Muslims Celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, the ‘Festival of Sacrifice’
Today, Muslims at HBS and around the world will celebrate the festival of ‘Eid-ul-Adha’. The Arabic word ‘Eid’ means festival or feast, while the word ‘Adha’ translates to sacrifice. Consequently, ‘Eid-ul-Adha’ is also known as the ‘festival of sacrifice’.
Eid-ul-Adha is one of the two major holy days in Islam. It is observed after ‘Hajj’, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Hajj is among the five pillars of Islam and unless prevented by health or financial constraints, each Muslim is obligated to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. At the conclusion of Hajj, Muslims around the world join the pilgrims in Mecca to celebrate this festival of sacrifice, obedience and commitment to God.
The celebration of Eid-ul-Adha is actually a commemoration of Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice everything for God, including the life of his son, Ishmael. However, God spared Ishmael by substituting a sheep in his stead.
Since then, Muslims have commemorated that occasion by slaughtering an animal and distributing its meat among family, friends and the poor. This action serves as a reminder to Muslims of their submission to God and of their willingness to sacrifice anything to God’s wishes. Charity, which is also among the five pillars of Islam, is particularly emphasized on this day and it is obligatory to donate a small sum of money to those less fortunate. Moreover, Muslims also give away at least one-third of the meat to the poor.
Since the festivities continue for three days, this allows many underprivileged members of the community to enjoy the unusual luxury of having meat for three consecutive days.
Eid day is a public holiday in Muslim countries and it is celebrated in several ways. In many parts of the world, women kick off Eid celebrations on the night before the holiday through the application of henna on their hands and feet.
On Eid day, the Muslim community gathers to offer prayers in the morning to thank God for all of His blessings. After the prayers, it is customary for Muslims to socialize and visit each other’s homes. Specially cooked meals are prepared and consumed throughout the day while children are given gifts and sweets. This is also true in the Harvard community where various clubs and groups organized dinners and events over the weekend to celebrate Eid.
Bonus Tip for Eid Day: A common way of exchanging Eid greetings with any Muslim is to say ‘Eid Mubarak’. This phrase can be paraphrased in English as ‘may you enjoy a blessed festival’. So, when you see your Muslims friends this week, you can use this greeting to wish them a very happy Eid!