be a blessed Eid; Eid Mubarak!